Ready to nerd out with me about one of my favorite topics? Grab a pen and paper (jk, but get your screengrab tool of choice ready) and let’s take some notes!
Today’s blog answers this pressing question:
What is gumpaste?
What’s in gumpaste?
My sugar flowers are made from gumpaste, which is also sometimes called sugar paste or pastillage. It’s made from a few very simple ingredients: egg whites, sugar, tylose, and shortening.
There are other recipes out there, including some with gelatin, but I like to keep it simple! You can also buy pre-made gumpaste but I find it is a little more delicate and the flowers are more likely to be damaged during shipping. The recipe I use creates flowers that are still delicate but sturdy enough to hold up to (most) shipping journeys.
For flowers that don’t need to be shipped across the country and around the world, commercial gumpaste* can be a time saving alternative. I like this brand when I reach for the pre made stuff.
Gumpaste is a clay-like consistency that starts to dry quickly, so I have to be fast when I’m working with it. The gumpaste is rolled out thin to make the petals, and then left to harden before assembling into flowers. Most flowers will be dry overnight, but some of the larger flowers (like an English rose) could take up to a week or more to dry.
Once gumpaste is dry, it contains no moisture and is shelf-stable. That’s right: no refrigeration needed.
How long does gumpaste last?
For sugar flowers that have already been created and have dried completely, they can last for years. Of course, it depends on how well you take care of them. I got married in 2018 and I still have the sugar flowers from my wedding stored in a box in my studio. I keep them away from sunlight (which can fade colors) and heat/humidity (which can cause wilting or melting of the petals) and they still look beautiful!
The magic ingredient in gumpaste is tylose, which is a powdered thickener which makes the gumpaste, well… a paste. It’s sometimes called CMC powder, and it has other culinary uses like as a thickener in ice cream.
If you’d like to make your own gumpaste, this is the tylose brand I love the most*.
Is gumpaste edible?
Technically, yes. The ingredients are all edible, but they don’t taste great together. There are no flavorings added, so it just tastes like sugar with a bit of an aftertaste from the tylose. And the sugar flowers dry rock hard, so they don’t have a great texture either. A bit too crunchy for my taste!
Plus, sugar flowers contain non-edible ingredients, like floral wire or floral tape, so I definitely don’t recommend eating them. Enjoy the artistry of the flowers, and know that you’ll have a delicious cake you can dig into!
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*Quick note about the links: some of the links are affiliate links. I may make a small commission (we’re talking pennies) when you click on the links & buy something but it won’t cost you anything and I will only recommend products I love to use!