How to Color Gum Paste Flowers

Written by louise harding
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How to Color Gum Paste Flowers
Gum paste contains sugar, which allows it to retain a sugary look when dry. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

With the proliferation of baking and cake decorating shows on television, many baking terms unfamiliar to casual bakers are now creeping into everyday use. Bakery designed cakes covered with fondant have become almost the norm, replacing traditional frosting-covered cakes. Fondant, sugar paste, candy clay and gum paste all are similar baking material used to create embellishments, such as flowers and leaves, for decorating cakes. Gum paste flowers are best coloured before they are moulded. Once shaped into a flower, gum paste can be further tinted with a paint brush.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Surgical gloves
  • Gum paste
  • Bowl or waxed paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Paste food colouring
  • Polystyrene block or foam egg container
  • Dusting powders
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pot
  • Stove

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    Colouring Gum Paste

  1. 1

    Put on a pair of surgical gloves to protect your hands from the permeating dye of the paste food colouring. Place a portion of your gum paste into a bowl or onto a sheet of waxed paper. If you are colouring all of the gum paste the same shade, break it up into smaller portions for easier manipulation.

  2. 2

    Scoop a dot of paste food colouring from the food colour jar with the end of a toothpick. Using a toothpick ensures you only use a little dab at a time. Paste food colouring is available at cake decorating and craft stores and speciality baking shops. Some grocery stores carry paste food colouring.

  3. 3

    Use your fingers to squeeze and knead the gum paste. Add more paste food colouring until the desired colour is achieved. Coloured gum paste lightens as it dries, so make your gum paste about a shade darker than you want the finished flower. If you accidentally make the gum paste too dark, knead in a quarter-size ball of uncolored gum paste to offset the food colouring dye.

  4. 4

    Form your flowers from the coloured gum paste. Allow the flowers to dry for about 24 hours before using them to decorate your baked goods.

    Tinting Molded Gum Paste Flowers

  1. 1

    Stick a toothpick into the bottom of each uncolored gum paste flower before it is dried.

  2. 2

    Stick the toothpick into a block of polystyrene or the top of a foam egg container. Space the flowers at least 2 inches apart to avoid transferring colour to a different flower. Gum paste is fragile once dried, so care must be taken while handling and painting your flowers.

  3. 3

    Shake the bottle of dusting powder with the lid attached to mix the powder. Insert a clean paintbrush, reserved for cake decorating, into the pot of dusting powder. Dusting powders are powdered colours that are brushed onto sugar, fondant, butter cream and gum paste flowers. Dusting powders are available at baking and craft stores.

  4. 4

    Paint the dusting powder onto the dried flower, starting in the centre of the flower and pulling the brush along the surface of the petal toward the outer edge. For a richer, more vibrant colour, form the gum paste flowers from the gum paste the same colour or slightly lighter than the dusting powder hue.

  5. 5

    Paint the outside of the gum paste flower in even, small strokes.

  6. 6

    Fill a pot with water and bring the water to a boil. Hold each flower over the steam until the gum paste takes on a wet appearance to set the dusting powder colours. Rotate the flower two or three times to allow the steam to penetrate all sections of the flower.

  7. 7

    Allow the gum paste flower to completely dry before using it to decorate baked goods.

Tips and warnings

  • Store gum paste flowers in a cool, dry place in a tightly sealed container. Heat, humidity and moisture will cause the gum paste to soften. Gum paste flowers can be made and painted weeks ahead of their use date if stored properly.

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