Galaxy cakes, drip effects, and gravity-defying designs display the infinite imagination of cake decorators. Their unbelievable ability to create gorgeous life-like botany from sugar has us asking once again, “how do they do that?” The answer is Tragacanth gum.
What Is Tragacanth Gum?
Tragacanth gum comes from the astragalus gummifer and other Asiatic species of astragalus. The gum exudes from cuts made in the bark. The dried ribbons and flakes are collected, cleaned, and milled. Tragacanth gum is a natural ingredient used to emulsify and thicken foods like mayonnaise, relishes, and liqueurs. But, its strength and elasticity makes creating botanical garden-worthy blooms possible.
How To Make Gum Paste
To create stunning floral cake decorations, you will first need to make some gum paste. We’ve included an easy recipe with instructions at the end of this post. The paste will need to rest for 24 hours before using, so planning ahead is a must. Once you have the paste mixed, it is very important to keep it double-wrapped in plastic to keep it from drying out while it rests. To color your paste, we recommend kneading just a touch of gel color into a bit of your paste.
Pro Tip: Create a gradient effect within the petals by coloring some of the paste just a touch darker. Intertwining slightly different shades will create a more realistic result.
How To Make Gum Paste Flowers
Once the paste is ready to go, you can start creating. There are tons of great videos showing techniques from simple daisies to advanced peonies. We like these videos from Craftsy and Pink Mama Bear. If you don’t have all the official tools, don’t worry. Your kitchen is full of objects that can be used to cut shapes and create texture and detail in your flowers. Seives, old cookie cutters, and the tip of a whisk are all great options. Get creative!
Easy Gum Paste Recipe
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 Tbs LorAnn’s tragacanth gum
1 Tbs light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
4 Tbs warm water
- In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar and tragacanth gum. Set aside.
- In a large, microwave safe bowl, add 4 Tbs warm water. Sprinkle gelatin on top, making sure the gelatin is fully saturated.
- Stir in corn syrup and heat in microwave for 15 seconds. Stir to make sure corn syrup and gelatin are melted and fully incorporated.
- Gradually add the sugar mixture to the corn syrup/gelatin mixture.
- Transfer incorporated mixture into a stand mixer bowl. With dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed until dough looks uniform. It will be a bit sticky at this point. Double wrap in plastic wrap, place in airtight container and let it rest overnight.
- After letting the dough rest, sift the remaining cup of sugar and knead into dough until the dough is no longer sticky.
- This is a great time to divide your dough and add some color. Just make sure that any dough you are not actively working with is double-wrapped in plastic to keep it from drying out.