Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fantasy Flower Tutorial

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Using Wafer Paper & Frosting/Sugar Sheets
Makes: one 4” diameter flower

Note: this pattern is for a slightly smaller version than the original 6.5 inch size so that only one sugar sheet would be needed. Reduce or enlarge pattern pieces to adjust to desired size. Number of petals per row may need to be increased slightly for larger flowers or decreased for smaller flowers. See end of tutorial for suggested petal counts for 6.5 inch.

To change the look a bit, replace center bud/Row Six with varying sizes of pearl or metallic dragees glued in place with royal icing.

Wafer paper, sometimes called “edible rice paper” is a slightly translucent, sugar free starch based paper. For more information, please see my blog. I’m certainly no expert and am still learning. Many books have been written about wafer paper uses and are available online if you have other questions. Cake Central also has information here. Wafer paper can be purchased online from several sources but most carry 8.5 x 11 inch sheets. Chef Rubber sells 50 sheets that are half sheet pan sized for about $15, which is the size I used. Substitute 2 smaller sheets if needed.

I used water as petal glue but you may want to try substituting alcohol, (flavored vodkas are nice) piping gel, gum paste glue, thinned royal icing or shortening. I’ve only tried water and vodka to date. Just remember to use only a small amount. Less is more is true for both the water and royal icing “glues.”

DISCLAIMER: I live in a cave. Almost. The lighting is horrible. If I’d waited for a sunny day to do the filming, you may have been waiting a LONG time. Thanks in advance for having a sense of humor about my first video clips and the lighting conditions. Did I mention that I also had to learn how to shoot and edit a video while attempting this tutorial? I’m such a novice. In a cave AND under a rock!

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Supplies:
One 11.5 x 16.25” sheet OR Two 8.5 x 11 plain wafer paper sheets
One black 8.5 x 11” Sugar Sheet by Wilton
White royal icing in piping bag with #3 round tip
Small artist’s brush
Sharp craft scissors
Small dish for water
Round saucer
Plastic mini clothespins by Wilton(baby shower section party/craft stores)
Parchment or waxed paper
Aluminum foil
Template for petals and base printed at 100% to cardstock
Layout page for strip cutting printed at 100% to cardstock or paper
Water

Optional:
Large paper cutter or trimmer for cutting paper strips to petal size
Dragees

Part 1: Printing and Cutting

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Both the pattern and layouts can be saved to your computer by clicking on
the image above or below. This should take you to another screen where you
can scroll to the image you'd like and then "save as" to your files.
Print template and cut pattern pieces from card stock.
You'll know you've printed at 100% if the Base 1
circle is just under 2 inches across in your printout.

wafer-paper-flower-free-tutorial-dahlia-deborah-stauchPrint the layout page on card stock or paper.
This will be used to cut the base patterns (if desired) and
as a guide to cut strips and then rectangles for sizing the
frosting sheet into petal sized pieces for hand cutting.

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Size the wafer paper into strips roughly the size of the outer petals using a paper cutter or scissors. Cut strips into rough rectangles. Stack and cut up to four layers at a time using card stock pattern piece as a guide. Cutting more than four layers at a time may cause the edges to tear or crack rather than producing a nice clean edge.

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The layout page is for sizing the frosting sheet into strips and shouldn’t be
used for pattern pieces. Except for possibly the base pieces. If you try to
take a shortcut and cut through the layout paper and frosting sheet at once,
you’ll end up with little shreds of paper embedded in the sides of your cut petals.
Be sure to use the pattern pieces that you’ve pre-cut instead.

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When cutting the petals, I found it easiest to start at the lower edge and cut upwards toward the point then down the point on the other side. The third cut is across the base or bottom of the petal. This helps make getting into the tiny curve near the point a bit less difficult.

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The rough or textured side of wafer paper should be facing up for better folding and less chance of tears. This petal pattern isn’t completely symmetrical so the assembled petal pieces will not look completely even or be perfectly spaced. The goal was to make them not seem TOO perfect or cookie cutter looking.

Remove the black sugar sheet from its foil-lined pouch. Remove clear plastic liner from the sugar sheet. Note that the under side has a shiny surface. This will be the back or under side of the petal so make sure the dull side is up during cutting. Cut inner petals and Base circles 1 or 1-5 from black sugar sheet one at a time. There is no Base 6.

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The dull or darker side shown on the left is the front of the frosting sheet.
Place cut petals in airtight bag between small rectangles of parchment or waxed paper until ready to assemble. If your frosting sheets dry out, there are some things you can try to rehydrate them. This Cake Central link will take you right to the frosting sheet emergency department. No waiting. The cut frosting sheet or inner petals can also be rehydrated if you find they are not bending as easily as you’d like. They cannot be rehydrated after being attached to the wafer paper petal.


If you haven’t worked with either of these materials before, you may want to play with some scraps to get the feel of just how little moisture is needed, what the drying time is in your locale and what happens when either of them get too wet.


Try to avoid moving the black inner petal around or repositioning it too much after it’s on the wafer paper. The black can transfer quite easily while it’s wet. Having a slightly dampened paper towel to clean your fingertips is handy.


Part 2: Gluing Petal Layers and Shaping
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Starting with Row 1 petals: Glue black inner petals to outer wafer paper petals by painting a small amount of water to the shiny or back side of the black petal and carefully placing on the rough or textured side of the wafer paper.

It is not desirable to adhere the entire surface of the inner petal to the outer. Leaving a dry edge around the upper most part of the petal allows more flexibility during the petal shaping. It also helps insure that the black from the frosting sheet doesn’t rub off on the wafer paper while attaching the two pieces together.

What’s important is that the bottom edge and center of each petal be firmly attached, so focus your efforts here. Just make sure that the bottom edge of both pieces align somewhat and that the black inner petal is centered from the sides.

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Position the petal lengthwise in front of you. Gently fold each side of the petal toward the center while supporting the entire length of the petal to prevent stress cracks until the petal is clamped. Firmly finger press the base only and apply a small amount of water or flavored vodka to the inside the fold. Hold firmly until clamp is applied. Work on one petal at a time rather than trying to do this assembly line style. It’s much easier to shape the petal while it is still damp.

Clamp with a mini plastic clothespin until partially dry or set. It’s best to work one row at a time and start applying the petals to the base as soon as you finish assembling all the petals for one row. This way they have a few minutes to set up in the royal icing before you add the next row. More importantly, for all but Row 1, it’s best that the clamped area of the petal is still a little flexible so that you can gently bend it into a soft “L” shape to have a flat contact point with the royal icing/base.

Repeat with all petals up to and including Row 4. Drying time will vary depending on humidity but 10-20 minutes or less is about right. Bone dry isn’t needed, just dry enough that the folds aren’t coming apart.

If the petal develops a small tear or crack near the base, you can try adding the tiniest amount of moisture and placing an additional clothespin over the area until set. A lot of the petal is covered up by the row on top of it so it’s fairly easy to hide a small mistake. No worries!

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Row 5 petals: Use the same method of gluing the petals together as above but instead of folding each side toward the center, gently fold over just edges of the petal to meet each other to create a more open petal. Clamp to dry slightly then assemble Row 5.

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Row 6 Petals: Glue outer petals to inner petals. Using one of the four assembled petals, gently fold the sides toward the center but overlap like a folded letter or into thirds. Carefully open the top of the petal by fanning slightly. This will be the center of the bud for Row 6. Glue base and clamp to dry slightly. To form the remaining 3 petals, bring the bottom sides together in the center and clamp to dry slightly.

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  Row 6 Bud:  Assemble Row 6/Center bud by wrapping 3 petals around the 4th tighter wrapped bud petal. You may have to trim a bit from the bottom of the completed bud in order for it to set down in the flower a little lower than the petals in Row 5.


Part 3: Assembly of Flower
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Note: Not shown on the video: place the base on a piece of aluminum foil before putting it on the saucer. If you use too much royal icing, the base can dissolve or crumble. Best to be safe so that your flower won’t stick to the plate.

Remove clamps from dried petals. Place the Base 1 circle in the center of the small saucer. The saucer will act as a turntable of sorts during assembly.

Pipe a ring of royal icing from the edge of the base circle to the first ring. A damp brush is helpful to spread and even out the icing if needed.
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Starting with Row 1 petals, place the petals side by side around the outside edge of Base 1 with the bottom end of the petal touching the inner ring. The inner rings on each base help make sure that your flower doesn’t end up in an oval shape. Adjust as needed so that petals are laying flat and are evenly spaced with no overlap. You can assemble the entire flower on top of Base 1 if you’d rather eyeball the circles instead.

If desired, insert Base 2 into the flower center and secure with a tiny dab of royal icing. Pipe a ring of royal icing over the ends of petals in Row 1, about ¼ inch up the base. Spread the piping evenly to the inner ring of Base 2. Repeat the placement of petals for Row 2 following the same method. However, center the first petal in the next row over two of the petals in Row 1, so that no gaps between the petals in Row 1 are showing. The petals will naturally start to stand up as you work toward the center of the base due to the height of the petals beneath.

Press the very bottom edge of the petal firmly into the royal icing to be sure the surfaces make good contact. This also causes a bend in the petal stem which helps the petals stack better.

Continue this method for Rows 3-4 making sure to offset the petal position of the previous row to cover any gaps. Row 5 petals should be placed so that they are tilted slightly upward.

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For Row 6/Center bud, pipe a dot of royal icing in the small remaining bare center of the base and position the bud inside. You may need to trim the base of the bud if it is taller than the surrounding row. The center bud should end up being shorter than the rest of the flower so that you are looking down inside of it.

Alternative: replace Row 6 with a few dragees glued into place with small dots of royal icing.

Part 4: Notes and Simple One Layer Flower
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Be sure to let the royal icing in your finished flower dry completely before handling too much or placing it on a cake, at least overnight. If you don’t plan on assembling your flower right away, store the petals in an airtight bag or container until then. Finished flowers can be stored in the same manner if not being used immediately. I live in a fairly humid climate and have left my completed flowers out and unprotected for weeks with no issues.

After flower has dried completely, attach it to dried fondant on your cake with royal icing. The moisture from fresh fondant may warp the wafer paper petals so it’s best to wait until the fondant has hardened before attaching your finished flower. You can also prepare a small circle or other shape of fondant in advance and let it dry thoroughly to act as a shield between any damp fondant and your lovely bloom.

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For a simple one-layer flower: cut outer or inner petals only of solid color frosting sheet or wafer paper. Glue and clamp petals as above. If you prefer a different center to your flower, substitute the Row 6 with pearl, black or silver dragees attached with a dot of royal icing. Half the cutting but all of the beauty!

Note: the smallest amount of moisture between the petals and a little finger press will glue the petal edges together and coax them into a sturdier shape if you have some rebels that don’t want to stay put.

Please send me a PM on Cake Central or comment here if you have any questions.
Thanks for trying them out!

Deborah



Suggested petal count for 6.5 inch diameter flower:
Row 1 – 16 outer/16 inner
Row 2 – 16 outer/16 inner
Row 3 – 12 outer/12 inner
Row 4 – 10 outer/10 inner
Row 5 – 5 outer/5 inner
Row 6 – 4 outer/4 inner 



Friday, January 20, 2012

Me and Martha

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This is a cupcake designed for Martha Stewart's Cutest Cupcake Contest
way back in 2008. Seems like forever ago.
If I had a letterman's jacket right now, I'd be sure to go and put it on while I reflect
on "the glory days" and my 15 3 seconds of fame as a finalist.
But I don't. Not even sure if they gave those jackets to girls back then.
Either way, I never owned one.

Does it look familiar?
Yep, same one used as my pic for Fairly Odd Mother.
It was the first baked item I felt I could confidently share.
Figured if Martha liked it, then maybe it was good enough to act on behalf of my face.
Let's be honest here, Martha probably never saw it.
But someone at her office must've sort of liked it a little.
It was surprising to see that there's still a link to the winners.
I stumbled across it when I was looking on Flickr at cake photos.
Too bad that all the entries aren't still on Martha's site.
There were tons of adorable creations by lots of crafty bakers.
It also looks eerily similar to another breakfast cupcake I made for the Jelly Belly Contest. Must've had hash browns for brains. The newer version was crafted with jelly beans in mind and included french toast with syrup and butter.
Breakfast isn't even my favorite meal.
Go figure.

Any who, the cupcake was topped with a white chocolate plate.
Coconut hash browns, bubble gum tape bacon with a gummy egg to complete the look.
I made over 50 of these for the office where I worked as a "Breakfast of Champions" to cheer on some of our team that had successfully completed a large and difficult project.
We even had champagne with orange juice that morning.
It  took forever to mold all the plates since I could only mold one at a time.
The assembly was much easier. I just took all the components to the office and a couple of us put them together on site. Laughing the entire time.

Looking back, those were some great times.
Lots of hard work but lots of fun and friendly people
to shrug off the tension of the work day with.
And never a dull moment.

I miss you guys!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flowers from Wafer Paper and Frosting Sheets

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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 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 . . .


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

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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?

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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.

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FMM offers a wide array of sizes.

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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.