Roses are red, roses are blue, roses are ... totally impressive when you make them yourself out of gum paste (a kind of sugar dough). Those gorgeous flowers are a classic way to decorate everything from a birthday cake to a wedding cake, and if you make them well they might even fool a florist for, like, a good five seconds.
The undisputed master of the sugar flower is Nicholas Lodge , who owns The International Sugar Art Collection and has been teaching his craft worldwide for more than three decades. His tutorials take you step-by-step through how to make a gum-paste rose, and explain why and when to use homemade gum paste or the commercial kind.
The easy tutorial here is based on his method. If you're a beginner, it's exactly where you want to start. Before you know it: Boom, there's a bloom!
How To Make a Gum-Paste Rose
What You Need
- 20-gauge wire, pre-wrapped with paper
- Foam gum-paste mat
- Gum paste (See Nicholas Lodge's recipe here )
- Floral tape
- Silicone mat
- Fondant roller
- Ball tool
- Rose-petal cutter
- Rose-bud center
- Egg white, gum glue or vodka (a small amount, for brushing)
1. Make the Bud's Center
Start by cutting your wire to about 7-inches long. Using Nicholas Lodge’s method, make a rosebud by wrapping floral tape around one end of the wire 10 times, then bend that piece over and wrap the top again 10 times with floral wire. Form a small ball of gum paste over the floral ball to make a cone about 1-inch long.
2. Condition Your Gum Paste
Add a little bit of shortening to the piece of gum paste you just made, so it's easier to work with. Knead it gently a few times until it's soft and pliable.
3. Roll It Out
If you have a pasta machine, you're in luck. If you don't, make sure to roll out your gum paste until it's almost see-through. With a pasta machine, you'll want to feed the gum paste through until it's at a thickness of about 6 or 7.
4. Cut the Petals
You'll find all kinds of rose flower petal cutters out there. In this tutorial, we're using a JEM rose cutter. Press your cutter firmly and slide it around the silicone mat to remove any “fray” from the edges.
5. Make 'Em Thinner
Put your flower on your foam mat. Gently glide your ball tool half on the petal and half on the mat. You'll only need to thin the top inch of the petal for your first layer of petals. Using your ball tool again, put it in the center of each petal and press down slightly as you glide it inward to the center. Each petal should end up looking slightly cupped.
6. Form a Tightly Closed Bud
Press your flower down on the mat. Before starting, make a small hole in the center of the mat, then press the end of the wire through the center of the flower and through the mat.
Now you're going to assign numbers to your petals, to make the rest of the steps easy to follow. Decide which one will be petal 1, then number the rest clockwise around the flower.
Brush a bit of egg white, gum glue or vodka on the inside of each petal, about two-thirds of the way up. Wrap petal 1 around the bud; you want to close it up enough so you don't see the bud. Now put petal 3, which should be the petal across from petal 1, on the opposite side of the bud. This petal should sit a little more loosely around the bud. Next, place petal 5 around the bud, then add petals 2 and 4.
7. Add a Second Layer
Continue with the next layer of petals, thinning the edges of each one before adding it. You want to cup petals 1 and 3 just as you did before, but then turn your flower over and cup petals 2, 4 and 5 in the opposite direction.
Put your petal on the thin mat and repeat the process of adding your petals in the same order as before: 1, 3, 5, 2, 4.
8. Add a Third Layer
For the third layer, repeat the same process as before. Thin and cup your petals, then put them on the mat. This time, instead of going in the same petal order, just flip your rose over and let your petals drop into place.
Check to make sure that the right side of each petal is covered, and that the left side covers the petal to the right.
9. Add Petal Dust
For the pink gum paste in this tutorial, we used a tiny amount of Americolor Soft Pink coloring gel. The petal dust here is from Cosmos by CK Products. (The colors in these images haven't been changed or lightened.)
In the center of the flower, dab color to make it a little darker than the rest of the flower. Then, start at the edge of the petals and brush down or away from the edge.
10. Steam to Seal In the Color
Fill a small pot with about an inch of water, and boil. Cover the pot with a piece of tinfoil that you've punctured with a few small holes. Those holes will allow steam to escape, without drenching your flower. Once you're seeing steam, hold your flower over the pot to allow the steam to seal in the color. Be careful not to get it wet or sticky. It only takes a few seconds, so there's no need to overdo it.
Now you've got a beautiful gum-paste rose! Just for fun, grab an actual rose if you can, and place them side by side. Double vision!