One of the easiest and best ways to decorate a cake or cupcakes is with fresh flowers. Now you can make fresh cake flowers even more beautiful by turning them into easy crystallized candied flowers. From pansies to rose petals, here’s how a little egg white and sugar can give your baked goods a beautiful–and completely edible–new look.
Where to Find Edible, Food-Grade Fresh Flowers
The most essential element of decorating a cake with fresh candied flowers is to make sure that the flowers are
- Edible, and
- Have not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.
I look to the farmers market for farmers carrying food-grade fresh flowers, but you can also find some in your own back yard, assuming you have not sprayed them. Avoid store-bought flowers and bouquets from the store. They are meant for feasting with eyes only. You can also purchase edible flowers online from select floral retailers and farmers.
What Are Some Common Edible Flowers?
Lots of flowers are edible, with flavors that vary from garlicky to acidic to mildy sweet. Common edible flowers include:
- Chive blossoms
- Bee balm
- Squash blossoms
Again, this non-exclusive list assumes that the flowers have not been sprayed or fertilized with chemicals or pesticides and are food-grade.
The best flowers making sugar-crystallized flowers are those with large, wide petals. Pansies, nasturtiums, and rose petals are my favorite.
How to Make Candied Flowers
Now that you have your food-safe, edible flowers, let’s talk about how to candy your flowers with a crystallized sugar wash. You will need 1) a beaten egg white, 2) sugar, 3) a small, clean watercolor brush (I prefer a 5/8″ flat brush), and 4) a standard cooling rack.
Now that you have your equipment:
1. Take a watercolor brush (I like a 5/8 inch flat brush) and “paint” the petals with egg white. Some people prefer to use their fingers.
2. Generously sprinkle the entire flowers or petals in sugar.
3. Let them dry on a wire cooling rack for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
That’s it. Easy and beautiful crystallized candied flowers that will keep for a long time.
How to Store Crystallized Candied Flowers
Sugared flowers need to be away form humidity and moisture to stay dry and hardened. Let them fully dry, preferably overnight. Once fully dried, crystallized flowers will keep for several months in a clean, airtight container. I separate each layer of flowers with paper towels, but a single layer is best.
Note: If the flowers have not fully hardened before you store them, they will wilt and rot from the moisture. They must be fully coated with egg white and sugar, then dried until hard.
But What About the Egg White? Is It Safe to Eat?
Crystallizing flowers with egg white and sugar is a ye-olde French pastry technique. To my knowledge, this has never resulted in illness. The egg white fully dries and hardens, and the lack of moisture, coupled with the sugar, makes bacterial growth difficult.
That said, raw egg always carries some small risk of Salmonella, and can also harbor bacteria. Babies, pregnant women, older adults and other high-risk groups should avoid raw egg consumption. Salmonella infection could lead to serious, health issues.
You can lower your risk of Salmonella by using refrigerated eggs. Pasteurized egg whites are also an option. You could also serve the cake without flowers.
Love edible candied flowers for cake decoration? Then check out:
- Sweet Candied Rhubarb Ribbons
- How to Make Carrot Peel Rosettes for Carrot Cake
- How to Make Dried Pineapple Flowers for Hummingbird Cake
- How to Make and Decorate a Rainbow Sprinkle Cake
How to Make Crystallized Candied Flowers for Your Cake
- Food-grade fresh edible flowers, such as rose petals or pansies
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Make sure your fresh flowers are clean and fully dry. Set a wire cooling rack atop a sheet of wax paper or parchment, and put the egg white and sugar in separate bowls. You will also need a clean watercolor brush. (I prefer a 5/8" flat brush.)
- Working one flower at a time, use the paintbrush to fully coat each flower or petal in a light coating of egg white. Make sure everything is covered. PRO TIP: If you don't mind getting your hands a little sticky, some people prefer to coat the flowers using their fingers. Just try to keep one hand dry for the sugar.
- Generously sprinkle each flower front and back with sugar. Set to dry on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining flowers.
- Let the flowers rest for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight, on the countertop to dry, uncovered. TIP: Fully-dried candied flowers can remain stored in a dry, airtight container for a few months.