Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cooking Floyd: Decorating with Gum Paste

Shana and I took a short course in decorating cakes with gum paste flowers and sculptures this week.  I'm not much of a one for baking cakes and for this class we were actually supplied with a quite tasty cake by the instructor.  I'm always interested in new ways to decorate cookies and gum paste offers interesting options that royal icing doesn't.  Penny, the instructor, also demystified fondant and offered up her recipe for a fondant that tastes as nice as it looks!
Gum paste is like Play-Doh for grown-ups.  You can press it into molds, you can texturize it, it can be extruded and sculpted.  It has all kinds of possibilities.
The fairy baby started out as a mold into which the gum paste was pressed, frozen, removed from the mold and allowed to dry thoroughly.  It came out snowy white so I rouged it up in the appropriate places with pink Petal Dust, a powder that adds tint and shine, and colored in the hair with a brown Petal Dust.  I barely touched the baby's lips with a hint of red gel coloring mixed with lemon juice and applied with a fine-tipped artist's brush.  Then I made a butterfly, painted it and attached it to the baby for wings and made a little hat out of green tinted gum paste cut with a flower cutter.  The little bunny was made just like we used to when we were kids playing with clay: a couple of egg shapes for the body and head, little round balls for the paws and a white ball for the tail.  ears were flattened banana shapes lined with a bit of pink tinted paste and the eyes were touched on with black gel food coloring.  It was left to dry and then touched up with Luster Dust.  Little bits of leftover brown were turned into pine cones and acorns.
The leaves were made by working together a couple of different colors of gum paste, rolling them out, and cutting with my tiny leaf cookie cutters.  They were veined with a toothpick and the back of a thin-bladed paring knife, touched up with food coloring, shaped and left to dry.  Once dry, they were lightly brushed with Luster Dust.
I'm looking forward to kicking my cookie decorating up a notch with the new techniques I learned.  I took this class through my local Cooperative Extension office.  You can also find cake decorating classes offered on a regular basis at most Michael's craft supply stores as well.

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