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Confusing cake decorating terms explained

Know your fondant from your frosting and your corn syrup from your confectioner's sugar.

by: Julie Donald | 21 Jul 2015

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about the various cake decorating terms, especially between South Africa and overseas websites and TV programmes.

So to put you out of your perplexity, here is my quick guide:

Fondant – in South Africa we call it plastic icing, sugar paste or ready to roll icing (note: fondant icing can also refer to a boiled sugar syrup icing used to coat petit fours and doughnuts).

Chocolate modelling paste – chocolate plastique, a mixture of chocolate and glucose, sugar paste can be added to help it to set.

Gum paste – there are a few commercially available gumpastes that you can get from speciality baking shops, or use royal icing thickened with CMC (known as Petal Paste).

Modelling paste – sugar paste treated with CMC or Tylose added, use for modelling people and animals.
Pastillage – Similar to modelling paste and gum paste but made with gelatine and glucose, it sets very hard and is used to make large hollow objects like boxes, tea cups and even bowls.

Almond paste – marzipan.

Corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup – glucose or liquid glucose.

Shortening – hard, white vegetable fat (Holsum).

Confectioner’s sugar – icing sugar.

Chocolate fudge icing – a simple butter icing, where the butter and sugar are cooked to give it a fudge-like taste.

Butter cream – can mean butter icing.

Custard creamcrème patisserie, pastry cream, is a custard thickened with flour or corn flour.

Frosting – icing.

Ganache – mixture of chocolate and cream can be used as icing or to make truffles.

Baking soda – bicarbonate of soda (note: this differs from baking powder).

Pound cake – a fairly solid cake similar to a Victoria sponge, the name comes from the recipe (1 pound each of sugar, butter, eggs and flour).

Cereal treats – Rice Krispie treats made with Rice Krispies and marshmallows, very light and easy to mould.

Crumb coat – a thin layer of icing to cover the cake, and trap all the crumbs, follow this up with your final, thicker layer.

Dirty icing – a layer of icing to coat the cake before covering with sugar paste.

Gum arabic – sap of the Acacia tree, used in gum paste, but difficult to get in SA.

Gum tragacanth – sap of Middle Eastern legume (Astralagus), used in gum paste, but also difficult to get in SA.

CMC - Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose Gum, man-made cellulose gum.

Tylose – CMC with dextrin added.

Dragées – metallic balls, or larger sugar coated chocolate beads.

Nonpareil – hundreds and thousands (literally means “having no equal”).

Also read: 10 insane cakes you need to make at least once.

Follow Julie Donald on Twitter @AskJulieDonald



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