Saturday, November 6, 2010

Making Gum Paste

I learned how to make gum paste years ago. I tried several recipes but the one I liked best was Rosemary Watsons. I learned alot of my basic flower making from her and have tweaked her recipe to work for me. When I first developed the cutting gum paste with electronic cutters method, my recipe worked the best. I have shared this recipe with many people and several are sharing it as their own. This is what I teach in class and use for my own cake decorating projects.

Gum Paste

½ cup cold water

2 tablespoons Knox gelatin

1/3 cup white corn syrup

2 tablespoons shortening

2 lbs powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons Tylose

Small sauce pan ½ full of water, put on medium heat

½ metal measuring cup with water, pour into a 2 cup glass measuring cup with open handle

Add 2 tablespoons Knox gelatin and stir until well mixed

Set timer for 5 minutes-no longer then 15 minutes

Melt at least 2 tablespoons shortening into a glass measuring cup

1/3 cup of white corn syrup

Put gelatin into sauce pan-cook until melted and you see swirls

Add corn syrup and cook until no longer stringy

Add 2 tablespoons of shortening-stir

Pour into bowl, add 2 pounds of powdered sugar

Mix with bread dough hooks until well mixed

Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of tylose powder into mixture, mix for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape into a plastic bag coated with shortening, let rest overnight

When you are finished making your gum paste it is best to let it rest over night. It can be left out for several days, but if it is not going to be used right away, you can store it in the freezer or refrigerator.

When you are ready to use the gum paste you will notice that it is very firm. You will need to use a sharp knife to cut off a section of the gum paste. Put it in the microwave for a few seconds, usually 5-10 seconds is long enough to warm it up enough to soften it. It should be the consistency of a marshmallow.

You need to condition the gum paste. Work in a small amount of shortening into the gum paste and work it in your hands. Pull it and stretch it out. Run it through the pasta machine and wad it back up again. If it feels too soft add a little bit of corn starch. If the gum paste firms up while conditioning it you can put it back in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up. When you feel like the gum paste has been conditioned enough then you are ready to roll it out.

You really need a pasta machine for the best results. Most pasta machines will roll out a piece of gum paste 6” wide and as long as you need it to be. If you have a fondant sheeter you can roll your gum paste wider than 6”, but you really don’t need it to be wider than 12”.

Most issues with my method are gum paste issues. You need a firm gum paste to start with. It needs to be well conditioned and for best results it needs to be rolled out with a pasta machine. I really like my kitchen aid mixer with the pasta attachment. I find I get the best cutting results when I roll out the gum paste to a #6 or #7. This is something you will practice with and you will determine what works best for you. Before you put the gum paste through the pasta machine you need to take your softened, conditioned piece of gum paste and roll it out using a rolling pin the desired width and thin enough to put through the pasta machine. With a little practice you will be able to roll a 6” wide pieces of gum paste as long as you need it.

When the gum paste is as thin as you need it to be, put it on a plastic mat and trim it to about 12” in length. As you fill your mats with your rolled out gum paste stack them on top of each other. When you have rolled out as many as you need, store the mats in a 2 ½ gallon baggie. For the best cutting results, let your gum paste rest over night. In fact, you can let your baggies sit out for several days before you use the gum paste. Keep the baggies sealed so the gum paste doesn’t dry out. You can even store your gum paste sheets in the freezer until you are ready for them. I can’t stress enough to not rush this part of the process. The gum paste needs to firm up, but not dry out.

The hard part of this process is over! When you are ready to cut out your design all you need to do is apply the gum paste to the mat. If you are having problems with your gum paste sliding around the mat when you are cutting out your design, it could be that the mat is too slick. I have found that my older, well used mats work the best. If I have a new mat I will scratch up the surface with some sand paper. This will give the mat some “tooth” and the gum paste will stick to the mat better.

You need to apply a thin coat of shortening to the mat. A pastry brush works well for this process. You can use a paper towel with shortening on it if you don’t have a pastry brush. You only need a light coat of shortening. Too much and the gum paste may just slide around the mat during cutting. Don’t put the gum paste too close to the sides of the mat. Watch where the roller will go and don’t get the gum paste in that area. Use a soft paper towel to smooth the gum paste onto the mat. If there is any shortening on the gum paste then you can work it into the surface of the gum paste. The paper towel will help to polish the surface of the gum paste.

Now that the gum paste is on the mat you are ready to cut out your designs. With experience you will learn how to tell if the gum paste is ready to be cut. If it is too soft it will just drag around the mat and tear. If the gum paste is too dry then it will crack. Your goal is to get clean, precise cuts. If you have followed my suggestions and allowed the gum paste to firm up at least over night, you are on the way to successful cuts. Use the deep cut blade for the Cricut and set the blade pressure to #5. Set the pressure on the machine to 3 bars or medium pressure.

You can apply your decorations to your cake as soon as you cut them out. You may have enough shortening on the back of the decoration to stick it onto your cake. If it doesn’t stick then you can apply some more shortening with a small paint brush.

You can make your decorations ahead of time and store them in the large baggie on a cake board. They will be fine for a couple of days left out but if you want to store them longer then put them in the freezer. When you take the decorations out of the freezer they will get soft as they come to room temperature. Let the decorations firm up some before trying to put them on the cake. I have had good luck with spraying the backside of the decoration with vegetable spray. All you need is a very light spray and the decoration will stay in place. Use a soft brush to lightly brush the top of the decoration. This will help the decoration stick to the cake and help clean up any shortening on or around the decoration.

For more information and a great video tutorial view these youtube videos. They are found under “working with gum paste”.