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Should I harden sugar paste models & decorations?

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Hello. I’ve just started up a cake decorating hobby, and was hoping that someone could give me some advice on sugar paste models and decorations? I’ve been making cake toppers, etc. out of plain sugar paste straight from the packet, and they’ve been working out OK so far. However, someone told me that I must put something in the sugar paste to harden it when making the decorations – is this right? I made a teddy bear and a Mr Tumbles cake topper recently and they seem to be OK. I’ve heard that it’s good to use particular sugar paste that has some kind of hardener in it for when making things like flowers, but I was specifically told that I MUST put something in the sugar paste to harden it for ALL decorations. I’m just a bit confused about what I should and shouldn’t be using for different types of decorations. Andy advice would be much appreciated – thank you :)

asked February 25, 2013

4 Answers

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Hi Lilew

If you type in the search box ‘Is florist paste the same as gumpaste’ you’ll see an aswer there from Paul which is helpful. There’s no reason why models can’t be made with straight sugarpaste, however, if the items are big it does help to use either gum tracgacanth, tylose or CMC powder to harden the paste up a little. The powders are also very useful when the weather is humid and the air moisture prevents sugarpaste from drying. If you’re making flowers it is best to use one of the powders which will allow you to roll the paste out very thinly when using cutters. There is more information if you search ‘Clark Baxter’ where you’ll see how to make your own gumpaste and of course the online tutorials which show how all the pastes and chocolate modelling pastes are used. Hope this helps.

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Thanks madeitwithlove! I didn’t realise there were tutorials for this – I had a quick look, but obviously not close enough!! I felt really silly when I was told that it’s crucial that you harden the sugarpaste for all decorations!! I’m glad I wasn’t doing anything wrong in the end! This may be a really silly question, but do you need to mix the powder with anything first, or do you just sprinkle it into the sugarpaste when you’re softening it? I’ll try and find the tutorials anyway, but you seem to be very helpful with these things!! Thanks again :)

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Just sprinkle it on your board and knead it into your sugar paste until it’s all combined and elastic. Did you manage to have a look at the references I gave you? Have a peek if you haven’t. There are no specific tutorials on gumpaste, but you’ll see Paul sprinkling and kneading the powders in most lessons. Quick guide – where he makes people and animals. He also uses gumpaste for some foliage, but for the more delicate flower like in the Peony flower tutorial he uses florist paste which is finer and can be rolled out much thinner. You haven’t done anything wrong, it just helps to firm up sugar paste so models can dry a bit quicker and stronger. It won’t take you long to get the hang of things. Just enjoy what you’re doing, lots of information on the internet and on youtube as well.x

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Thank you so much madeitwithlove – that’s most helpful :) I haven’t had a chance to look at the references you gave me yet, but I’ll definitely have a look as soon as I get some time. I’ll have a go at sprinkling it on next time I make a model, and will just experiment with it. I need to make some roses at some point, so I might try using gum or florist paste for them. Thanks again for your help x

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