Gum paste (also called sugar dough) is a companion to fondant, and a cake decorator’s friend when it comes to making lots of flowers. Unlike fondant, after sitting out for a while, gum paste becomes hard, yet very fragile. While delicate, this makes gum paste a wonderful choice when you want to have a lot of flowers or other 3D decor on a cake. It can also be used with a Cricut Cake machine (so far I prefer it to fondant and sugar sheets for that purpose). Because it dries out, you do have to work quickly, but while you are learning it’s not a chore to eat the failures. Plus, as you have scraps that get a little too dry to work with, you can drop them into a little bit of water to make gum paste adhesive (I’ll discuss that more later.)
Gum paste can be a little pricey when purchased ready-to-use. I think it runs about $8-10 at my local Walmart. So when I was asked to make a cake for my aunt’s wedding, I decided to do a little research and try my hand at making gum paste. The recipe is simple, but it does require some ingredients you are not likely to have on hand. Gum-tex and Glucose are both available from Wilton and Amazon, as well as many craft stores such as Hobby Lobby.
4 cups sifted powdered sugar (divided)
1 Tbsp Gum-Tex
1 Tbsp Glucose
1 Tbsp Imitation, Clear Almond Extract
3 Tbsp warm Water
Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar and the gum-tex into a bowl and make a well in the middle. The sifting is very important. If your sugar has any lumps, they will be very apparent in the gum paste and will affect the outcome of your project. Make sure you sift the sugar at least once before combining it with the other ingredients. Combine the glucose, extract and water in a glass measuring cup and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds. Pour into the well and mix together. Once the water/glucose mixture is worked in, pour everything into a ziploc baggie and seal without any air in the bag. Let sit overnight. The next day, when you are ready to work with the gum paste, work in the last cup of powdered sugar. I found it necessary to also add some more water by misting it on with a small spray bottle. The dough should turn white and soften as you work with it. Once every thing is combined, cover the unused portion of gum paste with white shortening and wrap in plastic wrap so that it does not dry out.
I mentioned above something called gum paste adhesive. This is basically a little bit of gum paste that has been dissolved into water. It makes a runny syrup that can be brushed over soft gum paste to make it stick to another piece of gum paste. It is used quite a bit in making flowers and attaching leaves to floral wire stems. When I make it, I generally use about a 1/4 inch piece of gum paste and drop it into about 1 Tbsp of water. Then let it sit for at least an hour so that it has time to dissolve. If there is still some gum paste in the water an hour later that is okay, you can still use it. Just stir the water a little with your brush before you spread it onto the flower you are working on.