Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Simple Gum Paste Flowers

This is my first attempt at making sugar paste flowers, and it was super simple!  For this, I used:

Vegetable shortening
Wilton premade gum paste
Wilton gel food coloring
PME flower plungers
10 piece gum paste tool kit (you can improvise if you don't have)
Rolling pin

Preparing the Gum Paste:

To begin, smear your surface with a thin layer of vegetable shortening.  This will help later as you work with the gum paste.  I used a thin plaster cutting board, but any clean, smooth surface should work.

Remove several globs of gum paste from the bag and combine - the paste will seem dry and a little crusty.  No worries!  Add a tiny dab of shortening to them, and knead the ball in your hands until it is soft and pliant.  If it still seems crusty, just add more shortening.

Straight out of package:

After adding shortening and kneading:


Coloring the Gum Paste:

I chose a violet gel color for the paste.  [I wouldn't recommend using food color, because you'll have to use a lot of it, and you won't get an intense tone.]  I dipped a toothpick into the gel color and smeared it onto the ball of paste.  Caution: a little will go a looooooong way.  As you can see from the photo, I only used a small amount:

I chose to wear gloves for the next step, because the color will get all over your hands!  Knead the paste to incorporate the color - I treated it like it was silly putty and stretched it out, rolled it around, etc.  It takes some time for the color to make its way through the paste.  If you want a streaky look for the final product, just don't incorporate the gel all the way through.  I wasn't happy with the intensity of the color, so I added some more gel until I reached a pretty purple.  Take into consideration that the color will fade a little when the gum paste dries.  Here's my incorporated color:

Rolling Out:

When the gum paste is a solid color, place it on your surface and begin to roll it out.  My method is to roll it a few times, then turn it over and change the angle a little.  [If the paste is sticking when you turn it, just smear a little more shortening on the board.]  You want to reach a thickness of about 3/16.  My Joseph Joseph rolling pin has these neat discs that let you set the thickness, but you can just eyeball it.  Note that my gum paste is a little streaky here - I was being lazy in the color step!


Making the Flowers:

I used a nifty contraption called a flower plunger to make my shapes.  They usually come in a set of four sizes, and I used the 1 inch and 0.5 inch widths for these.  I'm sure you could also use small cookie cutter.  The plungers have a little divot maker, when you press the top, that makes an indent in the center of your flower:

Press the plunger into the gum paste and rock it a little to make sure you've pressed through the fondant.  If you want the little indent in the middle, press down lightly on the plunger.  Pick up the plunger, and voila - a beautiful flower! 

Sometimes the flower stays in the plunger when you pick it up - just press down on the top of the plunger and it pops out.  Continue pressing down into the gum paste until there's no more room.  Slowly lift the excess paste until the flowers are clear. 

If they stay stuck to the surrounding paste, just press down gently on the flower.   If you want, re-roll the remaining paste and keep going!

Finishing Up:

The flowers are beautiful as they are, but I like to clean them up a little.  Some may have a little extra smidgens of gum paste around the edges - I used a tool like this from my Wilton tool kit to clean up the lines, but you could also improvise and use something you have on hand.

I think it's nice to have the flowers curl up a little, as they do in nature.  I used a ball tool from my tool kit, draped a flower onto it, and shaped it.  You can also just use your fingers to get the flowers to curve up.  As they dry, they will flatten out some.

And you're done!  I made some pink flowers as well:  

Let the flowers dry for up to a week in a cool dry place.  These would be adorable on top of cupcakes, placed on a cake, or even on top of molded chocolate squares.  They are also great for making in the shape of leis, as Bakerella did here for her lei cupcakes.  Good luck to you, and please feel free to ask questions in the comment section!!!

Next up - molding chocolate!

- Sugar Baby

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