Mexican Paste

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.

Recipe

8 oz (226 grams) Sifted Icing Sugar
3 x 5ml teaspoons Gum Tragacanth (or CMC)
6 x 5ml teaspoons Cold Water

To Make

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.

To Use

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.

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Posted by: Sheila | 11-10-2008 | 09:11 PM
Posted in: Cake Decorating | Tutorials

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92 Comments »

  1. Oh thank you Sheila, I am going to try a 3D effect, I’m not too bad at the toppers, but this is my first bike, if it isn’t a success, I will try the decoupage effect, and must remember that for future reference, Many thanks again, am just rolling out the paste :)
    Ger

    Comment by Ger — 21 May, 2012 @ 2:24 pm
  2. @Lindsay I am not sure why you added glucose as this will prevent the Mexican Paste drying out properly and will keep it soft. When making the Paste it is best to use a 5 ml measure (a medicine spoon will do) to ensure you get the correct 6 x teaspoons of water you require. After you have mixed all the ingredients together it is important to knead it thoroughly until you have a soft smooth ball before putting into a bag in an airtight container for the night (I usually watch a TV programme whilst kneading it). The next day, knead it thoroughly again until it is once more soft and smooth. At this point it should be very easy to roll out using a rolling pin and not have to resort to a pasta maker.

    Comment by Sheila — 23 May, 2012 @ 9:48 pm
  3. Hi Sheila

    I’m planning to use cream-coloured sugar paste to ice my daughter’s wedding cake and want to attach some fans around the side, made out of your Mexican Paste recipe. How would I make the Mexican Paste cream-coloured instead of white? Also, would edible glue be the best way to attach the fans?
    Thanks for the recipe and the above useful tips.

    Comment by Maureen Wood — 15 June, 2012 @ 11:02 pm
  4. @Maureen. You can colour the Mexican paste once you have made it and before leaving it overnight. Use the paste colours as these are very vivid and you do not add extra liquid. Alternatively you could paint them once you have made the fans and they are dry. Edible glue is a good at gluing Mexican paste pieces and does not discolour them. However, depending on the size of the fans you may have problems with them sliding down the side of the cake before the glue is dry. In such cases I have used a small blob of Royal Icing. Make sure the icing is very firm but still able to be piped. Put some in a piping bag with a ‘writing nozzle’ and pipe small blobs on the cake where you want to set the fans and then gently push the fans onto the icing.

    Comment by Sheila — 16 June, 2012 @ 1:34 pm
  5. Such detailed info and helpful answers. Just trying to decorate my 1st cake. thanks

    Comment by cher — 6 August, 2012 @ 8:20 am
  6. Thank you so much for sharing ths information. I’ve just bought some Tappits letters & saw I needed to use Mexican paste. Made this yesterday & did the letters this afternoon.It is so easy, quick & cheap to make. I had no trouble with the letters sticking or breaking. I’m going to try freezing the left over paste to use later.

    Once agin a huge thank you.

    Comment by Roberta Taylor — 9 August, 2012 @ 11:11 pm
  7. @Roberta Glad you found the article useful. I have successfully frozen the remaining paste many times.

    Comment by Sheila — 16 August, 2012 @ 9:26 pm
  8. I am excited to try this Mexican Paste, but I do not have any gum tragacanth. I have super gum can I use this and how much should I use. Can’t seem to find this gum tragacanth in Jamaica.

    Comment by Rosie — 1 October, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
  9. @Rosie. Super Gum is he same as Gum Tragacanth and can be used in the same proportions.

    Comment by Sheila — 7 October, 2012 @ 4:50 pm
  10. Hi thank you for all that you have already shared this is great stuff and have learnt a lot from your site. Was wondering if i could use Tylopur (cellogen) instead of Tragacanth for the mexican paste or are they totally different things.

    Comment by Rachel — 26 November, 2012 @ 7:08 pm
  11. @Rachel. Tylopur (cellogen) is the same as Tragacanth, it is just the trade names that differ.

    Comment by Sheila — 26 November, 2012 @ 9:41 pm
  12. Hi there, pleeeze help!! i want to make a figure about 6 inches high. I have mixed CMC powder directly to the sugarpaste and coloured it up and used it instantly but it wont set and it stays semi soft. It failed and when i picked the model up the legs slowly cracked and fell off. I then mixed ready made shop bought flower paste with sugar paste and the same has happened.Is the combinations inadequate or the figures legs too heavy/bulky? sorry, i am a bit sketchy. Shall i use pure flower paste and also pure mexican paste to do this figure. Im desperate and need it in two weeks for a cake. Thankyou.

    Comment by Jackie — 27 November, 2012 @ 8:47 pm
  13. @Jackie. There are a couple of issues here. One is that sugar-paste is not designed to set rock hard so adding CMC will make if firmer but not enough to make a large figure. You do not say whether this figure is 2D or 3D. If it is 2D then Mexican paste is best as this is designed for larger models whereas sugar-paste is very brittle and better for small delicate items such as flowers. If the figure is 3D then sugar-paste is best with the CMC mixed in it. The second issue is that you need to leave this mixture overnight in the same way as you would flower-paste and Mexican paste. You will also need to leave a large figure at least 3 days, uncovered and in a warm room, before lifting it to ensure it is completely dried out. I place my figures on a board dusted with cornflour and just slide them gently each day to stop them sticking as they dry. I use a net cake cover to stop them getting dusty.

    Comment by Sheila — 27 November, 2012 @ 10:04 pm
  14. Thankyou for your feed back and so prompt too! !My figure is 3D and should be sitting with one leg crossed over the other at the knee with a guitar across it and the arms will be placed appearing to be holding the guitar. I think i will mix in the gum powder ingredient CMC?, Trag?, or Tylo? into the fondant and leave it overnight to see what happens. I will also make a guitar out of pure flower paste? or try out your recipe for mexican paste? Will i need spaghetti to hold any body parts intact other than one running through its body down through its head?! Also do you think there are any benefits to painting it with gel colours when its dry rather than adding it directly?
    I appreciate your patience!!

    Comment by Jackie — 27 November, 2012 @ 11:34 pm
  15. @Jackie. I think what you propose is sound. I do not think you will need to hold any other body parts intact but you could use edible glue to ensure everything stays in place. I would definately paint the figure with gel colours once it is dry. You get much sharper colours and also the colouring, (especially dark ones) affect the texture of the fondant/paste.

    Comment by Sheila — 28 November, 2012 @ 9:09 am
  16. Oh thanks, Ok im gonna go for it and start asap! I will let you know if i succeed or even send an image if the results are acceptable!? Thanks again, its so nice to get support as i am struggling to get advice. Thanks again

    Comment by Jackie — 28 November, 2012 @ 5:14 pm
  17. @Jackie. I would love to see an image of your finished project.

    Comment by Sheila — 29 November, 2012 @ 11:14 pm
  18. Hi Sheila, I am so glad I found your site. Reading about the Mexican Paste here has been so helpful. Thank you. I just have a couple of questions that I hope you can help me with. 1) can you apply Mexican paste to a buttercream covered cake? If so, 2) is it better to apply it before you transport or after. I want to hang lace (made with MP & mold) from the cake. (I know if I make the lace first and cover it with plastic and air tight contianer it will stay soft until I can apply it.)
    Thanks ever so much
    Del

    Comment by Del — 7 December, 2012 @ 1:37 pm
  19. Mexican Paste will go soft if applied directly to butter-cream and if it is a large piece will ‘wilt’. If the cake is going to be displayed and used within a couple of hours of decorating it, then you will be able to get away with placing it directly onto butter-cream otherwise you will need some sort of barrier between them.

    Comment by Sheila — 7 December, 2012 @ 9:19 pm
  20. Sheila, Thank you for that info. Do you think if I put ribbon ans a barrier it would work?
    Thanks again
    Del

    Comment by Del — 8 December, 2012 @ 3:44 pm
  21. I think a ribbon barrier would work very nicely. The only other problem you may have is if you try to store the finished cake in a sealed container as the moisture from the buttercream would soften the Mexican Paste. I always store my finished cakes in cardboard cake boxes, this keeps them clean but also allows the air in. The cakes will not dry out if they are completely covered in buttercream or icing.

    Comment by Sheila — 8 December, 2012 @ 11:01 pm
  22. Hi there again and a happy new year to you!! I asked you a short while ago about making a figure with sugarpaste and adding some of the “gums” to strengthen it? I put CMC in one batch of my sugarpaste and Gum trag in another and left them overnight in sealed air tight bags. I then coloured the legs and body using a small amount of dry petal powder. The Trag seemed easier to work with and i got a nice even colour by adding a small amount of petal powder to get a nice pale shade. I have never used this before but i really liked it. I also made your mexican paste recipe and successfuly made a guitar using a patchwork cutter. I added paprika gel food colour to make the face and hands. I was really pleased and for me, I realised that it is better to prepare my sugarpaste with Trag or CMC the night before and then colour it up after. I took photos but dont know how to download them to you as i was so excited and i was hoping to show you my first attempt of a figure!! Thanks anyway and im sure i will be in touch again for advice about my other projects. Regards Jackie

    Comment by Jackie — 6 January, 2013 @ 12:11 am
  23. @Jackie. Hi, I would love to see the pictures. Please e-mail them to share@cakefrills.co.uk. With your permission I would like to display them in a visitors gallery for others to see.

    Comment by Sheila — 6 January, 2013 @ 9:54 pm
  24. Hi. I Want to cut out letters to make my son’s name and decorate the side of his birthday cake with it. The cake will be a round sponge covered in fondant icing. Will it work if I make the letters out of Mexican paste? Will the letters set too hard to attach to the curved sides of a cake? I assume they will need to harden before attaching? Do I need to consider changing to a square cake? Will the letters attach with icing? l have never used Mexican paste before!
    Susan

    Comment by susan — 11 March, 2013 @ 1:28 pm
  25. @ Susan. Mexican paste is ideal for very delicate letters as it can be used in very small cutters without stretching. If the cake is already decorated you could attach the still soft letters to the cake with a little edible glue (available from cake decorating shops or on line for about £2.00) and they would then mould to the shape of the cake. If the letters are allowed to dry, they become very hard and can still be attached with edible glue and would stand out against the side of the cake. Either effect would look good. If you have quite large letter cutters, you could consider using fondant icing. This comes ready made in a variety of colours and is easy to use. Care needs to be taken not to stretch the letters as you remove them from the cutters and I tend to leave them to dry slightly for about ten minutes before attaching to the cake. The shapes will still mould to the side of the cake, but keep their shape. You can attach fondant with edible glue, royal icing or just a little cooled boiled water applied with a small paint brush.

    Comment by Sheila — 11 March, 2013 @ 9:53 pm
  26. Managed to make some Mexican Paste, Yipee!! It took some time and some kneading and I thought that it was never going to combine to make the paste, but it was worth it in the end. The paste did not accept the colouring willingly and took a lot of work and a lot of kneading. I also did use some glucose syrup in the mix. I think that next time, I will try it with two spoonfuls of Tylo, instead of the three as I think it will make it much more manageable. I am very pleased that I will now be able to make my own as it is quite expensive to buy. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Comment by Diana — 27 March, 2013 @ 9:45 am
  27. @ So glad you were successful. I find watching a TV programme useful when kneading the paste as it takes my mind off how long it takes. Mexican paste does not take colour well and if adding a lot to get deep colours can made the paste sticky. However, it is very easy to paint once dry and you can then get very vivid/deep colours.

    Comment by Sheila — 3 April, 2013 @ 10:21 pm
  28. Hi, can this recipe for mexican paste be used with tappits cutters?

    Comment by Bernie — 1 May, 2013 @ 2:27 pm
  29. @ Bernie This recipe for Mexican Paste is perfect for Tappits Cutters and is all I have ever used with them.

    Comment by Sheila — 2 May, 2013 @ 9:18 pm
  30. Hi, I’m wanting to make masquerade masks using a silicone mold. Is mexican paste suitable for this? One website said to use 50% fondant & 50% mexican paste. I want the masks to be hard. Thanks

    Comment by Serena — 11 May, 2013 @ 1:02 am
  31. @Serena. I am not sure what size the masquerade masks are, but if they are as I suspect small, then mexican paste will be ideal as they will dry very hard and will not become misshapen when taking them out of the molds.

    Comment by Sheila — 12 May, 2013 @ 11:13 am
  32. hello, i have tried to make butterflies out of flower paste, but thay break very easily, would mexican paste work better or be just the same, kind regards Juliet

    Comment by juliet — 30 May, 2013 @ 12:55 pm
  33. @ Juliet I use Squires White Sugar Flower Paste available from http://www.craftcompany.co.uk. This is very good for the butterflies and you can freeze any remaining paste for future use. When making them, I make them from white paste and colour them afterwards. This makes them stronger as any colour added changes the consistency of the paste. Take the cut out butterfly and bend into the correct position and leave to dry over a small rolling pin or other small cylindrical object. Leave for at least 24 hours. Colour the butterflies by dusting with petal dust then spinning them very quickly in steam to set the colour. This evens it out and gives a lovely sheen. The details on the wings can then be painted on with a fine paintbrush. Finished butterflies must be kept in a dry environment as any moisture will make the soft. Some breakages are inevitable, especially with the larger butterflies and making them out of Mexican Paste will not make any difference. I always make far more than I need.

    Comment by Sheila — 30 May, 2013 @ 8:46 pm
  34. thankyou for your response. kind regards juliet

    Comment by juliet — 4 June, 2013 @ 6:43 pm
  35. Can this maxican paste be use to make fabric effect work,bowsand flowers?

    Comment by effy — 11 July, 2013 @ 10:19 am
  36. Mexican paste is a good medium for bows and items that would misshapen when making. However, when it comes to flowers, flower paste is best as you can mould and stretch it into the petal shapes.

    Comment by Sheila — 11 July, 2013 @ 8:17 pm
  37. hello, i am making a music themed birthday cake, i want to make music notes standing up at the top and having them “fall” down the side of the cake, would mexican paste work for this?

    thank you.

    Comment by jess — 14 August, 2014 @ 10:52 am
  38. @ Jess Mexican paste would be ideal for this as it keeps it shape well when cutting out the notes and dries very hard. The shapes need to be put onto a dry surface such as dry royal icing or fondant icing (Regalice). Mexican past will become soft and goey if placed onto a soft surface such as butter icing or cream.

    Comment by Sheila — 14 August, 2014 @ 10:00 pm
  39. I am new to cake decorating and have purchased some ready made mexican modelling paste to make Rudolph for the top of a xmas cake. Once kneaded and shaped I have left the pieces overnight in a dry room (not in a sealed container), but each time I come to use them, they are not rock hard as I would expect; they bend and break easily. Where am I going wrong?

    Comment by Sue — 4 December, 2014 @ 2:36 pm
  40. @Sue. I am sorry you have had disappointing results. I have not used ready made mexican modelling paste, so cannot comment it. Certainly you do not seem to be doing anything wrong and as long as the room is warm and dry the shapes should be hard within 24 hours. Usually mexican paste is rolled very thinly, so if you are using thicker shapes, then they may need longer to dry. As a quick cheat, which works very well, I take approx 250 grams fondant icing (Dr Oetker or Renshaws is very good) and knead in 1 tsp of Gum Tragacanth. You can purchase this in most cake decorating shops or on line at the Craft Company (http://www.craftcompany.co.uk/). It is only a small bottle, but a little goes a long way. Knead in very well until the paste becomes smooth and stretchy then leave it overnight. You can then roll this out very thinly and the shapes keep their dimensions. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours. My daughter has recently used this to make large ‘ice shards’ around a ‘Frozen’ cake she was making and it worked very well.

    Comment by Sheila — 9 December, 2014 @ 11:48 pm
  41. Hi, am so loving this forum, can Mexican paste be used for all moulding cake toppers such as animal characters, flowers, figurines etc, or different paste for different works, TIA

    Comment by Daby — 29 June, 2015 @ 10:42 am
  42. @Daby Mexican paste is best used for very fine items such as letters and delicate 2D designs. It holds it’s shape while cutting and then sets very hard. If you wish to mould cake toppers such as animal characters, you are better using fondant with a little gum tragacanth mixed in to set it hard once the figure is formed. Flowers are best made with sugar paste which you can buy commercially or make your own. Again it uses gum tragacanth to set the item, but you need the soft sugar paste to mould and shape the delicate petals of flowers so they are very thin and not chunky.

    Comment by Sheila — 30 June, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

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