living a well tended life... at any age

101: how to make gum paste decorations

Full disclosure:

This post is not for you. It’s for me. Well, for me and my lovely friend Sara.

It all started out simply enough. I wanted to make something a little different for Noah’s 3rd birthday. I had always admired the pretty gum paste decorations Sara used on her cakes and cupcakes, so I asked her if she could give me a tutorial. Which she so kindly did.

And I made these:

gum paste decorations sesame street

The following year Noah asked for Sponge Bob cupcakes. I asked Sara if she could please remind me how to make gum paste again? And she did.

gum paste decorations sponge bob

And so on. Every. Single. Year.

gum paste decorations ninjago

By the time I texted her this year – with the same damn question – I decided that: a) I needed to write this thing DOWN already, and b) maybe some of you would be interested too?

So here we are. With gum paste. And minions.

gum paste decorations minions

You guys – I LOVE working with gum paste. It is super easy (once you – ahem – have the recipe), and makes the simplest cupcakes look totally pro. And it is no more difficult than rolling and cutting out Play Doh. The results are even and consistent, and – unlike piped icing decorations – you can tweak the design BEFORE putting it on your cake or cupcake. This last part alone makes gum paste the hands-down winner in my book, eliminating all of the stress of piping out perfect buttercream swirls and rosettes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

fondant (like this)
tylose powder (like this)
shortening
food coloring (I like these for the richest colors)
cornstarch
thin rubber gloves (to prevent staining)
small rolling pin (like this)
assorted objects for cutting shapes (cookie cutters, piping tips, even clean Play Doh tools all work great)
clear vanilla (or lemon) extract
a small paintbrush

First, prepare your cupcakes: use a knife to slice off the domed top of each cupcake, creating a level surface. Then frost the tops, creating a thin, flat layer. Set aside.

gum paste decorations minions

gum paste decorations minions

gum paste decorations minions

To make gum paste, place one pound of fondant on a cutting board or work surface. Place two teaspoons of tylose powder in the center and begin to knead it into the fondant. The fondant should start to become more stretchy and pliable; you can add a bit of shortening if needed to keep the gum paste from drying out.

gum paste decorations minions

gum paste decorations minions

Use gloved hands to work in your food coloring, adding more if needed till the desired shade is reached.

gum paste decorations minions

Now you’re ready to roll! You can use a little cornstarch on your work surface to prevent sticking; I rarely find this to be a problem. Roll out the fondant and start cutting out your shapes. For the minions I used various sizes of cookie cutters and pastry tips.

gum paste decorations minions

gum paste decorations minions

gum paste decorations minions

Attach the gum paste parts using a paintbrush dipped in a bit of the vanilla extract.

Place the finished decorations atop your cupcakes or cake. Any leftover gum paste can be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag.

gum paste decorations minions

I’d love to know if you’ve tried this technique before, and if you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share!

And a big thank you to Sara – who I’m so lucky to call my friend.

Update: I thought I’d add additional pictures as I go – here’s a batch of Angry Birds I made for Noah’s 8th birthday:

angry bird cupcakes

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