Gum Arabic, Gum tragacanth, CMC etc are all edible gums used in cake decorating. However, they all look very similar – white or off white powders sold in small plastic pots. Each gum has it’s own specific uses, which can lead to a little confusion. In this blog, I am going to talk about the lesser-known gum, in cake decorating terms, gum arabic.
Gum Arabic – a versatile natural product
I guess you wouldn’t expect that a substance used in incense, shoe polish and make-up could also be used to to help add sparkle and shine to your cakes. It’s an all-natural product, from the African Sahel, that has been used in cake baking and decorating for a very long time. It is possibly one of the worlds most useful finds and it’s usage dates back to antiquity.
Gum arabic, also known as gum acacia, chaar gund, char goond, meska or E414, is harvested from two types of wild Acacia trees found in the African Sahel from Senegal/Sudan to Somalia.
The Acacia Senegal and Acacia Seyal provide the hardened sap used to make this ingenious product. The gum makes up much of Sudan’s livelihood and is used in many everyday items without you knowing, in postage stamps, coca-cola, paints and fireworks.
Here’s how to use this versatile product in your baking and decorating:
Add gum Arabic powder to the dry ingredients when baking sponge cakes. Add 2 teaspoons of gum arabic to a 6 egg recipe. It will help the cake to rise and will add natural soluble fibre to your cake.
As a glue and glaze
Mix Gum Arabic powder with warm water (10ml/2tsp of Gum with 60ml/2fl oz of water) to create an edible glue for sticking sugar pieces together. It can also be used as a varnish for marzipan or sugarpaste. One layer of Gum will give a slight sheen and subsequent layers will build up to a very high gloss finish. Note, each layer must dry before applying the next layer. Gum arabic glue/glaze can be stored in an airtight jar in a refrigerator for a few months. Add a few drops of alcohol to the glaze to help increase its shelf life.
Kids love all things that glitter and we know secretly you adults do too. This is why it can be used for every occasion and all ages! Gum Arabic is the perfect ingredient to help add just that little extra sparkle, whether your a beginner or a cake baking pro! Click here to find out how.
More interesting facts
Gum arabic is a natural prebiotic and source of soluble dietary fibre (a complex polysaccharide). This means that humans cannot digest its carbohydrates.
To discover more about the other gums we cake decorators use, take a look at my ‘What is Gum Tragacanth? blog.
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