Gumpaste flowers over 200 years old

by Joyce Freeman

If you suspect the stunning sugar flowers you see covering modern celebration cakes are a quite new invention then you'll be surprised to learn that they have been around for a long time.

Making gum paste flowers has an extensive history

Actually sugar craft has an extensive record, though there doesn't seem to be any record of when it really started , however , there are still copies of books by the Seventeenth Century cookery and household management writer, John Murrell, in which he indoctrinates his followers on the use of sugar craft and the way to produce them. The centrepiece for a Seventeenth century royal banquet was often a sugar creation made from marzipan and pastillage, made of icing/confectioners ' sugar mixed with corn flour (corn starch) and gum.

Over the following TWO HUNDRED years its recognition waned till the middle of the 19th century when the French started to provide elaborately decorated cakes and the artwork quickly spread across Europe.

New methodology

In America, in about 1929, a new methodology of cake decorating, based mainly on covering cakes with cream or frosting, was developed by a company called Wilton Enterprises. At first they ran classes for professional bakers, but in 1947 they started to produce a range of bake-ware and cake decorations that empowered everyone to produce their own decorated cakes.


Then, in England, in the early 1980's wedding and celebration cakes started to appear, not iced with the established hard royal topping, but covered with softer, rolled fondant icing and embellished with fragile gumpaste flowers.

Preferred method

These new kinds of decorations were soon adopted by countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, whose custom of cake decorating was in royal icing but thanks to the climate, set as hard as rock and made cutting the cake just about impossible. The softer fondant icing suited the climate far better so it quickly became the most popular system of decorating a cake.

People who saw these gum paste flowers wanted to discover how to make these superb creations and particularly wanted to understand how to make them for the cakes that they made.

Everybody loves them

The usage of these flowers in addition has been gaining in popularity in America and Canada during the last 10 years and, lately, several TV shows have boosted its popularity.

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