My very first High Five post! Go me! Since my first post bearing the prestigious High Five badge is in April, I'm going to have to hustle to get ten up by years' end and earn the mega cool High Ten badge.
(If you're wondering what a High Five is, and how you, too, can have this cool badge of honor on your blog, read this post.)
I have wanted to try crystallizing flowers for a long time. I love the dainty beauty of sugar-dusted blossoms and, because my cake decorating skills are so atrocious, they are the perfect cake or cupcake topper for me. But buying them in stores is holy moley expensive. I wanted something to dress up the wedding cake, so I thought now would be a good time to try my hand at crystallizing violets.
If they're that expensive, they must be tough to do, right? Not so. They are actually quite easy. All you need is fresh flowers, which were grown without pesticides or other nasty chemicals, a fine paintbrush, an egg white or egg white powder, super-fine sugar, and waxed paper on which to dry the flowers. Optional is tweezers to hold the flowers, if they're quite small or delicate.
Make sure the flowers you're using are edible. Good choices include violets, pansies, rose petals (no systemic insecticides, please), lilac florets, scented geraniums, and apple or plum blossoms. They should be picked first thing in the morning and have the dew thoroughly dried off.
I don't keep super-fine sugar on hand, so while my daughter was outside picking violets from the abundance trying to take over my yard, I threw some in my food processor and whirled it around till it was very fine. Then it went into a small dish with a small spoon (still haven't gotten rid of the baby cutlery).
Next I whisked an egg white with 1 Tbsp of water in another small bowl just till it started to appear frothy (a few bubbles). You can use up to 2 Tbsp of water to get the desired consistency. You want it thin enough that you can paint a very thin layer on the flower. If it's too gloopy, add a bit more water.
If you are wary of using raw egg whites, substitute egg white powder (also called meringue powder) for this step and reconstitute it to the appropriate thickness.
Holding the flower gently in one hand (with tweezers, if the blossom is dainty), dip the paintbrush in the egg white solution and gently brush the petals with it, making sure to cover every part of the flower, both front and back.
Then, holding the flower over the sugar bowl, take a small spoonful of the super fine sugar and gently shake it over the flower, turning the flower so the sugar dusts every surface.
Carefully arrange your flower on the sheet of waxed paper, using the tweezers to rearrange petals, if necessary. If you find you missed a small spot, dust a little more sugar over it, or paint more egg white, then dust.
The flowers should be left undisturbed to dry for up to 48 hours, depending on your humidity. When they are thoroughly dried, place them in an airtight container, with waxed paper separating the layers.
For a baker friend, a small box or tin of handmade crystallized flowers is a wonderful gift!