Making gum paste butterflies
I’ve been using gum paste to make small decorations for cupcakes that are simple to make. Gum paste is a version of icing which is longer lasting and more useful for modeling with. To make some, you’ll need a batch of royal icing, which I described in my brush embroidery post. The royal icing needs to be a lot stiffer this time around so just keep adding icing sugar until the icing becomes very dry. Tylo powder is what turns this dry mixture into gum paste so add a teaspoon of this and knead the mixture on a surface covered with icing sugar. Tylo powder is available from cake decorating shops and online. Keep kneading until the gum paste is elastic and is no longer sticky and store it in a plastic bag until you are ready to use it.
Now to colour the gum paste. I’ve found that you can make food colouring much more usable by mixing a small amount of it with icing sugar to create a loose paste. This means the colour doesn’t run everywhere whilst you are trying to mix it into the icing and it all ends up being a lot less messy. It’s best to work with a small amount of the gum paste at a time as it can quickly dry out, so colour the amount you need and tear off small pieces to use, keeping the rest in the plastic bag.
To roll out gum paste, you want a surface covered with icing sugar or corn flour, and you want to roll it fairly thin. I don’t have any specialist cutters so I used a fluted round cutter to create little butterflies. You just cut the round out, then a wide v for the gap between the wings at the top, a small v between the wings on each side and a wide v for the gap between the wings at the bottom. I rested the butterflies on a wooden spoon dusted with icing sugar to create the fold for the wings. I also tried using a number 3 piping nozzle to create small holes in the wings.
The gum paste butterflies need to dry over night but once they are dry, you can pipe on top of them. I used brush embroidery to decorate them and piped the body of each butterfly along the central fold. I described how to do brush embroidery in my previous article so take a look at that if you need some tips. These butterflies are simple to make and each one ends up being unique as the cuts to make them are not all the same and the piped designs are all different. They can be used for cupcakes or grouped together for larger cakes to create a lovely effect.