If you’re new to cake decorating or just getting into the world of sugar pastes, you’re probably wondering, what is the difference between fondant and gum paste?
You’re not alone, this is one of the most frequently asked questions about cake decorating!
- Used as an icing to cover cakes.
- Soft and flexible--gives cakes a smooth polished look.
- Stays soft.
- Great for molding in silicone molds and cutting out small decorations.
- Tasty and flavorful. Traditional fondant tastes of vanilla but other flavors may be used.
- Easy to work with.
Note: Fondant decorations will dry and harden on the outside but the inside will stay soft.
Use Fondant When
Covering cakes, cutting out small flat decorations for cupcakes and cakes
making decorations that don’t need a lot of stability or detail
How Fondant is Different from Gum Paste
Fondant is a rolled icing that’s used to cover cakes and cupcakes. It’s soft and pliable and is rolled out with a rolling pin before being draped on a cake. Since it’s an icing, fondant never hardens like gum paste.
Fondant contains a key ingredient called glycerine, it’s what makes it behave differently than gum paste. Glycerine is what keeps fondant soft and pliable, making it ideal for covering a cake. It also contains gum tragacanth (similar to tylose), this gives the fondant elasticity and allows it to harden on the outside with a crust, never hardening completely (so it’s not ideal for modeling 3D figures).
Buy Satin Ice Fondant >
What You Need When Working with Fondant:
- Fondant smoothers
- Large rolling pin
- Satin Ice Fondant
- Buttercream or jam for coating the cake. A thin coating of buttercream or jam makes the fondant stick to the cake and should not be skipped.
- Cornstarch for dusting your work surface, rolling pin, and hands.
- Used for modeling and sculpting flowers, bows, and other intricate pieces.
- Dries quickly and hardens completely.
- Rolls out ultra thin for making lifelike sugar flowers.
- Ideal for modeling detailed figures.
- Firm and pliable-- hardens with a porcelain-like finish.
Use Gum Paste When Making :
- Sugar bows
- 3D figures
How Gum Paste is Different from Fondant
Gum paste is an edible sugar dough used for decor. No one, however, usually eats gum paste because it dries out hard and brittle. Cakes are never covered in gum paste. It’s used for decor only. Gum paste, unlike fondant, dries very quickly. While working with it, keep the unused portion covered with a damp cloth.
Buy Satin Ice Gum Paste >
What You Need When Working with Gum Paste:
Your Questions About Fondant and Gum Paste Answered:
Should I use cornstarch or confectioners sugar when rolling out my gum paste and fondant?
Use your best judgment, if it is hot and humid out, and your fondant or gum paste is sticking to everything, go for the cornstarch!
If the air in your home or workplace is dry, and your gum paste or fondant is cracking or drying too fast, use confectioners sugar (cornstarch will dry out fondant and gum paste when there is too much moisture).
What to do when Fondant or gum paste is drying too fast and cracking?
“Elephant skin” is a common term with fondant and gum paste --If you’re not quick to work, a crust will form on the top layer, and when you stretch the sugar paste, it will resemble the look of elephant skin, and it may even start to crack.
To avoid this happening, rub shortening onto rolled out gum paste or fondant, it will slow the drying time and keep it from crusting over.
How do I remove the powdery look from using cornstarch and confectioners sugar?
Rub a very small dab of shortening onto the tips of your fingers, and lightly brush away the powdery look with your hands or fingertips.
How do I “glue” gum paste or fondant together?
To “glue” fondant on top of fondant, you can apply a little water with a paintbrush to the back of your fondant piece (dried or still soft, wither will work) and it will stick onto the other piece.
You can do the same with gum paste but it would be ideal to make “gum glue” which you'll need to use if you are gluing pieces together for 3D modeling or flowers.
Use our recipe for gum glue below!
Gum Glue Recipe
Make gum glue to adhere pieces of fondant and gum paste together when modeling objects or placing decorations on fondant cakes.
Mix together in a small container using a fork to whisk and break up any lumps.
Place in the refrigerator covered overnight.
The gum glue mixture will turn to a syrup consistency and works great as edible glue for fondant and gum paste! It can be used minutes after making it, but it is ideal to wait until it sets up.