Have you heard of Pastillage? When talking to my students in class, or engaging in conversations with enthusiastic cake decorators on social media, I often find either no one has heard of it or that they have, but they think it’s a paste that’s bit perplexing. The questions I’m often asked include:
- What is pastillage?
- How and when do I use it?
- Where can I buy it?
- How do I make it – what is the recipe?
Pastillage is nothing new, it’s origins are said to date as far back as the 1700s. In simple terms, pastillage is a type of icing made of sugar. It is a paste, like a sugarpaste or modelling paste, but unlike other pastes, it dries extremely hard.
I use pastillage to make rigid sugar pieces that extend above or to the side of a cake or cupcake. In my cake decorating books, you can see pastillage pieces being used in all sorts of ways – can I suggest you take a look. I find it an extremely useful paste as it’s not affected by moisture the way other pastes are. It withstands a certain degree of humidity.
You can buy pastillage in a powdered form, to which you add water, but it is easy to make yourself. There are a number of recipes but this is the one I have always used, it is simple and quick to make and works a treat:
Ingredients Makes 350g (12oz)
1 egg white
300g (11oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
10ml (2 tsp) gum tragacanth
- Put the egg white into a large mixing bowl.
- Gradually add enough icing sugar until the mixture combines together into a ball.
- Mix in the gum tragacanth, and then turn the paste out on to a work board or work surface and knead the paste well.
- Incorporate the remaining icing sugar into the remainder of pastillage to give a stiff paste.
Store your pastillage in a polythene bag placed in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to one month.
NOTE: The paste crusts over very quickly when you are using it and it is brittle once dry, so make plenty of spares.
I hope the video above, which was originally filmed as a Facebook live broadcast, answers your questions. However, if you’d like to know more or would like to share your experiences please leave a comment in the box below.
Hoping you feel inspired.
Happy baking and decorating
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