I’m currently addicted to edible flowers! As a huge fan of Sarah Raven and Emma Bridgewater, I’ve often loved their use of edible flowers in food and have been dying to try it out for some time. Obviously not everyone is open to the idea of edible flowers (some people just find it strange) so I’ve been building up the courage to have a go with them. I took the plunge a couple of months ago when my Nasturtiums were beginning to flower. My partner and I were off out for the day with a picnic so I incorporated a few into our salad to match the whimsicality of our picnic. The brightly coloured petals went down a treat, with the flowers being tackled with some trepidation! Feeling brave on our next picnic, I tried some Calendula and Marigolds again scattering petals and adding some flowers whole, which were devoured a bit better than last time! They are now becoming common place in our meals and I have to say they are all the better for them. Not only do edible flowers provide a lovely pop of colour, they can also provide a fantastic flavour to dishes!
For my mums recent birthday, I wanted to create a cake for her that was different but very pretty. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to create lovely sugarcraft flowers so I turned to the next best thing – real flowers! Gathering a plethora of flowers straight from the allotment, I began arranging them on top of a lemon Victoria sponge cake I had made the night before. I heavily iced the top and middle of the cake and lightly covered the sides with a homemade plain buttercream and then set to with the flowers! I started with roses and sunflowers towards the back, in the centre of the cake to provide a focal point that was ever so pretty. I then added stems of lavender and rosemary branching out from the flowers to add another depth. I then placed dahlia’s, nasturtiums and cosmos on the middle of the cake with runner bean flowers, violas and thai basil flowers sprinkled at the front of the cake to create a colourful if not slightly bohemian cake! The finished result went down very well and at a recent fundraiser for Macmillan, I created the cake again, which was bought to enjoy at home by a lovely lady.
Edible flowers are a fantastic and easy way to bring a bit of colour into a meal or to provide a whimsical but pretty decoration to a cake or even a collection of cakes. A few rules are good to remember when using them such as, only use organic flowers for eating and decoration – any flowers that have been treated with pesticides will pass those chemicals on to you or your guests! Make sure the flowers and stems are clean and pest free as anything on the flowers will again be transferred to the eater! I don’t tend to wash my flowers only because they go soggy and start to die quicker. Just lightly wipe the stems and any nooks and crannies that have had any dirt or bugs in them with a damp cloth. When attaching the flowers to the cake, don’t push the stems in to the cake itself as this can contaminate the cake. Instead place the flowers on top of the icing, or if they need securing slightly more gently push the stems into the icing only! It’s a good idea to also keep your flower stems very short so that they are easier to work with on the cake or in the dish – long stems just look messy. Finally use and arrange your flowers on the day the cake is needed. The flowers can be picked in advance (about 24 hours before is fine) and will last a couple of days in the fridge, however they will deteriorate on the cake or in the dish and not look as good if used the day before you need them.
If you would like to see a list of the flowers which are edible please have a look on the Thomson and Morgan Website, where they feature an extensive list of edible flowers!
Hopefully these few tips will help you to also take the plunge when using edible flowers, or maybe you already do? Please do let me know in the comments below!