If you keep up with our weekly Friday Faves picks, you’ll recognize the stunning wafer paper ranunculus flowers on this cake by Kara of Kara’s Couture Cakes (CC username KarasCoutureCakes). As soon as we saw these exquisite blossoms, we knew we had to learn the technique behind them– and share it with you! Below, Kara walks us through how to create lifelike wafer paper ranunculus flowers and explains some of the inspiration behind her technique.
I love the ranunculus. It’s like the mille-feuille of the botanical world, lush with impossibly delicate, silky petals. No matter how many different ways I’ve tried, I have never been content with the finished look of sugar paste for this beauty. Confectioner’s wafer lends the lightness, delicacy, and translucency that I find so essential to successfully imitate nature.
1.5-inch foam ball
2 sheets wafer paper
Bright green petal dust
Coated foam or gumpaste flower center affixed to an 18- or 20-gauge floral wire
Craft circle punches (1 inch and 1.5 inch)
Deep green petal dust
Large angled soft brush
Ruler or straight edge
Small bowl of water
Small and narrow soft brush
Soft round-tipped brush
Violet (or your choice color) petal dust
1. Using the smaller circle punch, cut one circle as close to the corner of one sheet of wafer paper as possible.
2. Using the cut hole as a guide, line up your ruler or straight edge and cut a strip just larger than the hole. Use that strip as a guide to cut the remainder of the wafer sheet into equal strips.
3. Group 2-3 strips of wafer paper together. Turn your circle punch upside down, and punch holes down the length of the grouped strips of wafer paper. Having the punch upside down allows you to see that you have the paper properly centered in the cutting area and it reduces waste.
4. Repeat the process with the large craft circle punch and the second sheet of confectioner’s wafer paper.
5. The wafer circle now needs to be cut.
6. Cutting 2-3 circles at a time, cut from the edge straight towards the center, approximately ⅓ of the diameter inward (⅓ inch for the 1 inch round).
7. Dip your brush lightly into the water, only to dampen it slightly. Blot any excess water on the side or on a paper towel. Brush the water on the wafer just to the left of the cut. You shouldn’t see any visible moisture on the wafer; it doesn’t take much to create a sticky surface. Too much water will simply melt the wafer.
8. Fold the right side of the cut over top of the dampened left side and press gently together. You do not need to hold it or apply much pressure, it sticks almost instantly. This step should produce a slight cup to the wafer petal.
9. Repeat step 8 with all of the circles.
10. Paint a circle of water around the top third of the flower center. (You can use a bit more water in the following steps than you used in creating the cupped petals.)
11. Begin applying the small wafer petals in a circle, slightly overlapping each other, all meeting at the center top of the ball.
12. Use 4-5 petals to form your first and innermost layer.
13. Apply your second layer of petals about ⅛ inch lower than the first set of petals. Overlap these as well. Use approximately 5 petals to complete this layer. (Each following layer should be applied slightly farther down than the previous layer, just as you did here.)
14. Before you add subsequent layers, you’ll notice that there are some pointed areas from the cupping of the petals and where they may overlap. Tamp down the points with the side of your slightly wet brush. Don’t get too close to the tops of the petals, but also don’t be afraid of using water at this point. The center does much to absorb excess moisture as does the layered petals.
15. The petals don’t have to be flush to the center. A little irregularity will create more volume and visual interest.
16. Once you are content with the look and quantity of the first smaller petal layers, you can begin using the larger petals.
17. These petals will overhang the ball a bit at first. Paint water at the edges of the petal.
18. Use your fingers to arrange the look of the petal and to pull the petals down and closer for the first few layers of the larger sized petals. This will help the flower to still look a bit tight rather than opening up too abruptly. Allow the last few layers of large petals to open more.
19. Once you’ve finished applying all of your petals, use a wet brush to secure the bottom visible layers of petals to the center and create a flush surface.
20. You can leave your petals as applied like in this picture. They have crisp, clean edges and look very refined. Or…
21. …You can use a lightly wet brush and run it around the edges of the outer side of the edges of the petals, as in this picture. The wafer will curl to the side you applied the water and create a more worn, shabby chic look. I find this look to be more natural, but each look has their place in design.
Yes, you’ve just finished these flowers. And if you’re accustomed to working with sugarpaste you may move on to a different task, have a cup of coffee, or call it a day. We’re used to allowing the sugar to dry for at least 24 hours (in general) before we apply the finishing touches. No need with these wafer flowers! You can begin dusting right away! Just be sure your edges have dried if you applied water to curl them.
22. To dust them and add life, I used three shades of green petal dust: Holly, Moss Green, and Apple Green for the center.
23. First start with the Apple Green, applying your largest diameter coating of color with the small, soft, narrow brush.
24. Add the Moss Green and Holly to the center to gradually deepen the shading towards the center.
25. Using your large, soft, angled brush, load a very light amount of violet (or your chosen accent color) onto it, tapping the excess off.
26. Hold the brush at an angle to the petals and make short downward motions to gently apply the color to just the edges of the petals. I used a bit more color on the outermost petals.
27. The accent color is very, very gentle (and very difficult to reproduce on camera!) but it highlights the edges and gives the flower life and dimension.
This flower took 20 minutes, from punching the wafer paper to finishing dusting.