Useful Guide of Sugar Pastes: Fondant, Gum paste, Mexican Modelling Paste, Pastillage…

Hi there,

Sometimes choosing between the  different sugar pastes can be confusing if we don’t know the exact qualities and purpose of each one.

So today I bring you a useful and helpful guide about the most popular sugar pastes used in cake decorating, from covering a cake to modelling sugar characters. Click on the following links to go straight away to the paste you’re interested in or continue reading this post to learn more about sugar pastes in general.


1) Sugarpaste = Rolled fondant = Ready to roll icing

2) Modelling paste

3) Gum paste = Florist paste

4) Mexican modelling paste

5) Pastillage

6) Marzipan

* Modelling chocolate

* Sugar Pastes: General Tips


1. Sugarpaste:

• Other names: rolled fondant, ready to roll icing.

• Qualities: soft and pliable like play-dooh, easy to roll out.

• Main uses:

♦ Covering cakes and boards (also cupcakes and cookies).

♦ Small details and basic figurines.

Cake Covered with Pink Sugarpaste + The Three Wise Men Cupcakes, made of sugarpaste details (

• Ingredients: Gelatine, water, glucose, glycerine, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ Cover your cakes JUST with sugarpaste (the softest one to eat), never with the other pastes.

♦ When modeling figurines and characters, rather than using just sugarpaste, many people prefer:

a) using a combination of 50% sugarpaste + 50% gum paste, since the figures keep their shape better and dry harder.

b) adding in some CMC* to get a basic modelling paste (more effective than just sugarpaste when modelling).

* CMC = carboxymethylcellulose

Some Brands: Rensaw, Culpitt, PME, Wilton, Silver Spoon, Satin Ice, Squires kitchen (SK), Dr Oetker, etc.

2) Modelling paste:

• Main uses: Modelling sugar figurines and novelty characters.

• Qualities: Firm but pliable, slight elastic texture, dries faster and harder than sugarpaste.

Modelling Paste Figurines (Resource:

• Ingredients: Simplest modelling paste: Sugapaste, CMC*.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: You can make your own modelling paste by adding 1 tsp CMC* to 225 g sugarpaste and kneading thoroughly.

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK), etc.

Useful information: CMC (carboxymethylcellulose), also known commercially as Tylose powder, is the synthetic alternative to tragacanth gum. They both have the same purpose: make the sugar paste firmer and easy to work with when modelling, as well as make it dry faster and harder. You can choose any of them, taking into consideration that  CMC works straight away, whilst tragacanth gum has to be left working overnight. So if you’re in a hurry, always better CMC.


3) Gum paste = florist paste

• Other names: Floral paste, flower paste, petal paste.

• Qualities: Flexible, pliable, dries very quickly, hard finish, holds its shape very well, can be rolled out thin like a paper.

• Main uses:

♦ Modelling realistic sugar flowers (you can roll out the petals as thin as needed).

Modelling professional sugar figurines and characters that keep a perfect shape.

Gum Paste Flowers and Figurine (Resources:,,

• Ingredients: Egg white, gelatin, water, tragacanth gum (or CMC), glucose, shortening, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ It can also be considered as a modelling paste, since it’s also useful to model sugar figurines, not just flowers. It’s important that you work quickly to prevent the gum paste from drying and cracking.

♦ When modelling, some people prefer using 50% gum paste + 50% sugarpaste instead of gum paste itself.  This option gives good results and it’s cheaper, as gum paste is more expensive than sugarpaste.

♦ Carlos Liscetti, a very well-know sugarcraft artist, suggests to use 50% gum paste + 50 % mexican modelling paste to model his amazing sugar characters.

♦ Never cover a cake with gum paste, as it dries too hard to eat. As I previously said, do it JUST with sugarpaste.

Some BrandsSquires Kitchen, Renshaw, Wilton, etc. (both ready to use pastes and powder mix)


4) Mexican modelling paste

• Qualities: Non sticky, smooth and hard finish (but soft enough to eat), can be rolled out ultra fine, less elastic than gum paste.

• Main uses:

♦ Making frills, drapes,  swagsgarlands, plaques(I usually use modelling paste or gum paste instead and it also works for me).

♦ Perfect to use with moulds and patchwork cutters (because it’s non sticky and can be rolled out paper thin).

♦ Fine sugar modelling work that requires a strong finish.

Mexican Modelling Paste Shoes (Resource:

• Ingredients: tragacanth gum, glucose, water, shortening, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: Carlos Liscetti, a very well-know sugarcraft artist, says to use 50% mexican paste + 50 % gum paste to model his amazing sugar characters.

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK).


5) Pastillage

• Qualities: Less flexible, dries rock hard and extremely quick, keeps shapes perfectly, durable results, more resistant to humidity than other sugar pastes.

• Main uses:

Buildings, furniture, sturdy structures, rigid flat pieces (walls, fences…), architectural details, etc.

♦ Appliqués, plaques, 3D objects (cylindres, boxes…).

Pastillage Castle and Wardrobe (Resources:,

• Ingredients:  

Pastillage type 1) Egg whites, gum tragacanth (or CMC), icing sugar.

Pastillage type 2*) Gelatin, water, icing sugar. 

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ Work fast, as it dries extremely quickly.

♦ Despite this paste contains edible ingredients, it’s better not to eat the figures which are made of pastillage, as it’s completely hard and I’m sure you don’t want to break your teeth ; )

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK) Powder Mix.

 * Pastillage type 2 is known is Spain as pastillaje Filipino. It can be done by also adding some CMC. 


6) Marzipan

 • Other names: Rolled marzipan

• Qualities: Soft and easy to handle.

• Main uses:

♦ Covering rich fruit cakes (it’s the previous step to icing them with sugarpaste).

♦ Modelling basic shapes,  figurines,  flowers…

Rich Fruit Cake Covered With Marzipan + Marzipan animals (Resources:,

• Ingredients: Almonds, egg whites, sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: Watch out for the nut allergies!

Some Brands: Silver Spoon, Dr Oetker, etc.


Modelling Chocolate *

Modelling chocolate, also known as candy clay or chocolate plastique, is not exactly a sugar paste, as it’s just made of two ingredients (melted chocolate and golden syrup (UK) or corn syrup (US)), but you can also cover cakes and model figurines with this sweet dough.


Modelling Chocolate Cake and Figurines (Resource:

General Tips

 COLOURING: There are both plain and coloured sugar pastes in the market. Anyway, all they can be coloured as you wish at home by adding some food colouring (I recommend gel/paste ones) and kneading thoroughly.


♦ Whilst working and modelling: Keep the pieces of paste that you’re not using in a closed polyethilene bag to prevent them from drying. Take one piece at a time, depending on how much paste you need every time.

♦ Leftover pastes: Keep them tightly wrapped in a polyethilene bag (“zip lock”, reclosable bag) inside an airtight container at room temperature (except marzipan, which has to be kept in the fridge). They can keep in good conditions for few months (just 1 month for pastillage).

I hope you find this guide useful! Don’t hesitate to check it every time you need it.

See you soon,


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45 thoughts on “Useful Guide of Sugar Pastes: Fondant, Gum paste, Mexican Modelling Paste, Pastillage…

  1. Oh my God! This guide is so helpful I cannot even tell you. I’ve always wondered about the differences between all of these but do not use them enough to have wanted to of researched. Now I can come on here and reference this whenever I need to which is just so awesome! I. Love. This. Post!


    • Thxxx Tom! Sure! You’ll be always welcome to my blog. It’s always nice to read your comments!

      I’m also translating this guide to Spanish because this topic is even less known in Spain than here.

      Take care mi chico!


  2. TY soooo much, I am trying to learn this so I have the summer to help my 11yr old friends daughter make cakes and cupcakes to sell for her friends Bday parties! I thank you again and again! You’re very sweet for doing this!

  3. I stumbled upon this brilliant clear and concise explanation, I love it…have bookmarked it for future reference, thanks very much.

  4. Hi there i love this guide. Could you possibly help me with quantities. For making pastillage (type2) i roughly need around 500g of pastillage so how much icing sugar/gelatin/water should i use. I remember making it in college years ago but that’s about it.
    many thanks.

    • Hi Janet,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Try with 500 g icing sugar / 7 g neutral gelatin / 6 tbsp cold water.

      My best,


  5. Hi , you are indeed the best of the bests, you just solve some of my problems with your concise explanation. please i will love to ask what is the quantity of CMC to use for making sugar-paste of 500g icing sugar. thank you

    love your site so much.

    • Hi Elisabeth,

      Thanks for your nice comments!!

      Adding CMC to your home made sugarpaste recipe is optional, but highly recommended, specially in humid climates. I have a recipe that asks for 1 tbsp of CMC per 1 kg of icing sugar. So in your case, add 1 1/2 tsp CMC to 500 g icing sugar.

      I hope it helps.


  6. Hi, I have been asked to make my sister’s wedding cake, and I’m no pro baker by any stretch of the imagination. But icwant it to look the best I can. I have found some cutters that I want to use to make some.butterflies. It says to use gum paste, and a spray (think it’s called pearl base?). But I wanted.them to be edible so there was no worry about cutting etc. Would Mexican paste be ok for this as they are quite delicate so need to hold the shape well, but be soft enough to eat. Would I still need to use the spray on the cutter do you think?
    thank you

    • Hi Judy,

      I’d use gum paste rather than Mexican paste to make the butterflies. I’d leave them to dry for several days before attaching to the cake. I’d spray them once dry.


  7. Hi sweetie,u just made my day.I’ve always asked d difference btw pastillage and gumpaste and no one seemed to satisfy me.You just explained it thoroughly.Thanks a million.

  8. Thank you for explaining different models of paste, I am so desperate to understand and get my models correct as I am a novice but love doing unusual cakes for my friends. I have to do a dance studio theme based on Dance Moms and have no idea what to use for the figures which the little girl wants doing all sorts of poses i.e. hand stand, backward bend, standing on one leg! I said yep no problem can do then after aaaaahhhhhhh. Would you use CNC with Fondant then to make gum paste to make the figures stronger enough to stand up in different positions And also to make a large mirror would you make it out of pastillage. Any help would be gratefully received. And Thanks Again I am subscribing to your wonderful site. Sue

    • Hi Susy,

      Gum paste would be OK to make those figurines. You can hold different ballerina positions by inserting a toothpick on their legs, arms, etc. when the paste is still soft. Hope it helps!


      • Thank you I did it! it was so hard to do and I bought the book you mentioned to give me some ideas on how to proportion the figures, I had a few laughs with my mum and managed to do 3 figures not quite as upstanding but my last figure of Abbey Lee Miller came out the best. Thank Thank Thank, I really appreciated your reply and love your site. Shame I Couldn’t send you a picture, its was not a professional cake but Ellie loved it and so did all the other girls. It tasted great though! Thanks again Chick xxxx sue XXXX

  9. Thanks so much,I just graduated from catering school and am still having problems with my cake decorations. Am having tough time in the modelling aspects, and now with your explanations and help I hope I will improve for best.thanks a lot.

  10. Hi! Iam doing a flower with satin ice gumpaste but cant dry, humedity is ver y higt 67%. Can i add
    cmc? Pelease can You help me?
    Thank youuuuuu!!

    • Hi there! Yes, you can add as much CMC to your gumpaste as you need! Work fast because it’ll dry and crack really quickly. Regards.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing all of your helpful information. I make unique cakes for fun and this taught me a lot! :)

  12. Thanks for this wonderful explanations, find it difficult to differentiate before but i believe i have learnt alot now but please in the pastillage type 1 what quantity of egg white and cmc can i use for 500g of icing sugar, pls can you help.

  13. Hi Chets
    Many thanks for such a great site, very helpful and informative!
    Can I please pick your brains? I have been making figures to go on my children’s cakes for years but they are awful! I have been using ordinary fondant or marzipan and was advised to roll in some tragacanth but my figures are so brittle that they fall apart.
    I am in the U.K. and have not seen Tylose on sale here. I can’t use gelatin (vegetarians) and wonder if you can suggest anything to make pliable figures, please?
    Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Lindy, tylose (or CMC) is easy to find in the UK at professional cake shops or if you order it online. Regards, Sara

  14. Many thanks, I didn’t realise it was so available in the U.K!

    I’ll go and buy some for my next children’s birthday cake – they’ll be delighted if ‘their’ arms don’t snap and fall off (as they have always done)!

    Thanks again.

  15. GREAT information and very helpful. I want to make a very large, shaped, cookie ( 20” x 8”) with hand painted icing. I have used Royal Icing before, but wonder if Marzipan or another of these pastes would be more substantial? It needs to be completely edible and TASTY too. It needs to be as good a surface to “ paint” on ( using gel food color and vodka medium) as an eggless Royal Icing I have used. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Julie,

      Just thinking if the marzipan will release its oils if it’s too warm or humid around… And then it could spoil the painting?? I’m not sure about it, but it’s a possibility. The safest way to do it would be with royal icing (let it dry completely before painting on top). For me royal icing tastes good (much better than fondant, which I personally hate to eat). Hope you find the best way to do it! Let me know how it goes. Regards x

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