Nothing beats fresh flowers on a cake – they look absolutely stunning and their beauty is unparalleled. Sugar flowers are amazing too and often you can’t tell the difference, but they take time to make and can drastically bump up the price of a cake. Whether you’re a cake maker looking to dress a cake with the right flowers or a couple wanting to have the perfect wedding cake, it’s important to spend a bit of time thinking about the flowers you should have.
But what are the best flowers for cakes? And how do you know you’re not going to poison the guests?!
Not all flowers are equal when it comes to decorating a cake
The problem with using flowers on cakes is that you’re mixing edible medium with non-edible medium. They may look as pretty as a picture, but you can’t eat all flowers and worse still, some can actually be harmful to humans. We all know about Deadly Nightshade, but did you know Foxgloves can cause serious heart problems? Lily of the Valley is a lovely delicate white flower but if ingested it can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Sweet peas entice you with their heavenly smell but eating large quantities could lead to a condition called lathyrism, symptoms of which are paralysis below the knees in adults and brain damage in children. And don’t be enticed by the vibrant purple of Monkshood either. If ingested, this flower will result in death. Even, just touching them with bare hands can lead to numbness, cardiovascular problems and asphyxia.
So, you see, when it comes to deciding what flowers to put on a cake, it’s important to proceed with caution. And if in doubt, just don’t use it
Top tips for using flowers on cakes
- Choose a grower that is certified food edible and organic like Maddocks Farms. Flowers from florists or supermarkets can be used for decorative purposes but they will have been treated with fertilisers and pesticides that haven’t been tested for human consumption.
- Don’t push stalks directly into cake – Even if the flowers you’re using are one of the edible varieties below it’s not a great idea to push them straight into cake or buttercream. Wrap the stems tightly in florist’s tape or use a florist’s posy pic so they don’t come into direct contact with the cake.
- Consider how you will use the flowers – With the best will in the world, flowers don’t last long out of water, so they should be added to the cake at the last possible moment or they could wilt. If it’s going to be a hot day look at more robust flowers like roses which stand up well out of water for several hours.
- Where will you cake be displayed? Again, if it’s in a hot marquee for hours or sitting out in the sun for ages, you may find the flowers wilt.
- You can harvest your own flowers – This is a nice personal touch just be sure to wash them first before you use them.
- Not everyone can have them – Even if flowers are considered edible they still might not be suitable for everyone if they have allergies or food intolerances.
Best edible flowers for cakes
Even if the petals are edible, the stems etc. are not so make sure you remove the pistils, stamens, calyx and stems before you use them if you intend for people to consume them.
Roses – Roses are one of my all-time favourite flowers. They are beautiful flowers that come in so many varieties so whether you’re having a pale elegant theme or a bright and bold one, you’ll be able to find a bloom that matches your taste.
Pansies – Come in a wide variety of colours and are available from April until September.
Nasturtiums – These bright orange and yellow flowers are in bloom from June to October. You can even grow them yourself and they are very prolific. Safe to eat, they certainly add a bit of colour to any cake.
Lavender – Lavender smells divine but it can be added to cakes and bakes too. I love making lavender shortbread or ice cream though you don’t need much or the taste can be overpowering.
Cornflowers – The vibrant blues, purples, pinks and whites of these lovely flowers look smashing on cake. They make attractive confetti and their petals are ideal for sprinkling over clusters of fruit.
Dahlias – These are another pretty flower and the petals have a slightly bitter flavour but this varies from variety and where they are grown.