I laid the flowers out first on a cookie sheet to get an idea of how to arrange them to balance the height, shapes, and colors, and then I transferred them over to the cake. As much as I liked the variety of the flowers, it could be fun to keep it simple next time and stick with one type of flower or a more geometric arrangement.
Here's the garden up close.
Some, like the carnation, followed official (Wilton) techniques, but most I just made up using various cookie cutters or shaping them freehand, like the roses. I particularly like rolling the fondant super thin - so thin you can read through it! - and then thinning out the edges even more with a ball tool. Carnations let you do just that.
See how the flowers are really shiny and shellacked-looking? I painted them with a 50/50 mixture of vodka and corn syrup. The flowers had been drying for a couple of days, so they were firm and easy to paint, but the shiny mixture left them feeling tacky. Next time, I might adjust the proportions to use less corn syrup. I thought the shine gave them a little extra depth and dressed them up. Without it, the flowers looked a little dull and flat. I have heard that rubbing them with a little vodka on a paper towel can give a gentle luster, but a small paintbrush was much easier to use without breaking the delicate petals.
When I got bored of the colors, I started marbling the fondant and creating different color combinations.
Hope you enjoyed your flower garden cake, E! Happy birthday!
Print vanilla cake recipe.
Print vanilla buttercream frosting recipe.