Sugar Flowers With Lucya

Martha Stewart Living Television

 Lucya Lu respects flowers. Perhaps that is what makes her sugar renditions of them so exquisite. Lucya has made sugar flowers her art. So lifelike they could be mistaken for the real thing, these flowers grace wedding cakes and other celebratory treats. They are a precious keepsake, because they will last forever. Today, Lucya shows Martha how to piece together a peony, a process that can take anywhere from four to six hours to complete. Lucya’s repertoire also includes roses, lilies, orchids, forget-me-nots, poppies, and lilacs.

Lucya, who was born in China, raised in Taiwan, and later emigrated to Canada, is largely self-taught in the art of sugar-sculpting, a practice that originated in the Middle Ages. A former dietician and teacher of Chinese cooking, Lucya studied pastrymaking at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

The peony consists of sixteen sections. Small pieces of sugar paste are rolled and feathered into petal shapes in graduated sizes. These sections are affixed with floral tape to a wire stem around a central artificial stamen in groups of four, and, when complete, the flower is steamed, which gives it a shiny, slightly more relaxed appearance. But take care not to give your sugar flower too much steam—if you do, the sugar will crystallize and the surface will turn dull.

Making Sugar Flowers

20-gauge white wire

Sugar Paste

Small brush

Plastic wrap

Plastic cutting board

3/4-inch-diameter rolling pin

Veiner tool

Foam pad

Ball tool

30-gauge white wire

Floral tape

Teakettle

Styrofoam form (for holding drying petal formations)

Artificial stamens

 

To make the petal-section centers:

 

1. Cut 16 five-inch-long pieces of 20-gauge wire.

 

2. Mix up a glue out of a small amount of sugar paste and water.

 

3. To make the center of each petal section, using a small brush, dab some glue onto the tip of a piece of wire. Mold a small piece of flower paste around the tip of the wire. Allow to dry until hard, for approximately 1 hour. Repeat process for each piece of wire.

 

To make the small petals (you will need 16 sections of 3 petals each):

 

1. Place 3 pea-sized pieces of sugar paste between 2 pieces of plastic wrap on a plastic cutting board. Using 3/4-inch-diameter rolling pin, roll the paste once in each direction to form a petal shape.

 

2. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Using the veiner tool, give the petal an uneven edge.

 

3. Transfer petal to the foam pad. Run the small end of the ball tool around the edge, rolling it half on the foam, half on the sugar paste, to give the petal a ruffled appearance.

 

4. Roll the large end of the ball tool around the center of the petal to create a cupping effect.

 

5. Working so that the petal section is hanging upside down, wet the bottom of one petal, and wrap it around the tip of the petal-section center.

 

6. Fold the other 2 petals into thirds, and attach them to the wire, bunching them around the first petal. Insert petal section into Styrofoam form so that the section is hanging upside down, and let dry for approximately 1 hour.

 

To make the outer petals (you will need to make a total of 12 petals—4 small, 4 medium, 4 large):

 

1. Take a slightly larger piece of sugar paste, and repeat the process described above (roll out in plastic wrap, and use veiner and ball tools to shape petal) to make 4 outer petals. Repeat again, making 4 medium-size petals, and 4 large petals.

 

2. Moisten with glue, and attach 1 petal to each of the smaller 12 sections. Let dry for approximately 1 hour.

 

To assemble the flower:

 

1. Cut 1 five-inch-long piece of 30-gauge wire, wrap it around the center of a stamen, and fold the two ends of the stamen so that they are pointing upward.

 

2. Attach the 4 smallest petal sections—the ones with only 3 petals—to the stamens with floral tape. You may need to bend the wire or the petal a little to attach the sections.

 

3. Working from the center out, add the remaining sections, starting with the smallest and ending with the largest.

 

4. Hold flower 6 to 7 inches away from the spout of a kettle, taking care not to burn yourself on the steam, and steam peony until petals are shiny and less stiff.

 

Lucya Lu

Lucya’s Custom Cakes

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Gum tragacanth

CMC (carboxymenthyl cellulose)

 

Beryl’s Cake Decorating Equipment

P.O. Box 1584

North Springfield, VA 22151

800-488-2749

Fax: 703-750-2215

E-mail: Beryls@beryls.com

 

Sugar-paste modeling tools

Six-by-five-inch nonstick boards

Medium ball tool

Orchard foam pad

3/4-inch-diameter nonstick rolling pin

Yellow stamens for peonies

Moss-green floral tape

20- and 30-gauge white and green florist wire

 

New York Cake & Baking Distributor

56 West 22nd Street

New York, NY 10010

800-942-2539

Fax: 212-675-7099

 

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