At first glance, fondant and gum paste appear very similar. They are both soft doughs that can be kneaded and used for cake decorating. But don’t be fooled, these two cake decorating mediums are actually quite different. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes these two!
What is Gum Paste:
Unlike fondant, gum paste dries completely hard, making it perfect for creating detailed cake decorations like flowers! Gum paste can also be rolled out very thin, so you can craft impressively intricate details and ruffles on your decorations without fear of tearing. Gum paste dries out very quickly too, so you want to keep it covered while working with it to keep it from drying out. Because of its tendency to dry out quickly and completely, gum paste is not ideal for covering a cake. While Wilton only makes gum paste in white, it can easily be tinted to your favorite hue using our icing colors or Color Right system.
What is Fondant:
While fondant does harden if left out, having a layer of buttercream underneath it keeps it soft and pliable, making it perfect for covering cakes. Because of this, fondant will usually have more flavor, too. Wilton’s Decorator Preferred Fondant has a sweet vanilla flavor that pairs nicely with any cake, however fondant comes in many different colors and is even available in a chocolate flavor! While fondant can be used to craft cake decorations as well, it’s not ideal for creating fine details that gum paste can, as fondant cannot be rolled out as thinly and won’t dry as hard as gum paste does.
Gum Paste & Fondant as a Team:
The beautiful thing about fondant and gum paste is that their complementary characteristics make it so the two work well together! Many of our decorating projects call for a 50/50 combination of fondant and gum paste for their respective abilities. When they are combined you get the benefits of using the softer, more pliable fondant, and the sturdiness of the gum paste which will make your decorations hold up.
How do you store them?
Despite their differences, fondant and gum paste can be stored the same way. To store, cover with a thin coating of vegetable shortening, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag in a covered container, and keep at room temperature for up to two weeks. Do not refrigerate or freeze as this will cause them to harden, and once the fondant and gum paste begin to harden, there’s no bringing it back. So store both carefully!
There you have it! While these two cake decorating mediums are similar in look and feel, they serve very different purposes in the wondrous world of cake decorating, and their individual powers can be harnessed together to create quite the decorating tool for both beginner and expert decorators. If you want to try your hand at decorating with fondant, take a look at our easy, DIY kit for learning how to decorate with fondant shapes and cut-outs!
If you have any more questions about fondant, gum paste, or any other cake decorating mediums, comment below and be sure to follow us for more baking inspiration on Instagram at @wiltoncakes!