I have previously written about how easy it is to make roses and carnations using the FMM Easiest Ever range of cutters, so today I thought I would show you how easy it is to make a beautiful peony using the FMM Easiest Peony Ever cutter.
Peonies are absolutely stunning flowers, giving huge blooms of beautiful colour. They were used on the Royal Wedding cake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (or the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to give them their proper titles). I made a wedding cake inspired by the Duchess, and whilst the Royal Wedding cake used real peonies, mine used one made using the FMM cutter.
The cake design was based on Meghan’s tastes… the bottom two tiers were inspired by her stunning engagement gown (frilled black skirt and gold fern on top part), the entwined hearts symbolised the union of their love, and the top tier had roses, a peony and lily of the valley. The whole design used nothing but FMM cutters, as they are a brand I love and trust, and they always guarantee beautiful results.
Today we’ll just focus on how to make the peony. The difference between the Easiest Peony Ever cutter and those of the rose and carnation is that this one also includes a leaf cutter. It saves having to buy a separate leaf cutter to complete your arrangement, which is a bonus. I had always thought peonies would be incredibly hard to make. Well this cutter set makes them so simple.
Before I show you how easy it is to use this set, I just want to talk about buying from sites such as Wish and Alibaba. FMM were the first company to come up with this Easiest Ever range, and sadly, as often happens when something proves to be a fantastic product, some other companies mainly based in China decided to copy the idea and sell their own version. These other versions might look the same and save you a pound or two if you buy them, but they are not the same excellent quality. FMM use a special non-porous food grade material to make theirs, and being non-porous means that bacteria cannot find its way in. And obviously, being food grade means the material used is 100% safe to use with sugarpaste/fondant. The cheap versions that have since come out from other nameless companies might look the same but the plastic used is often a very cheap material that is actually surprisingly porous. After a couple of uses it can start to provide a home for bacteria. Isn’t that a lovely thought? On top of that, this cheap plastic hasn’t been tested as food safe to UK regulations. I don’t know about you but I don’t fancy the thought of that. I’ll stick to the original FMM cutters thank you very much 🙂
Anyway, on to the tutorial. FMM made a brilliant video to demonstrate how to use the Easiest Peony Ever cutter set and you can watch that HERE. It is definitely worth watching and it s how I learnt how to use it myself.
It is best to use modelling paste to make your peony. Normal sugarpaste or fondant just won’t hold the shape as well as modelling paste. You can make your own modelling paste by adding a bit of Tylo powder to normal sugarpaste, or by mixing equal amounts of sugarpaste and flower paste. I find it more economical to add tylo powder to sugarpaste. (You need about half a teaspoon for 250g of sugarpaste).
You will need:
- The FMM Easiest Peony Ever cutter set
- Modelling paste in the colour(s) of your choice
- A board to work on
- A round ended small rolling pin
- A foam pad
- Edible glue
- A cornflour pouch
- 2 small brushes (one for the glue, and one to help spread out the petals if required)
- A cupcake paper case
- Veining tool or cocktail stick
- Lustre dust (optional)
Lightly dust your workboard with your cornflour pouch so the modelling paste doesn’t stick. Start by rolling your modelling paste to around 2mm thickness and then use the smaller of the two petal cutters to cut out two sets of petals.
I like to leave these to one side on the foam pad for a few minutes while I do the next step, as it helps if they dry out very slightly.
Take a small amount of modelling paste, roll it into a ball, and place it into one of the end petals on the small petal cutter. It needs to fit perfectly inside the petal shape so that the petals will wrap around it correctly afterwards.
Place the ball on to your work board and using the sides of your hands, roll the bottom of it so that it narrows and is able to stand without moving.
Again using the small petal cutter, use the edge to press 3 lines diagonally across the top. This is the centre of your peony.
Now back to the petals. Keeping them on the foam pad, use the edge of the rolling pin half on the pad and half on the paste, and firmly go around the outside of the petal shapes to thin and slightly shape them.
When you have gone all the way around the whole shape, it is time to cup the petals. To do this, lay the petals horizontally on the foam pad. Place the end of the rolling pin on the paste at the top of the first petal shape, press and then drag the rolling pin down to the middle. You will see the petal then forms a cup shape. Repeat for each petal along the top of the strip.
The petals will all be cupped and curling upwards. Now this bit is so so important! Flip the strip completely over so that the cupped petals are now on the bottom and facing the foam pad. They MUST be facing the foam pad or else they won’t wrap snugly around the centre bud.
Hopefully you can see what I mean on the above picture. The top petals now need to be cupped while the bottom ones are already cupped but facing the pad, so they look like little hills.
Use exactly the same process to cup the top row now, pressing the end of the rolling pin into each petal and dragging it down to the middle.
Now the top row should be curling upwards while the bottom row is curled towards the pad. Brush a line of edible glue across the middle of the strip and about half way into each of the top petals, then gently fold it in half bringing the bottom petals up to the top.
Press gently along the fold to make sure it has stuck. All petals now will be facing the same way, ie all cupped in the same direction. Brush another line of edible glue along the bottom half of the folded strip. Now it is time to start forming your peony.
Holding your ready made peony centre (bud) steady on the workboard, position the end of the petal strip against it so that the first petals start to enclose it inside their cupped shape. Wrap the whole of the strip around and press gently to make sure it sticks well.
You should be able to see the lines you made on the centre bud so that they look like petals still waiting to open.
Repeat the whole process of cupping petals for the second strip you have already cut out. When you have folded the strip in half, brush a line of edible glue along the bottom half. Place the first petal of this strip just overlapping the last petal you finished the previous layer with. Wrap around as before.
You see your flower really starting to take shape now.
The final 2 layers of petals are made using the bigger cutter of the two in the set. If you are using coloured modelling paste, you might want to use a slightly lighter shade for the last 2 layers.
Roll your modelling paste to around 2mm and use the larger cutter to cut out two more sets of petals. Place these on to your foam pad and leave for a few minutes to dry slightly.
You then follow the exact process that you did for the smaller petals… thin the edges, cup the top petals, flip over, cup the remaining row and fold in half.
Brush a line of glue along the bottom of one of the folded strips but this time don’t brush up into the petals. You want these ones to open slightly. Find the last petal that you wrapped around your peony and position the first petal of this larger strip to just overlap it, making sure again that the petals will cup around the peony, not away from it. Wrap this layer around your peony. You will see that these petals are a bit bigger than the previous 2 layers.
If you want, you can stop at this stage but to make a truly beautiful peony you need to repeat the process with the final strip of petals. Wrap the final layer starting from where the previous layer finished.
Now for the fun part. You were probably wondering why you needed a cupcake case. Well you need it for this part. Place your peony into the cupcake case. This will help to keep it in shape while it dries.
You can keep it looking quite closed as in the photo above if you like. It looks lovely like that. Or you can open it out a bit to make it look like it is in full bloom.
To open it out, gently pull the sides of the cupcake case to make it wider, and using a dry brush carefully start to spread out the petals until they are as open as you prefer.
Your peony now just needs to be left in the case overnight to dry. Meanwhile, you can make a leaf if needed.
Roll your modelling paste to 2mm thickness and use the leaf cutter to cut out a leaf shape. Using your veining tool or a cocktail stick, mark some vein lines on the leaf.
Wasn’t that easy? You can let the leaf dry flat on your foam pad or give it a bit of shape by rolling up some kitchen roll or cling film and draping the leaf over it to create a curved shape. Leave to dry overnight.
You now have a beautiful peony and leaf ready to put on your cake. If you like them to look matt, leave them as they are. If you want to add a bit of colour or shine to them you can gently dust them with a petal or lustre dust of your choice. I added a light dusting of pearl dust to mine as I wanted it to glisten slightly but with no colour.
You can attach them to your cake with royal icing or edible glue. I placed a small ball of the same colour fondant to the top of my cake and then stuck the flowers around the edge of it so they were at a bit of an angle.
If you would like to make some peonies yourself, CLICK HERE to go their link on the FMM website. I would love to see your creations so show me your results when you have made them.