Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sugar Flowers

This week I did the five day PME course in Sugar Flowers at Cakes4Fun, which is a mere 150 metres from this house

If you’re in your 30s and as a child watched BBC while eating your tea, you will probably recognise the bowler-hatted man coming out of 52 Festive Road. Putney was home to the man who created Mr Benn. When the humble bank clerk wasn’t solving problems for dragons or elephants or cavemen, he lived just round the corner from Cakes4Fun and is commemorated on a paving stone outside the original house. This thrills me out of all proportion.

Once again, the other ladies on the course had come from all over the world – Budapest, Johannesburg, Dubai, Arizona – so my journey from Newcastle seemed neglible.

My knowledge of flowers is minimal and stretches as far as “red ones, white ones, yellow ones” so I had plenty-plenty to learn. Monday was a gentle start making a plaque with non-wired flowers.
Work started in earnest the next day with a woodland bouquet using the pulled flower method. I finally found out a) what the holes in a celpad are for (Mexican hats), b) what the mysterious little celpad stick is for (Mexican hats) and c) what a Mexican hat is.  The pulled flower method had the highest casualty rate and it was a lot of work to create a small bouquet. I love the blackberries.

The next three days covered wired flowers – open rose; lilies and orchids; and a bridal bouquet.

At the end of each day spent cutting, veining, wiring and dusting petals comes the heartbreak of binding, when you have to say goodbye to some petals that break or don’t stay on the wire. It’s sad to spend so much effort creating a beautiful petal that in the end doesn’t make the final cut. Like spending years raising a child only to have him support Sunderland. The back up plan, apart from having lots of children and dressing them in black and white, is to make lots of spare petals for the reserve bench.

My favourite flowers in the bridal bouquet are the apple blossom and Sweet Williams. Kate Middleton included Sweet Williams in her bridal bouquet and the flowers were renamed Prince Williams in our class. My own William is sweet as a little pie and it turns out that Mr Benn's first name was William.
Sweet Williams
Sugar flowers demand concentration and it was surprisingly tiring work. Luckily we were kept energised with a constant supply of delicious cakes, cake pops and cookies.
I had a great time on the course, met some lovely people and felt that I learned a lot. Making sugar flowers taught me to open my eyes and look closely at a flower with all its idiosyncracies in the hope of recreating it in sugar. 

In other London news:

Helen and her fellow illustration graduates put on a successful exhibition at the Coningsby gallery and I bought three more pictures of cats for my pension plan office wall. I mentioned Helen’s work here and am very proud to say that, having graduated this summer with a first class degree in Illustration, she already has a contract to publish her first children’s book in spring.

Annabel is becoming increasingly addicted to courses at Cakes4Fun. Having got her hooked with the soft stuff (“go on, try a cupcake course or a cakepop lesson, you'll like it”) she’s rapidly moved onto the harder fixes of stacking tiered cakes and today has made this beautiful butterfly cake. The bag of chocolate truffles she made at an evening class was excellent company on the train home.

I had a lovely time staying with Petra and Dylan, both of whom celebrate a birthday this week.
STILL in our 30s
Petra had a birthday dinner with friends and Dylan is celebrating his first birthday today by holding a soiree for his two best friends Rico and Cookie. I’ve said it before, those London doggies live the life. Happy birthday, handsome!


  1. Great post, I'm doing the cake pop course on Wednesday - can't wait!

  2. it's a lovely course, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I love the name A Trifle Rushed!