The peony has become a fashion icon catching the spotlight on many of today’s pretty cakes. From single tiered to multi tiered, from rainbow colored to pure wedding white, the peony stars. Sometimes it is placed high up on the shoulder of a tall cake and at other times it is nonchalantly assembled, as if by chance, on the side of a lower tier. It can be made of gum paste, fondant, modeling chocolate, royal icing and almost any combination of the above. It can be wired and set into a straw or hollow dowel on a cake or glued on with the aid of melted white chocolate and without any wiring at all. I’ve even seen it done partially as a 3D accessory with the back and larger petals painted directly onto a culinary delight. And when painted onto a cake, there too, the possibilities for the popular peony are endless. There are gel colors, powders, powders mixed with alcohol, cocoa butter, and colorful pallet painting with a thickened butter cream.
The potentials are boundless.
So where does one begin?
Seeing that Chef Yener doesn’t as yet teach “the peony”, I wandered over to several other sites, each of which exhibits a variety of techniques on several different cakes, using a diversity of materials. and all dedicated to sugar flowers. What all of these sugar flower geared classes invariably have in common, however, is the one special lesson devoted to the making and the perfecting of “The Peony”. The outcome of each class is always an original and unique flower. The peonies are all different sizes and in an abundance of shades, from intense and brilliant to mellow and soft. Some are open, proud and majestic while others are closed and shy as if not quite ready to welcome the sunlight of a new day. Some have as many as twenty paper-thin layers of petals resembling the short ruffled tutu of a ballerina and others barely have three. Some make use of artificial stamens composed of cotton thread, corn meal or a commercial bundle packaged in a cellophane wrap, whereas still others have no stamens at all.
So how does one decide!
I’ll be honest. I had yet to make my first peony. If you’ve read my pasta machine post then you know that I am not very good at making non life threatening decisions. I ordered my peony cutters from my favorite and relatively inexpensive online shop, Aliexpress, and even received them well over a month ago. After having internalized from several of Chef Yener’s tutorials that one doesn’t necessarily need all of the costly paraphernalia in order to achieve realistic looking projects, I researched, practiced and taught myself how to do the veining without the purchase of the prohibitively expensive specialty peony veiners. And in addition, I watched numerous tutorials on the various methods of constructing this ultimate flower.
So what was stopping me?
Too much to choose from I guess!
It’s not as if I had a cake sitting and waiting impatiently for her “piece de resistance”. But now, with this blog I pretty much pushed myself into a corner.
So here is my very first peony. After all, how could I hand in this article without even at least one attempt at the ubiquitous…but illusive peony?