Crystallised flowers are the perfect solution for a natural long life cake decoration.
They’re gorgeous and I have read they will last six months to a year as long as they’re stored in a cool, dry place. It’s always nicest to choose flowers according to season, availability, occasion, colour scheme or theme; to really set off a Christmas or Easter spread.
But, you need to remember or remind gift recepients that crystallised flowers are for decoration only, and should not be eaten. It’s recommended to research the flower, herb or plant you want to use. Check for any type of toxicity, and possible allergic or other reactions through contact with other foods, implements, skin or inhaling. Your guests may have allergies or medical conditions too.
Some toxic flowers include foxglove, oleander, daffodil, delphinium and hyacinth. Organically grown flowers are best, as commercially grown flowers may have pesticide or other chemical residue. Even if something is not meant to be eaten, it is not advised to use non-edible or potentially harmful plants in presentations. (Although you’ll see I have used holly and some berries, but they are for close family, certainly not commercial recipients so I can “control” the level of warning, to a point!)
- Place the clean dry flowers on a wooden chopping board, baking tray or flat surface.
- Beat the egg white to a light foam. Brush the flowers all over with beaten egg white, using a soft pastry brush.
- Sprinkle flowers all over with the caster sugar immediately. The sugar needs to stick to the egg white before it dries.
- Leave for approx one hour or more until fully set. You can also sit the finished flowers on a baking tray lined with ovenproof paper in a warm oven (switched off).
- Once they have dried, they will be hard and brittle; store them carefully in an airtight tin.
- Leave the stalks on small flowers such as violets, it helps you to pick them up and paint the egg white on them.
- Experiment with a few flowers to be sure you have it right, before doing a full batch for a special occasion.
Use a sieve to help coat the flowers with sugar evenly.
Toothpicks may help to manoeuvre flowers once they are coated, without touching them with your hands, and undoing all your good work.