If you love decorating cakes, you have probably worked with fondant and gum paste.
For more delicate decorations, gum paste is the best option.
This lump of sugar icing is a mainstay in dessert sculpturing.
You have probably run into some impressive dessert sculptures at a party.
And got your mind blown when others say it is all edible.
Yes, those works of art are all gum paste and fondant at work.
If you are a pastry chef, you have probably taken a bite of gum paste while preparing cakes for parties.
And now you know its flavors.
But for those who have not tasted it and are wondering, “what does gum paste taste like?” don’t worry.
Let us find out below.
What is Gum Paste?
Gum paste is a kind of dough that is used for cake decorating and other purposes.
It is also known as sugar paste or sugar gum.
This dough is made from glucose or sucrose and has a stiff texture.
Even though they seem modern, gum paste dates back to the 16th century.
You will find cookbooks from this era with recipes that use gum paste.
People often think fondant and gum paste are the same things.
They have similar usage. But fondant is softer in texture and does not become stiff like gum paste.
So, the harder texture of gum paste is excellent for molding more complicated shapes.
They do not fall apart easily like fondant.
You can buy readymade gum paste at your local grocery store and make it at home.
However, using commercial gum paste is a better choice.
The main advantage it has over homemade paste is that it has a longer shelf life.
You can also shape and mold Store-bought sugar paste more easily.
What Does Gum Paste Taste Like?
Gum paste is 100% edible. But most people avoid eating them because of the hard texture.
As expected, it tastes sweet, like sugar with a mix of glucose.
Plenty of commercial gum paste uses tragacanth, a natural gum.
This gum is found in the Astragalus gummifer plant, primarily found in the middle-eastern region.
This resin gives gum paste its sticky texture. Tragacanth has mild or no flavor at all.
It is the sugar or glucose that gives gum paste its sweet taste.
It tastes like cheap candy, which is just boiled sugar with artificial flavors and colors.
They also add Gum-Tex powder to make it more stable.
This is why commercial gum paste is a better option if you want better consistency.
It retains its stability more than homemade versions.
Traditional recipes also use tragacanth, powdered sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice.
In fact, these ingredients are still present in some modern-day gum-paste recipes.
Fondant and gum paste is similar in taste. But fondant has a softer texture.
It is also easier to roll with a rolling pin and cover over cakes.
The only difference is that fondant retains its texture while gum paste does not.
They become dry and more rigid in texture, like candy.
When they harden, they have a texture similar to porcelain.
Most people use gum paste while adding floral and curly decorative details.
Some commercial gum paste packets come with a “not edible” or “only meant for decor” label.
This does not mean they are poisonous. But try not to taste more than a small bite.
Having small bits with your cake slice is the best way to enjoy it.
Other than that, eating gum paste alone may have unpleasant effects on your stomach.
How to Make and Use Gum Paste at Home?
Gum paste is available everywhere. You can buy it from your nearest supermarket or online.
But if you want to get experimental, you can make your own at home.
Making gum paste is relatively easy.
You need ingredients like sugar, tylose powder, and egg whites.
Mix them well and knead them on a flat surface until it becomes soft and flexible.
You can also use artificial colors to make them pop and use them for various cake crafting.
For instance, petal dust is an excellent option to make flowers look more realistic.
You can also use other types of food coloring during the kneading process.
During the early days, people used natural color sources.
If you want greens, you will use spinach.
For pink, you use pink flowers, and so on.
Achieving that soft and bouncy consistency takes time, so patience is key here.
If your dough mixture is too big, you can roll them into smaller balls.
This will make the kneading process more easier. Gum paste also dries out very quickly.
So, remember to wrap it in plastic sheets if you are not using it immediately.
Now, you are ready to turn your homemade sugar paste into neat little ornamental pieces.
Remember, homemade paste has a softer texture than commercial ones.
So, for more delicate and stable sculpturing, use the latter.
So, there you have it. Now you know what gum paste tastes like.
Gum paste has nothing to offer much in terms of its flavor profile.
They taste as it is supposed to taste like, i.e., sweet.
It also tastes like candy because both have sugar in them.
The artificial colors and flavors also add to the taste.
If you ever get confused between gum paste and fondant, remember the former has a tougher texture.
They might taste the same, but there are some differences.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is gum paste used for in baking?
Gum paste is an edible sugar dough most commonly used to create cake decorations.
It has a stiff consistency and can be rolled, cut and molded into intricate shapes as needed.
Additionally, gum paste can also be mixed with other ingredients such as gelatin and food coloring to add flavor and color.
Is gum paste difficult to make?
It depends on the recipe you’re using – but generally speaking, gum paste isn’t too difficult to make as long as you follow the instructions carefully.
Recipes usually require combining powdered sugar, cornstarch, vegetable fat (such as shortening) and sometimes egg whites or meringue powder together until it forms a stiff dough.
How long does gum paste last?
If stored properly in air-tight containers in a cool, dry place, homemade gum paste can last up to 6 months – however store-bought varieties can last longer depending on the expiration date printed on the package.
Additionally, if kept unrefrigerated for too long, the gum paste may start to lose its freshness and become more susceptible to mold growth.
Does gum paste have any nutritional value?
Yes – although it’s not considered a health food by any means!
Due to its high sugar content, consuming too much of it can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and potential dental problems.
That being said, small amounts of gum paste do provide some nutritional benefits such as Vitamin A, Iron, Potassium and Calcium.