Paste Glue

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Cake Decorating with Fondant Icing vs. Gum Paste

Ask any experienced cake decorator for a Top 10 list of the essential tools of the trade, and you’re sure to find both fondant and gum paste on the list. Fondant and gum paste are two different types of sugar dough that cake bakers use to decorate cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candies, and other edible treats.

Fondant for Smooth, Sophisticated Icing

Fondant is a creamy sugar paste used for in candy making and cake decorating. It comes in two basic forms:

* Poured fondant
has a creamy, somewhat liquid consistency. It is used as a candy filling and can also be rolled out and draped over a cake as an icing. [/li]

* Rolled fondant
is a stretchy dough, not a cream. Rolled fondant is sometimes also called modeling sugar paste. The paste gets its doughy, elastic consistency from gelatin and glycerin. The beautiful, smooth cake icings featured on so many cake decorating TV shows are made from rolled fondant. [/li]

While rolled fondant can be bought in two-pound tubs, it is also fairly easy to make at home. A homemade fondant recipe made from marshmallows and powdered sugar is popular because it tastes better than the commercial version (especially to children, who like its super-sugary sweetness.)

Fondant is sticky, so you need to oil your hands liberally with shortening or dust with powdered sugar to model it with your hands. You can flavor fondant by kneading in a flavored extract such as vanilla, coffee, or lemon. You can also color the dough with gel food colorings. Don’t use water-based food colorings, which will make the fondant sticky and gooey.

For cake decorating, fondant is typically rolled out into a flat sheet with a rolling pin or a pasta rolling machine. A fondant sheet can be draped over the cake and gently nudged into a smooth, seamless sheet of icing.

Fondant can also be cut into shapes such as leaves or flowers, but its stretchiness makes it less than ideal for three-dimensional sculpting. Fondant tends to ooze slowly from a 3-D shape back to a flat one. To stiffen fondant for sculpting, add tylose or another gum powder. These are both available from chef’s supply or cake decorating supply stores. You can also fortify fondant by kneading it together with gum paste. The resulting medium will be stronger and stiffer than regular rolled fondant. If you use fondant to make three-dimensional shapes, you must allow plenty of drying time – at least a week, and even more if you live in a humid area.

Gum Paste for Sculpting Flowers and 3-D Elements

For sculpted details, professional cake decorators prefer working with gum paste. Like fondant, gum paste is a sugar-based dough, but its high content of edible gums makes it behave more like a stiff modeling clay. It is stronger than rolled fondant and holds its shape better as it dries. Gum paste dries very hard, usually in a shorter time than fondant, and can be stored for quite a long time. These qualities make gum paste the cake decorator’s medium of choice for sculpting figures, flowers, leaves, bows, or other three-dimensional elements. Gum paste can be rolled out into a sheet and used to make a smooth cake covering, like fondant, but it doesn’t taste very good. Store gum paste decorations for later use in an airtight container in a cool dark place, away from heat or humidity.

You can make your own gum paste, but the gums you will need can be hard to find. For most bakers, it’s easier to just buy gum paste in two-pound tubs.

Try combining fondant and gum paste to decorate the cake for your next birthday party, wedding, or special celebration.

____________________

Fiona Summers is a writer who loves to bake for family, friends, and her community. Visit her latest website at
Cricut Cake
, where she provides unbiased advice and tips for home bakers who want to create professional-looking cakes, cupcakes, cookies, candies, and other treats in their own kitchens. The site includes an
overview of the Cricut Cake machine
,
Cricut Cake reviews,
and
videos of finished cakes
made with the Cricut Cake cutter.

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