What better way to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee than to share with you a stunning Union Jack cake, decorated with flowers…
This one was made by Sarah Hughes, owner of Eat My Flowers, a company she set up whereby she grows, picks and crystallises edible flowers.
I’m delighted for Sarah that she was joint runner-up with this beautiful cake in a Diamond Jubilee Bake Off competition run by The Times newspaper last week.
She very kindly answered a few questions for me:
When did you start your business and where are you based?
I started the business last year and run it from our farm in North Wales in the picturesque Dee Valley.
We farm sheep and beef but this is a diversification that I’ve developed to fit in around the farm business and my family.
I spent a year developing the product and finding which flowers looked best when crystallised.
I also spent a lot of time researching which flowers are suitable to eat and making sure my product met all the Health & Safety standards. And that I could produce, pack and post them on a commercial scale.
Could you talk us though the process of crystallising your flowers?
The flowers are crystallised using the traditional method of egg white and sugar.
I use processed egg white to avoid raw ingredients. The method I use hasn’t changed for hundreds of years.
I grow all the flowers myself to make sure I have consistency and also so I know that there are no chemical nasties on them!
They are harvested daily and crystallised by hand within hours of picking. We then dry them and pack them for delivery.
They can be kept for up to six months in a dry environment.
What types of edible flowers do you crystallise?
The range we offer are ones that our customers have told us they like.
Our most popular flowers are the violas, which come in a range of different colours and are available all year round.
We have a spring range which includes primroses, violets, bellis daisies and cowslips which then are followed by apple blossom, rose petals, pea flowers and strawberry flowers as the season moves into summer.
How do people use your flowers?
People use the flowers for all sorts of things…wedding cakes, cupcakes, afternoon teas, cocktails and desserts.
With the fashion for all things vintage, we find a lot of brides are using them on cakes for vintage-themed weddings.
We also have restaurants using them in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show period on the afternoon tea menus.
I love getting pictures from people of how they’ve used our flowers as each one is different and the creativity is amazing.
What are your plans for 2012?
We’re always looking for new flowers that we can add to our range.
The spring flowers have been particularly popular this year, so we’ll be growing more of those next year to keep up with demand.
It really is my dream job, looking for new varieties, growing the flowers and then having the fun of talking with customers about their plans and ideas for their use.
What is your favourite flower?
I think violets are my favourite ‘wild flowers’ but I also have to say the violas as they’re such troupers and always look stunning when sugared and on a cake.
Many thanks to Sarah for all her help in putting together today’s blog post.
P.S. I also made some cupcakes at the weekend for a Jubilee party and decorated them with some of the flowers which Sarah had very kindly sent me.
(Images : Eat My Flowers)