Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flowers from Wafer Paper and Frosting Sheets

Black & White Fantasy Flower hand cut from black frosting sheet & wafer paper, 6.5 inch diameter

I've been playing around conducting sophisticated experiments with wafer paper and frosting sheets in an attempt to elevate them from their most common uses. Punched. Flat. Predictable. My hope was to give them some fresh and modern possibilities in the process. Another goal was to create some flower techniques that haven't been done before. Or at least that I hadn't seen before. Like layering two sharply contrasting colors for a clean graphic feel. This flower is loosely based upon a bell flower petal and my interpretation of a dahlia.


There are lots of advantages to wafer paper. It is extremely lightweight so it can be used on the sides of cakes with no support or worry of gravity pulling it off. It's very reasonable to purchase and has a great shelf life. I bought mine online at Chef Rubber. It can be used for edible images by printing with an edible printer set up. It can also be painted or stamped on or airbrushed for a light and translucent application like a flower petal. If you don't have an airbrush, a light spray of color diluted with vodka does the trick. Marlyn did a wonderful tutorial as a guest post for Sweet Sugar Belle to share her airbrush method for  cookies. Her technique can be adapted for both wafer paper and frosting sheets. You can also draw or color on either medium with edible markers. Cake Central also has some tips for printing on both here.


Hand cut 6.5 inch diameter wafer paper fantasy flower w pearl dragee center lightly sprayed w pink & yellow

Wafer paper and frosting sheets can also be punched or hand cut with scissors or an Exacto knife. For those of us that don't yet own a Cricut or Silhouette. Haven't been able to justify the purchase price against my limited use quite yet. So I can't say just how wafer paper would work with an automated cutting system.


Hand cut 6 inch diameter black frosting sheet fantasy flower with silver dragee accents

Speaking of justifying the purchase, frosting sheets can be a bit pricey. I purchased a black package of Wilton's frosting ("Sugar Sheets") at Michael's for $3.99. Less a 40% coupon to ease the pain. It only contains one sheet. But what a nice sheet it is. Flexible, moist and almost vinyl like in appearance on the back side, all making it very easy to cut, punch and gently bend to curves. Not so great for sharp folds. But read on. I sort of overcame that hurdle. My earlier attempts with frosting sheets by Cricut left me wanting more. Perhaps I got a package that was overly dry for some reason but the outcome was less than desirable.


At times, the convenience of not having to mix a batch of fondant or gum paste up for just one or two accent decorations makes it worth the extra cost. The thickness of both wafer paper and frosting sheets are wonderful for petals with no pesky rolling out process. The colors are limited but can be enhanced with a light spray to create a new color or shade. The canned spray colors from Wilton are great for this. 

So how do they taste? Wilton's frosting sheets taste great. Not overpowering or overly sweet. Wafer paper doesn't have much flavor at all.  A little flavor can be imparted by using flavored vodkas when coloring or storing the sheets or finished decorations. Whipped Cream and Whipped Cream Chocolate by Pinnacle are among my favorites when coloring since there is no alcohol aftertaste.
Just four of the 32 flavors currently available from Pinnacle

This company has an amazing variation of flavored vodkas so finding one to compliment your cake flavors won't be hard. And a wealth of recipes for drink concoctions. In case you have some left over. Great for all your decorating needs. And they even have a Cotton Candy flavor!

When compared to gum paste as an edible cake component, wafer paper might be considered more palatable since it kind of disappears on the tongue and blends in with other flavors rather than becoming a rock hard decoration. Frosting sheets also blend into most cake flavors and although they become somewhat brittle and fragile when dry, they are much easier to bite into. You know. For that one guest that always wants to try the decoration when they learn it's edible.

Storing wafer paper or finished projects in a plastic storage bag with powdered vanilla also makes its flavor a bit more interesting. Cinnamon, cloves or other spices would also work. Just keep it separate from the flavoring with a layer of parchment paper cut to fit inside the bag or airtight storage container.

  
 Powdered vanilla comes in both imitation and pure. And other brands. You pick.

Disadvantages: wafer paper can't get wet or it will warp or distort as it shrinks during drying. This can also be an advantage if you are looking for a more natural curve for something like flower petals, leaves or a surface with bubbles. A little dampness goes a LONG way with either water or alcohol. Be sure to use just a small amount of alcohol during coloring and let the sheet or project dry between coats if a deeper shade is needed. A small paintbrush slightly dampened with water is all the glue you need for wafer paper. Frosting sheets become sticky when wet but will eventually dry back to their original color without warping.

Wafer paper also can't be placed directly on fresh buttercream unless the contact points have been treated with clear paraffin or a coordinating shade of thinned Candy Melts or chocolate. I haven't tested it on crusted buttercream

Jessica suggested trying a thin layer of Crisco as glue. Thanks! Can't wait to give it a try on my next flower!

Wafer paper can be shaped, molded and manipulated in all sorts of ways. Some great tutorials with some sculpting tips and ideas by Lisa Berczel for Chef Rubber can be found here and here. Let your imagination fly!!!

Update: a fellow member of Cake Central ("CC") mentioned that she'd seen a similar black and white flower on a pillow. Although she didn't mention which one, I also spotted the design on a pillow after I'd completed what turned out to be yet another unoriginal idea. I had to send away for the pattern anyway, just to see how similar it was. EERILY similar in design and construction. My version had a few less petals but other than that, they were spot on. Concentric circles for the base. Same shape of petals. My petals matched almost exactly when re sized. Way too odd.


I'd adapted the circle base from CC member awatterson's tutorial on dahlia construction.
Perhaps we both started there. Great minds or nothing new under the sun? hmmm . . .


Photo credit: SewYouCanToo
Sophia Pillow by SewYouCanToo on Etsy. Pattern is available here for $6.

Here's an idea I had for a rounded petal two-toned flower. Horrible picture. Sorry.

Same pattern as my solid black with silver dragees.
I hadn't made my two color version up in edible materials but except for the center, this paper mock up is
nearly an exact replica (I know - makes no sense to me either . . . I'm grammatically challenged as well)
of SewYouCanToo's Daniella Dahlia Pillow. Without the fuzz. Love the texture of her felted pillows!
She also doesn't use whatever colors she has handy. Purple and lime flowers???
What was I thinking?

Photo credit: SewYouCanToo

So I sent away for this pattern as well. Curiosity got the better of me. And I give up on originality.
After tons of research of paper crafting and quilting techniques that I might combine and adapt into an original fantasy flower, I learn that it's already been done in felt. Oh well. Maybe the 2-toned edible part is somewhat original? Or will be when I finish making it. So far I've only tried a few petals in edible materials using my paper flower mock up. Maybe we did the same research. All roads lead to Rome?
Is there nothing new or original in this digital age we live in?
At least I'll have some warm and fuzzy pillows to ponder it over.

For those of you that can't imagine cutting all those petals out by hand or would like to make them from more traditional ingredients like gumpaste, you may want to invest in some of these.


FMM offers a wide array of sizes.

If your still thinking of using wafer paper or frosting sheets and don't mind a smaller flower, these little guys work great. Just trim the petals apart and use the same method in the tutorial.
WHERE IS THE TUTORIAL?!?!?
Next post. I promise.


4 comments:

Cindys Confections.com said...

These are awesome! I've been decorating for years but only recently have I looked at wafer paper. Thanks for the tutorial!!! :D

Jenniffer said...

I just found your link via CC and I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed your tutorial immensely! I definitely will be spending some time here going through your older posts. Great job!!

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Thanks so much!

heather said...

This is one of the most beautiful cakes I've ever seen! thank you for the great tutorial