Comparing Flower Pastes

As a teacher of sugarcraft I think it is really important for me to know about new and innovative products and techniques. I also believe in value for money. Sugarcraft can be a very expensive hobby. Admittedly once you have invested in a particular flower cutter or piece of equipment, it is yours for life but it is all the other little bits that add to the cost. For example, a pot of colour gel is approximately £2.50, depending upon where you buy it from. Yes, they last a relatively long time but that is still £2.50 for just one colour.

This was really brought home to me the other day when I was teaching a workshop to a High School Year 11 class. Although the school provided the bulk of the consumables I still took my tray of colour gel pots, dusting powders and spare sugarcraft tools with me. During our tea break I was sat talking to some of the most keen pupils and explaining what various tools were for and giving a rough cost estimate for various bits of kit. One of the boys then shocked me by telling me that I had in 68 pots of colour gel in the tray which, at approximately £2.50 each, meant that there was roughly £170 worth of equipment in that single tray of colours! I didn’t like to tell him I had even more at home!

I am very conscious when I am writing my sugarcraft courses that we reuse cutters as much as possible. For example the daffodil and freesia cutters are almost identical so I tell my class to buy one or the other, not both. I do not see any point in wasting money on cutters that are essentially the same. It is with cost in mind that I turned my thoughts to flowerpaste.

When I first started sugarcraft Squires flowerpaste was pretty much the only one available. Over the last few years. however, baking and sugarcraft has become the new Rock’n’Roll. Everywhere you look there are cake decorating magazines and cookery programmes. As a consequence the availability and variety of flowerpaste and sugarcraft equipment has significantly improved. For the purpose of this blog, however, I am going to concentrate upon the three “Big Names” in flowerpaste; Squires, the new kid on the block, Beau Products and our American friend, Satin Ice gum paste. There are, of course, many other manufacturers of flowerpaste, some better than others!

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For this blog, I looked at value for money, how easy it is to work with and how well the product keeps in the manufacturers packaging. Here are my findings:

Value for money

Manufacturer

Pack size (g)

Cost per unit (£)

Cost / 10g of product

Squires

200

4.25

21.25p

Beau

200

4.09

20.45p

Satin Ice

2500

20.99

8.4p

How easy is it to work with?

Manufacturer

Malleability

Ease of use

Drying out time

Squires

Paste is quite stiff until well kneaded

Rolls out well but dries out very quickly and cracks easily

Very quick. Most flowers are completely dry within a couple of hours

Beau

Very sticky paste as it is freshly made that needs a dusting of cornflour

Quite sticky to roll out but with cornflour you can roll it very thin.

Generally requires overnight to dry completely

Satin Ice

Lovely smooth paste. It feels tacky but not sticky

A little sticky to roll out but with cornflour you can roll it very thin.

Several hours

Packaging

Manufacturer

Type of packaging

How well does it keep?

Squires

Thin foil package with a press seal at the top.   Vacuum packed

Difficult to open and then difficult to seal   effectively. The paste dries out very quickly.

Beau

Small transparent plastic tub

The pot seals well and can be reused. As long as   the tub is not cracked and the lid is on tightly the paste keeps very well.

Satin Ice

Large white plastic tub and then wrapped in   plastic bag inside

As long as the lid is on tightly the paste keeps   excellently.

Any other information

Manufacturer

Other relevant information

Squires

Good range of colours.

Widely available

Brilliant for demonstrations and for beginners

Beau

Good range of colours that keep very well.

The finished product has a porcelain-like feel   to it.

Satin Ice

Smells of vanilla.

Very light weight finished product.

Only available in white so you have to colour it   which can be difficult for dark colours.

Not readily available in the UK as yet although   the number of suppliers is increasing.

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My recommendation

Having taken the time to assess these products, I feel that each has its own merits and downfalls. I have preferred to use Beau Products but in light of this blog, I think I will be using Satin Ice gum paste for all my future sugarcraft. It is good value for money and easy to work with. I just wish it was available in a range of colours.

UPDATE:

I have had a lovely conversation with the lady from Beau Products today. She has asked me to remind people not to use any Trex or fat with her products as it affects how they perform. If like me you use a lot of flowerpaste, Beau Products also offer very competitive prices if you open an account with them.

http://www.beauproducts.co.uk/

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Smartie Cookies

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I have had such a chaotic week! Monday my son had a hospital appointment; Tuesday I was teaching a workshop at the local high school; Wednesday my whippet, Felix, was taken into the vet hospital to have some more metalwork removed from his leg and I had a birthday cake to make, Thursday I had a Christening cake to make and I was teaching night school and Friday I had a birthday cake to make and my son had Hydrotherapy! So today I am having a pyjama day! I think I deserve one!

I am pottering around the house sorting out the washing, doing a bit of baking for us and singing along to the Carpenters on the radio, all whilst wearing my snow leopard print fleecy pyjama bottoms and my huge “I love my whippets” sweatshirt with my hair tied up in a very scruffy bun! It might not be cutting edge fashion but boy is it comfortable!

I thought I would have a go at this Smartie cookie recipe from Good Food Magazine today because it just looked fun! It was stupidly simple to make and I have to say the cookies are bloody gorgeous! Crispy on the outside and soft and gooey inside. And if you happen across an orange smartie, they are pure heaven!

Ingredients:

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan
  2. Place all the ingredients except the smarties into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix to a soft smooth dough
  4. Add the smarties
  5. This dough made 14-16 cookies when rolled into balls or formed with a mini-icecream scoop. DO NOT flatten the balls, just leave plenty of room between each cookie to allow spreading.
  6. Bake for 10-12 mins
  7. Leave on the tray for 5 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.