How to Make Sugar Paste Carnations

Written by tara lightfoot
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How to Make Sugar Paste Carnations
Sugar can be moulded into a variety of shapes and flower types to add decor to cakes and other desserts. (cream cake, close-up image by Nikolai Sorokin from

Sugar paste, also known as gum paste, is a handy ingredient used for making edible cake accents and decorations such as bows and flowers. The shapes, sizes and colours of the sugar pieces can be customised for any occasion and make a basic baked good look gourmet. Even though these little goodies look impressive, they are not too difficult to make at home. All of the necessary ingredients can be purchased at a craft or baking supply store and require very little preparation time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Gum paste
  • Icing sugar
  • Toothpick
  • Carnation cookie cutter set
  • Rolling pin
  • Cake decorating glue
  • Small paint brush
  • Palette with small divots

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  1. 1

    Spread a thin layer of icing sugar over the rolling surface. This will prevent the gum paste from sticking to the counter.

  2. 2

    Make sure the cookie cutter set is clean and dry. Then, press the cutters into the icing sugar. This will help keep the gum paste from sticking to the cutters. Ideally, there should be three different sizes of cutters (small, medium and large) because carnations are known for their stacked layers of petals.

    How to Make Sugar Paste Carnations
    Try to find a cutter set that has three different sizes of the same shape. (three pastry cutters image by Warren Millar from
  3. 3

    Roll a ball of gum paste into a thin sheet using the rolling pin. Be sure to roll over the area of the counter that has icing sugar on it so that the gum paste does not get stuck on the surface. Spread a small amount of sugar on ttohe rolling pin to prevent sticking there as well.

    How to Make Sugar Paste Carnations
    Rolling pins are ideal for spreading icing. (rolling pin image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from
  4. 4

    Press each cookie cutter into the gum paste so that you have three flower-shaped pieces (a small, a medium and a large).

  5. 5

    Press small ripples onto the edges of each petal with a toothpick to create the ruffled look that real carnation petals have. They do not have to be perfectly symmetrical.

  1. 1

    Place the largest flower-shape piece into the divot of your palette. If you cannot find a painting palette that has round scoops in it, a devilled egg tray might work. The goal is to find a small, scooped dish so that it holds the curved flower shape while you're placing all of the layers together.

    How to Make Sugar Paste Carnations
    Pallettes are typically used for paints, but they are ideal for creating sugar flowers, too. (paint play image by Pix by Marti from
  2. 2

    Apply cake decorating glue to the top of the large petal with a small brush.

  3. 3

    Place the medium-sized petal on top of the large petal. Use your brush or a toothpick to ruffle the petal and push it onto the glue. Depending on the sizes of your cutters, you can add another layer of this same size or move on to the final petal.

  4. 4

    Brush more cake decorating glue on the inside of the medium-sized petal.

  5. 5

    Pick up the smallest petal and fold it in half like a taco. Then, fold it in half again. But do not press too hard because it is supposed to look "bunched," not "squished." Place the folded petal into the glue on the medium petal. Shape with a toothpick until the desired look is achieved and then let it air dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Tint the gum paste with a bit of food colouring before you start cutting the shapes. Yellow and pink work well for carnations.
  • Cover any unused gum paste so that it does not dry out.

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