I’ve been interested in trying homemade sugar sprinkles for ages – I’ve seen loads of blogs I admire make them, like The Cupcake Project, The Kitchn and Brave Tart. They aren’t difficult – the ones I made had only four ingredients – but they are a project that takes a bit of time. So, of course, I opted to make them midweek, after work.
Learn from me. Don’t do stuff like that.
I was making these sprinkles to decorate a wedding anniversary cake for my parents – they’ve been married for 45 years! That anniversary, if you don’t know, is represented by sapphire, so I made blue sprinkles for their cake.
Side note – you probably won’t remember this blog post about their ruby wedding anniversary cake. It’s not much to look at, that post, but I am still very proud of the cake. Sometimes it’s good to look back at where you started, and see how far you’ve come – that is the case with me and that blog post. My cake skills were good, but my blogging? Forget about it…
Anyway, the sprinkles. I didn’t want to make plain sugar strands, as in all the links above – I wanted to make pretty shapes instead. I have several sets of plunger cutters for sugar work, in heart, flower and star shapes. I love them, they are a lot of fun to use and they add a certain something to your baking work. You can use them for icing, or pastry, or for anything else that gets rolled out and cut into shapes. Fun!
You have to start by making some fondant icing. I dare say this would work with pre-made, ready to roll (or rolled) fondant, too, but the point for me was starting from scratch. So, to make the fondant, I mixed the following in a bowl:
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp liquid glucose
- 3 cups icing sugar
- gel food colouring, any colour and any amount, until you’re happy with the result
The egg white binds the fondant together, and the liquid glucose both helps with that and also helps to regulate the sugar crystals. Did that sound suitably confident and official? Excellent, then let’s begin.
Now, straight away, I want to let you know that this makes an extraordinary amount of icing. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay way more than I needed – more than four times what I needed, in fact. So, another time, I’d cut down on the egg white and glucose. It’s hard to split an egg white, but I’m sure I could manage to scoop out a spoonful instead of using the whole thing.
You might need a smidge more or less sugar, but in the end you’ll go from this:
A nice uniform ball of fondant icing, dry to the touch and stiff to work with.
Roll the icing out very thinly – as thin as you want the sprinkles to be in the end – on a sheet of lightly oiled greaseproof paper.
This looks cool, doesn’t it? As though you could peel the back away and be left with loads of cool sprinkles on the paper?
It didn’t work.
I went to Plan B, and stamped the shapes out before moving them off to the side. It gave a result altogether more chaotic, but more importantly, it worked.
See that big chunk of icing? It stuck. Be wary of this.
Other food blogs don’t really show you these parts, do they? There’s a reason for that, I bet…
Anyway, once I had the shapes all stamped out – three sizes of star and two sizes of heart, as you’ll see in a moment – I carefully gathered them onto a clean square of paper and left out, uncovered, to dry. I also made some little balls of icing, just by rolling them up in my hands. They were probably ready after a few hours, but I made them a day ahead – do try to give yourself plenty of time, in case of emergency.
And there you have it! Homemade sprinkles. Time consuming, and delicate, and so pretty. You can control what colour they are, to match them exactly to a ribbon or a shade of icing, or just to each other. You can also control the flavour of them – you could add a little flavouring to them at the same time as you add the colour, if you wanted lemon or vanilla or mint or coffee ones. You also know exactly what’s in them, and just when they were made. And, ultimately, you get to say ‘I made those from scratch’, and that is one of the most satisfying (not to mention acceptably smug) phrases in any language.
I used them to decorate the cake you can see above – here are a few shots of the progress of the big ’45’ on top. The design was inspired by the beautiful wedding anniversary cakes that Ice Maiden Cakes does – click through and have a look. Julie makes absolutely stunning cakes, and you should hire her if you’re looking for something special.
I love this style, and even though my numbers weren’t as sharp and as pretty as Julie’s, I was really pleased with them. The shiny dragees are *not* homemade, I should probably point out, but I don’t think they’re beyond me, either. With any of these homemade sprinkles, you could paint them with glitter or spray with lustre to add shine, to both them and your entire house. That glitter really does get everywhere.
One final photo – the side of the cake. I had originally planned on fewer sprinkles in a simpler pattern, but it got away from me a bit. Once you start, it can be hard to stop. I like how the plain rounds fit in here with the busier shapes. I also just love the tiny star sprinkles, they’re the cutest.