Rose petals lend a romantic flavour to any situation and a cake decorated with sugared or candied rose petals is certainly romantic and flavourful. Rose petals are edible and have a sweet and floral taste. Sugared petals shimmer and sparkle, providing a dramatic effect. The old way of sugaring rose petals uses egg whites. This can cause issues with food poisoning because the egg is uncooked. Those worried about this issue can use dehydrated egg whites, or meringue powder found at most establishments that carry cake-decorating supplies.
Using egg whites
Pick roses before the sun becomes hot and only pick those that do not have insect damage or brown spots. Avoid buds that have not yet opened. Avoid cut roses from florists or nurseries as chemicals are used during their growing period.
Pull petals carefully from the rose and use scissors if necessary. Rinse under gently running water and place petals between two paper towels to pat dry. Refrigerate the petals if you are not using them right away. The bottom of the petal is usually a lighter colour or white. This part of the petal is often bitter. Taste to check. If it is bitter, clip this part off with a pair of scissors.
Crack the egg in half and separate the white from the yolk by rocking it back and forth between the two parts of the eggshell, allowing the white to drop into a bowl and the yolk to stay in the shell. Discard or save the yolk for another use.
Add two or three drops of water to the egg white and whisk briskly until frothy.
Pour 240 ml (1 cup) of the superfine sugar in another bowl.
Dip the paintbrush in the frothy egg white mixture and paint the front and back of a petal.
Pick up the sugar in your fingers and sprinkle it evenly over the petal. Place the sugared petal on a baking tray covered with waxed paper and let the petals dry 12 to 36 hours. Use them on cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other confections.
Using meringue powder
Pick and prepare flowers as usual.
Place 35 ml (2 tbsp) meringue powder in a bowl and dissolve 35 ml (2 tbsp) water in it. Whisk well.
Paint meringue powder mixture on both sides of the petal.
Sprinkle superfine sugar over the petals to coat them and let them dry on waxed paper lined baking trays for 12 to 36 hours.
Sugared rose petals are easily frozen for future use. Put them in a plastic container so they do not get broken.
Never use petals treated with pesticides or untreated fertiliser. This can introduce harmful chemicals and pathogens to the body.