Monday, October 21, 2013

Fondant Pumpkin Tutorial (Halloween Cupcakes)

I have had a few people ask me to post the tutorial from these Halloween Cupcakes, both in person and in a few comments left on the actual post. They might seem like a lot of work, but, it all honestly, it is VERY simple.

Icing Gel
Gum Paste

I like to use a combination of gum paste and fondant when making shapes because they hold up better, don't crack, etc... All around, it makes a much better looking topper. You could just do it with fondant, and I have in the past, but now I prefer to use a mixture of gum paste and fondant. I use about 30% gum paste and 70% fondant. Gum paste can be found at JoAnnsAmazon, some Walmarts, etc... You will need to dye some orange fondant/gum paste compound and a TINY bit of brown and green fondant/gum paste compound (I use this gel. Liquid dyes will make your fondant far too runny. The gels can be found at Walmart, JoAnns, Amazon, etc...)

To make the pumpkins, you do NOT need any fancy things. If you do not have one of the mats that you see in many of my pictures, you can use parchment paper or powdered sugar. I do not use any fancy tools. The main tools I used were actually a handful of toothpicks.

Once you have your colored fondant/gum paste compound rip off a chunk of the orange one (depending on the desired size of your pumpkin). Roll it into a ball between your hands. Using your toothpick, roll it top to bottom to create indents. Repeat about 8 times around your pumpkin.
DO NOT WORRY if your pumpkin is totally lopsided. This is normal. Reshape with your fingers. This will mush all your perfect lines together slightly. Once again, do not worry. Go around your pumpkin one more time with your toothpick. Following the same steps as the first time around, you will rock the toothpick from top to bottom (this time in the same track that is already there) to make nice defined groves.

By this time, your pumpkin should be nicely shaped with distinct and defined grooves. Remember, pumpkins are not perfect and every pumpkin will be slightly different. Next, you are going to make the green swirls. Roll out a small ball of the green fondant/gum paste compound between your hand and pointer finger as shown below. Make sure that it stays even throughout.

Cut the end off with a knife (or pizza cuter or fondant cuter) to make a straight edge then cut each piece about 1 inch long (I have these nifty 1-inch squares on my work surface but you can just estimate). Wrap the green "rope" around your toothpick. I fit 2-3 green swirls around each toothpick. Do not press the green swirl too tightly to the toothpick or it will stick. Just loosely wrap it and allow to dry.

 Roll a small ball of the brown fondant/gum paste using the same technique as you did with the green fondant/gum paste compound but much thicker. Press one end onto your finger to make it slightly thicker. Set aside. Gently press down the tops of all the pumpkins to create a base for your green swirl and stem. Mix water and gum tex (if you have it, if not just use water) and paint (or just use your finger) a TINY drop onto the top center. Place one end of your green swirl on the top of the pumpkin. Press in slightly.

Just as you painted (or used your finger) a TINY drop of your water mixture onto the top of your pumpkins, do the same thing but now on top of the edge of your green swirl.

Place the fat part of the stem onto the edge of the green swirl. Gently press down around the edges. Cut off the top of the stem based on your desired length (I prefer short stems and I like the look that the cut gives).

Fix any indents that you see and there you have it! You're very own fondant/gum paste pumpkin!

I like my green swirls to free stand (not be resting on the pumpkin), so I prop the droopy ones up with toothpicks for a little bit while they dry (another benefit of using some gum paste with your fondant is that your green swirls, and everything for that matter, dry very quickly and are much less brittle).

 Random Tips:
1. Do not use too much water. It will make your fondant sticky and your green swirls could break.
2. If you do not like what you see, just make another one. I usually 20% more than I will need so I can pick the best ones.
3. As my mom always tells me (and I don't really believe but am working on), perfect isn't pretty. The pumpkins look best with a little "character."
4. Making things out of fondant is just a glorified version of kids playing with play dough.
5. A little pressure goes a long ways. You don't have to hold your pumpkins with much force. In addition, slight pressure can reshape your entire pumpkin, for the good or bad.
6. Make a few extra green swirls. At least one is bound to break.
7. I think deeper grooves look better. Don't be afraid to make deep/defined grooves with your toothpick. They also photograph better as well.
8. Leave comments with your thoughts and questions. I will answer them as quickly as I can.

Special post with the Spiders from these Halloween Cupcakes.

Guess what? I FINALLY got a nice real deal camera. This is the first post that I have tried using it. It is safe to say that I am HORRIBLE at taking photos with it. Fear not, I will get better. If any of you have any good tips, please pass them along. I need all the help that I can get. Anyone know how to get rid of the graininess in my pictures? I read somewhere that it is from having your iOS too high? I have been only shooting in Manual and Raw because that is what everyone tells me I should do. I'm hoping that will pay off in the long run. Ha! But really, I will improve! Thanks for bearing with me in the meantime.

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