Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Candied flowers

After months of winter, blossoming spring flowers make me happy. My favorites are the ones that remind me of home and smell good. I'm a simple girl. As it happens those flowers, violets, pansies and lilacs, also tend to be edible. Further more lilacs are my favorite flowers, violets run rampant in the park down the street, and pansies are on my wedding dress. So a plan was born to make candied flowers to decorate my wedding cake. Easier said than done apparently, but I'm working on it. Here's what I've learned so far.

The first step: superfine sugar. While I was satisfied to finally learn what caster sugar is (superfine sugar, in between granulated and confectioner's sugar in size), I was disappointed to find that the grocery store didn't have any. So I followed some internet advice and tried to make superfine sugar from granulated sugar in a food processor. And much to my surprise it worked! Actually it almost worked too well. Be warned, its also possible to make confectioner's sugar in the food processor.

More internet advice - colored sugar! This changes the look of the candied flowers a bit, since you don't get the standard opaque sugar coat, but I think its a good idea for darker flowers. I added Wilton gel food coloring (in violet!) mixed in some gin (because it evaporates well and tastes delicious) to the food processor and voila! Sort of. I actually added too much gin and made damp purple sugar, but it was easy enough to warm it up in the microwave until the alcohol evaporated.

Step two: get the sugar to stick using egg white glue. Beat some egg white until it has no chunks and apply and even coat to a dry, pretty flower. I had good luck with painting the egg white on, and also with dipping the flower into the egg white and blotting off the excess.

Next just dip the eggy flower into the sugar, making sure it is fully covered. Shake off extra sugar and lay it out on waxed paper. You now have to wait for the flowers to dry. Though you may read online that drying can be sped up in a low heated over, DON'T DO IT! You run the risk of cooking the flower, egg, sugar mix into a syrupy planty crispy-ness that sticks to waxed paper. And that is sad.

I'll keep you updated on the progress. Hopefully I actually end up with enough flowers to decorate a cake with!

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