Three-dimensional Flowers made from Buttercream with the Palette Knife

This is again an article about making flowers from buttercream. Since my blogpost about a beginner’s guide to buttercream flowers is so popular, I decided to make another for a bit more advanced buttercream decorators. Yes, I am aware that Mother’s Day is around the corner. Probably no better time than now to practice making flowers with buttercream. Have you ever tried to pipe anything with buttercream? If you have, you probably have your share of fails, for me the biggest fail was the new buttercream I wanted to try. It basically consists of melted white chocolate and butter. But boy, everything went wrong, I was so disappointed. Believe me, I still experience bake fails, this one was one of them. But I decided to keep digging, so after a lot of reasearch I found another buttercream. Not American buttercream, which seems to be the go-to buttercream for super sturdy buttercream. I find American buttercream way too sweet. For these flowers you would need to add even more icing sugar, so this was off the table. But below recipe works like a charm. I deliberately decided to post my first attempt at three-dimensional flowers here, I know I can still improve a lot, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of what you can do with a palette knife if practicing for a little. So do you want to become an artist and pull out those palette knives?

Below you will see how you create each petal with your palette knife, for visual learners, check out this video:

First you need a colored rectangle of cream of about 1-2mm in thickness. You are going to place your palette knife about 45 degrees either at the very right end or left end of the rectangle. You will need to take up cream 5-9 times (depending how big you want to make the petal) with your knife about half of the length of the palette knife.

You will again take up cream with your knife between 5-9 times after that, however, you will reduce the size to about half again, meaning that it is only about 1/4 of the length of the palette knife. You can see in the back the division from the former rectangle.

As you can see, these “triangles” are going to be your petals. You need to pratice making petals starting from the left and right. I practiced for about half an hour during the first evening, making a petal, then smashing it into a rectangle and starting all over again. It takes a while until you get the hang of it. Once you are comfortable, you can start making several petals from the right end of the rectangle and from the left. Once you have assembled about 5-6 petals, you can start putting them together to create a flower. This is best done with two palette knives. I placed mine on small patches of parchment paper. These I placed inside the fridge for the flowers to harden. Once the flowers were hard, I glued them onto the cake with additional buttercream. It was only the leaves I would put directly on the cake without first chilling them.

Credit buttercream: Vanille Tanz (in German)

Recipe for Palette Knife Buttercream

Prep Time: 2hr Cooking Time: 30min Total Time: 2hr 30min

I explain below how to make flowers from buttercrean. You will also find a very sturdy buttercream recipe in order to be successful.


  • 60 grams of cold milk
  • 180 grams of icing sugar
  • 400 grams of cold butter
  • Food coloring (gel works well)
  • Palette kives, I had these
  • A clean and cold surface (I used a baking mat, marble, acryl, or similar works as well), this will help to create the flowers



in this reel you will see how I make a flower. The amount was sufficient to frost the entire cake (12cm diameter, 7cm in height), and create all flowers and leaves. In fact, I had some cream left.


For the buttercream first whisk together the milk with the icing sugar in a small bowl until you see now lumps. Cut the cold butter into cubes and beat them briefly in a large bowl with a machine. Once you start adding the milk mix slowly, be sure to cover your bowl with a large and thick towel as otherwise you will have milk splattered all over. Only add milk little by little. It took me about 5 minutes before I could take off the towel and another 10 before the cream was ready to be used. You will know that the cream is ready if you can't find any liquid at the bottom of the bowl and the buttercream has a glossy and smooth consistency. If after 15-20min you still feel it looks curdled, warm up a small part of the butter, put it back in and continue beating. If you are in a warm place, it may take less time to come together. You can add a very small amount of purple food coloring to take out a bit of the yellow color. Your buttercream is now ready to use. If it become too soft, place it in the fridge for 10-15min, then continue. The cream can be used for several days, chill in the fridge and let come to room temperature. It can be frozen for a few months as well. Always make sure it is glossy and smooth before you start, sometimes you need to rebeat if any liquid has separated.


in this reel you will see how I make a flower. For each petal you will need to make a rectangle of 1-2mm in thickness. You don't need to worry if you haven't mixed in the color evenly, it even gives more depth if petals have slightly different shades of the color. You can also add more white buttercream every time you make a rectangle for slightly different shades.


For one flower, I created about 5-6 petals every time, which I then put together. I chilled the flowers prepared like this, would glue them onto the cake and the finish with the pollen or other details when they were already on the cake. If you don't place the petals directly on the cake once you made them, you can redo them as much as you want until you are happy. I used one evening to simply practice making petals. The next evening I started putting them together as a flower and only on the third evening I would then start glueing them onto the cake. I definitely preferred this. Maybe once I am more comfortable, I may start putting the petals directly on the cake and making the flowers on the cake immediately. But let's first start by making a petal. I would also ask you to check the photos above and read the descriptions to better understand. For one petal you will need to take up cream about 1/2 or 1/3 of the length of your palette knife. You need to do this at a 45 degree angle. Start by first creating a rectangle of about 1-2mm thickness and either starting on the left or right take up cream at said angle for about 5-9 times. Once you have done that, reduce again to about half (so now you will only take up cream about 1/4 of the length of the palette knife). Take up cream again between 5-9 times. You have created one petal (see large photo above). Place this petal on your surface and make a total of 5-6 petals, some slightly bigger, some smaller, either starting at the right or left side of the rectangle. Once you have made enough petals for one flower, cut out rectangles of parchment paper you can place your flowers on. By using two palette knives, put the petals together to create one flower (see again the picture above). Chill these flowers until they harden. You can also speed up the process by placing them in the freezer. Remember to have fun, this is not a competition, if you are unhappy with the result, just start over again, everything takes time, just practice a bit more.


Creating leaves is even easier, you will only take up crem 3-5 times and that's it. You also need to do this from the left as well as from the right. I place the leaves onto the cake directly without chilling them first, but you could do that as well.


Glue on the chilled flowers onto the cake, use a bit more cream to make sure they don't fall off. I made the pollen with a piping bag I had only cut off a very small tip from. I also formed the flowers a bit more once they were on the cake. I got a lot of compliments for this cake!

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