I am a self taught baker and cake decorator, so I’m a firm believer in hands-on learning. I know that a lot of my friends would like to learn the techniques and tricks behind some of the stuff that I do, but they may not have the time to take a class. Or the money to invest in a lot of tools for stuff they have to try to figure out on their own. That’s why I’ve decided to have Tutorial Tuesdays. In these posts, I’m going to give easy-to-follow instructions on how to do something that might not be so easy otherwise. Today, for my first tutorial I have decided to do something that I just learned to do because I am so excited about it!
Frangipani, or Plumeria, is a small, five petaled tropical flower. In life, it can range in color from yellow to pink, but is most commonly white with a yellow or pink center when used in cake decorating. Of course, the beauty of art is that you can create something however you want!
To get started, you will need some basic flower making tools.
Most importantly, you need fondant or gum paste (which will set up harder than fondant). Your other supplies include Frangipani cutters (the green teardrop shapes here, which actually aren’t frangipani cutters, but they do the job!), a foam square, and modeling tools. You can buy kits like Wilton Floral Collection Flower Making Set, that include the modeling tools, foam, and various cutters at places like Michael’s and other craft stores, or online. You will also need to have a bag of confectioners’ sugar on hand because you’ll use quite a bit to prevent sticking, as well as an empty egg carton, some poly fill (teddy bear stuffing), and a very small paintbrush and cup of water will come in handy later, too.
Start by lightly dusting your work surface with confectioners’ sugar.
Next roll the fondant out, adding more sugar as needed to prevent sticking.
You’ll want to roll the fondant nice and thin; it should be as close to the thickness of a real flower petal as you can get it. The petals are difficult to form if the fondant is too thick and will tear easily if it is too thin.
Once it’s rolled out, cut out five petals of the same size, then cover the remaining fondant with plastic wrap. *Always be sure that any fondant you’re not using is completely covered with plastic wrap, because it dries out very quickly and easily.
Place the petals on your foam.
Using your modeling tools, gently roll the rounded end down the inner edges of the petals and in towards the middle to make them into a cup shape. Next, standing the same tool up straighter, very gently “draw” tiny circles inside the middle of the petal to give it a deeper cup. Don’t over do it or the fondant will get too thin in the center of the petal.
Once the petals are all cupped, use your paintbrush to dab the tiniest amount of water on the inside point of a petal. This will act as a glue and works very effectively (you can also buy edible glue, but this works exactly the same). Be sure not to get too much water on it or it will turn into a sticky mess very quickly. Lay another petal on top of the first and dab another tiny amount of water on this petal. Continue until all of the petals are “glued” into a fan shape, as pictured below.
With real frangipani cutters the petals will be a lot longer, so the fan will be narrower.
This next part is a little tricky. You may have to try a few times, but don’t give up! You’ll be really happy when you finally get the hang of it!
“Roll” the left (first) petal toward the right (last) petal, think of closing them into a circle. You should end up with the left petal tucked just inside the right petal. In other words, when you look down into the rolled petals, they will be spiraled into each other.
Next you will gently pinch the ends of the flower and twist it lightly so that you are lengthening the base of the flower. Don’t twist too hard or you may pull the base off. This is a key step because it will give the petals their characteristic overlapping.
Holding the base of the flower, open the petals up. Just gently use your fingertips to push the petals open one by one. I moved each petal a little bit at a time, going around and around until they were all completely open. You can leave the petals closed and you will have a bud. Or you can open them slightly for a small flower, or open them completely for a full blossom.
Put each flower into a small amount of poly fill in the egg carton to help it hold it’s shape while it dries. I think you could probably use slightly shredded cotton balls or toilet paper in place of the fill.
After the flowers dry, you can paint them, if you like. You can use the smallest amount of water and food coloring as a liquid paint, as I’ve done here, or you can buy petal dust to use. Just brush color into the very center of the flower and continue to brush it on lightly as you move out. If possible, you want the color to fade slightly as it moves out from the center.
Here are some painted flowers, and some that are plain white, which is also really pretty. This picture also shows a smaller, slightly open bud version of the flower.
And here’s the finished product!! With practice, they’re very fun and easy to make.
Definitely give them a shot. The tiny buds are the easiest since you do very little work on them, so they are a great starting point. If any of my directions are unclear, or if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask (please post it as a comment so that everyone can see it and learn from it)! Enjoy!