Flowers add atmosphere to special events, but they don't need to be confined to bouquets and vases. The orchid is a beautiful and exotic flower that can be the perfect topper to any cake. You can create sweet orchids with gum paste, a pliable sugar dough. They may seem difficult to make at first, but with a little practice you can create works of edible art like a pastry chef.
Purchase gum paste at your local craft store or cake decorating shop. It is sold in a bag or tub fully prepared and ready-to-use. Remove your gum paste from the bag. Knead your gum paste fully until it is soft and pliable. If you wish to have coloured flowers, add a small drop of gel colour and knead until the colour is completely absorbed. Place gum paste in a plastic bag and seal tightly.
Prepare your gum paste surface by sprinkling a small amount of cornstarch on a non-stick board. Place all of your tools within arms reach because gum paste dries quickly. Roll out your gum paste until it is thin.
Cut out one centre, using you cattleya cutter. Place it immediately under a plastic bag. Use your long petal cutter, which looks like a tear drop, to cut three petals. Use the shorter petal cutter to cut two pieces. Place all pieces under the plastic bags.
Smooth the edges and centre of the petals until they are thin, using your fingertips on top of the plastic bag. Leave the base of each petal thick. Carefully push your floral wire into the base of each petal without disturbing the centre piece.
Place your petal face down in the veining tool while still working under the plastic bag. Place your fingers on top of the bag and smooth the petal into the veiner. Continue this with all six pieces.
Place a petal in the centre of your thin foam mat with the vein side facing up. Use your ball tool to carefully press down the edges of the petal until they begin to ripple up. Set the petal aside to dry on a curved surface. Continue with the remaining petals.
Wrap your centre petal around a cone-shaped object, leaving the rippled portion at the top and the thicker portion curved around the cone. Seal together with egg white, using your paintbrush.
Roll a small ball of fondant and place it on a wire. Carefully insert the wire through the centre of the orchid base. Set aside to dry. Your centre should not be larger than the actual hole of your centre piece. Refer to a picture of a real orchid to see proper proportions.
Gather your dried pieces for assembly. Assemble your two long teardrop petals at the bottom of the orchid, the two rippled petals at the top. Place the last teardrop petal at the top of the arrangement. Your orchid petals should resemble the shape of a star. Place the base piece in the centre of the arrangement. Pinch each wire at the bottom and twist to secure into place. Wrap the floral wires with floral tape. Adjust and position petals the correct distance from each other.
Gum paste dries very quickly. Work under a plastic bag to ensure it stays soft enough for shaping.