At first glance, fondant and gum paste appear to be 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?
Gum paste is a soft and pliable sugar dough, but unlike fondant, it dries completely hard. This makes it perfect for creating detailed cake decorations like roses, daisies and other flowers.
It’s also slightly more durable than fondant, so you can roll it out into thin layers to create ruffles without a fear of tearing. Gum paste dries out very quickly, too, so you’ll want to keep it covered while working with it to keep it from drying out. Though it is edible, we don’t suggest eating decorations made from gum paste or using it to cover your cakes, as it does dry quite hard and can be difficult to eat.
What is fondant?
Fondant is an edible sugar dough used for cake decorating that is much more versatile than gum paste, as it doesn’t dry hard.
It can be used to cover cakes or make fun decorations. Fondant comes in many colors and is easy to customize with food coloring to fit your needs. While fondant can be used to make cake topper figurines and cake decorations as well, it won’t create fine details like gum paste, as it cannot be rolled out thinly without tearing and it will not dry as hard as gum paste will.
What are the ingredients in fondant and gum paste?
Fondant and gum paste are both made by adding sugar to liquid; however, there are two ingredients that make fondant and gum paste vastly different. Fondant usually contains some type of gelatin, which helps give it that elasticity and pliability. Gum paste, on the other hand, uses Gum-Tex powder for added stability and strength. A small amount of Gum-Tex can also be kneaded into fondant to make it act similarly to gum paste.
Is it better to use corn starch or confectioners’ sugar when rolling out fondant or gum paste?
Corn starch is the better option for rolling out fondant, as it won’t dry out your fondant as quickly. It’s also less likely that the fondant will crack if you use corn starch.
Confectioners’ sugar offers a better taste and can be used to work into your fondant or gum paste if it’s too wet or sticky.
Several decorators also suggest using a 50/50 mix of corn starch and confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking and not affect taste.
How do I fix fondant or gum paste that is drying too fast or has cracked?
If you notice that your fondant or gum paste is drying more quickly than you’d like, you can knead in a little bit of solid vegetable shortening to help soften it.
If you’ve just covered your cake with fondant and you notice that it’s starting to tear or rip, you can also use your finger to rub solid vegetable shortening in a circular motion around the tear to fix it.
How do I glue fondant or gum paste pieces together?
To secure gum paste or fondant decorations together, you can use Gum Glue Adhesive or Thinned Fondant Adhesive. These edible glues are great for assembling sugar flowers, figurines and layered fondant decorations.
For small projects that require precision, like attaching eyes to a figurine, a little dab of water will work just fine!
What are the best tools for working with fondant and gum paste?
For general fondant and gum paste decorating, we suggest having a good fondant roller with guide rings and a fondant smoother. Just those two tools will make your life so much easier!
For even more fun, the Fondant and Gum Paste Tools Set will help you add texture to your decorations. A silicone measuring mat is also a great tool for those looking to cover cakes with fondant (it’s also great for preventing sticking when rolling out fondant or gum paste).
Using gum paste and fondant together
While individually fondant and gum paste are slightly different, they work beautifully as a team! 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 well. For best results, use a 50/50 combination of the two for detailed and durable decorations!
How to store fondant and gum paste
Fondant and gum paste can be stored the same way. To store, cover with a thin coating of solid vegetable shortening and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in an air-tight container and store at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Do not store fondant or gum paste in the refrigerator, as this will cause them to harden and become unusable.
Have you decorated with fondant or gum paste before? Show us your creations on Instagram by tagging us @wiltoncakes.