The Difference between Fondant, Gumpaste, Pastillage and Mexican Paste
One can easily get confused when it comes to all the sugar paste terminology. In Britain they even call it flower paste or sugar paste but all belong to cake design.
This is a pliable chocolate paste that’s made from chocolate and corn syrup. It looks like marzipan or a Tootsie Roll and its bittersweet or semi sweet or made out of milk or white chocolate. It can separate with its oils if you overuse it and the clay can turn into crumbs. It also melts with extreme heat so it’s not ideal for decorations.
Its alternate terms are candy clay, chocolate leather, chocolate modeling clay, chocolate modeling paste, and chocolate plastic.
It is used for figurines and can cover rice cereal treats. It can become ropes or braids, ribbons, ruffles, leaves, flowers and even sculpted cakes.
It is very easy to make so don’t spend your money on the widely available commercially made chocolate clay.
The recipe to make chocolate clay yourself is:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped +1/4 cup light corn syrup
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped +3 1/2 – 4 tablespoons light corn syrup or
7 ounces white chocolate, chopped plus one and 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons light corn syrup or
7 ounces milk chocolate, plus 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
You should melt the chocolate in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Remove it from the heat and stir a bit until it is cooled. Stir in the corn syrup and the chocolate will stiffen. Stir until both are combined. Place it in a sturdy plastic freezer bag and refrigerated until firm which is usually about two hours. When the dough is firm, take it out of the refrigerator and knead until it becomes soft. It will remain well wrapped for months and if it is too hard to work with then knead in more corn syrup until it’s pliable. You can always add corn syrup which helps prevent it from sticking and do not ever use candy melts in any baking as they are not real chocolate.
This is an edible sugar dough that is rolled out and used to cover cakes. It originated in the Renaissance and it was used in Britain to cover fruitcakes and seal in the freshness when they shipped it to the New World. Gelatin or glaze certain keep the fondant smooth and pliable. Typically the fondant drives firm but it is not as hard as gum paste and serves a different purpose.
Alternate terms: fondant icing, ready rolled fondant, soft fondant, rolled fondant or sugar paste.
It is used for covering cakes and appliqués or braids. It can make ribbons or bows but needs to dry longer than gum paste or pastillage.
It is best to buy and Satin Ice is a well-known brand.
Similar to fondant but in addition has the gum tragacanth, which is a plant-based gum. This gives the paste flexibility and can be rolled much thinner for more realistic looking flowers. Gum paste dries hard and it is never used to cover a cake. It is used for the decorations that need to hold the shape.
You need to make sure that you leave at least two weeks for gum paste flowers to dry. They are best stored in an airtight container and heat and humidity can soften the flowers even after they have been set. Note that placing flowers on buttercream frosting, which has fat in it can often soften the flowers.
Alternate terms: flower paste
Used mostly for flowers and decorations as it dries bone hard.
Making gum paste is easy and you need to follow this recipe for the best results:
Four large egg whites
2 pounds 10x powdered sugar
12 level teaspoons tylose
4 teaspoons Crisco
1. Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl with a flat paddle
2. Turn the mixer on it a high speed for 10 seconds to break up the egg whites
3. Reserve 1 cup of powdered sugar and set it aside
4. Put the mixer on the lowest speed and add the remaining sugar slowly. This makes for a soft consistency.
5. Turn up the speed for about two minutes and measure off the tylose into a small container.
6. Check and make sure the mixture is that a soft peak stage as it should look shiny like meringue.
7. Turn down the mixer to a slow setting and sprinkle the tylose in a five second period. Turn the speed up to a high setting for a few seconds to thicken the mixture.
8. Scrape all of the mixture out of the bowl onto a surface that is sprinkled with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Place shortening on your hands and need the paste adding the reserved powdered sugar to turn into a soft but not sticky dough. You can check by pinching it with your fingers and they should come away clean. Put all the finished paste in a Ziploc bag and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using the mature paste.
9. Before you use it take it out of the refrigerator and make the paste come to room temperature. Then take a small amount of shortening on the end of your finger and needed into the paste. Add color to the paste at this point.
10. Store the paste and Ziploc bags and return it to the refrigerator when you are not using it. It’ll stay for six months or longer by freezing it.
Mexican Paste is used for cutting out shapes or modeling. There is no glucose, glycerin or gelatin so it does not lose its shape. It is not recommended for anyone who does not have any patience.
Alternative terms: None
It is used for letters or plaques.
It is very easy to make, as it is fondant with gum tragacanth.
8 ounces confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons gum tragacanth do not use a substitute
In a small bowl mix the confectioners’ sugar and gum tragacanth. Add 6 teaspoons of cold water.
Stirring the mixture until becomes crumbly but binds together and add more water if it’s too dry or more sugar if it is too wet. Turn it out onto a worktop and knead until it is pliable. Continue kneading and repeat until you have cut it all into small pieces.
Wrap each piece in a plastic wrap and place it into the freezer as smaller pieces defrost quicker. After it is defrosted one can store it at room temperature in a plastic bag but never store the paste in a fridge. Knead the paste every third day to prevent the corners from drying out. If you use Mexican paste with patchwork cutters do the following:
Grease the rolling board with vegetable fat and rollout the Mexican paste but do not lift the paste or turn the paste over when rolling. The paste must stick to the board.
Grease the cutter well and press firmly onto the paste.
The paste should be cut cleanly if there are ragged edges it is too thick.
If you want to use small cutters you should use thin paste.
Hot soapy water and a small brush removes the fat once the cutter has been used.
This is a rolled fondant without any of the softening ingredients such as glycerin corn syrup or shortening. It is used for three-dimensional shapes and dries bone hard and has a crust more quickly than fondant. It can be colored and painted and one must work quickly as it dries quickly.
Depending on the mix it can be formed and even sanded to remove rough edges.
It is used for sculptures, showpieces three-dimensional shapes ribbons and bows.
You can make pastillage with the following recipe:
1 tablespoon gelatin scant
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cups cornstarch
Optional a pinch of cream of tartar
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a 2-cup glass that is heatproof and leave alone for five minutes. Place it into a small pan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Add the gelatin mixture and stir with a lightly greased wooden spoon. Mix lightly and use a greased hand and need until the bowl of sugar is incorporated. Put on a lightly greased surface and knead until smooth and it looks like satin. If the dough seems dry add drops of water. It should resemble a smooth well-shaped stone and when it is dropped it should not spread.
Rolled pastillage can be used at once but it’s better when it rests for several hours. Cover it to prevent it from drawing and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container.