Mexican Paste is a soft fondant type paste ideal for cutting out shapes and modelling. It is better than fondant or flower paste in that it does not stretch or lose it’s shape when transferring the cut out shapes to the drying board. This makes it excellent for making plaques and also for using with patchwork cutters.
It is very easy to make as it is basically icing with Gum Tragacanth. Patchwork powder is commercially available, but it is so easy and much cheaper to make your own. Gum Tragacanth is the ingredient which makes the paste dry very hard and stops it stretching when handling the freshly cut shapes. CMC is a Gum Tragacanth alternative by ‘Sugarcel’ and is ideal for vegetarians. CMC can be used in exactly the same quantities as Gum Tragacanth.
8 oz (226 grams) Sifted Icing Sugar
3 x 5ml teaspoons Gum Tragacanth (or CMC)
6 x 5ml teaspoons Cold Water
Stir the gum Tragacanth (or CMC) into the sifted icing sugar and add the cold water. Stir well until most of the icing sugar is incorporated. At this point it is best to just get your hands in and keep kneading until you have one lump of icing. Once you have reached this point, keep kneading until you have a smooth ball of Mexican Paste. It does take a little time and may seem impossible to incorporate all the dry icing sugar, but do not despair and do not be tempted to add more water as it will eventually become smooth.
Wrap the Mexican paste up in cling film and seal in an air tight bag for 24 hours.
Lighly oil a clean surface and take the Mexican paste (which will have become very firm) and knead until soft again. Cut a piece off and reseal the remaining. Roll out the paste on the oiled surface until it is very thin.
At this point you can use any shape cutter you wish to create the required shapes. Lightly oil the cutters before use as this makes it easier to release the shape and also creates a smoother edge. Place the cut out shapes onto a clean board to harden in a dry room.
Once dry they can be coloured either by spraying, painting with food colour or dusting with petal dust mixed with a little cornflour.
Mexican past shapes can be kept for weeks in a cardboard box (an old chocolate box is ideal) in a dry room. Do not store the shapes in a sealed container as they will become soft.
Unused Mexican Paste will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months provided it is double sealed and airtight.