Master cake decorators can craft flowers from gum paste and sugar that look like real flowers, but fresh flower decorations look just as beautiful and are much easier for beginner cake decorators to arrange. While suitable for any occasion, real flowers are often used to make wedding cakes stand out as the wedding reception centerpiece. Arrangement options vary from small accents to bold arrangements on each tier.
Decorating With Flowers
Edible flowers that can be served and eaten with the cake include day lilies, roses, lavender and hibiscus, but you can use inedible flowers and remove them just before serving. Poisonous flowers should never be used, and you must be cautious to avoid pesticides that might have been sprayed on the flowers. Make a longer stem with florist's wire so you don't have to insert the flower stem in the cake if the flower must be anchored. Place a piece of wax paper between the flowers and cake so the flowers don't actually touch the cake. Small plastic covers on the stem ends prevent water in the stems from leaking onto the cake. Flowers lose freshness quickly, so wait as long as possible to arrange the flowers before displaying or serving the cake. Cakes for weddings or other occasions that use fresh flowers for decorations should display the same flowers as used throughout the event. Ask the florist to set aside the freshest flowers for cake decor.
A few accent flowers placed on a cake add subtle color and texture while keeping the design simple. Group three to five flowers together in a cluster at each accent point. A single accent works best on top of a single-tier cake, but you might use two or three accents on multiple-tier cakes. For a four-tier cake, for example, start with a cake topper on the top tier and add a total of three accent flower groups on alternating sides of each tier. Put some of the flowers on the tops of the tiers with some pushed into the side of the cake for a cascading effect. Similarly, you can arrange flowers in a spiral around the cake, making it appear like a ribbon of continuous flowers.
Flowers on Tiers
Make a bold statement with a cake centerpiece by arranging flowers around all sides of each tier. This type of decoration looks best when the flowers are placed on their sides so the openings face out, away from the cake. Decorate with a single flower type on the entire cake; use a different type of flower for each tier; or arrange three to five flower types together on each tier. Place the largest flowers around the cake tier first, spacing them evenly for visual balance. If the ledges created by the cake tiers are too short for the flowers to rest in place, push the stems into the sides of the cake with floral wire. Fill in the spaces between the larger flowers with progressively smaller flower varieties, finishing with fillers such as baby's breath or fern.
Flowers Between Pillars
Multiple-tier cakes with pillars have openings between the tiers where you can arrange the fresh flowers. This is the best option if you want to make certain the flowers don't actually touch the cake. A small board is placed on top of the cake tier to support the pillars, providing a frosting-free location for displaying flowers. Cut out a dome-shaped piece of foam block roughly half the diameter of the pillar board. Push the flower stems into the foam with floral wire to make a small arrangement. When assembling the cake tiers for display, place the board on top of a cake tier and set the pillars in place around the outside of the board. Center the foam block flower arrangement on the board before setting the next cake tier on the pillars.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.