If you are not accustomed to working with fondant icing or have not made roses before then make sure you buy enough fondant for several attempts- practise makes perfect.*
These instructions once perfected will give you perfect roses commonly used on wedding cakes; this method is tricky and it is recommended you practise making the roses before the day of preparation.
Break off a small piece of the fondant and roll it until you roughly have a 1” diameter ball. Shape the ball into a cone by pinching one side of it; ideally you want the cone to be 1.5” tall.
To make a petal roll a ball of fondant roughly a quarter of the size of the previous, do not worry too much about size, if in a later stage you are finding that the sizes of the petals are too small then start again.
Once you have your ball we want to flatten it to form a petal; use your thumb and press down on the ball. You want to create a circle that is 2” in diameter, it is important that the petal is about ¼” thick on the bottom and thin on the top.
*For a more realistic look ensure that the petal tips are paper thin.
Having created the first petal, apply to the base of the cone, carefully wrapping it around finishing with a furl at the top to create a bud.
It is best to start by applying the thick side of the petal to the base of the cone then carefully wrap the thin ‘petal’ around- slightly bending it over itself to create a bloom effect.
Do the same with the three remaining petals; applying them from the bottom bud and delicately shaping the thin top to replicate a rose’s petal as it unfurls from the bud.
Make five more petals, this time slightly larger than the originals but ensure you still keep the tips as thin as possible. Apply these final petals lower down on the base than the previous petals, spread the petals evenly round the base layering them up and curling the edges back a slight bit more to create more bloom.
Continue layering the petals on until you are satisfied with the fullness of the rose.
Here is an even simplified method for creating a less detailed rose, although in my opinion it is a more modern look. This method will give you a rose that if kept pure white with perhaps a small silver sugar ball placed on top of the bud will be suitable for wedding cakes; however, if used with bright colouring they will be perfect for birthday cakes. This method is easy to change and I recommend experimenting to create variations on the basic rose.
The method is as follows.
Roll out your coloured fondant icing till it is 1.5cm in thickness, 15cm in width and 20cm in length. Arrange the rolled out icing in front of you so that the 20cm length is the side closest to you.
Take the top of the fondant rectangle, pull it towards you and fold it on top of itself to create a smaller layered piece of fondant that is 3cm thick and 7.5cm wide. Do not flatten or squeeze the two layers together at all, try to leave a small cavity of air/space in the fold to create volume in your petals.
Cut off 1cm of length from each end of the rectangle.
Take one of the short ends of your rectangle and begin to roll it up like a swiss roll; however you do not want the rose to look like a log so to create a bud pinch the base end as you continue to roll the fondant length around itself. This should create a basic rose shape. Once you have wrapped the rose to its desired width and fullness pinch the base of the rose that you have been holding on to giving the rose a more cone shape. After cutting off any excess icing carefully push back and separate the layers to give the flower more shape. To finish cut little leave shapes out of green icing and stick to the underside of the rose.
If you want to create the side of your iced cake make several of these flowers and link them by the green leaves creating a rose chain around your cake.
To completely change the finished look of the rose cut the folded over icing and pinch to create a two layers of thin petals; once rolled splay the thin layers out to create a carnation style flower.
Here is a third method for creating flowers, this time small buds, that when made in quantity can be used to create a bouquet effect or simply used to decorate cupcakes by themselves.
Take a small ball of fondant around 2cm in size and roll it into a 0.5cm thick sausage shape.
Take a small rolling pin and roll out the icing until it is of really thin consistency.
Using your fingers apply pressure and pull the icing at one side so that this side becomes thinner than the other, further thin it out by using a cocktail stick as a rolling pin.
Carefully roll up the length of the icing like a Swiss roll.
Take the little icing roll which should be around 1-2cm diameter and smooth the edge in the outer layer with the aid of the cocktail stick.
Pinch the roll 3-4cm from the ‘bloom’ to get rid off the unused icing and to encourage the outer layers of the roll to splay out.
Very gently with your index finger separate and furl back the layers of the roll to create the effect of petals. It may be useful to use your cocktail stick or a tissue covered cocktail stick (to protect the shape of the icing) to slightly separate the layers of the roll and shape them backwards to create the effect of a bloom.
Take catering scissors (ordinary sharp scissor will also do) and cut the roll so that it is only 1.5-2cm of the bloom is left. This leaves a small flower that when produced in bright colours look brilliant on top of iced cupcakes and birthday cakes; turning a celebration cake into something special!