There is something you should know about me. I am a teensy bit obsessed with flowers. It was one of the reasons I became a cake decorator...to learn how to make sugar flowers. I went to a local college to learn and had the most fantastic teacher, Pauline Moody. A great teacher can make all the difference and her insistence on learning the fundamentals of all aspects of cake decorating has helped me endlessly. I didn't have a clue how to use edible dusts before either and so I thought this month could be my little homage to Pauline and all the creative people out there who pass on their knowledge and skill with passion and love.
Edible dusts are an excellent way of adding tone and dimension to sugar flowers. They always seem a bit two-dimensional and flat to me if they haven't been dusted. They are also brilliant to experiment with if, like me, you do not come from an artistic background. Look at photographs of the flower you are trying to recreate before you start. Even if you are not trying for botanically correct flowers (not everyone is as retentive as me and I don't always succeed), it's a good starting point.
You will need clean (new) paintbrushes or make-up brushes. You can just use one and build up light colours first but it is useful to have more than one. Generally you do not wash these brushes but clean the dust off by dipping them in cornflour and knocking it off. I can't really recommend a paintbrush size as most people have their favourites.
The range of colours available is considerable and you can blend the colours. There is also a range of shimmers which add a luxurious texture. These also look wonderful dusted onto macarons. If you add clear alcohol such as vodka or cool boiled water to dusts they can also be used as paints.
Edible glitters are also available but use sparingly. I tend not to use them on flowers so much as I like my flowers to look like flowers but they look gorgeous on snowflakes, stars or for adding sparkly detail to lettering or 3D models. I used a silver silver hologram glitter on a tiny pair of Louboutin Daffodiles once, looked really cute.
I thought I would you show you the colours I have used to dust a viola to give you an idea of how to build up colour:
On the first viola I have used 'Lavender' brushed on to build up a light colour. I have also dusted the back. On the second I have added 'Empress Purple' to start to build up tones. On the third I have used 'Lobelia' on the edges of the petals. I think using a darker colour on the edges can really lift it...be adventurous - try colours you might not necessarily immediately go for. On the fourth viola I have added a little clear alcohol to the 'Aubergine' dust and painted the veining. On the fifth I have used clear alcohol to paint 'Sunflower' to represent the stamens and 'Superwhite' for the stigma. (If this was a wired flower I would recommend using wire stamens.) Once dusted, hold the flower over a steaming kettle for a few seconds. This sets the dust so it doesn't fall off onto your cake.
On a food safety note, The Food Standards Agency issued the following guidelines as to purchasing dusts and glitters...
"Dusts or glitters that are edible will include permitted additives (such as mica and titanium dioxide) and must comply with the requirements of EU food additives legislation Regulation 1333/2008. Only glitter or dust clearly labelled to show it is suitable for eating should be applied to food for consumption.
Edible glitter or dust must be labelled with the name or E-number of any additives used and carry either the statement ‘For food', ‘Restricted use in food', or a more specific reference to their intended food use (for example ‘Edible lustre’)."