Cake Decorating Blog

7 Quick Tricks for Making Speedy Sugar Flowers

You don't have to be a sugar flower expert to know that making them is a labor of love. Want to speed up the process? Here are 7 great tips for whipping up stellar sugar flowers when time is not on your side.

Modern Cake with Sugar Flower

Image via Erin Bakes

7 tips for making sugar flowers FASTER!

Sugar Flower Making Supplies
Craftsy Sugar Flower Starter Set

1. Plan, plan, plan.

Then plan some more. As a wedding cake shop owner, I was often asked how long it took to make a sugar flower. The answer would sometimes surprise people: a few minutes each day for several days.

Sugar flowers are a waiting game. Plotting out the flowers you want to use in your arrangement and then breaking down the steps required to make each flower will allow you construct a prep list to keep you on task throughout process. Keep in mind these are fragile little buggers, so always plan to make a few more than you need. 

Using Store-Bought Gum Paste to Make Sugar Flowers
The Easiest Rose Ever Cutter

2. Use store-bought gum paste.

Homemade gum paste recipes often require time for the paste to rest before using it to shape petals and centers. Because of that, using store-bought gum paste can save you time. If you're unfamiliar with the differences between gum paste brands, check cake decorating message boards or ask an instructor what their favorite brand to use is. 

Sugar Flower Petals

Image via Craftsy instructor Nicholas Lodge

3. Color your gum paste.

Tint your gum paste a shade lighter than the darkest shade you plan on using in your flower. It saves on finishing time, and it also adds depth and realism to your flowers. Plus, dusting the tips and bottoms of finished petals before assembling your flower will cut down on the time it takes to color larger flowers.

Sugar Berries by Craftsy Instructor Maggie Austin

Image via Craftsy instructor Maggie Austin

4. Set up assembly lines.

Once you have your arrangement planned out, work on similar tasks at the same time. Grouping tasks according to the technique and tool being used — as opposed to working on a single kind of flower at a time — speeds up the flower-making process significantly.

Start with the parts that will require the longest to dry first. Make all of your centers, berries and buds. Then, move on to making all of the wired petals and leaves. Finish with Mexican-hat style flowers and fixed petal blossoms. Once all of your components have dried, work on all of the items requiring floral tape at the same time. Add petals to dried centers and combine leaves to create branches.

Sugar Rose by Craftsy Instructor Nicholas Lodge

Image via Craftsy instructor Nicholas Lodge

5. Purchase pre-made centers.

Dry time between layers is the main reason sugar flowers take so long to make. Remove a step from the process by starting with pre-made, lightweight Styrofoam flower centers. They're easy to work with and come in a variety of sizes.

Add just a few petals to a ready-made center for a quick filler blossom, or layer on the petals for a full-sized bloom. Even though sugar flowers are hard as a rock and almost never eaten, do be sure to alert your customer or guests to the flower's inedible center.

Sugar Flower Petals Drying
Petal Crafts Foam Petal Former

6. Dry petals faster.

Petals left to dry at room temperature typically take 4 hours, up to overnight, to dry out — that can sure slow you down. If you're working from your home, here's a quick and easy way to dry gum paste (or even fondant) decorations faster: Lay them on a cookie sheet and place the tray in your oven with just the light turned on. The warmth from the light is enough to move the process along without melting or discoloring your gum paste.

Professionals also occasionally use food dehydrators to dry petals and finished flowers faster. In a food dehydrator set on low heat, the time it takes to dry out the petals or blooms can be reduced to as little as a half hour, depending on the thickness and size of the item being dried.

Caljava Heirloom Peony Sugar Flowers

Caljava Heirloom Peony Sugar Flowers

7. Don't make 'em at all!

The variety of high quality pre-made sugar flowers available online and from cake decorating supply stores has increased significantly in recent years. When time is of the essence, customizing a store-bought bloom may be your only option. Flowers made of white gum paste can be dusted or airbrushed to add realism and custom details. Combine handmade and ready-made flowers to create large, lush, semi-customized arrangements in a jiffy.

Learn Sugar Flower Skills From 4 Favorite Instructors!

Craftsy's Show-Stopping Sugar Flowers

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4 Comments

Janis S. TheCookieMomster

Great tips to help speed things along.
Can the light in your oven really speed the drying process? Who knew!
TheCookieMomster

Reply
Jeanette Jackson

I use the oven light all the time even though I have two dehydrators. One makes a whole lot of noise. :=). Oven light works!

Reply
Michele Thompson

What’s the drying time, using the oven light, like? (is it 1/2, 3/4, the normal time?)

Reply
Erin

Hi Michele! That’s a great question. It really depends on what you’re drying. I haven’t specifically timed it, but I would say that for thinner pieces like petals it cuts the drying time down quite a bit. I would guess close to half the time. It would also depend on the humidity where you live. Try rolling two test petals. Leave one out on the counter and put the other one in your oven with the light on. That way you’ll know the difference in your own kitchen before you’re in a “crunch time” kind of moment. 🙂

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