Session 2 of the 4-session Wilton class "Flowers and Cake Design" was a lot more enjoyable than the first, in which most of the time was dedicated to creating Gum Paste Button Flowers. I'm still pretty convinced that the only reason Wilton has worked this piece into the curriculum is because somewhere there are ten warehouses filled to the gills with unsold Wilton Button Flower Cut & Press Sets. In Session 2, we learned how to make The Wilton Rose, primroses, and apple blossoms, all from royal icing (of which I am extremely fond and likely to eat to the point of regret). We started with the primrose, which is made on a flower nail (I almost always refer to these things as "rose nails" but that's only because up until recently I'd never seen them used to make anything else). In addition to the rose nail (which has a template decal on it because I don't quite trust myself to get the same effect freehand yet), you'll need a 2" by 2" parchment square for each flower, two piping bags filled with different colors of royal icing and fitted with couplers, the tips 101, 1, 14, and 104, a glue stick for holding the parchment squares to the nail, and a wave flower former to dry the flowers on after. I also like to have a Styrofoam block handy to park the nail in on those occasions when being born with three hands would have been convenient.
To make the primrose, attach the 104 tip (it's a rose petal tip) to either bag, hold the wide end of the tip at the center of the circle with the tip about 1/8" off the surface. It's hard to see the tiny dotted lines radiating out from the middle in between the larger bold lines, but they're there for a reason. Start by holding the wide end tip alongside them, and you'll be in a better position to make the correct shape of the petal.
Squeeze out a heart-like shape, keeping more or less between the lines of that fifth of the template:
You'll notice there are some yellow smears on the parchment paper square. That's because the first flower I tried had to be immediately "recycled"; sometimes it takes me a few tries to figure out the consistency of the icing and remember how my hands work. You'll want to pipe four more "hearts," each one starting with the tip sort of buried under the right edge of the last petal you piped. Here's the second:
And the third:
…and the fifth.
I find that it's challenging to remove the tip from the flower after piping the fifth petal without doing some damage, but the trick for getting out of there cleanly is in sliding the tip out flat across the surface of the flower, following a line between petals that's already there, in sort of a shaving motion. Some flaws can be covered by finishing off the center with a small star (tip #14) topped with a tiny dot (tip #1):
The procedure for making the apple blossom is so similar, it's no wonder they're taught back-to-back. The main difference is the petals are round (not heart-shaped), and much smaller (only to the first circle indicated on the template. I actually find these more challenging, but they sure are adorable. A #101 tip is used (a smaller rose tip), and it's held in a similar position to the primrose (wide end in the middle, narrow end almost level with the surface of the nail). Here's the first petal:
Tucking the tip near the base of the first petal, squeeze out the second one:
You could almost stop there and have a sweet little heart! But since we're making flowers, continue on to the third:
With certain angle adjustments, it's not far off from being a 3-leaf clover. Or a shamrock:
And here it is finished:
Pipe five tiny dots using a #1 tip in a contrasting color for the center of the flower:
And then allow it to dry next to its friend on a wave former; this gives it a bit of shape (although it would still be pretty if it were allowed to dry flat):
The apple blossom is so tiny and lightweight I actually had to put a bit more glue from the glue stick on the underside of the parchment paper to hold it in place on the former. When the royal icing flowers are dry, they'll peel off the paper very easily. You can then store them in a cardboard box away from heat and light until you're ready to use them; they'll keep for months (unless you eat them).