How to have an Edible Wedding...without beasties!
"No no no! you can’t put fresh flowers on wedding cakes" said a baker to us recently, looking completely horrified as though we had suggested smearing her cake with unmentionables.
However, this has a ring of truth as you must be careful what you choose, and where you source it from. To blanket ban all fresh flowers is ill informed, but we agree the flowers need to be chosen carefully and will need to be organically sourced if in actual contact with the cake. Flower stems should never be pushed directly into a cake, they could be harbouring bacteria that will cause your guests problems…
If you are doing a bit of D.I.Y, please do be careful what you use. Check to see if the materials are not poisonous for a start. A good start. Secondly, check that no pesticides have been used on the flowers. If you are planning to pick something from your garden to use, it may well bring a few hidden bugs and beasties too, not one of the best looks on a wedding cake. They tend to hide inside flowers and adventure out at inopportune moments.
This reminds me of a story when I was a Bridesmaid, it was a while back. The day started fine and sunny, everything and everyone looked lovely, the slow procession down the aisle had just started when the rain came tipping down outside.
Safely inside the Church, thunder was heard rumbling and a bolt of lightning flashed dramatically through the stained-glass window at the back of the Church. An omen we all wondered?
To everyone’s amusement the Bride and all the bridesmaids started scratching their arms and jumping around. Horrified, we saw that the carnations we were holding had released hundreds of little black thunder bugs and ants which had been happily sleeping inside the masses of petals and were now rapidly making their way up our arms.
With foliage, it’s worse than that. If you decide to pick from roadsides or hedgerows, the materials will be filthy from petrol fumes as well as harbouring bugs. Don’t do it.
We have recently seen some absolute horrors on Pinterest with garden ivy draping over a cake and Euphorbia seemingly pushed straight into a cake. This plant seeps latex as soon as it's cut and should never be used near food let alone near skin, it causes rashes and irritation galore.
So, how can you make your wedding edible safely?
Firstly, choose from accepted lists of edible flowers if you are adding to feasting plates of salads.
Using flowers in cooking and drinks can be traced back to Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern sources. Recently edible flowers have become very much on trend with fine dining. Chefs add tiny violas and pansies to garnish plates, and the ever-popular nasturtium is prevalent on nearly every plate on MasterChef. They certainly make a plain green salad look tempting and they are budget friendly!
Wedding cakes can have florist provided flowers added but just ensure they don’t encounter the actual cake. We make cake top arrangements that sit in flat disposable containers, so there is no contact, and we provide rings of flowers which can be placed around the base of the cake. Dummy layers could also be used if you wanted fresh flowers all over one of the tiers. Flowers inserted into the cake need to be taped and attached to cocktail sticks leaving them just proud of the cake itself.
If you are the slightest bit concerned – there are many other ways to make your cake floral.
2. Why not hire a glass top cake table as an alternative and spectacular design! The flowers sit underneath the cake.
3. Create a design around the cake for a total WOW!
4. There are incredibly talented sugar paste artists who will create replica flowers – a true art-form in itself.
5. Faux flowers for cakes are incredibly realistic now – check out our blog www.chirpee.net/fauxflowers
Petal confetti is popular with couples now. Use it to throw of course, it’s soft and fragrant and much nicer than bits of rice or plastic. It can also be used to cover soft cheeses to create a really enticing edible plate of food.
Finally - Sourcing: Choose well qualified professional florists, cake makers, flower producers or cooks who are aware and have in-depth knowledge of eco- friendly flowers, what and when to buy and what is appropriate to use. Celebration boxes of edible flowers can be ordered.
Here are a few of the most favourite edible flowers to use in cooking.
1. Chamomile: A common tea flavour, you can eat this flower raw, or dry it to brew tea
2. Carnations – only the petals, which can be steeped in wine, candy or used on cakes. They have a clove like taste. Carnation petals are one of the not so secret ingredients used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur. You can order dried carnation petals online.
3. Chrysanthemums –usually the petals only. They taste peppery or of cauliflower.
4. Clover – Sweet, licquorice flavour, the flowers were believed to improve gout, and rheumatism.
5. Day lilies (not to be confused with other types of lily) They have an asparagus like flavour.
6. English daisies – mildly bitter.
7. Gladioli – just the petals – take away the stamens. They taste a little like lettuce.
8. Japanese honeysuckle: The only edible part is the flower, not its toxic berries, and it has a sweet nectar-like flavour. If you have never tasted honeysuckle you will be amazed at its sweet flavour, use it in jellies, and macaroons.
9. Lavender – sweet floral taste, its fantastic in biscuits and cakes, and can look fun in a glass of champagne.
10. Lilac – fragrant slightly bitter lemony taste
11. Marigold (calendula): Its peppery citrus flavour goes well with almost anything, and it looks beautiful when garnished on salads
12. Mint flowers (Mentha) – beautiful floating in punches, used too in wedding bouquets.
13. Nasturtium: One of the more popular edible flowers, nasturtium have a sweet, floral flavour with a peppery finish, and its bright blooms would stand out well as garnishes or in ice cubes.
14. Pansies – only the petals- very mild taste.
15. Peonies – used in China the petals are parboiled and used in tea. Peonies petals can be used on your wedding cake or in salads or floating in drinks.
Alternatively create meringues flavoured with peony petals made to look like the actual flowers!
16. Roses – flavours vary from strawberries to apple like. All roses are edible. The darker the variety the stronger the flavour. Freeze them in ice cubes and use in a large champagne bucket or use them to scatter down the aisle of your wedding.
17. Tulip petals – taste like a sweet lettuce. NEVER eat the bulbs. Some people can be allergic to tulip – possibly one to avoid!
18. Violets: Another garnish favourite, their sweet taste goes well with salads, desserts, and even drinks. The look so beautiful on wedding cakes too.
Don’t forget all the flowers from herbs too, beautiful blue borage, rosemary flowers and wild garlic to name just a few.
A final word of caution
Be wary of just how many flowers you use, if you are trying this yourself for your wedding. Flowers must be used sparingly in food, or they can cause digestive problems. An onset of upset tummies will be worse at your wedding than crawling ants.
Steph Master Florist x
Photo credits: Rock My Wedding.