Sugary Sunday Part: Monkey Gumpaste Figurines
Now that we finished making the cupcakes in part 1 now we move on trying to replicate this guy.
Here’s the final product.
First thing is that I had to figure out if these monkeys were intended for decoration only or for consumption. Fondant is for eating and gumpaste is for looking pretty. Also, I use toothpicks usually to hold the heads up so it’s good to know ahead of time how easily it will need to be removed.
Gumpaste is what you normally see used to make those hard realistic leaves and flowers on cakes at weddings. You can roll and mold it into very fine and thin pieces and it will hold its shape. It dries out very quickly so usually I keep any pieces that I am saving to work on under a small bowl to keep them from drying out.
I use the Satin Ice brand because it comes in big tubs which are cheaper. For a beginner, you can buy gumpaste to start at Michael’s and the price is good if you have a 40% off coupon from their email list. This stuff is technically edible but it is chewy, doesn’t taste so great but it’s a bit sweet, and frankly I don’t think it’s very good for your gastrointestinal system.
You can make flowers like these and there are lots of tutorials online.
Fondant is usually used to cover wedding and birthday cakes for a smooth finish. It is also good for figurine making but it takes longer to harden and it is harder to make small or thin pieces. If the figurines are intended for consumption then I’ll use fondant instead of gumpaste.
Colouring gumpaste or fondant
Orange wiltons gel colouring added to the gumpaste with a toothpick – made the night before I plan to make my figurines so I can see the colour darken overnight and add any if I need to.
Making the figurines
Using orange gumpaste we have just coloured and also white or a slight beige gumpaste I have already made.
I work on parchment paper which doesn’t stick to the gumpaste.
I usually will make a sketch and then a trial figurine. Once I’m happy with the trial I’ll weigh it so I can know how much gumpaste to allot for each piece.
Another way of making sure your limbs are even is to roll your gumpaste into a snake shape and then divide it evenly into the number of pieces you need. No weighing needed but visually super easy to do.
Using fondant glue or just water with a very fine paintbrush to attach the parts. Fondant glue is a small piece of fondant dissolved with a few drops of water.
Parts include oval head, trapezoid body all made of orange plus 2 long arms, 2 short legs, and a tail all with white gumpaste blended in at the end. You take the long piece for your limb and at the end place a small piece of white (about the size of a piece of Nerd candy) and then roll them together a few times in your palm. The warmth will melt them together quite seamlessly.
The only tools I really use are my hands plus rounded and pointed toothpicks. Honestly the hardest part to do is putting on the ears and making sure they don’t fall off.
I break a toothpick in half and stick it into the body first and then the head on top. Also remember to use some water or fondant glue under the head.
For the ears take a small orange ball and indent with rounded toothpick then place even smaller white ball inside and repeat with rounded toothpick. Pinch off the pointy tip and then stick the rounded ear onto the head, using glue or water as mentioned below and your toothpicks to apply pressure. My sister in law uses tweezers but I like using toothpicks and my fingers instead.
I use Wilton Edible Food Writers (food colouring pens) fine tip to draw on the eyes and mouth. This part makes me the most nervous because there is no easy redo unless you take the head off and do it all over again.
Here is the group of monkeys I made (it’s about 3am by the time I’m finished – can’t start until the kids are asleep).
I placed them all on disc of orange gumpaste and then onto squares of parchment paper.
This is the part that strikes fear into any baker. Even if you make it how do you get it there in one piece?
I pack all the figurines on parchment squares in individual gladware or tupper containers. Right before I load them into the car (after they have been drying at least overnight) I gently pack a bit of paper towel around each one to prevent shifting.
Then I load them onto a baking tray lined with a silpat (either use silicone or a wet towel to prevent slipping around in the car).
Onto the cupcakes I made in Part 1 of this post.
I use a Cupcake Courier and I love it. My sister in law/baking partner JL managed to find them at our local Winner’s store (kind of like Ross but with household stuff in addition to clothes) for about $25 Cdn each – steal!
The only downside is there are no trays so far for mini cupcakes. I will have to use my cricut to cut out some plastic adapter sheets later on.
This handy thing fits perfectly in my trunk with one of the third row seats half folded.
Delivery and Set Up
Managing to slow way down around corners and trying to choose the least steep streets to my destination, I finally made it. Mad rush since the Olympic torch was coming down this street in less than 90 minutes and I wanted to be out of there before traffic got too busy.
I brought my ceramic cake stands for set up as well and birthday boy’s mommy (who is also the sister of a long time friend) swore to keep my stands safe.
Final set up – Birthday Boy’s mommy almost cried, like full on “this is just what I wanted” tears. That made staying up until 3:3oam totally worth it.
I’ll be updating my Flickr cupcake pics very soon and send out a shout when they’re up.
Enjoy and let me know if you have questions.
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