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How to Make Gum Paste
"This gum paste recipe for sugar flowers works well in highly humid climates"
Here in Sydney, Australia our climate is sub-tropical. I found that my original sugar paste recipe was too soft for our hot and wet Februarys, meaning that flowers made then took too long to dry.
When I was in the States recently I was introduced to Nicholas Lodge's tylose gum paste recipe. It was very different from anything I had previously used and I noticed it dried hard fast and stayed dry.
It occured to me that his recipe doesn't contain glucose or glycerin which attract moisture.
When I came home I started using Nicholas' recipe, but found that most icing sugar in Australia is not fine enough. So I set about working out how to make gum paste better suited to more humid climates and to ingredients more generally available.
The recipe below is the result. It's the one I now use to make all my gum paste flowers. It is lovely and smooth, and nice and white. It holds its shape well and dries quickly, nice and hard. However, it retains a little flexibility while drying, which is great for assembling partially dried flowers.
The one down side is that it does take quite a lot of kneading, but its definitely worth the effort. I now make 3 times this recipe in my large 20L mixing bowl using a dough hook to let the mixer do the work.
Gum Paste Recipe
260g icing sugar mixture/confectioner's sugar
3 x egg whites from 3 large eggs
160g cornflour (100% maize, no wheat)
17g tylose (or CMC)
130g potato flour
10g Trex or Crisco -- white vegetable fat/shortening (in a really high humidity climate leave this out)
Place icing sugar and egg whites in a mixing bowl with a beater and mix together until smooth and lump free
Scrape down sides and mix for further 5 minutes on low speed
Mix the tylose through the cornflour and add slowly to the mix. Continue to mix on low speed
Scrape down the sides
Add the potato flour and continue to mix on low speed. This is when the mix may become too stiff for your mixer. Do not keep mixing if your mixer is struggling -- you will burn out the motor (believe me, I have burned out one motor already!)
At this point tip the mix onto your bench and knead in the rest of the potato flour.
Keep kneading until smooth and elastic -- sorry, but this may take some effort!
If you're using the vegetable fat, knead it through the gum paste
Wrap well in food wrap and rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using. After it has rested, if you don't want to use it immediately divide it into smaller pieces wrap them, place in freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Label the packets with the date you make the paste, or the use by date
Knead again to loosen before making your sugar flowers