This is a very good question. The answer being YES and NO!
It may sound very contradictory but the truth is, like anything, there are rules.
There are lots of examples of cakes decorated with real flowers out there on the internet, but just because its on Pinterest, it doesn’t mean to say its ok! Lots of examples used on the internet and in magazines are just for show to make the photographs look pretty and to achieve ‘the look’ is a quick process, so its important not to forget that.
Flowers produced for florists, that come through the flower markets or even into supermarkets are a bit of a no no! These flowers have been produced by specialist growers and it is very likely that they have come into contact with pesticides and are definitely NOT food grade. That is why they look so perfect. Food grade items have to be approved.
Your Local Flower Farmer
However, that does not rule out all flowers. There is still a long list of blooms that are acceptable to use. Firstly flowers that are home grown by your local Flower Farmer are more likely to be suitable – but to be on the safe side I recommend that you check with them first. Flower Farming is a growing industry and are usually businesses owned by very passionate and knowledgeable people. Have a Google. You will probably be surprised how close to your your local one is.
There are lots of companies online who specialise in providing safe and regulated flowers for your cakes. They have a slightly different look as they come in the form of petals, but still nonetheless stunning.
Maddocks Farm Organics supply a beautiful flowers and petals that are food grade. You can take a look here maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk
Or if you have a budget to stick to, the supermarkets also sell dried versions. These are available from Sainsburys sainsburys.co.uk:
Here are a few other suppliers I have found online.
Top 10 Beautiful & Edible Flowers Approved by the RHS
(as long as they come from a reputable source)
- Sweet violet – delicate flavour, great for garnishing cakes and soufflés
- Rose – all roses are edible and the more fragrant the better
- Chrysanthemum – petals suited for flavouring and colouring soups
- Daisy – not a strong flavour but pretty petals are very decorative
- Sunflower – bright petals can be used in salads or stir fries
- Lavender – flavouring can be used in cakes and biscuits while sprigs complement roast pork, lamb and chicken
- Nasturtium – bright petals look great in salads
- Pot marigold – peppery flavour and bold colour, perfect for soups and puddings
- Primrose – wonderful for decorating cakes
- Scented geraniums – these mild flowers can be crystallized or frozen in ice cubes for summer cordials
Absolute Definate No No’s!
Here are just 10 to be going on with:
- Lilly of the Valley
- Daffodil (or anything from the Narcissus family)
- Hemlock (beware as this looks very similar to Cow Parsley)
Here is a link to the full list from the RHS list of potentially harmful garden plants.
Don’t forget that your Cake Maker can make THE BEST blooms from icing
Don’t forget that the person you have chosen to make your cake is likely to be very talented at making flowers from sugar paste. Those big blousy peonies – tick! Those huge romantic roses – tick! Below you can see from yourself at the beautiful blooms created by Susan Street Cake Design … take a look for yourself…. I think they’re beautiful.
Further Resources online:
I have put together a short list of further reading that you may be interested in.
The Edible Flower Garden: From Garden to Kitchen: Choosing, Growing and Cooking Edible Flowers by Kathy Brown amazon.co.uk
Edible Wild Plants & Herbs: A Compendium of Recipes and Remedies by Pamela Michael amazon.co.uk
Well it was a rather lengthy post, but I decided to do quite a bit of research on the subject. I guess the lesson here is, if in doubt? Ask!
Thanks for reading.