You’ve been wanting to create something for a while now and the inspiration has come. The idea has formed, percolated through the brain cells and finally you have decided. You can see it in your mind’s eye; your confectionary masterpiece. Swirls of colourful marble effect, hand-crafted toppers arranged delicately on the top and cascading down the sides. A wondrously decorated delight, with which you will entice family and friends (hopefully, soon!) into consuming many slices of. You turn on the computer, fingers leaping to the keys in anticipation and excitement about finding your ingredients. You innocently type in ‘paste for decorating cakes’. Ah! There it is, flower paste! Oh, wait. There’s also sugar paste. Hmm. Gumpaste too. And fondant!
The excitement starts turning into a slight sense of overwhelm. Questions start circling and you become increasingly aware that a little more investigating may be required. What are these different pastes? What are they all used for?! Fear not, we are here to help! Read on to find out the differences in the different pastes available for cake decorating.
What pastes are out there?
The three types of pastes generally used in cake decorating are:
Flower Paste, also known as gum paste in the US.
Sugar Paste, sometimes known as fondant.
Modelling Paste, known as, er, modelling paste.
Want to add some fancy flowers to your creations? Want to keep them afterwards?! Flower paste is for you! Made from a combination of ingredients including icing sugar, glucose, gelatine and vegetable fats, this paste is usually used for making flower decorations (clue’s in the name!) but it can be used to make a wide array of intricate items and bought coloured, or can be coloured with pastes and dusts. Because flower paste can be rolled out to an incredibly thin consistency while still being easily manipulated, it lends itself well to moulds, veiners and textures. Flower paste decorations are not usually eaten and as they dry completely hard can be easily removed from the cake before tucking in.
Fun fact - A Piece of Cake was the first place in the UK to create and sell flower paste that previously only existed as gum paste in the US. Norma Laver and Jenny Walker, the former owners of A Piece of Cake, were keen to try to create a medium that would allow people to make sugar flowers. They used a recipe provided by good friend Tombi Peck, who was teaching classes on sugar flowers at the time. However, Jenny and Norma made a mistake with some of the ingredients and low and behold, the A Piece of Cake Flower Paste was born! What a happy accident that was!
Pro tip: Since flower paste dries quickly and will dry hard, when working with flower paste it is best to tuck away any bits you aren’t using at the time to keep it pliable and useable! Either pop the bits in a ziplock bag or wrap in a damp cloth while using. Paste gone the other way and is over-sticky? Just use some cornflour!
Looking for something to cover your cake with that you can get creative with? Sugar paste might be the one for you! Made with sugar and glucose syrup and sometimes known as fondant, fondant icing or ready to roll icing, this paste is soft and pliable and won’t dry hard, making it a more edible and versatile option than flower paste. Like sugar paste, sugar paste is soft and stretchy (think slightly dough-like!) but won’t take the intricate fine details that flower paste will, however works well covering cakes and can achieve some wonderful effects, such as marbling. Sugar paste can also be used for making fun decorations that can be eaten, so might be the choice for you if you want some edible decorations that don’t need the fine detail that flower paste would provide - sugar paste cannot be rolled as thinly as flower paste without breaking so bear this in mind with your designs. Sugar paste comes in lots of different and exciting colours but again can easily be coloured with any number of pastes, gels and dusts. Head over to our website to browse the range of sugar pastes we currently stock.
Pro tip: try adding a small amount of Tylo powder to sugar paste to make your sugar paste act more like your own version of flower paste!
You could probably all this meet-in-the-middle modelling paste, as that is exactly what it is! A combination of sugar and flower paste mean this medium is great for making models and figures with more detail like flower paste, but can still be eaten, like sugar paste. Modelling paste is not quite as stretchy and pliable as sugar paste and has a slightly longer drying time, making it ideal for more complex forming of models and figures. If you are looking to make some models that you want to be able to chomp into, this is the paste for you! Have a look at the Culpitt, Saracino and Squires modelling pastes we stock here.
Pro tip: Want to make your own? Simply mix some flower paste with some sugar paste to make your own, or add some Tylo!
So there you have it, we hope you are perplexed about pastes no more and that this has helped you decide exactly what paste it is you are after! Whether it be flowing flower paste florals, funky-effect fondants or modelling paste masterpieces, there is a paste out there for you and we can help you get your hands on some!
Has this inspired you to have a go?! Don’t forget to share your creations on social media, tag us and use the hashtag #APieceOfCakeThame for a chance to be featured!