Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Episode 2 of my hints and tips
Term is just about to start, and this topic always comes up.
What equipment should I buy?
Let's talk about the absolute essentials here. The things you can't do without.
PME Modelling Tools
I make no bones in saying, always buy branded. If you buy unbranded counterfeit tools you cannot guarantee they are even safe to use with edibles, and they break easily.
These PME tools were created for sugarcrafters using food grade materials. I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the talented sugarcrafters that helped create these tools, AND................ they come with a 10 year PME warranty included. It breaks, get in touch with PME (conditions apply).
These are the tools that can help you make, well.....................everything!
From sugar flowers, modelled figures to beautiful cake side designs.
I also have a selection of Cerart modelling tools for those creating more detailed models and these will be on the website shop soon. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org if there is a particular tool you are looking for in the meantime.)
2. A rolling pin
Ah, now here, no link is needed. You can pick up a rolling pin from any supermarket or sugarcraft shop. Wooden, marble, granite, stainless steel, polyethylene.......
The only advice I will give is,
* for small items a short rolling pin is easier to roll the paste thinner faster, average size is 6" long. (very tiny rolling pins also exist purely for this purpose)
* for covering cakes, a longer pin leaves less marks, such as the plain white straight polyethylene rolling pins (eg 20" long).
BUT you can also use a handled rolling pin to great effect.
My first rolling pin was a wooden rolling pin with handles that you can still buy very cheaply and is great for both pastry and icing. Now, I have a solid granite version (you may see the marble ones very often) and I have a very snazzy Cerart version with removable handles for travelling tutors. So, You can choose your budget here.
3. Work board
If you are just starting off, a simple smooth plastic chopping board with no texture is great.
What board you buy is determined by what you are going to use it for.
Making sugar flowers, or modelled figures
I would always buy a grooved board if I wanted to make both sugar flowers and modelled figures, because as well as the grooved side for wired leaves and petals, the reverse smooth side could be used for rolling out paste to cut out petals and shapes and for general modelling.
These come in various sizes, so you can shop around for small or large, totally up to you. (I have linked to small here 20 x 12cms)
We use these in class.
Great for protecting your table at home and doesn't weigh anything if you want to take it with you (although, keep the bag it comes in as it is handy to transport around in).
They have measurements on to help you know both how large to roll out the paste and how much you need.
I pop some non slip matting underneath to stop them moving around
Now you will often hear me talking about a cornflour puff. These can be simply made by using a new cotton hanky, or muslim square, (I use baby nappy liners) adding a teaspoon of cornflour to the centre, and tying into a bundle with a ribbon or sandwich bag tie.
Of course you can buy them too.
You can buy this ready made too from cake shops, but you can also make your own which works out far more cost effective in the long run.
The brands I recommend are Squires Kitchen, Rainbow Dust, Saracino, Classikool refill bags. (some call it Tylo, but that is the brand and CMC - carboxymethylcelluslose is the product) - the hardener to turn sugarpaste into modelling paste
The ratio is 1 part CMC to 37 parts of water.
Or 1/4 tsp of CMC to 50mls of water.
There are so many brands. Just read the label to make sure they are edible.
Some colours are labelled as craft colours - non edible non toxic. This means they can be used for removable items rather than the cake surface or items that are meant to be eaten.
If you are just starting out, I have a set of my 10 favourite dust colours for sale in my online shop by Fractal Colors. (I also sell black and white separately)
Other brands I like are Squires Kitchen, Rainbow Dust, Saracino and Sugarcel.
There are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many colours out there, you could never buy them all, that is why I tend to list the colours we are going to use on the equipment list and you can buy them bit by bit.
Another minefield I am afraid. There are all sorts of pastes in cake decorating.
Sugarpaste - for covering cakes, they call it Fondant in the US (in the UK fondant is what you find on fondant fancies). - There are more brands than you can shake a stick at and all are different. There is no bad sugarpaste, you just need to learn how to use them.
- For sculpted cakes I like regular Renshaws decor ice/covering paste. (but you can also use supermarket icing if you add 1 level tsp of CMC per 1kg to improve the time it sets in)
- For sharp Edges I like Renshaws Extra or Satin Ice or Squires Kitchen Professional or Saracino pasta top.
Then the other types of paste:
- For modelling I love Saracino pasta model (modelling paste)
- For Sugar flowers I love Squires Kitchen sugar florist paste, but simply heaven is fab too.
- Modelling chocolate I love Life in sugar the chocolate bar (I tend to mix half in half with saracino modelling paste for my favourite blend)
- Air drying clay - this is for flowers that will last forever, I buy mine from www.artistasoft.co.uk heartysoft deluxe white (I colour it with my gel colours and a fresh cocktail stick never double-dipped. (This paste needs a barrier between the product and the surface of the cake such as a piece of wafer paper, or make wired flowers that stand away from the cake)
So where can you buy all these things?
Most you need to buy from specialists such as a cake shop. My local is https://www.thevanillavalley.co.uk
You can also buy them from Amazon.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
I have suggested a few items, but browse away.