Brittle gumpaste orchids give your speciality cake the look and feel of fresh flowers without the wilting and browning of the real thing. Gumpaste flowers have a thin, sugar crisp that makes them more elegant than fondant, buttercream or royal icing flowers -- an ideal medium for preparing orchid sprays, since they're exotic. Begin working up to one week before you need the orchid spray, so you have enough time to make and assemble all the flowers.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Food colouring
- Rolling pin
- Pastry brush
- Orchid cutters
- Gumpaste glue
- 28-gauge florist wire
- Egg carton or bubble wrap
- Florist foam or styrofoam
- Powdered food colouring
- Small paintbrush
Tint your gumpaste with food colouring to dye it a base colour; you can choose to leave it white if you prefer. To tint gumpaste, stick a toothpick into the dye and touch it to the gumpaste, mottling the paste with dots. Work the gumpaste between your hands, kneading the colour until it becomes uniform. Deepen the colour by applying more dye. Stop when you're satisfied with the hue and know you can paint additional colour work when the spray is complete.
Roll out the gumpaste to a 1/8-inch thickness, using a fine coat of cornstarch to prevent gumpaste from sticking as you roll it. Dust off excess cornstarch with a pastry brush.
Cut out the gumpaste orchids with your orchid cutter (see Resources). Most orchids require one main shape and a few petals that get glued together. Consult the instructions that come with your cutter to figure out how to assemble your specific orchid.
Assemble the flowers using gumpaste glue. First, curl or fill the main orchid body using your veining tool and set it down. Then curl the petals. Dab gumpaste glue on the main body and press the petals into shape on at a time. Lay the gumpaste flower down to set for a few minutes while you prepare the stem.
Cut a 4- to 6-inch length of 28-gauge florist wire. Make a small ball of gumpaste. Hook the end of the wire over itself to crete a double-thick end, by making a candy cane shape then flattening out the arc. Stick the gumpaste ball on the thick end of your wire.
Thread the wire through the centre of the orchid flower, then set the flower down to dry. Place it in an egg carton or on bubble wrap so it can dry without breaking.
Make all your orchid flowers like this. Since gumpaste gets brittle when dry, make more than you need for the spray. On the last flower, cut a longer length of florist wire, up to 12 inches. You'll attach the other orchids to this when they're all dry, so let the flowers dry before continuing.
Take a second to plan while the flowers dry. Think about how many orchids you want on the spray for a natural look.
Pick up the main flower when you're ready to assemble the spray. To have a steady work surface, stick it into florist foam or styrofoam. Take another flower in your hand and bring it up to the main wire. Use a small piece of florist tape to attach the wires.
Bring all flowers for the spray into the project just like this, attaching them with a touch of florist tape. To secure the spray when you've finished adding orchids, wind florist tape down the length of the stem so all the wires are taped together.
Dust the flowers with powdered food colouring to adjust the hue. Working with a small paintbrush, you can dust lines or dots to colour your orchids.
Tips and warnings
- Store the finished gumpaste spray in an airtight container, on a bubble wrap bed.
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