Do you often hear terms like fondant, sugar paste, icing, modelling paste, gumpaste and floral paste and you have no idea the differences or which one should be used for which cake project? In this weeks video tutorial I’m exploring all of these and looking at their different characteristics. This way you can make the perfect choice for your next cake project, whether you’re looking to cover a cake, create little cake toppers or make sugar flowers.
Click below to watch the video ⇩
Difference between fondant, sugar paste and icing
In the video you’ll see the first material I look at is fondant, but I can’t start talking about fondant without mentioning sugar paste and icing. It can get very difficult when things are referred to as different things and this can often be based on where in the world you live. You may often hear people talking about fondant, sugar paste or icing when covering their cakes. So what is the difference?
Honestly absolutely nothing!! Fondant, sugar paste and icing are all the same thing. Sometimes if people are talking about icing they can be referring the Royal Icing, the thing you use for on cookies. But here in the UK fondant was always known as icing, especially for me growing up.
Ok so now we have covered the name, what is fondant. Fondant is a ready to roll soft paste that is used as a covering for cakes. You can lay this over buttercream, ganache or marzipan if making a fruit cake. It is quite sweet, but it’s main characteristic is it always remains soft. It can firm up a little over time, but if you try and cut into it, it will always remain soft, making it perfect to eat.
Characteristics of Fondant?
As I mentioned fondant is made to remain soft, but different brands of fondant do have different characteristics. This can be the amount of stretch they have and also the taste. In the tutorial I look at different brands and types of fondant to show you the differences. So if you’re struggling to work with a certain type of fondant that always rips or maybe you don’t like the taste, you’ll see that by just changing the brand it can solve these problems straight away.
How firm does fondant get?
As well as using fondant to cover your cakes, it can also be used to make edible cake toppers for your cakes and cupcakes. The thing to remember is that however long you leave fondant it will always remain soft, so you need to bear this in mind when planning your toppers. Here is a little example of how soft a fondant rose remained after 24 hours.
So depending on what types of models and toppers you’re creating you may want to use something a little firmer like modelling paste.
What is Modelling Paste?
Modelling paste sits between fondant and gumpaste. It is a great product if you’re looking to make cake toppers you want to firm up. It takes longer to firm up and dry out than gumpaste which gives you longer to work. Personally I love modelling paste for larger cake toppers like characters or animals. Here is the Saracino modelling paste which comes in lots of colours or you can colour the white using some gel colour.
In the video I show you how stretchy modelling paste is and how you can soften it once out of the packet, getting a really nice smooth finish which is great for your models. At the end of the video I look at examples of a rose created with all the products I mention in this post and the modelling paste was a lot firmer than the fondant, but you may want to leave it a little longer than 24 hours to firm up completely, depending on the models you’re making.
One thing I did want to mention, with modelling paste and gumpaste they are both edible, but because they do firm up more than fondant you would never usually eat them. They also don’t taste as nice as fondant.
What is gumpaste?
Gumpaste is also known as floral paste. It is super stretchy and you can roll it super thin. Plus it sets completely solid, making it perfect for sugar flowers. It is also great for intricate details you want to add onto your cakes. Because it sets completely solid it can be a little fragile the thinner your pieces, so you need to take extra care with anything created using gumpaste. But once a model has been made as long as it is kept in a dry, cool place it will last for years.
In some of my tutorials over the years you may have seen me combine gumpaste with fondant to make a sort of modelling paste, especially for some of my characters. This gives some of the characteristics of gumpaste but by adding in a small amount of fondant it doesn’t dry out as quickly, so this is also an option too.
How can I make fondant firm up more?
In the video the last thing I talk about is Tylo powder. Tylo powder is a form of gum, and a gum is a hardening agent. It’s what is added to make gumpaste. So by adding a small amount of Tylo powder into fondant you are creating a very simple version of a gumpaste.
It allows the fondant to firm up a lot more than fondant on it’s own. You will see in the video the fondant will still have the original characteristics, so if you’re using a soft fondant with no stretch it won’t add stretch. You are just adding in the hardening agent. In the rose examples you will also see it didn’t get as hard as the gumpaste, but it is an option if you still want to work with fondant.
It can be so hard to know which products to use when there are so many available, so I really hope you’ll find this post and video useful and it will help you choose the right product the next time you have a cake project.
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Tools I used
I have put a list below showing all the tools that I used throughout this video or if you would like to see all my favourite cake decorating tools just click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/cakesbylynz
Renshaw Extra: https://amzn.to/3DbZIin
Saracino Modelling paste: https://amzn.to/3uuocyU
Squires Kitchen Floral Paste: https://amzn.to/32Cpqdz
Colour Splash pink food gel: https://amzn.to/3HNNUUo
Tylo Powder: https://amzn.to/3eNi0Oy
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