Don't trust everything you see on Pinterest!
If I see one more cake with lilies shoved in it I’m going to completely lose my shit.
This is not hyperbolic. This is actually what will happen so I beg you, from the bottom of my heart, to stop putting toxic flowers into food.
It is not the customers job to know this. They saw a cake on Pinterest (fuck Pinterest) with lilies on, and it looked beautiful. The conversion goes a bit like this.
“Lilies are my favourite flower, and they smell so beautiful, can I have them on my wedding cake?”
“Well actually Lilies are poisonous and shouldn’t be in contact with food”
“But...but I saw it on Pinterest (fuck Pinterest) and my uncle’s friends’ cousins’ had lilies on their wedding cake and everyone was fine.”
“ Ok but lilies are toxic and I’m not poisoning 150 people just because they look nice. I can offer you sugar flowers but they are quite expensive.”
“Well I’m sure it will be fine. I will just find someone who will.”
And the sad part of that story is that they will. And when 150 people have the shits or feel slightly queasy the next day but guess it was the pork, or the amount they drank and don’t mention it, means that we will never know what caused it.
Similarly you can’t just pop to your local Tesco and pick up some roses and put them in your cake either. We use different pesticides on flowers that are grown to be used on food than we do other flowers. In order to fulfill the year round demand for fresh flowers they are also flown in from around the world and measures are taken to keep them fresher for longer. These measures are not food safe either.
We have become so used to having what we want when we want it, regardless of the season, that it’s hard to hear that red roses aren’t available for your wedding cake in December. I get that. But the reality of the situation is that for flowers to be considered safe to be in contact with food they have to be specially grown, and edible to begin with. It’s fairly easy to discover what flowers are safe to eat, which are considered non-toxic (i.e. safe to come into contact with food but not recommended for eating) and which are toxic. But this seems to be another one of those things that people aren’t concerned about.
I am. I’ve had food poisoning and it was fucking horrendous. Think labour, but it’s not a baby that is coming out of you. I only purchase my flowers for my cake from reputable suppliers to the food industry. Most notably Maddocks Farm. And I highly recommend that you do too.
While we are on the subject, don’t believe everything you see on Pinterest. Just because you see it in a photo doesn’t make it safe, or sensible. We had a whole drama with a company called Rolkem a while back. They made the most incredible gold paint for cakes. You got an amazing high sheen metallic colour and the coverage was amazing. It beat everything else on the market at the time.
Then we found out why. There was concern that the product contained too much heavy metal to be safe for consumption. When asked to provide details on all their products to the FSA the company refused. Therefore all Rolkem products were recalled. And they made other amazing colours as well. Other metallic shades and neon colours that were once considered food safe. And now aren’t. So if you’re showing me a photo pre-2018 with the perfect gold drip I know why. And I know that while there are some great products out there I cannot recreate this look.
You also have to bear in mind that some photos you see are photoshopped. Some use techniques that allow you to achieve beautiful colours, but don’t taste very good. One very common one is using Trex to create buttercream. Trex is a colourless vegetable fat. Because it's colourless you can get beautiful pastel shades and pure white when using it. Butter is yellow. And while you can beat it within an inch of its life until it’s almost white, you are always going to have a slight yellow undertone to the colour you try to create. Now you can add whitener to it as well, a touch of purple can be said to neutralise the yellow, but it’s never going to be white white.
The legal limit for food colouring the UK can vary from brand to brand but is usually 0.3%. Which is 3g to every 1kg. Which means that achieving some colours within this limit can be tricky. But if it’s a dummy cake or being used only for a photoshoot then those rules don’t matter.
So please bear in mind while searching for inspiration for your cake, that it’s only that. Inspiration.