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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gum Paste Flowers

This is something I've been wanting to get into for quite a while. I love crafts-type work and making gumpaste flowers from purchased molds is just the thing for me.

I bought the necessary supplies at New York Cake and Kerekes - glucose gel, tragacanth gum, and flower and leaf molds, and a small fondant rolling pin. Sugarcraft has an excellent, easy recipe and full instructions on how to get started with gumpaste. [The commercial gumpaste is awful, tastes and smells just like soap, so it's worth making your own.] I worked just a few at a time, as the instructions say, and have stored them in a plastic container so they won't crack.

Here's the recipe I used:

Gum paste recipe by Josefa Barloco
1 tablespoon Gum-tex or tragacanth gum
1 heaping tablespoon glucose
3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pound powdered sugar

Mix warm water and glucose until glucose is absorbed. Add the gum and lemon juice and, after these ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add small amounts of -powdered sugar until you can work the mixture with your hands. Continue adding small amounts of powdered sugar as you knead the mixture on a table top. As soon as the mixture is pliable and can be shaped without sticking to your fingers, you've added enough sugar (a pound or more) and the gum is of correct working consistency.

If you're not going to use the gum paste mixture immediately, place it in a plastic bag and then i n a covered container to prevent drying. When stored properly, your gum paste will keep for several months. Gum paste handles best when it is several days old.

How to color gum paste

Once you've made the gum paste recipe, you can tint it any color you desire, or divide the mixture and tint it several different colors.

To color gumpaste, apply small amounts of liquid or paste food color with a toothpick. Then with your hands, knead and work the color into the gum paste piece until the tint is evenly applied. If you would like a deeper shade, you can add more color a little at a time, and re-work the gum paste until you achieve the desired shade. Remember, you can always darken a color easier than you can lighten one.

How to roll out gum paste

Always dust your work surface with cornstarch first! This is standard procedure for rolling out gum paste to cut any floral shape. After your work surface is adequately dusted, take a small piece of gum paste, work it awhile with your hands and then place it on the LIGHTLY cornstarch-covered area. Now dust more cornstarch on the surface of your rolling pin and roll out gum paste until it's the thickness you desire—this is usually about 1/16-inch for most flowers. Remember, roll out one small piece of gum paste at a time to avoid drying; and cover every petal and flower cut you make.

How to hand-work gum paste

When you remove gum paste from a plastic bag or covered container, you will need to re-work it with your hands until it's soft and pliable once again. If the gum paste has been stored for some time and seems a little stiff, add a small piece of freshly made gum paste and then re-work it with your hands.

Important reminders:

ALWAYS dust work surface, rolling pin and your hands with cornstarch when handling gum paste and flower cuts.

ALWAYS keep gum paste and flower cuts covered to prevent drying.

ALWAYS add food coloring in small amounts until you achieve the gum paste tint you desire.

ALWAYS re-work gum paste before rolling it out to cut flowers and, if the gum paste has been stored for sometime, add a small piece of freshly made gum paste and re-work until pliable.

TIP: I found this recipe in a Wilton book (now out of print) and Wilton always presses people to use a lot of cornstarch. This is not always a good idea. Cornstarch WILL crack your petals. Instead, I would grease surface and hands using Crisco to prevent sticking. This way you can get your petals much thinner - like real ones.
I use special Boards and rolling pins. It makes the flowers much prettier and faster:
Check out the CellBoards when wiring or making the Mexican Hat style.
Use a CelPin rolling pin so gumpaste doesn't stick and is nice and smooth when rolled out. Article by Dolores at Sugarcraft
I really enjoyed making these. I can also recommend a lovely blog entry on making gumpaste daisies, by Mary Anne of Meet Me in the Kitchen . This is actually what got me inspired.