When it comes to sugar flowers for cake decorating, storage can be equally important as creating your edible masterpieces. It's important to learn how to store fondant and gum paste flowers, because this will allow you to create sweet blossoms in advance yet ensure that they remain as crisp, colorful and lovely as when you made them.
Advantages to storing fondant and gum paste flowers
Sugar flowers can be time consuming to produce, so it's nice to have the option of making them in advance. Plus, the longer they are able to dry, the more firm they will remain, making them less likely to sag once applied to a cake.
How to store fondant and gum paste sugar flowers
As long as they are kept cool and dry, sugar flowers will keep for a very long time, so they can be created even weeks before a wedding or event, and then applied to the freshly baked cake. So whether you're storing fondant flowers for a birthday cake to be served next week or storing gum paste flowers for a wedding cake to be served in 3 months, these tips will serve you well.
- Moisture is the culprit for many a wilted sugar flower, so for best results, you'll first want to let the flowers dry completely. Letting them dry overnight before storing is a good bet. Some decorators even let them dry upside down to keep gravity from wilting their blossoms.
- Once dry, sugar flowers should be stored in an airtight container; a plastic container with a lid is a safe bet.
- Add some padding to your container, especially if your flowers are delicate. Foam or tissue paper applied to particularly delicate parts can help save heartache later.
- Keep the flowers in a cool, dark place to keep them temperature controlled and to keep the colors from fading.
Should you chill out?
It's generally better to keep the flowers in a cool, dry place rather than in a refrigerator or freezer. There are a few reasons for this. To name just a few:
- As the flowers thaw from the chill, condensation can form.
- Too much moisture can be removed from the flowers and they can crack in a very dry refrigerator.
- The flowers can absorb flavors from foods around them in a refrigerator. Nobody likes sugar flowers that taste like Chinese leftovers.
- It will reduce their keeping time. According to Craftsy instructor James Rosselle, with time, "the flowers will wilt and slowly turn into a sugar syrup."
- If you do freeze or refrigerate, be sure to wrap the container well, and be sure to let the flowers very gradually come to room temperature -- transfer from the freezer to refrigerator first, then to a cool room temperature.
Heat and humidity
Just as heat and humidity can cause real flowers to wilt, they can have an adverse effect on fondant or gum paste flowers. A dry container may not be dry enough, either because some moisture remains in the flowers themselves, or there is moisture in the air.
Food-grade desiccant packs (sort of like the type you'd find in coat pockets, but made with food storage in mind) can be your friend, wicking unwanted moisture from the designs and keeping them safe and shapely. For a solution you may be more likely to have on hand, try putting a plain slice of white bread in the container with the flowers. It will wick excess moisture.
When to assemble?
So, you've figured out how to store the flowers, but when is the right time to apply them to your cake?
The short answer is that it's up to you, but assembling on site can reduce unwanted stress. As cake decorator Jenny Williams puts it, "I always assemble on site. My peonies rattle together and break if I transport them on the cake, roses and flowers without individually wired petals will be better."