Life Lessons 101: How to make icing roses

November 01, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Unless, of course, it's made out of buttercream icing.

Roses have been a staple go-to icing decoration for many types of cakes.

Carolyn McKee, owner of Carolyn's Cakes, just west of Hagerstown, has been baking and icing cakes for more than 40 years. For four years, she taught adult education students at Hagerstown Junior College how to make such sweet decorations. For eight years, she was a cake decorator at the original Martin's Food Store on Pennsylvania Avenue.

From wedding cakes to birthday cakes, she's made them in all shapes and sizes. One cake was even picked up in an military truck and taken to Camp David.

To make an icing rose, McKee uses her trademark buttercream icing. Sorry, but she's not sharing the recipe, but she notes she likes to use 6x sugar. She prefers buttercream to other types of icing such as whipped cream or royal icing, which she says are harder to control. Also, she says, her buttercream "tastes good."


After preparing her icing, McKee first adds color. "Experiment with the color," she suggests.

She says to test color by adding it and then letting the icing dry to see if it dries darker or lighter than the color appeared in the bottle.

Weather will affect how the roses turn out. In the winter, the roses will dry more quickly, she said. But during the humid months of summer, drying will take longer.

McKee keeps the icing at room temperature to make it easier to work with. She first rolls the top of the bag down so it won't get messy. She scoops the icing into a 14-inch pastry bag and uses a 104 rose tip.

"I think the 104 gives it a more natural look," she said.

Then she "burps" the bag by shaking it up and down to get the air out and have the icing fall closer to the tip. She said this helps to keep the icing to run smoothly. And make sure the narrow tip is facing up.

Before beginning, you'll also need an icing flower nail.

To begin, consider how you would like to use your roses. To place the rose directly from the nail to the cake, you can start immediately. If you would like to make several roses and let them dry, first place a dollop of icing on the nail and then place a 2-inch-square piece of wax paper, then begin the process.

McKee notes that for a left-handed person, the following directions will be reversed.

The secret to making the icing roses is to keep your tip straight at first, she said. Then gradually, the tip will be angled to your right hand.

Make a blob first directly on the center of the nail.

To take the rose off the nail, if you did not use wax paper, McKee says to use a pair of child-size scissors. Open the scissors and slide under the flower without closing. Lift the flower straight up and then place the rose on the cake, shutting the scissors before pulling them from underneath the flower.

For roses made on top the wax paper, just slide off the wax paper with rose on top. Place aside to dry.

McKee says most beginning bakers won't be able to conquer making a rose the first time.

"It takes lots and lots of practice," she says. "Don't get discouraged and don't give up."

1. Place the pastry bag between the thumb and first index finger in your right hand. In the left hand place the icing nail. Place a blob of icing at the center of the icing rose nail.

2 On top of the blob of icing, make a tight circle.This is the base of your rose.

3. Next, make three petals. Move your hand up and down and around three times. Make sure to keep it tight so that it will look like a bud. With each up, down and around movement, McKee says it's like bringing the tip toward you.

4. Up, down and around again for the final round of three petals. The finished piece will look like a bud.

5. To make the next petal for a fuller rose, turn the nail and then place the icing tip right behind the last petal. Repeat for a full flower.

6. Once you're finished you'll have a full flower to place on your cake.

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