The world of baking is quite fascinating. However, your exciting new hobby can quickly turn daunting when you have to differentiate between two similar ingredients, like gum paste and fondant. Are you wondering what is the difference between gum paste and fondant? Let’s dig in and roll out the details.
While these two essentials are quite different, they tend to have a few similarities, which can confuse everyone from a newbie to a seasoned baker.
What Is Fondant?
When it comes to cake decoration, fondant has become a go-to choice for most bakers and cake decorators. It is nothing but a dough of edible sugar that people use to decorate cakes. Bakers use it for everything from little decorations to completely covering the cake.
While fondant is easily available in numerous colors, you can easily customize it as per your preference using food coloring. It allows you much more freedom as a cake decorator as it doesn’t get too hard upon drying.
Since it can have a very long shelf life, fondant doesn’t go bad very easily. You can store it for 6 to 24 months, depending on the ingredients and weather conditions.
You can use fondant for:
- Covering cakes
- Small flat decorations for cupcakes
- Decorations that don’t need too much detailing or stability
Decoding Everything About Gum Paste
Many new bakers wonder what’s gum paste!? It is a pliable and soft dough that will dry out completely hard. It is a harder medium that you can use to create sugar flowers or models that you want to dry hard. When it comes to gum paste, you can roll it out into thin layers without worrying about tears.
Since it dries very quickly, make sure you cover it well while using it. Owing to the dry consistency, gum paste can be very difficult to eat even though it is technically edible, so it’s not recommended for covering your cakes. We don’t want any chipped teeth at the wedding, am I right?
You can use gum paste for:
- 3D figures
- Sugar bows
How Is Gum Paste Different From Fondant?
Bakers today are using numerous types of clay techniques to enhance the appearance of their cakes. While marzipan and pastillage have been around for quite a while, fondant and gum paste are taking center stage now in the cake decoration world.
Even though they look quite similar, there are key differences between the two. Here are a few ways in which gum paste is different from fondant:
As I discussed before, the primary difference between gumpaste and fondant is consistency. While fondant is sturdy and durable enough, it doesn’t dry out quickly. It’s not that fondant will not harden, but it will still have a clay-like consistency.
On the other hand, gum paste can dry in an instant, and hence proves to be helpful in making intricate cake accessories. The fondant stays more bendy or malleable, while gum paste can be rigid.
Both the ingredients are dough, but they look quite different in terms of consistency. The dough of gum paste is squashy as well as stretchable, and you can make very thin layers from it.
Fondant tends to have a smoother and more attractive consistency, which is why it is a preferred choice of most professional bakers. The consistency ensures you can use it to design cake in any way and in every situation you want.
Given its white color, fondant can also take on colors quite well and allows a baker the freedom to easily play around with different hues and designs.
In the war of gum paste vs fondant, the taste can be a significant factor. Given the ingredients used and the richer consistency, fondant tastes better, whereas gum paste can harden and prove challenging to eat.
Although the list of ingredients used for making gum paste can vary from baker to baker, there are a few constant things. It consists of confectioners sugar, liquid glucose, water, gelatin, and Gum Tragacanth or Gum Tex.
Many people say making gum paste is simply mixing pastillage and Tragacanth, which adds strength to the material.
When it comes to rolled fondant, it generally contains water, sugar, and corn syrup. However, in the case of shaping and sculpting, it also contains glycerin or gelatin to add flexibility and elasticity.
Which is better fondant or gum paste?
Well, it entirely depends on what you’re using it for. With the hardness and durability offered by gum paste, it is ideally used for making highly intricate and detailed cakes or cupcakes.
You can easily roll it out into very thin sheets to make flowers, leaves, or even other decoration items to make appealing cakes. However, it is not ideal to use for covering entire cakes but only for small decor items to enhance the bakery goods.
You can also use fondant to create accessories for your cakes, but they will be more fragile and have less flair. Since they aren’t as sturdy, you have to be careful while making them. Alternatively, you can add a little gum paste to increase the hardness.
In case you want to create small accessories, you can opt for gum paste, but for larger decorations that people will eat, always go with fondant.
What To Use When Rolling Gum Paste Or Fondant?
While cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar are popular choices, you can use your judgment here. Cornstarch tends to work best if the weather is either hot or humid and the material is sticking everywhere.
If it dries up too fast due to air, try using confectioners sugar to maintain the consistency.
Can You Use Fondant And Gum Paste Together?
Even though you can use them individually, the two ingredients can work wonders when used together. Upon mixing them, you will get a material that has the sturdiness of gum paste with the smoother consistency of fondant. It is ideal for any kind of cake decoration.
How To Stick Gum Paste Or Fondant?
You can use fondant adhesive or gum glue to stick either of these ingredients to your bakery goods.
Making aesthetically pleasing cakes is far from easy. I’ve tried for years to get it right, and I still am no pro. Fondant and gum paste are two very different yet commonly confused products used for decorating cakes. Now that you know everything about the difference between gum paste and fondant, it’s time to put on your baking apron, take out your whisks, and make a beautiful cake your family and friends will talk about for months.
Ian Hoyt is a co-founder of Morsel – a family recipe cookbook software. When he isn’t working on building the best recipe app for your family Ian can be found hiking in the mountains of North Carolina, flying airplanes, or of course in the kitchen perfecting his beloved scone recipe.