Most brides will ask me this question when they come for a wedding cake tasting. Are fresh flowers or sugar flowers better for their wedding cake? My personal opinion? Sugar flowers. Sugar flowers will always be my top choice when it comes to cake decoration.
I am guilty of using fresh flowers myself - due to various reasons. Bride's insisting on using fresh flowers, customer's budget constrain, time constrain for last minute orders etc. But If there is anything i will support in this industry will be using sugar flowers (and of course health conscious ingredients of course).
Reasons? Fresh flowers are not hygienic. Let's think about the growth cycle of a flower, or in fact any plant. Seed, seedling, plant, flower and next, florist and farmers cut these flowers from the plant itself, pack it and transport it to a wholesaler (mind you, most Singapore flowers are imported from overseas). In the flower's life cycle and sale process, it it probably exposed to the following - dust, dirt, pesticide, insects, fertilisers, non food grade/food safe carton, the surface of any floor (lets face it, farmers and florist will put them on the floor etc).
There are many bakers and bakeries in Singapore who will tell you how they wash the flowers and wrap the stem in foils etc, but how sure are you that the pesticide and fertilisers are washed away? So as beautiful as fresh flowers are, I would like to keep them as hand bouquets, in vases and far away from cakes.
So what are sugar flowers? Does it taste good? Is it very sweet? Is it edible? Is it hygienic? How is it made?
One question at a time. Sugar flowers are made using a mixture of tylose, powdered sugar and egg whites. If you are wondering what is tylose, it is a gelling/thickening agent which is commonly used in icecream and tooth paste etc. We combine these ingredients and make it into a paste - think of our dumpling or kueh skin.
Does it taste good? Is it very sweet? Honestly sugar flower just taste like sweet potato chips. Cripsy and sweet, quite tasteless, not my choice of diet but definitely not offensive (: and of course, 100% edible as they are made of very common products.
How are sugar flowers made? Sugar flowers are made the way you see them - petal by petal. We vein them and arrange them in such a way that they resemble real fresh flowers. and finally, we dust them with edible food colour dust which brings out the detail of the sugar flower. We will next tie them together using floral tapes and attach them to your cake. And as hygienic matters, we will often insert a straw to make sure there are no direct contact with the cake and the flower stem.
So here you go! Next time you think about buying a floral cake, wedding cake or a birthday cake topped with flowers, choose sugar flowers (: