Here in Okinawa, we have the distinct pleasure of being the first place in Japan where cherry blossom trees blossom. Thousands and thousands of delicate pink flowers are everywhere. One castle ruin has 70,000 trees to feast your eyes upon. The freeway toll booths are decorated and lined with flowered branches. Even the used car lots put huge fake cherry blossom trees out front to celebrate this time of year. It is some serious business in these parts.
So in the honor of my friend’s baby girl to-be, a coworkers birthday, and this season I made some cherry blossom cupcakes and a cake.
What you need:
- Bake your cupcakes as you normally would do, I made 73 cupcakes and had plenty of the supplies remaining
- I cheated this time and bought about 2 pounds of bakery butter cream frosting
- Pink, maroon, teal, royal blue, and black coloring
- Gum paste, mix and prep about half a tub * Mini blossom cutter for gum paste
- Gum paste small ball tool
- 1 small tipped paint brush
- A small dish with about a tablespoon of water
- Yellow pearls for the center of the flowers
- An airtight container
- 2 hours of uninterrupted time or about 4 hours of normal life
You can make these blossoms several days in advance. I would recommend this because they take a few hours to make and they need time to dry completely.
Place a small amount of pink coloring in the small dish with water. I did not bother dissolving the coloring completely because I found the right shade of pink I wanted. Follow the instructions for the gum paste. Once the gum paste has set add a little pink coloring and kneed the color in. Add a small amount of color at a time because these flowers are a very faint and are a delicate pink. Working with part of the gum paste at a time, roll a very thin layer out. Use the small blossom cutter and cut out about 60 per group. The left over cut outs can be balled up and placed back in the sealed container with the rest of the gum paste until needed later. Using the small ball tool, lightly press the center of each blossom making a small indentation in the center for the pearl. Dip the paint brush in the pink water, starting at the center of the blossom brush outwards. Do not go all the way to the end of the petals but rather about 60% of the way. Do 5 to 7 brushes per blossom. At about 20 painted blossoms, add the pearls and gently press them into the flower. Be careful not to press through the gum paste. After you have finished the set of 60ish, scoop them up with a tiny spatula or frosting scissors, and place them face down in an airtight container. To help give them a more uniform 3D look, I gently pressed the blossom cutter over them again. This helped to center the pearl and slightly wrap the blossom petals around the pearl. Let a little air circulate in the container until the blossoms dry completely.
Upside down and drying.
Get the cupcakes baking and prepped for frosting. Once your cupcakes are cooled they are ready for frosting. I wanted a smooth finish for my background. Separate into two bowls, 1 cup of frosting and another ¼ cup of frosting and set aside. Tint the remaining frosting pink with the pink coloring. To start, I placed about 2 cups of pink frosting in a bowl and heated in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Stir and heat it up again for another 10 seconds. Keep stirring and heating until heated through. This should only be 2 to 4 times. Once heated through, spoon the frosting on to the cupcake and gently spread to the edges. Each cupcake should take about two spoonfuls. Do this quickly because the frosting will start to set again. Reheat as necessary.
Now to create the branches with the 1 cup of frosting. Well, you would think that brown branches would be nice, right? But brown coloring and the amount of white frosting I combined made for a color that is just not pleasant looking. I’ll just leave it at that. So I opted for black branches. Apparently, I forgot my kindergarten color wheel because I combined black coloring with white frosting thinking that would do the trick. But black coloring and white frosting makes a very dull gray. Oh ya, duh, so please don’t make this same mistake as I did (but that is why I am telling you this side of the story). Now that I had run out of all my white frosting, I needed a miracle and I needed it NOW! I did what any little sister would do, I panicked, looked at the clock, did the time change subtraction thing, thought “Ya, it’s not really that late in California for me to call with this oh-so important emergency” and so I called my big brother (aka my color expert). Who says a college Art degree doesn’t have it’s advantages? Please!
And out of some left field I had no idea existed he told me to mix red, some unknown shade of green, brown, and something else and not in equal ratio amounts either. I told him “What?!?! I don’t have have those colors! And I need specific quantities mister.” So he settled for the colors I had on hand- maroon, teal, royal blue, and black. And viola, I had a very dark midnight blue which once dried looks very black. Now I was back on track.
Pipe the branches on the set pink frosting. Add white dots (from the ¼ cup) to the branches where you are going to place the cherry blossoms. This will help anchor the blossoms and help separate the flower from the branch.
Do the exact same for the cake.