Spring is supposedly on its way but when I look out my window all I see is little flurries of snow and a grey sky. Its probably a bit unrealistic to expect green grass and flowers in Alberta in February. I won't be vacationing somewhere warm any time soon so I've been staring at spring inspired photos and fabrics online to get my fill of pinks and greens and yellows.
I have been reading the fabric and quilting blog Nana Company even though I don't sew or quilt. Her fabric choices are so pretty that I love checking out what sort of cute stuff she is working on. When I decided that I wanted to make a spring themed cake with pinwheels I used her creations as my inspiration for the colours and patterns.
Making these cute spring decorations yourself is actually really easy. You can make them any size, colour, and design that you want. Then they can be used to decorate cakes, cookies, and cupcakes or whatever else needs a pretty spring decoration.
- Gum Paste/sugar paste (I always use the premixed stuff because it's the perfect consistency and one bag lasts me through many decorating projects. You can find it at most craft stores)
- Crisco or some brand of shortening
- rolling pin
- gel food colouring
- paint brushes
- vodka (to dilute the food colouring with)
- optional : shimmer or petal powder
Knead your choice of food colouring into some gum paste. To get everything soft and workable I usually knead a tiny bit of crisco into it.
Tip: I find the pinwheels look the best when the background colour is pale and the painted on and folded parts are painted darker. Go easy on the food colouring because you can always add a wash of colour later.
Grease your work surface (important so that it is easy to move after!) and roll out the gum paste. Use a piece of paper or post-it note cut into a square as a template for your square shape. Keep any gum paste that you aren't using either in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out
Wet your paint brush with a bit of the vodka or dilute some of the food colouring into a little dish of vodka to paint your pattern with. Vodka evaporates faster than water and doesn't make the gumpaste as soggy or as sticky.
Paint whatever pattern you want! It really doesn't have to be perfect because only parts of it will be showing. Plus part of the charm is that they are hand painted and thus not completely perfect.
Once your square is painted use a knife or gum paste tool to cut lines from the corners about two-thirds of the way to the middle.
To shape the pinwheel dab a tiny bit of vodka onto the left corner and then fold and press that corner into the middle.
Repeat that with the remaining corners folding each alternating one in.
Voila! A pinwheel! Stick a little ball of gumpaste in the center to cover up the points there. It looks really cute if you paint it a bit darker than the base colour that you are using.
I really like the way the pinwheels look when the folded in parts are either brushed with shimmer powder or a darker wash of colour for some contrast. It's easiest to let the pinwheel dry before doing this so that you aren't pressing on it and ruining the shape. However, I'm super impatient sometimes and I just brushed it on right away and then used the back of the paint brush to lift up any parts that I had squished down.
Use a spatula to gently move your pretty new pinwheel to a safe place to dry for a couple hours or up to overnight. Re-grease your work surface and start on the next pinwheel
Once your pinwheels are dry they are ready to decorate with! I stuck my pinwheels on a chocolate layer cake covered in light green homemade marshmallow fondant.
For edible glue beat together an egg white with a lot of icing sugar to make a thick royal icing that is spreadable rather than thin enough to pipe. Spread a little glob on the back on the pinwheel and hold it against the cake for a few seconds. The thicker the royal icing (which means more icing sugar beat in) the better it will glue the pinwheels to your cake/cookies/cupcakes.
To stick the pinwheels to the wooden skewers place the pinwheel face down on a flat surface and spread a glob of the thick royal icing in the center of it. Gently press the skewer into the royal icing and then cover with a circle of fondant. To make it more secure you can spread a bit more icing around the edges of the fondant. Allow to completely dry before using.
I had so much fun planning and making the decorations for this cake that I forgot about the cold and snowy weather outside.
That is, until I looked out the window again. But by that point I had cake in front of me so it really didn't matter that much.