How to decorate a cake with flowers

Flowers have been a hot cake decorating trend for several years now, and this popular style doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

But before you pop down to the florist to pick up some flowers for your cake, it’s important to know that most flowers readily available are not suitable for cake decorations.

The reason is most commercially available flowers are either poisonous to humans or have been treated with pesticides, making them dangerous to serve with food.

If you are considering serving a cake decorated with flowers you have a couple of options.
1. Edible flowers (either fresh or dried)
2. Artificial flowers
3. Non poisonous flowers
4. Food made to look like flowers

In this article we’ll break down what each of these options are and the pros and cons of each option.

Fresh Edible Flowers

Fresh edible flowers are not poisonous and have been grown in specific conditions to make them safe for food consumption.

Examples of edible flowers include: Some roses, violas, linareas, primrose, calendula, pansies, snap dragons and elderflower.

cupcake with edible flower
  • Pros: Easy to use Applying these to your cake is as simple as ensuring they are clean and then placing them on the cake. 
  • Cons: Fresh edible flowers can be difficult to source and are often only available in commercial sized quantities.  As they spoil relatively quickly this can make them expensive and wasteful for a home baker.

Where can you buy fresh edible flowers

Dried Edible Flowers

These are flowers that are safe for food consumption and have been dried in a way that preserves their beauty.
Dried edible flowers can be purchased as whole flowers or as petals.

As a hobby baker these are my personal favourite type of flowers to use as they are easy, safe and have a long shelf life.

Rose Cupcakes
  • Pros: Dried edible flowers are easy to use and have a long shelf life.  Like the fresh edible flowers, these flowers can be placed directly on your cake, but they can also be stored for several years in your pantry.
  • Cons:  Dried edible flowers are typically not as vibrant in colour or shape as fresh flowers.

Where can you buy dried edible flowers

Artificial Flowers

Artificial flowers made from silk, polyester or plastic that are designed to look like natural flowering plants and greenery. Prior to applying to cake, it’s still best practice to wrap the stems in floral tape and dip them in food safe wax sealant to avoid any contaminants entering your cake.

  • Pros: you can create popular designs featuring artificial flowers that are poisonous (e.g. baby’s breath, Eucalyptus).
  • Cons: artificial flowers with a realistic appearance can be very expensive. Cheaper versions can look very fake.
Where to buy
Silk flowers are available at craft stores, Etsy, Amazon and speciality sellers.

Non Poisonous Commercial Flowers

These are flowers that are not poisonous, but have been commercially grown and are not safe to eat.

Non poisonous roses or sunflowers purchased at your local florist.

Do be aware that not all florists have knowledge in food safety, as this type of training is not a requirement to become a florist.  Therefore, it’s best to cross check the recommendations of your local florist with a cake decorating authority online.  Here are a couple of good resources:

  • Pros: these blooms come in a wide variety of sizes and colours and can give the design of your cake a dramatic appearance.
  • Cons: You will need to carefully prepare these flowers prior to applying them to any food, as you’ll need to ensure that no part of the flower comes in contact with the cake.  This includes any pollen, fluid, stems, buds or petals.

There are several techniques you can employ to safety apply these flowers to your cake, including wrapping the stems in floral tape and dipping them in a wax sealant, or creating a fake top layer of cake to place the flowers on.  Here are a couple of videos that explains some techniques that you could use.

Food that looks like flowers

There are a variety of techniques you can employ to make food look like flowers. Some of the more common ones include making flowers from gum paste, fondant or piping buttercream into floral shapes (either using regular piping tips or russian piping tips).

There are several YouTube videos online to help you get started, but as this truely is an art form you may find it helpful to try an online course.

Here are a couple of resources you may find helpful:

someone holding a cupcake that has been decorated with buttercream using russian piping tips
  • Pros: All these options are entirely edible and food safe as you’re using food to make artificial flowers.
  • Cons: Making florals out of buttercream, sugar or gum paste is a true art form and can be a tricky skill to master. Even once you have mastered the skill, it’s a time consuming process, particularly if you’re making lots of flowers.

As you can see there are several options for adding floral decorations to your cake safety. If this post has inspired you to add some flowers to your next cake, I’d love to hear from you.
You can find me on Pinterest and Instagram, or email me via the contact form below.

Happy baking xx

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