Thursday, August 13, 2009

Making Crystallized Flowers


Today I'm excited to be participating for the first time in Do It Yourself Day at A Soft Place to Land. Be sure to check out all the creative ideas over there!

When we planned our garden this year, I knew that I wanted some flowers. However, we were also trying to get as much produce out of our small area as we could. Thus I decided to try growing nasturtiums, a lovely flower with both edible leaves and blossoms.

Well, they've been a huge success! They germinated and grew quickly, and they've kept a steady stream of red, orange, and yellow flowers for at least a month now. We've also been putting the leaves into salad, and they have a very pleasant, lightly peppery taste.

For my sister's birthday a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try crystallizing the flowers to decorate her birthday cake. I found directions here and here to get me started.

First of all, I was a little worried because nasturtiums are actually pretty delicate flowers. I was especially worried that washing them would make them fall apart. However, I followed the directions and just very gently dipped them a few times in a bowl of cold water and salt. Then I perked them up by dipping them in ice water. That really worked, as you can see below.

They took several hours to dry and be ready to sugar. You can use egg white to make the sugar stick, but I usually have meringue powder around, so I used that. (I prefer not to use raw eggs.) I used a tiny, clean paintbrush (from a new watercolor set that I had bought on a back to school deal), and very carefully coated all the surfaces with the meringue powder. It was pretty thick, so I had to be careful not to overload the delicate flower.

After that, I sprinkled the coated flowers with the sugar. Note here that I used regular sugar (I was kind of doing this at the last minute), but I would strongly recommend the superfine sugar. The regular sugar was definitely heavy for the delicate blossom, and for a little while I was afraid they would just turn out as a mushy, sugary mess.

However, I just tried to sprinkle the sugar as lightly as possible, while still covering all surfaces. After the flowers hardened, they did look really nice. Up close, you could see the imperfections, but altogether on the cake, they were quite impressive.

Also, I didn't realize at first that the crystallized flowers can keep for weeks, so this is a project that you could definitely do ahead of time. It's a simple thing that can really take a dessert or display to a new level!


  1. How pretty! If I got a cake with those flowers on it, I would for sure know that someone loved me. What a great idea! Love the name of your blog too!

  2. What a great idea for decorating cakes! Thanks for sharing that Liz!


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