Saturday, 28 May 2016

Cutting Fondant with an Electronic Cutter

Actually, that is a bit of a misnomer, as what I really mean is cutting flower paste/sugar paste/ Gum paste.

By those terms I refer to a specially stiffened sugar dough, usually by means of a gum additive that makes it harden like rock when it is dry.

Anyway, after my recent cake decorating, where I did it all by hand, I thought it would have made sense to learn how to cut this stuff on the Silver Bullet, if it were possible. I'm happy to say it is!

Don't bother trying to cut fondant, it lacks the smooth strength of gum paste, it is a waste of time. Neither would I try cutting fondant mixed with tylose in it's usual (1/4 tsp per 250g) quantity, for the same reason. That may be ok for some flowers cut by hand but the machine will tear it not cut it.

There are two recipes widely available that I have found to be successful.
The first by Linda McClure ,  made especially for this purpose, and the other by Nicholas Lodge    which although not advertised as such does the job.

While the recipes are different (Nicholas wins on the no fuss scale), they both have huge amounts of Tylose powder, in comparison to normal usage. Generally this stuff is used in very tiny amounts by domestic users.

With Linda's recipe I had to substitute a couple of things. Leaf gelatine instead of powder - 6 small leaves to each tablespoon of powdered gelatine - i.e. enough to set a pint of jelly.  It did make it easier, just soak it in the water, warm for a few seconds in the M/W to dissolve it and add the melted white fat and (in my case, another sub, Glycerine, not corn syrup or Glucose).  While Tylose dries things out, glycerine and glucose etc keep things pliable.  The resulting paste is more like a plastic than fondant at the end of the process. 

Linda said that a pasta roller was needed. Well I don't have one, rolling out thinly and then folding and rolling again a few times did the trick.

Now both pastes need to be rolled onto the mat and left to rest until they stiffen up a bit. Just cover the rolled paste with plastic or clingfilm. It will depend on your climate how long you will need to leave it. Both recipes should be left for a day before trying to roll and machine cut it anyway. The Tylose needs time to work.

To cut it, I used a dedicated mat, blade holder and blade (although I do stress, I am not making things to be edible!)  I used a 45 degree blade but extended it to the fullest - not for the thickness as it is rolled really thin, but to keep as much out of the housing as possible!  I cut at a speed of 800 - going slower isn't always a good option,  and with a force of only 13.
White vegetable fat sparingly smeared on the mat holds it in place.

I think I remember hearing somewhere, that if you want to cut intricate things, to put the paste on card and cut on that without a mat, but I couldn't swear to it.. but cutting out flower petals works well.

If you want to try this, don't try to hurry the process, you will most likely end up frustrated and throwing things around the kitchen, and you don't want to do that with gum paste, it's sticky.

Here is a video  on how I make flowers with the petals I cut out.


I did some more cutting today, this using the NL Gum Paste. I wanted to cut out some more intricate stuff. Petals can't be cut in too firm a paste because they need to be worked afterwards, so this had been cut very thin and relatively moist.

It took quite a few attempts, probably because it is quite warm and humid here. I tried freezing the rolled paste but it couldn't stay frozen long enough to cut much. So I added some cornflour and kneaded it in so that it was so stiff I could barely roll it (aah, that's why the pasta machine!)

I greased my mat, added greaseproof paper, greased that and then applied the gum paste. I used a 60 degree blade, extended to a number 6 on my holder and a pressure of 22 with the speed at 800.
The small flowers are about 1cm across.

So the key seems to be to make the paste as stiff as you can possibly work it and make sure it can't move on the mat.  So maybe a really stiff fondant would work after all, I just know the one I use doesn't.

Maybe in winter I could even cut cookie dough but I think I'll give that a miss for now! Maybe a Christmas project.....:)

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