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Cake Decorating Ideas For Beginners: What Is Gum Paste?

Gum paste is one of the most popular mediums used in cake decorating. Perfect for intricate and delicate details, it’s a great choice for adding a wow factor to your cakes. If you’ve never used gum paste before, this handy guide will answer all of your gum paste related questions, including what it’s used for and how you can incorporate it into your very own cake designs. We’ve even included a handy step by step tutorial so that you can make your very own gum paste flowers too. Get ready to add some gum paste to your next bake!

What is gum paste used for?

Gum paste is one of the most popular mediums used in cake decorating. Perfect for intricate and delicate details, it’s a great choice for adding a wow factor to your cakes. If you’ve never used gum paste before, this handy guide will answer all of your gum paste related questions, including what it’s used for and how you can incorporate it into your very own cake designs. We’ve even included a handy step by step tutorial so that you can make your very own gum paste flowers too. Get ready to add some gum paste to your next bake!

Are gum paste and fondant the same thing?

Although they’re part of the same family, gum paste and fondant behave completely differently. Fondant icing is usually favoured for covering cakes, whilst gum paste is great for making extra, more intricate decorations. If you’re unsure of which to use, here’s a breakdown of the main characteristics of each icing type;-


Fondant Icing

Fondant icing is used more commonly for covering cakes due to its soft and flexible nature and its polished finish. It’s great for reworking and remoulding as, unlike gum paste, it never fully hardens other than on the surface, and it can easily be remoulded or reshaped. This is because fondant icing contains glycerine, which helps it to stay soft and pliable, and tylose, which gives it elasticity.

Fondant is a great choice when working with silicone moulds and making smaller or flat decorations that don’t require much detail. Traditionally, fondant icing was always flavoured with vanilla but is now available in a variety of tastes, perfect for pairing with different bakes.


Gum Paste

Gum paste is the perfect choice for creating models, sculptures and intricate designs for your cakes. Its consistency allows it to be rolled out into super-thin layers, which is perfect for creating more lifelike and delicate designs such as flowers and petals, but because of its quick-drying properties, it needs to be handled quickly, as once it’s set, it can’t be reshaped.
As well as giving a pretty, porcelain-like finish, some gum paste is edible; however, it’s not usually eaten, as its finished texture is brittle. Not as flavoursome as fondant and more difficult to handle, gum paste isn’t made for covering cakes, but its decorative finish makes it a popular choice for all of those finishing touches. When using gum paste, always remember to cover up your unused product to prevent it from drying out.

What tools are best for working with gum paste?

Although different projects will require specific tools, there are some general pieces that you can add to your cake decorating kit which will make it much easier to work with gum paste and other similar mediums such as flower paste. The following bits of kit are a great starting point when making your first gum paste creations;-

• Non-stick rolling pins
• A selection of modelling tools to help shape and add details to your gum paste
• A selection of cutters or moulds for more specific shapes
Florist wire, perfect for linking gum paste or flower paste flowers together

When handling your gum paste, you may also want to have a few other things to hand to prevent it from cracking or sticking;-

Cornflour and icing sugar

If it’s a hot, humid day, use a sprinkling of cornflour when handling your gum paste to prevent it from sticking to itself and your equipment. Cornflour removes moisture, so is a perfect addition for humid conditions. In contrast, if the air in your home is dry and you find your gum paste is drying out too quickly or cracking, use icing sugar instead.

Shortening

If your gum paste begins to take the appearance of an elephant skin when you’re working with it, it’s probably drying out too quickly. Rubbing shortening (a solid, white fat product made from vegetable oils) into your gum paste will slow down its professional-looking drying time and remove the wrinkled appearance. A small dab of shortening can also help to remove the powdery look caused by using cornflour and icing sugar with the paste.

Gum glue

Gum glue is easy to make at home and is perfect for sticking your gum paste pieces together. Simply mix ¼ of a tablespoon of tylose powder with 2 tablespoons of warm water in a container, using a fork to break down any lumps. Store covered overnight in the fridge so that gum glue can form a syrup-like consistency that’s a perfectly edible choice for sticking together both fondant and gum paste or flower paste pieces.

How do I make gum paste flowers?

 Flower paste or gum paste flowers are a great place to start for your first gum paste project. An easy beginners project that gives a professional looking finished result, get ready for your next cake to take centre stage with our gum paste flower tutorial.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll need:

 Peony petals cutter
A non-stick rolling pin
Pink flower paste or gum paste
A cone tool to add texture
A ball tool to frill the edges
A cupcake case
Your homemade gum glue (or edible glue equivalent) and brush
Petal dust to embellish your finished flower (optional)

 

Method:

1. Roll out your pink flower paste to 1 mm thick and cut out with the largest petal cutter.
2. Add texture to the edges of your petals with the cone tool.
3. Use your ball tool to turn up and frill the edges of your flower.
4. Place your largest flower into a cupcake case to allow it to set and form. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for each of your petal cutter sections, adding extra for a fuller peony look.
5. Whilst still slightly soft, glue each of your sections together with your gum glue.
6. Ball a section of your pink flower paste together for the centre section of your Peony flower.
7. Glue the ball to the centre of your flower. You may want to add in another of the smallest cutter layers first to add more texture to your flower.
8. Finish by dusting your flower with pink petal dust for a more realistic finish.
9. Your flower is ready for your cake! 


 
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