Flowers make your cake come alive. They may cascade magnificently down a tower of tiers or be clustered in pretty bursts here and there. And while fresh flowers are among the easiest ways to beautify a cake, icing flowers allow you to defy the season and the setting -- you can serve gum-paste peonies in the depths of winter, for example, or buttercream sunflowers in an urban loft. If you want to use real flowers, you should know that there are three basic types: edible, nontoxic, and toxic. Edible flowers, such as violets, pansies, and rose petals, can be served to each guest as long as the flowers were grown without pesticides. Nontoxic flowers may decorate a cake but must be removed before it is served. Toxic flowers, obviously, shouldn't even come into contact with the frosting -- so if you love daffodils or wisteria, render these in icing instead. Your caterer or cake baker should be able to guide you. No matter which flowers take root in your imagination, you can use them to transform your cake into a lush, three-dimensional garden.
Cakes in Bloom
Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2002