Blossoming cherry trees, also known as sakura, are an entirely different species than the cherry tree that produces the fruit. Indigenous to Asia, blossoming cherry trees are significant in Asian culture. Due to their brief and overwhelming blooming period, cherry blossoms represent clouds, life and mortality, and have been portrayed in many works of art. They are considered lucky, and a blooming cherry tree is a good omen of love and life. Because of their positive symbolism, cherry blossoms are a popular theme for special occasion cakes and pastries.
Use food colouring to colour two small amounts of gum paste. The first portion will be the centre of the flower. For pink cherry blossoms, you will want a dark pink colour. For white cherry blossoms, you will want a light pink colour. The second portion will be the tips of your stamens. Pale brown or pale yellow colouring is most realistic.
Place a small ball of the pink gum paste on a piece of waxed paper. The ball should be no larger than 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter.
Break the dried rice noodles into 1/2- to 3/4-inch segments. Korean myun or Malaysian laksa work best for stamens, as they are white, very thin, and possess a bit of flexibility. Myun, laksa, and other Asian noodles can be purchased at most Asian food stores.
Apply a small ball of the brown or yellow gum paste to one end of each segment of noodle. The ball should be very small, just large enough to add a little colour to the end of the stamen.
Use a pair of tweezers to insert the uncolored end of each stamen into the pink ball of gum paste. A true cherry blossom has 29 stamens, but you don't have to include all 29 to make your cherry blossom look good.
Set the waxed paper with your flower centre on it aside to dry.
Use food colouring to colour several tablespoons of gum paste. Gum paste dries fairly quickly, so it is best to work with small amounts. For pink cherry blossoms, you want a pale pink colour. For white cherry blossoms, you don't have to colour it at all.
Form a small cone out of the gum paste. Your cone should be no more than 1/2 to 1 inch long, and no more than 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter at the base. The base of the cone should be half the height of the cone. For example, if your cone is 1 inch long, the diameter of the base should be 1/2 inch.
Use your fingertip to flatten the tip of the cone just slightly.
Press the 5-point-star end of a star tool into the wide, flat end of the cone. Don't press hard. All you need is an indentation. Star and bead tools can be purchased at cake decorating or baking shops. You can also purchase kits that include many different gum paste crafting tools for between 20 and 50 dollars.
Use the scissors or craft knife to cut a slot into the gum paste at each point of the star. The cut should stretch from the base of the cone to about 2/3 of the distance from the base to the tip of the cone.
Separate the five sections of gum paste. Be very careful to avoid breaking off any sections.
Dust your hands with cornstarch to prevent gum paste sticking to your fingertips.
Hold the cone against your thumb. Press one section of gum paste against your thumb. Using a fingertip of the opposite hand, gently flatten the section until it begins to look like a petal. Try to flatten the petal as evenly and as thinly as possible.
Repeat step 8 for each of the five sections.
Use the bead tool to roughen and add texture to the edges of the petals. A cherry-blossom petal is curved along the outer edge and possesses a slight notch in the centre of the curve. Your gum-paste petals should be curved as well. Don't worry about perfection. Real flowers are not perfect or completely symmetrical.
Set your finished petals in a flower former. A flower former allows the gum-paste flower to dry and adds to the natural curve of the petal formation. Flower formers can be purchased at most cake decorating or baking shops.
Place a small drop of edible glue in the centre of the dried petal formation.
Set the centre of the flower with the stamens on the drop of glue. The stamens should be pointing up, as should the flower petals. Don't press down on the flower centre. Simply let it settle in the glue.
Set the flower aside to dry.
Repeat the steps in sections 1 through 3 for each flower you wish to create.
Cut a piece of craft wire to the length you desire your branch or twig to be; 6 to 8 inches is usually enough.
Insert one end of the craft-wire segment into the base, or tapered end, of your flower. Be very gentle, as gum paste can flake or crack if too much force is applied. The craft wire should slide in easily and without resistance.
Apply a drop of edible glue to the area where the flower's base meets the craft wire.
Set your flower aside to dry.
Repeat steps 1 through 4 for each cherry blossom.
Wrap each wire stem with brown floral tape. Cover the metal craft wire entirely.
Hold three to seven flower stems together. The blossoms should be slightly dispersed. You don't want every blossom in the exact same location.
Wrap the bundle of flower stems together with brown floral tape to create a branch.
Decorate a cake or pastry by simply placing the gum-paste cherry blossoms directly on the cake or pastry, rather than creating stems. Create buds by placing a teardrop-shaped ball of gum paste on the end of a stem. Mix the buds with your blossoms for a more natural effect. Add some lustre dust to bring out the colours of your cherry blossoms. Lustre dust usually requires a few minutes of steaming. Follow the instructions that come with the lustre dust. Gum-paste flower stamens can be purchased at many cake decorating or baking shops, but they are usually not edible.
Use care when cutting with scissors or craft knives. Be gentle and take your time when rolling gum paste. It is fragile and will tear easily. Do not attempt to eat the stems, twigs, or branches. The cherry blossoms are edible, but the stems are not.