Gumpaste, also known as Sugarpaste, contains certain ingredients that make them useful for creating stiff like shapes or fiurines which also help to prolong their shelf life.
Most cake toppers or sugar models sold at the cake shops are created with gumpaste/sugarpaste.
It is another versatile medium for cake artistry and you can create just about anything that comes to your imagination, if you have great patience and a love for art.
The great thing about this decorating form, is that it can be made apart from cakes and also sold on its own. People who would rather specialise in gumpaste modeling alone, can actually make money just from creating any type of edible cake topper – remember how I said that, in a previous post that I ended up making my own toppers because they were too expensive – well I actually was telling you the truth. A small cake topper, say for instance, a baby in a nappy, would cost $50 NZD and a wedding couple could cost between $120 – $200 NZD.
However, you would need the correct tools, training and a passion for creativity. Even if you only possess creativity, that in itself is enough. If you don’t have any of these then, it will probably be more beneficial for you to just buy a topper from the shop.
Unlike all the other decorating techniques where you can ‘wing it’ should we say, this is the one art medium and decorating technique that I would probably encourage you to do some course or do a lot of practice because, if you are going to sell something for more than $100 NZD, it is fair to say, that it needs to be worth what the customer is paying for it.
Today the purpose of my article is to introduce gumpaste in all its glory and to give you another decorating medium to play with. Therefore, don’t go away yet, because, I am going to show you how to use gumpaste creations to bring cake art to life.
Amazing Gum Paste Creations
I love gumpaste because it is the best medium to hand paint on. You can literally create just about anything with it.
- Baby bottles/teats
- Baby Booties
- Graduation regalia
- Stuffed Toys or dolls
- Wedding Couples
- Sports paraphernalia
- Holiday Themes
- Nature (flowers, insects, trees, leaves, rainbows etc.)
- Sketches (life or cartoons drawn on)
- Marine life (fish, boats, rowing boats etc.)
- Lace/filigree decorations
- Painted Names or Numbers
- Figurines or small statues (using molds)
Homemade vs Store-Bought
I create my own gumpaste using tylose. There are several ways to make your own and I only use two recipes. Both are advantageous in the fact that they can create bulk amounts when they are required for large cake orders, however they do need a good amount of preparation and processing time.
Here is the first one.
- Making gum paste from scratch (I only do so when I want a real stiff looking paste that will hold its shape forever).
– 125 grams of egg whites (pasturised egg whites or an alternative)
– 725 grams of Icing Sugar (powdered sugar)
– 30 grams of Tylose powder (tylopur powder)
– A few drops of Food colorant (optional)
– Additional 100 grams of Icing sugar
– 4 teaspoons of shortening (animal or vegetable)
Tools and Utensils:
– Scraper (stainless steel or FDA plastic)
– Spatula (preferably silicon)
a) Mix egg whites first for 30 seconds (pause the stand mixer)
b) Add the icing sugar and then mix it together for two minutes to a nice creamy consistency (should look like meringue with a soft peak or like a soft serve ice cream consistency)
c) At this stage you can add color, if you want a whole colored batch, and mix for another two minutes.
d) Turn the mixer on at a slow speed, and sprinkle the tylose powder in to the egg white and sugar mixture. Continue to mix for a few seconds until the consistency is thickened. Turn off the mixer.
e) Sprinkle a little of the extra icing sugar on to a flat clean bench surface.
f) Use the scraper to remove the mixture from the mixing bowl and the paddle onto the sprinkled icing sugar.
g) Add the shortening on top of the mixture and start mixing using your hands to ensure that shortening is incorporated into the mixture (very similar to making home made fondant – which is quite fun!)
i) Add more powdered sugar as you knead (just a little more) to create a soft and pliable paste that is not sticky. Test poke it – and it should have a spring back reaction a little like poking pizza dough.
j) Place the paste into an FDA plastic zip lock bag or tightly lidded container, and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to its use. It should be taken out about an hour before it is actually used, so that it could be at room temperature and easily kneaded back to a soft consistency.
k) You can divide your paste and add coloring (gel or liquid). Otherwise, you can add coloring as you need, whilst you create your models or pastry shapes.
Okay, so I have just given you the long version. The next is the much-shortened version (the one that I use more often).
2. The Quick Version (I use this version when I am in a hurry and know that toppers do not need to be kept as a permanent memoir).
– 750 grams of ready-made fondant (home made or store-bought)
– 25 grams of Tylose powder (tylopur powder)
– Required Food colorants (optional)
– 100 grams of Icing sugar
– same amount as the above recipe – 4 teaspoons of shortening (animal or vegetable)
Tools and Utensils:
– Scraper (stainless steel or FDA plastic)
– clean pair of hands
a) Knead the fondant until it is pliable and soft to work with – don’t shortcut this part even if it takes half an hour, because it will save you from popping any unwanted air bubbles later.
b) Sprinkle a little tylose and add a dab of shortening while you need.
c) At this stage you can add color, if you want a whole colored batch, and continue to knead.
d) Once the tylose is fully incorporated into your fondant, you are ready to start using the paste for your decorations.
I learned the quick version from Sugar By Donna – I have added her video below to show you easy it is.
Okay now, we move on to store-bought option below.
Store Bought Gum Paste
So you have read everything thus far, and you think to yourself, ‘the above versions look too daunting and time-consuming, just give me the easiest way’ and tell me what to look for in the store bought gum paste.
Oakey dokey! The advantage of store bought gumpastes are,that, you have less preparation time and more fun playing time for creating.
You can start working with it straight away and no need to wait hours too. Just buy, follow the instructions and create.
Things To Note When Using Home made Gum Paste
- When I work with gumpaste, I always have some vegetable or animal shortening on hand because it can be quite a sticky business. Shortening also makes your models look smoother and results in a nice shine.
- Try not to use too much tylose – it will harden your paste quickly and make it difficult to work with.
- Toppers and decorations need to be left for a few hours to harden (24 hours at least to be nice and firm).
- Use a mixture of equal parts sugar and warm water to make a thick edible paste to stick your model parts together.
- Unused gumpaste can be stored but be weary of the fact that the raw egg-white recipe should be used within two weeks at the most (only if kept well chilled).
- Importantly – and some people have tried this, is DO NOT PUT gumpaste sheets through an edible printer – NO it doesn’t have the flexibility as using plain fondant; not to mention, damaging your edible printer in the process.
Essential Tools To Use When Creating With Gum Paste
I have listed the most essential tools to use when you are making your gumpaste cake decorations:
- Foam pads – for shaping and thinning petals
- Modeling Tools – this can be bought from cake stores or craft shops
- Paint brushes
- Small fondant rolling pins with attached measuring rings (this is where some of you will say, “aha, that’s what those little rolling pins are for!.” – yup that’s what I said myself)
- Molds (home made or bought)
- Petal and leaf cutters
- Cutting Mats
- Colorful luster or dusts
How I have Used Gum Paste
For, my younger sister’s graduation-celebration cake, I added a few gumpaste frangipanis, as shown in the image below:
For a customer’s graduation cake, I added a gumpaste made black cap and tassel as well as a rolled degree parchment:
For another customer, who wanted a themed cake for her grandson, I used normal fondant covering and a gumpaste for the topper face of Thomas the tank engine (notice the shine?):
I have many more examples but I think these will give you a few examples for your own ideas to how to use gumpaste.
Storing Your Gum Paste Creations
Make sure you store your fondant and gum paste at room temperature within a cardboard box away from sunlight, heat and humidity. I have successfully stored gumpaste flowers/roses for more than 6 months.
Another thing to keep in mind, is to keep them in a pest free environment (i.e., ants, mice, weevils and even moths).
Some decorators will tell you to store in airtight closed containers, but I do not agree. Following this advice is probably the worst thing that you do. the gumpaste needs to breathe, which is why I use cardboard boxes with a lid, and just cover them with a sheet of baking paper (waxed paper).
Gumpaste is an amazing medium, and you can have lots of hours filled with fun ideas, while you make and create cake artistry. Your kids can be involved in this also, and you can make it a family affair.
I have also listed a few ideas of what can be made, but you can add to it your own decorated items as well.
I have given you two options for making your own gumpaste (the long and the short), and if you don’t want to you also have the choice to go and buy pre-made gumpaste at and do not have to worry about taking time to prepare a whole batch.
Once you have decided on how you get your gumpaste, use my important tips and storage suggestions after you have created your decorations, so that they will last.
I have added examples of my own creations, in the hope that you be inspired to take on this new decorating technique. If you think that you need a few more skills, to make your art more professional looking, there is nothing wrong with learning via an online course.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article and wish you a wonderful day, and please leave me a comment, if you have your own ideas or questions for discussion. I am more than happy to respond.
I look forward to giving you more cake artistry inspiration in my next post,