Friday, March 2, 2012

Piping Dogwood Flowers in Royal Icing

I love dogwood flowers, perhaps because they aren't easy to come by. There's a dogwood tree in my yard that's almost half a century old that started to produce blooms only a few years ago! Dogwood flowers are easy to make using gum paste; all sorts of cutters and impression mats are available. However, I really wanted to try to figure out how to pipe them with royal icing; I definitely plan to incorporate them next time I make a stump cake. I think I came up with a pretty accurate representation of them. Here's the setup; a Styrofoam block (to act as a third hand for holding the flower nail), a non-toxic glue stick, dark pink Color Dust, a small brush, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch, 3" flower forming cups, a pastry bag filled with royal icing and fitted with a Wilton #101 rose tip, and a pastry bag filled with yellow royal icing and fitted with the Wilton #233 tip:
Dab some glue on the flower nail and stick down a parchment paper square. 
 Holding the rose tip almost flat against the surface with the narrow end of the tip pointing outward and the wide end in the center, pipe a long heart shape all the way to the edge of the nail. Keep the pressure pretty steady and firm the whole time. If you somehow wind up with a hole in the middle of this petal, touch one of your fingers to the dusting pouch and tap the icing down around the hole.
 Make the second petal opposite to the first. Attempt to make them somewhat symmetrical; all the petals will be the same size. If a large accumulation occurs in the center, it can be tapped down with your dusted finger.
 Here's the third petal…
 …and the fourth.
 Slide the parchment paper off the nail (breaking the seal with the glue), and place it on the flower forming cup to dry with a subtle concave shape:
 After the flower has had a chance to firm up for a bit, pipe the yellow center with Tip #233. Hold the tip just above the center and squeeze out a center consisting of very short strands; squeeze, stop the pressure, lift the tip away. Move the tip over the width of one of the strands, and squeeze out a second set.
 This way the center won't be a perfectly spaced, unnatural looking cluster of dots.
 When the petals have dried completely, dust the edges with the pink dust. As you dust each petal, you can shake off the excess away from the rest of the flower.
 Here are all four petals, dusted. Incidentally, this step is optional; the flowers in my yard don't have pink edges. I like how the dogwood flower turned out; it even has the lines running the length of the petals. I plan to figure out how to make more flowers that aren't based on something I learned in a Wilton class soon!

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