Working with gumpaste to create beautiful cake decorations is not the easiest of tasks. In fact, it takes a fair amount of work to produce great results. Can you count the number of times you have wasted money by throwing out gumpaste that’s too hard or too dry? Well, now you can stop wasting your money, time, and effort. Here are some ways to troubleshoot gumpaste when you encounter the most common problems.
Gumpaste is too soft.
Cause: This happens when you add too much food coloring to the paste.
Solution: If the gumpaste is too soft, troubleshoot gumpaste by adding a small amount of Wilton Gum-Tex or Tylose powder a little bit at a time until the paste feels firmer, but make sure you don’t overdo it. If the gumpaste is too sticky, knead in confectioner’s sugar until it doesn’t feel sticky any more.
Gumpaste is too hard.
Cause: Gumpaste dries out quickly until it becomes too hard to use because it has been set out and exposed to air for far too long. It needs to be softened first before you can use it for decoration, so you are able to work with it easier. On the other hand, if it is commercial gumpaste you’re using and you feel that it is extremely hard that it cannot be bent, you may have received a bad batch and should therefore return it to the store in exchange for a new one.
If the gumpaste has been stored in the refrigerator, allow it to cool down to room temperature first. Then knead the gumpaste and make it warm with the touch of your hands. If it does not soften enough, troubleshoot gumpaste by heating it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Remember that the microwave should only be used as a last resort, and only if the kneading will not soften the gumpaste in a consistency that is to your liking.
Gumpaste is too dry.
Cause: This happens when using certain commercial brands of gumpaste. It can also happen if you added darker colors to the paste, which typically dries it out.
Solution: Knead in vegetable shortening such as Crisco or Trex. Work it back up, and soon enough, it will be soft and pliable again. If you are in the process of making gumpaste from scratch, watch out for Tylose powder – lessen the amount you put if you do not want the paste to dry out fast.
Gumpaste has cracks, or is tearing up.
Cause: The gumpaste was not kneaded enough, or it was not rolled thin enough. It could also be due to the consistency of the paste—either it’s too soft or too hard. The gum that was used in the gumpaste will also make the paste dry quicker and harder, which can result to cracks in your decorative pieces. Another reason is the addition of too much confectioner’s sugar to the gumpaste – this can dry out the paste as well and cause it to crack.
Solution: Use vegetable shortening when you are working with gumpaste in order to make it easy to work with.
Gumpaste is perfect when making decorations such as flowers, people, and animals. Put emphasis on the kneading and preparation as well. After all, a great sugar flower or a stunning figurine can be achieved only if you have a great gumpaste to start with.