Sugar Paste: Types and How to Use
It is quarantine time and there is no better way to spend the days than engaging in some fun baking activities. At homebakers.co.in, we are doing our part to keep the baking community connected and engaged virtually by demonstrating to our baker friends the best methods to make their confectionaries stand out. Recently we hosted Ashwini Sarabhai of The Dream Cakes to tell us all about the various sugar pastes that we all hear about but may not the know difference between the different types of sugar pastes - Fondant, Gum paste or Flower Paste, Pastillage, Mexican Paste, Modelling Paste and Modelling Chocolate. We present to you an excerpt from that session. If you want some change of pace during this lockdown, read on!
To know more about Ashwini Sarabhai and The Dream Cakes, visit www.TheDreamCakes.com
The everyday dough. Fondant, owing to its versatility, is exactly that. In simple words, fondant is a dough that is made out of icing sugar, liquid glucose, shortening, gelatine or Agar Agar powder (for vegetarian fondant) and some glycerine. It is versatile as it can be stretched into various shapes and can be rolled nicely to decorate cakes and create figures. It can stay for a long time. Its mostly used to drape cakes.
Learn more in the Online Class: https://homebakers.co.in/courses/sharp-edges-on-cakes/
Pro Tip - Do note that powdered glucose cannot be used in this regard. Liquid glucose is key.
Gum Paste vs Fondant
A similar dough to fondant is gum paste but with a couple of changes - no glycerin but we need to add Gum Tragacanth or Tylose Powder or Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC). Gum paste does not contain glycerin as it is added to fondant to add the softness to the paste. Do note that gum paste is more firm yielding a stronger dough. A good way to think about it would be to picture decorative sugar flowers. It can be rolled so thin that if you place the rolled sheet on a textbook, you can actually read the text underneath.
Gum Tragacanth is a naturally found gum. The ‘Gond Ke Ladoo’ often made in the Indian household consists of a type of gum. There are certain trees in the middle eastern countries, where Sap drips off the bark. That sap is collected, dried, processed and powdered to make gum.
While one may get many types of gums in the market - natural gums are the recommended variety because of their strength. But they may not be easily available and could be more expensive than the synthetic gums. Synthetic gums are a good alternative to these in that case. Tylose powder is a synthetic or man-made gum. The key composition of Tylose is CarboxyMethyl Cellulose which is nothing but CMC available in grocery stores. While Tylose is a brand with better quality than CMC, locally bought CMC can be used in place as well. But keeping an eye on the quality is important. Do take time out to try out the CMC or Tylose Powder or Gum Tragacanth to figure out the perfect quantity required for the gum paste. You need to see if you are getting the same stretch or no stretch, you need to see if it’s rolling out as thin as regular gum paste, you need to see if it has the required strength after adding the CMC.
Fondant and gum pastes look similar but there are a few characteristics that set them apart – if you pull a small portion of the sugar pastes in question and a pop sound is heard - then it is clear that the dough in question is gum paste. Fondant, on the other hand, tends to stretch across when pulling at it. Gum paste is going to be slightly more firm than fondant.
An advantage of both these sugar pastes, i.e. fondant and gum paste, is that it ranks high on the durability index. It will ideally last up to 1-2 weeks at room temperature (depending on the weather). The right way to store them to wrap a cling film and put in an airtight container. Refrigeration can push it to 3 months and a deep freeze can keep its mojo going up to a year. When you want to use it, remove it from the freezer, thaw it and get it to the room temperature and then you can start using it. If you are trying something with a common flavour profile - you can either choose to flavour your fondant or you can buy off the shelf products.
You can also learn more about making Gumpaste in the Free Video: http://www.thedreamcakes.com/free-videos/
To learn making flowers, checkout these online classes on various flowers from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
and many more coming up soon...
As the name suggests, Bean Paste is made out of beans. People use different types of beans like moong daal, lotus seeds, kidney beans, etc. They will soak it for a couple of hours, boil it, add icing sugar and other ingredients as per the recipe and then steam it before using it. The process of making bean paste is quite lengthy. However, the end product is quite tasty.
To learn more about how to make bean paste and how to use it to make flowers, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
The next essential sugar dough that one should think about having in his or her baking toolbox is Pastillage. Pastillage looks like fondant or gum paste but is much stronger and dries out faster. Its primary use is to build big and strong structures. Pastillage has many benefits: it is flexible while working, it is strong and dries very quickly and hence one needs to be quick while working with it. The main ingredient in Pastillage is Gelatine but there is no glycerine. One can add tylose powder as well though not mandatory. The famous cake artist Chef Serdar Yener uses Pastillage often for structures.
To learn more about how to make Pastillage and how to use it, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
Mexican paste is another kind of sugar dough and has only three components - icing sugar, Gum Tragacanth or Tylose Powder or Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC) and water. It is very easy to make and is a very versatile sugar dough. Mexican paste can be used to make flowers, however, it will not have strength or tenacity. When rolled thin, it tends to be quite brittle. However, it can be used for monogramming or writing or embossing or standing 2D structures. As there is no softening agent to it, it dries almost instantaneously and therefore it is pertinent to note that there is a need to work with it quickly and efficiently.
To learn more about how to make Mexican Paste and how to use it, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
When you mix fondant and gum paste together in the ratio of 50:50, you get Modelling Paste. It’s a great paste for making figurines. In modelling paste, you get the properties of both fondant and gum paste in a moderate range. Many times, when you have to make small toppers for cupcakes or cakes, if you make it out of fondant, there is a chance that it sags down. After a while, the shape changes and bottom may flatten. Now, if you make completely out of gum paste, it will be difficult to mould and it will turn out expensive. That’s the reason, we use both fondant and gum paste in 50:50 ratio for toppers. This helps us get the tenacity of gum paste to hold the shape and taste and easy mouldability of fondant.
To learn more about how to make Modelling Paste and how to use it, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
Click here to watch Radha Dhaka making Modellin Paste and using it to create a cute edible cake topper
Modelling chocolate is essentially pure couverture chocolate or compounds mixed with liquid glucose or corn syrup. A good way to think about modelling chocolate is to note that it is a modelling paste with a chocolate base. It also has a strong chocolate character which makes it quite tasty. Kids love to eat it. Make this one day ahead of time, refrigerate it and use it the next day. Out of the refrigerator, it will be hard, so cut it using a knife. Then knead it with your hand and with the heat of your hand, it will become softer.
The Modelling Chocolate as compared to fondant doesn’t have a stretch. That’s why it’s difficult to roll it out and cover a cake. However, there are ways of covering a cake with modelling chocolate also. These days, cake artists and home bakers are using modelling chocolate to make flowers too and they turn out quite yummy. The most common use of Modelling Chocolate is to make figurines as it gives a smooth shiny finish to the figurine. Since it has cocoa butter in it, the blend-ability of Modelling Chocolate is very good. The heat of our hands is enough to blend it. In a fondant, if you have a crack or a tear, you will see a faint line while trying to repair it. However, with modelling chocolate, you just need to rub the line with your fingers and it smoothens out. That is the main reason it is widely used for figurines or modelled articles. Many people, add modelling chocolate to fondant to get the stretch of fondant along with the blending ability of modelling chocolate.
To learn more about how to make Modelling Chocolate and how to use it, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
Sugar lace paste
Sugar lace paste is made with Tylose Powder, water, Glycerine and Icing Sugar. You start with beating the mixture of Tylose Powder and water well. Then you need to ad little glycerine and icing sugar. Then add colour if you want. Apply that paste on lace mate and then leave it to air dry. It takes about 6-8 hours. Or you can bake it in an oven at 80 degrees centigrade.
To learn more about how to make and use Edible Laces & Onlays, checkout this online class from Ashwini Sarabhai, The Dream Cakes:
Click here to watch Aashu Shah making edible lace and using to decorate a cake
Frequently Asked Questions
- Icing sugar - 500 gm
- Liquid glucose - 85 gm
- CMC - 2 tsp
- Shortening - 1 tsp
- Water - ⅓ cup
- Gelatin / Agar Agar (for a vegetarian option) - 1 tbsp +1 tsp
1. Finely sift the icing sugar and CMC together, and create a well in the middle of the bowl.
2. Soak the gelatin or agar agar (for vegetarian fondant) for five minutes in room temperature water. Bring this mixture to a boil till the gelatin/ agar agar turns liquid.
3. Add shortening to this liquid mixture, heat it up but do not bring to a boil.
4. Add this liquid mixture to the middle of the well in the bowl of icing sugar & CMC. Mix well and knead to form a dough. If the mixture is too wet, add more icing sugar as required.
5. Once kneaded, brush with shortening and cling wrap the dough. Prepare this dough one night before use, and make sure to refrigerate overnight.
You can refer to the online class by The Dream Cakes “Versatile Sugar Doughs” for recipes for the various doughs - https://homebakers.co.in/courses/versatile-sweet-doughs/
- Gelatin - 20 gm / Agar Agar (for a vegetarian option) - 8 gm
- Water - ⅓ cup
- Liquid glucose - 85 gm
- CMC powder - 17-18 gm
- Icing sugar - 600 gm to start with
- Shortening - 1 tbsp
1. Let gelatin/ agar agar (for a vegetarian option) bloom for about five minutes.
2. Add shortening to this and heat it for about in a minute in a microwave, or just until the shortening melts on a stovetop.
3. Add liquid glucose to this. Once mixed in fully, the mixture should not be more than lukewarm temperature.
4. In a separate bowl, take icing sugar and CMC and sift well. Create a well in the middle of the bowl.
5. Pour the liquid mixture into this well and begin mixing. Knead the dough and add more icing sugar if required, i.e. if the dough is too wet or sticky.
6. Form a ball, brush the outside with shortening and cling wrap it. Store until use.
The Dream Cakes shares a free recipe and video on their website - http://www.thedreamcakes.com/free-videos/
Q. How long can a fondant article stay outside?
Fondant articles can stay outside for as long as you want it. Their shelf life for edible use won’t be the same though. It totally depends on the shelf life of fondant you are going to use. That will determine how long the fondant article can be eaten. But if you want to keep it as a souvenir, you need to protect it from sunlight and humidity and it can stay as long as you want.
Q. Can we add Tylose powder to fondant to make gum paste?
Yes, you can. Its called emergency gum paste. It will not become like a really good gum paste though and cannot be compared with actual Gumpaste. But yes, if you have to do any modelled toppers or flowers and do not have the time on hand to make or purchase gum paste, you can use it.
Q. Can we add both CMC and Tylose Powder to fondant to make gum paste?
CMC and Tylose are the same. Tylose is a brand name with a better quality of CMC. If you have both CMC and Tylose Powder, then use Tylose Powder. It will give a much better gum paste.
Q. What’s the durability of gum paste and fondant made at home?
Fondant and gum paste last quite a long time. When its too hot and humid, the shelf life of fondant and gum paste will reduce. On average, they will last 1-2 weeks. The right way to store them to wrap a cling film and put in an airtight container. If you want to store it for an even longer time, then put that airtight container in a freezer. It will be good for one year. When you want to use it, remove it from the freezer, thaw it and get it to the room temperature and then you can start using it.
Q. How do we know if fondant or gum paste has gone bad?
If the fondant or gum paste starts smelling/looks mouldy / loses colour, you know it's gone bad. Sometimes, the fondant will start leaving oil, especially during the summers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the fondant has gone bad but do look for other signs such as smell, dis-colouring or fungus to figure out if it’s gone bad.
Q. What measures can we take to keep the fondant clean? Even the minutest dust particles stick to the fondant while working. What should we do to keep the fondant clean?
- Keep your work surface clean.
- If you have used colour for dusting on the table earlier, clean the table with soap water.
- Wash your hands often before working with fondant.
- Working in an AC or a cool room helps avoid sweaty hands and in turn, keeps fondant clean.
Q. A common problem that home bakers face is the lack of elasticity in fondant(s). Homemade fondant is not as stretchable as store-bought? How can we change that?
A key thing to remember is to have a fair idea of the ingredients and how they behave together. You need to experiment with them to get a fair idea of a perfect recipe. Second, make sure you don't add all the icing sugar which is given in the recipe. Always start with half and add the other ingredients and start mixing. After the initial mixture is done, slowly add more icing sugar only as required and knead the dough to reach the required softness.
Commercially bought fondant may have a small amount of tylose and other ingredients added to it to give that beautiful stretch and preserve it for longer. That fondant is made in huge machines with strong kneading that goes in the process to make the fondant nice and soft.
Q. I have used powdered glucose in the past and it does not seem to do the trick. Any tips?
Do note that powdered glucose cannot be used in this regard. Liquid glucose is key.
Q. Which brands are good for Fondant, if we want to buy one?
Satin Ice fondant, Vizyon fondant, SugarIn fondant, Confect fondant, Magiculata fondant from Magic Colours and Cdeco are some of the best fondants that are available in the market. As per HomeBakers.co.in study in 2019, Vizyon was the winner for India’s Best and Popular Fondant Brand and Confect was the runner-up.
Q. What brands are good for Gumpaste if we want to buy one?
Satin Ice gum paste, Arati Mirji’s Flower Paste, Vizyon gum paste, Confect and Magic Colours’ Magiculata gum paste are some of the best gum pastes that are available in the market. As per HomeBakers.co.in study in 2019, Arati Mirji’s Flower Paste was the winner for India’s Best Fondant Brand and Vizyon was the runner-up.
Q. Can Bean paste be used as an alternative to Gumpaste? Could you please tell us what are the basic ingredients and processes involved?
The basic ingredient involved is Beans. In India, the predominant ingredient is Mung bean or Kidney bean. The taste of Bean Paste may vary depending on the bean ingredient.
It can be used in place of Gumpaste but will be a more lengthy process to make it and will have some different properties too.
Q. How long can we store rice paste and bean paste?
Rice paste and bean paste have a similar shelf life to fondant. It is pertinent to note that these doughs are extremely sensitive to humidity and other weather factors. These aspects must be kept in mind while choosing a place to store. Refrigeration can be an answer but refrigeration for prolonged periods of time can alter the taste, structure and the overall feel of the product.
Q. Can flowers be made out of modelling paste?
Yes, definitely. Modelling paste can be used for flowers. But it must be noted that one needs to ensure that the proportions are in the right order to ensure that you get the right texture and feel. This ensures that you get the right kind of flower. Depending on the cake design, you may have different expectations in terms of the thickness of the flower. Thus, the baker needs to work with these materials until he or she strikes the right balance.
Q. What brands are good for Modelling Paste if we want to buy one?
Confect, Saracino and Anna Austin’s Modelling Paste are some of the best modelling pastes that are available in the market. As per HomeBakers.co.in study in 2019, Confect was the winner for India’s Best Modelling Paste Brand.
Q. What brands are good for Modelling Chocolate if we want to buy one?
Satin Ice Modelling Chocolate, Arati Mirji’s Flower Paste, Vizyon gum paste, Confect and Magic Colours’ Magiculata gum paste are some of the best gum pastes that is available in the market. As per HomeBakers.co.in study in 2019, Arati Mirji’s Flower Paste was the winner for India’s Best Fondant Brand and Vizyon was the runner-up.
Q. What are rice-based doughs and how are they made?
To make the rice-based dough, you need to soak the rice, leave it for a day and then powder it. Make a dough with additional added ingredients and then steam. This may involve a bit of a learning curve before one can expect perfection in making this.
Q. What is the use of Pastillage?
Its primary use is to build strong structures. Pastillage has many benefits - it is flexible, strong and dries up very fast.
That is all about versatile sugar doughs. To keep getting inspired and learning, do not miss out to get the latest updates on our events, blogs and newsletters on https://homebakers.co.in
To watch our past tutorials held during this lockdown period, check us out here.Click here to find online baking and cake decorating classes.
Stay safe and keep baking!