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Chocolate Basket with Strawberries

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Use Choco Writers to Make a Wimbledon Treat!

It’s that time of year again that makes me really feel like summer is here. Wimbledon starts today! Of course as a Brit I will be rooting for Andy Murrey though of course as we are an international company I also wish all the international players loads of luck (as long as they don’t beat Andy of course!)

But you can’t have Wimbledon without strawberries! So I have a tutorial here that will help you to make a very impressive display of your Wimbledon strawberries (or in fact many other sweets and desserts). Not only will your friends and family be Oooh-ing and Ahhh- ing at the tennis but you may get a few for the fabulous presentation of the strawberries!

You will need:

Cake Decor Choco-writers
Strawberries
Chocolate for dipping
Small party balloon

How to Make:

We are going to use the balloon as a former for the basket so first you need to blow it up to the size you want your basket to be. You can use a small bowl or cup as a guide. Place it into the bowl and draw around it with a marker pen using the rim as a guide. This will be the top of your finished basket.

Guideline for piping
The finished line around the balloon
Marking the top of the basket
Use a marker to draw around the rim of the bowl to mark the top of the basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melt the choco- writer in a jug of hot water (keeping the top tightly on so no water gets into the chocolate!). Once it is soft all over test the flow. It should pipe easily but not run out too fast. If it is hard to pipe warm for a little longer. If you find it flows out too quickly just leave it to cool for a few moments before you start to pipe.

Start by piping around the balloon following the line you have marked. Then place the balloon back in the bowl for support with the tied end down. Pipe all over the balloon using loops or cornelli piping or the pattern of your choice. It wants to be lacy but it is important that the lines do touch in order to give strength to the finished basket. Make sure that you go right up to your guide line all the way round. If the Choco writer starts to get hard to pipe put the top back on and place it back in the hot water for a few minutes to remelt. Leave the finished basket in the support and place in a cool place to set up.

Piping the Basket top
Pipe around the guideline with the Choco Writer
Piping the Basket
Pipe lacework all over the balloon up to piped rim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile melt some chocolate – I find the PME Chocolate Melting pot to be perfect for this! It doesn’t overheat the chocolate (one of my big failings when using a microwave!) and keeps it at a constant temperature while you work. The three different pots also mean you can change from milk, to white to plain chocolate whenever you like.

Wash and dry some strawberries leaving the stalks in place as they make a perfect dipping and eating handle! Dip into the chocolate of your choice until they are about half covered then place on some greaseproof paper to set.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

By now the basket should have set up. Gently ease the balloon away from the sides of the basket to free the chocolate. You can insert a scalpel carefully into the top of the balloon to create a small hole by nipping some of the balloon in your fingers to prevent the balloon from popping and allow the balloon to deflate slowly. It is important not to stab at it as this will cause the balloon to pop which may damage the basket. Ease the deflated balloon away from the basket if it still sticks.

Deflating the Balloon
When set deflate the balloon and remove from the basket
Chocolate Base
The Chocolate Circle is fixed to the base of the basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pipe a circle of chocolate onto a piece of greaseproof paper and fill with chocolate using the choco writer. Before it sets lightly press the base of your basket onto it and hold in place for a few minutes until it holds. Once set the greaseproof can be peeled away and the basket will have a nice flat base and won’t tip.

When ready to serve place your dipped strawberries into the basket. Dust with a little icing sugar and add a bowl of whipped cream on the side for dipping your strawberries into while you eat… and there you have a beautiful display of summer fruit and chocolate for your favourite Wimbledon moments!

More Information:
If you would like to see the video demonstration of the Chocolate Basket you can download it for free at the PartyAnimalOnlineShop then you can replay it to your hearts content!

We also have sets of the Chocowriters available with a Wimbledon Special offer of an additional 50p off our already discount price for all 3 choco writers by simply using the code wim2015 at checkout.

 

Chocolate Basket and Dipped Strawberries
Pipe a Chocolate Basket with Choco Writers for your Wimbledon Strawberry Treat

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JEM Lacy Butterfly Tutorial

Jem Lacy Butterfly Tutorial – Guest Blog by the super fantastic Charlotte from Let’s Eat Cake

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Charlotte has done a step by step on using the gorgeous JEM Lacy Butterfly Cutters for us so here goes… we hope you like it and give them a go yourself. You can check out Let’s Eat Cakes page HERE!

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What you will need:-


*If you want to make wired butterlies you will also need edible glue, a small paintbrush and florist’s wire (I use 26 gauge)

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Roll out the gumpaste fairly thinly, around 1mm in thickness.

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Just to give you an idea of thickness.

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Smear a light coat of white vegetable fat over the rolled gumpaste.

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Place your chosen cutter into the roller pad

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Place the gumpaste, greased side down, onto the cutter and press down with your finger to secure (if your fingers are warm or sticky dust your hands with cornflour/icing sugar first).

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 You should be able to see the impression of the butterfly

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Take your rolling pin and roll from the centre outwards, using a firm pressure
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Remove the excess gumpaste

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The butterfly should now look like this…..

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All cut outs removed…..Now leave to air dry for 5-10 minutes before removing from the cutter.

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After 5 minutes, take the pin/scribe tool and starting at the corners gently insert and lift out the paste

JEM Lacy Butterfly Tutorial

Gently run the pin under the paste to ease out of the cutter. Take your time at this stage as the butterfly is pretty delicate! Ease out both wings first and lastly the body.

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Butterfly removed from the cutter. If you are not wiring the butterfly place onto a piece of folded card to dry

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 With the butterfly flat, place one finger on top of the body and keeping the wire flat, very gently insert into the body

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Transfer to the folded card to dry

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Unwired butterflies drying….. they will need a good few hours to dry really firm. To attach to your cake, use a small amount of royal icing. For the wired butterflies, use a posy pick inserted into the cake.
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Here are the butterflies on the finished cake by Let’s Eat Cake by Charlotte.
Pop on to Charlotte’s Facebook page and see loads more of her awesome tutorials! Or visit our blog as there will be more Guest Blogs by Charlotte very soon!
If you liked this tutorial, you may like these too>

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Cream ProGel Food Colour Chart

Cream ProGel Food Colour Chart

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Yesterday our lovely customer Gill requested a colour chart for Creams in the ProGel Range by Rainbow Dust so I put together this quick example of our cream coloured food colourings. Pro Gel Food Colour is a high quality food colour that requires very little to create beautiful vibrant colours meaning your sugarpaste doesn’t go sticky and flavour is not effected.

I love cream colours, they are beautiful colours to use in Weddings & Christenings but also great for Vintage themes and Teddy Bears. You can’t really go wrong with them and they are a must for any cake decorators collection. From my examples I would start with Caramel & Chestnut as you can see in the pictures there are many shades and depth of colour you can achieve with just one colour.

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Mixing Colours: I always start by mixing one piece of Sugarpaste to the darkest colour I can achieve with that specific shade. This allows you to measure and weigh your quantities against the amount of white sugarpaste you add to it allowing you to re-create a colour easily with easy maths.

For example: If you use 1 part dark colour to 4 parts white you can up the size easily but achieve exactly the same colour for colouring cakes. If you colour too much sugarpaste don’t throw it away, seal it in a airtight zip bag and keep it in a Tupperware box it will keep to the best before of the sugarpaste or you can also freeze it to add an extra 6 months of life to it!

Why Not Pin It!
Why Not Pin It!

I love the Rainbow Dust ProGel Colours and I am really pleased to say we stock the entire range on our website as well as discounted sets.

For more Food Colour Charts See our Colour Chart Blog Category!

 

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Creating Perfectly Domed Cupcakes

Have you been wondering what the secrets are to creating perfectly domed cupcakes?

We’ve got some tips and advice that may just help you with your future cupcake adventures!

Let’s get started:

Tip 1

Now there’s many different ways you can achieve a domed effect with your cupcakes but my Top Tip is to bake your cupcakes with a dome to begin with, this means you’re not having to pile on excessive amounts of buttercream and icing to help your cupcake achieve that perfect domed finish.

To do this I found a perfect example by Buttercream Couture on filling those cupcake cases just right and making sure you have a lovely starting dome!

If your oven is too hot your cupcakes will volcano out the top, leaving behind an ugly bump that you then have to trim down. By reducing the temperature on the domed cupcakes you prevent this from occurring! Remember all ovens vary so it’s worth running a few test batches to get your temperature exactly the way it works best! Baking is a science and requires a lot of trial and error. Check out Kelly Neil’s Tutorial.

Domed Cupcakes

 

Tip 2 

If your cupcakes are flat then you can fill them out with plenty of buttercream as an under layer. Add a tablespoon of buttercream and smooth it into a dome, this way when you come to add your icing it makes the cake look lovely and rounded. Personally I’m not a big fan of too much buttercream so I tend to try for the dome to begin with as show in Tip 1, I then add a small amount of buttercream to help hold the icing in place and smooth out any lumps and bumps, it makes for a much smoother finish on top!

Tip 3

Don’t be afraid to roll your icing that bit thicker. A thicker layer hides many little flaws in the cupcake sponge and gives a far superior, professional finish! I’ve done a bit of a step by step on our Dummy Cupcakes to show how effective that thicker icing can be even when you start with a flat cupcake!

Dummy Cupcakes really do come in handy for practising designs without wasting batches of cake! They are also great for displays or cupcake mood boards for your customers!

 

Perfectly Domed Cupcakes

Sometimes your cake bakes flat and without wasting you need to make sure you cover it well so I’ve used these dummy cupcakes as an example. I used Tala Cutters which are probably one of my most used tools…not bad for a few quid…and I used Cupcakes Dummies, they are available in bags of 12 and once used for your demonstration or display you can simply scrape them down, wash and use them time & time again! Brilliant!

 

 

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Roll out your icing so it’s approximately 1cm thick, you want it to be quite thick as it all helps with shaping your cupcake top! – On my example I haven’t used any buttercream as it’s not necessary when covering dummy cakes but on your cakes you will require a small amount, this will help the icing stick to the cake and smooth out any lumps & bumps on your cake as mentioned in Tip 2.

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Once you’ve cut your icing out, apply the buttercream, smooth over the cupcake with a pallet knife and then add your sugarpaste top. You want to work around the edges smoothing it down to the tip of the cupcake without messing around with the top, smooth around the entire edge of the cupcake until the sugarpaste takes a domed shape.

 

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Once you have smoothed around your cupcake edges, your cupcakes should look like this! I recommend leaving them for 1 hour to let the sugarpaste set slightly and then you can work on them easily without creating marks in the sugarpaste as easily. As you can see this has created a lovely domed effect from a flat topped cupcake!

 

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Why not try out some of our Cupcake Topper Tutorials for quick, easy and effective designs to finish your cupcakes off!

Don’t forget all your supplies can be purchased from our Online Shop at the very lowest prices! By shopping with us you are also supporting the upkeep of our free tutorials so Thank You! We’ve added links to products we’ve used on this blog to make it even easier but if there’s anything you’ve seen that you would like to hear more about or ask where to get them from, don’t hesitate to ask! We are happy to help!

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Turtle Cakes and Cupcakes

Here’s our most recent Fan Shares for all inspired Turtle Cakes and Cupcakes.

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I found this little guy chewing on some lettuce over at Cakes Beyond Belief and thought he’d be perfect to start our Turtle Share Day!

 

With loads of entries submitted yesterday for our animal share day it was really difficult to choose this weeks Turtle Cakes and Cupcakes to go in this week fan share blog.

I love the diversity of the cakes and of course this share would not be complete without the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake or two!

So let’s have the line up…. here’s the Top 10 Turtle Cakes from our Facebook fans….. get ready to be inspired.

In no particular order other than the Top Favourite voted by likes on our Facebook page by our fans and the PartyAnimalOnline cake shop staff! Let us know your favourites at the bottom of this post.

 

1. I love the idea of waves on this cake, a very clever use of cake tiers by Give and Cake.

Turtle Cake
Turtle Cake – Give and Cake

 

2. This scores top for the most realistic turtle cake I have ever seen! This cake is by North Star Cakes – the same people who did that amazing Snake Cake! I love the shiny finish created with confectioners glaze… it just finishes this cake off so well…. I would feel mean cutting in to this little fella for a slice!

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3. It’s Squirt from Finding Nemo… loved this character in the film and Tracey’s Fab Cakes has really captured his character here! Really impressive and amazing airbrush detail and control!

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4. Dave’s Discworld Cake was presented on a massive 14″ x 18″ board… it’s enormity is a feat in itself. All the details were airbrushed on too. Fabulous by Dave’s All Occasions Cakes.

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5. A ‘bodacious’ design by Cath’s Custom Cakes and this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cake would not be complete without the pizza! A fabulous finishing touch!

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6. I was really impressed to hear this was Inspirata Cakes first use of their Airbrush… love the shell and colours on this fabulous turtle cake!inspirata_cakes

 

7. Hurry little tortoise… swim for your life! Looks like the sharks still hungry from his human lunch! Love the design of this cake by Julie Cains Cakes … her cakes are amazing!

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8. I love the marbled effect of icing used on the turtles shell by the lovely Yvonne Walsh! Yvonne had loads of fun making this one and I can really see why, a brilliant effect used to tile his skin and shell and give this little guy a great finish!yvonne_welsh

 

9. TMNT Cake by Mrs B Bakes Cakes – So these guys have certainly been popular in today’s turtle shares making it incredibly hard to choose but I really liked the design and vibrancy of this one…down to the font detail of the name! Four extremely lovable, butt kicking turtles – totally awesome duuuude!

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10. You’ve seen cakes but I’m here to bring you cupcakes too! These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cupcakes were made by Elaine’s Cheerful Colourful Cupcakes – they are exactly that… A very effective design and perfect cupcakes to finish off our turtle cake & cupcakes share!elaines_colourful_cupcakes

 

That concludes our Turtle Cakes & Cupcakes on Fan Shares today!

Which is your favourite?…. We’ll leave it to you guys to decide!

 

Other awesome animal cakes

 

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Make a rose with modelling chocolate tutorial

Making a Rose with Modelling Chocolate Tutorial

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Available in white, milk and dark chocolate.

I loved how fun and different these were to make. I found chocolate to be much more splap-dash than what sugarcraft is. When you use flower paste to model your flowers you use very precise methods, spend a lot of time perfecting and it requires a lot of love, attention and time. Where as chocolate modelling is all about working fast, getting involved with your hands a lot more and learning to love the imperfections, the imperfections are what make your roses look real, down to the stamp your fingerprint makes on the rose petal like a natural veining tool.

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So you think you want to try it? If you have hot hands like me you are going to have to work faster than most and cool your hands down if needed by running them in cold water for 5 minutes and drying them thoroughly when you feel like they are overheating, this will stop you overworking the chocolate and turning it in to a sticky mess.

I used Squires high quality white chocolate modelling paste, it’s also available in milk chocolate and dark chocolate but as I wanted to test colouring it too I used white chocolate. You can make your own modelling chocolate with a combination of chocolate and corn syrup but this way is so much easier although it can work out pricey if you need to do a lot of modelling but it taste so daaaamn goood!

Making a Rose with Modelling Chocolate Tutorial

So let’s get to it, this is what you are going to need:

Extra’s – Recommended

As you can see you need very little which makes modelling chocolate a very desirable medium to play around with, especially if you are only just stepping in to the realms of flowers and you don’t want to spend a fortune on cutters.

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Step 1

Prepare: Always prepare the equipment you will need, lay your cutters out and knead your chocolate paste to loosen it up ready. Get your flower formers at the ready and then your not panicking when you have this beautiful flower with no where to put it.

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Step 2

Cut the Petals: Once you have quickly kneading the paste just to loosen it up you can roll it out, I would aim for about 1mm in thickness. Although there’s 10 petals on this photo I actually ended up using 11 and adding another one at the end, I just felt it needed it, you can always add to your flower to make it fuller. I made 5  of the largest size 45mm then 2 of  the next 35mm, 1 of the following 30mm and 3 of the smallest 15mm.

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Step 3

Making the Centre: Once you’ve cut all the petals roll the left over in to a ball and then cone the end to give you the centre of your flower, it should look like the picture above…

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Step 4

Shaping your Petals: In this step we are going to prepare all the petals and making them look more realistic by shaping them. The key here is to work with the rounded edge of the petal shape, leave the half with the point untouched, this will stretch out the outside creating a thin realistic petal. To do this you need to nip the petal in between your thumb and your forefinger repeatedly. Remember here is the point where you want to work fast and you may also need to cool your hands down. We are not looking for a perfect finish, the main aim of the game is to stretch and then the edges of the petal ready for putting it together.

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I love that you can leave the petals to one side for 5 minutes without them drying out to much or worry of them cracking, chocolate modelling paste is considerably more pliable than many pastes and you don’t need edible glue to bond them all together!

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Step 5

Starting to build your rose: Everythings ready and you are now feeling organised and hopefully reasonably happy with your petals. We are going to start the initial building of the rose. I would say the beginnings the most important, your eye is drawn to the centre so you want this part to look the best. Hold the centre cone so the tip is facing upwards and the round edge is facing down. Start by wrapping your first petal around the centre, remember it’s tip face down and the thin part of the petal should be the part sticking up. Curl the petal around your cone centre.. it should look a little like this.

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Continue to do the same with the other 2 small petals and we are off to a good start. If you just wanted a bud in your chocolate bouquet you could finish here but this time we are going to carry on!

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Here’s the side on view of where you are up to, don’t worry that you haven’t covered the bottom of your rose fully, this will be covered by the end. It’s starting to come together.

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Step 6

Building it up: From here on out we are just building it up and thickening it out, modelling paste doesn’t require glue as the heat of your hand will encourage the paste to stick easily. For the layers from here on out you want to be making them come out further from the rose, the first layers require you to work closely to the centre where as now only the very bottom of your petal should be touching the rest of the rose. To create a lovely realistic effect I found curling the very tip of the petal over slightly added a lovely touch.

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It can always be handy to have a picture of what you are attempting to model near by, this way you can refer to it for it’s certain characteristics like a subtle curl of a petal that will make your flower look that much more life like.

Work from small to large in your petals: Small = inside centre petals and Large = outside pulled away petals.

Top Tips:

  • Try not to overwork your modelling chocolate, learn to love the imperfections.
  • Use your thumb and finger to thin the petals this will give them a very natural finish.
  • Cool your hands down with cold water for 5 minutes if you feel your hands are getting a bit hot.
  • If you over work the chocolate due to heat, stop, put it in the fridge for 2 mins while you cool down your hands under the tap and then try again!

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Step 7

Finishing it off: You can continue with as many petals you like until your rose has reached the perfect size you want. Once done pop it in your formers and if you want it to firm up fast you can stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes.

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Modelling chocolate firms up but isn’t rigid like sugar flowers making it much more appetising for your cake topper that you can actually eat! I really enjoyed sing the Squires Modelling Chocolate but the question is what do we move on to next?..

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I’ll be writing up a blog over the next few week on colouring your chocolate modelling pastes and dusting techniques so be sure to check them out.

Here’s some other Blogs you might like:

 

IT vs SugarFlowers

IT guy meets sugar flowers!

Hello everyone!

My names Dan Clarke, I’m Steph’s brother and recent re-addition to the Party Animal team, primarily in IT systems and process management.

However this weekend I thought it would be nice to ‘practice what you preach’ and take home some sugar flower equipment with the goal of having a go at some roses from a complete newbies perspective using products available in our online store.

With Steph’s previous blog about the creation of basic roses on my laptop screen I cleared some space in the lounge and got out my equipment for this potentially daunting task!

Preparing your Petals…

I began by rolling out Renshaws White Modelling Paste really thin and cutting out discs using a JEM metal piping tube, as instructed. Using a cocktail stick I then further thinned the edges of my sugar discs to give them a thinner edge and slight wave when assembled.

 

First steps of creating sugar flowers
First steps of creating sugar flowers

Quick Tip: If you are as new to this as me you may find it takes a while to construct these flowers and your discs begin drying out, this made them harder to handle and manipulate. I used a little cling film to stop this giving me a little more time!

Constructing the flower…

The middle of the flower was simple a single disc rolled up lightly, there is one on the left of the above image for reference. Following this you simply layer the discs around the inner bud sticking with water until the flower is an acceptable size. Sugar glue could be used here but I found water to be sufficient.

Please see the below picture of a couple of the finished flowers. To create the red one I applied a little Sugarflair Christmas Red to the flower paste when kneading.

 

Sugar rose flowers
Sugar rose flowers

 

Finishing Touches…

After leaving the flowers to harden over night I tried out a couple of finishing effects and colouring alternatives.

The yellow flower below is simply the white flower brushed with Sugarflair tangerine blossom dust. This gave a fantastic effect as an alternative to applying the colour to the paste due to slight unevenness of the colour giving a more realistic finish.

The red flower was made from the dyed paste with a brush of burgundy Sugarflair blossom dust between the petals to give a shade and feeling of depth to the flower. I also gave this flower a quick dust with the snowflake lustre to give it a little sparkle.

Sugar roses brushed with Sugarflair blossom and lustre colours.
Sugar roses brushed with Sugarflair blossom and lustre colours.

 

The below white flower was brushed lightly snowflake lustre then I tipped the edges using the pearlescent cerise Rainbow Dust click twist pen.

 

Difficult?

No!

I must say I was extremely surprised how easy these flowers were to create and would recommend you all to have a little try, trust me if I can do it, anyone can!!

For reference, please see the following list of products used, most of which are available on the Party Animal Online shop;

–          Renshaws Flower Paste

–          Rolling pin

–          Cornflour (for rolling)

–          Sugarflair colouring (if required)

–          Piping nozzle (I used a JEM nozzle)

–          Cocktail Sticks

–          A little water for sticking

–          Sugarflair Dust for finishing. (if required)

–          Rainbow Dust Click Twist Brush for highlights (if required)

Final tip: Be careful where you leave the flowers to dry as my cat quite enjoyed munching a few of them in the night!!

 

Good thing he's cute!
Good thing he’s cute!