Following on from the theme of A Child's
Christmas in Wales, here is a recipe I have used for years to make modelling
paste for sugarcraft Christmas decorations for the cake and other items.
The recipe can of course be used to model items of sugarcraft for weddings
and other special occasion cakes.
If you plan to do fancy decorations on the
iced cake then start early and prepare your sugarcraft items so that they
dry off to be very hard and can be coloured without damage in good time.
In latter years when making the cakes for
friends as gifts I have adopted the plaque method in the picture below,
which involves covering a thin or medium thickness cake board of the same size or smaller size than
the finished cake. I completely cover the plaque board with fondant icing
sugarpaste or modelling paste. It needs to be left for a few days to
set really hard and can be trimmed with narrow ribbon or braid or if to be
fixed on the cake edged with shell piping or lace work or whatever pleases
I then place the sugarcraft Xmas arrangement
on the plaque and this can be set atop the iced cake. A dab of icing
will secure it and it can simply be removed from the cake before it's cut,
keeping the decoration intact to be admired and to be available for use
another time or reassembled with slightly different flora.
The holly leaves and very shiny berries on
the plaque decoration above, have been glazed with a special glaze for the
purpose, giving them the glossiness that real holly leaves and berries have.
The recipe for modelling sugar paste below
was given to me by an expert in sugar craft. This
is not the same paste as fondant paste used to cover the cake. I always simply buy
Renshaw's fondant from the supermarket for that. Whitworths also make
a similar paste. True modelling or Mexican
paste is harder to find and you may need to visit specialist shops.
The internet is a good source for online supplies of sugarcraft materials.
This modelling paste recipe is made in the
Microwave and I like it for items where a large number of bases such as buds
for roses need to be prepared or figures or bigger items or moulds need to
be made. It is ideal for snowmen for example, where using Squires
professional sugarpaste might become prohibitive cost wise.
Why? Well it works out much less expensive
than the commercial version and can be made at home on hand at convenience
once you acquire the more unusual products like gum tragacanth and liquid
glucose. You can use it for modelling flower petals, but usually when
doing sugar craft I also have on hand some Squires sugar paste and the
latter makes exceptionally pure white petals for lilies and stephanotis etc.
This though is perfect when the petal is coloured either in the paste or by
Likewise I always have a packet of the
Squires Xmas red and holly green sugar paste in my workbox as it is
difficult to get depth of colour with rich deep colour pastes such as these.
The best holly looks like dark green lacquer and the nicest ivy is
variegated from pale to dark. Once for a very special big '0' birthday, I made a chess board cake for my husband using this
paste to make the chess figures as it was so much more economical than
buying the Squires paste. With time it set very hard. I could
not colour it black enough directly in the paste without getting it more
than a charcoal or a too wet paste, so I used black food dye to paint each
For pure white flowers you cannot in my
opinion beat Squires flower paste, but for flowers that need to be white,
yet not crystal white and are likely to be tinted this paste recipe is
marvellous. The cake plaque in the header with a poinsettia has been
made using a combination of commercial red paste and the mistletoe and
berries made with this paste recipe. The poinsettia is on a double
plaque and the cake sides were made to appear quilted using an impression
mould. Dragees were added to appear as stitches. Very fine green
coated wires twisted around tubes can create the ivy tendrils that trail.
This modelling paste is also economical for items such as the spadix in the
calla lilies on this cake. By the time they are coated with coloured
sugar the paste need not be the purest of whites.
minutes standing, 15 minutes making, 1 Hour Resting
(500gm) of icing sugar (Confectioner's dusting powder)
teaspoons of powdered gelatine - in the UK this is one packet
teaspoons liquid glucose
level teaspoons gum tragacanth or use CMC (Carboxy Methyl Cellulose) instead
teaspoon of Trex, Spry Cookeen or White Flora vegetable type fat
Note the glucose is essential for elasticity and the gum
tragacanth gives hardness and strength.
1 wooden Spoon - use for all stirring sieving
I Pyrex jug
1 large mixing bowl
6 strong polythene freezer bags
A teaspoon or so of extra white fat.
Prepare the gelatine by putting the water into a Pyrex jug and sprinkle on
the powder gelatine. Stir to mix then allow to stand for at least 15
Next sift the icing sugar and gum tragacanth
into a large bowl.
Now after the 15
minutes put the gelatine mix in the microwave oven and heat on medium/low
setting dependant on oven for 15 to 20 seconds until lukewarm.
Make sure the gelatine is fully dissolved, if it isn't give
it a little more heating if required.
add the glucose and the white fat and rewarm for 30 seconds ensuring all is
dissolved and fully melted.
Mixing up the Modelling Paste
Metal spoons cause
greying so use a wooden spoon to make this.
Make a well in the
centre of the icing sugar mix and add the warm liquid, pouring it all in at
once. Initially mix it with a wooden spoon and then your hands.
The mixture will
look all wrong at first sight like threads of cooked poached egg.
BUT keep mixing by hand now until it draws together.
Put some white fat on
your hands (more than once if required and knead really well. All of a
sudden it will come together and seem like a fondant paste.
Shape it neatly and now
cut it into 4 or 5 pieces. Put each piece into a separate strong
polythene bag, wrapping the bag around it well, then put those bags into
another polythene bag and finally put them all into a strong plastic sealed
DO NOT USE CLINGFILM (GLAD
WRAP) AS IT MAKES IT WET.
Leave the paste to rest for 1 hour at least,
preferably 24 hours before use. When you make it in sections this
paste can easily be frozen 2 hours after making. You can also keep it
in the fridge for 2 weeks for normal use. But I have had best results
with this paste by using it within 48 hours of making it.
If you know you intend to keep the paste for
a fair time smear the thinnest layer of hand warmed white vegetable fat over
the surface of each paste section before wrapping up.
Use the paste to make fine flower petals,
leaves and holly, snowmen, boxes, stars.
These autumnal leaves, chestnuts, acorns and hypericum (St.
John's Wort) berries, maple leaf, wheat stalks and oak leaves were all made
by me using this modelling paste recipe. All items have been
dusted with food powders, steamed and when dry glazed with sugarcraft glaze
for extra shininess.
Click for enlargement details.
This straightforward cake I made for millennium night uses
the simple theme of crosses for Christianity plus a single large celebratory
candle which was lit at midnight as the bells rang in the new millennium.
Omit the crosses, and the silver coated star decoration on the built up cake
board base and random squiggle work would be easy to do all over a Christmas
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