Fondant and gum paste can sometimes be used interchangeably to create some designs, but there are times when one should be used over the other. Fondant, not gum paste, is used to cover cakes. There are a variety of different recipes, but most rolled fondant consists of powdered sugar, unflavored gelatin, water, glycerine, and liquid glucose. Once the cake is covered in fondant, the cake should not be placed in the refrigerator, as it will become sticky.
The fondant will help to keep the cake fresh, but if you fill the cake with a filling that requires refrigeration, fondant is not a suitable way to finish the cake. Fondant looks very pretty and really is versatile, but the taste leaves much to be desired. It is very sweet and chewy. In fact, many people peel the fondant off when eating the cake. Marshmallow fondant has a much better taste. Even though it's made with marshmallows, it tastes more like cotton candy. The chocolate version tastes like tootsie rolls. It's less expensive to make marshmallow fondant at home than to buy pre-made fondant. Both fondant and gum paste can be colored in any shade using paste food colorings. You can use luster dusts to add color to anything you make. There are methods for applying it both wet and dry to achieve different effects.
You can purchase all kinds of cutters and tools that will give you endless creativity. Fondant can be cut with fondant or cookie cutters to create all type of shapes. It can be folded over skewers to create a drape on a cake. It can be colored with food coloring or sprayed with a cake decorating airbrush. It can be pressed into molds to create all kinds of intricate, decorative appliqués for the cake.
Besides covering a cake in fondant, fondant can be used to cover the cake board and make some decorations that don't require too much flexibility, such as bows. Gum paste is softer and more pliable. It is easier to mold into all kinds of shapes. Gum paste is usually used to make figurines, many having tiny little details. While you can try doing this with fondant, it doesn't quite shape as smoothly and it's a bit more difficult to work with. While gum paste is considered edible, it will dry very hard. You can save gum paste figures and flowers as keepsakes and they will last a very long time.
Gum paste is similar in ingredients to fondant but contains gum tagananth, which gives it its characteristic gummy texture. You can make gum paste at home or purchase it in most craft stores. When you make it, you wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container. It will last up to two weeks.
When you begin working with either one, you will roll them out on a clean work surface dusted with cornflower. Dust your rolling pin with cornflower as well. Different projects will require different thicknesses. For creating designs to add apply to a fondant finished cake, you can purchase a small rolling pin that comes with rings. The rings help you roll out the gum paste to different thicknesses so you don't have to guess. There are so many fun things to do with gum paste and fondant. With a little practice, you can create a masterpiece.
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