Well, first of all, what is Mexican paste and when do you use it? It is a type of fondant (icing) that is used for modelling as it holds its shape better than sugarpaste (the standard kind of roll-out icing) and it dries hard. It's made using normal icing sugar and gum tragacanth, which according to Wikipedia is "a natural gum obtained from the dried sap of several species of Middle Eastern legumes of the genus Astragalus". So now you know!
Anyway, we were told to either buy or make some for our third cake decorating class. It's pretty expensive to buy so I decided to make some- even though I needed to buy gum tragacanth, a pot of that would last longer and it would be a hassle to have to order Mexican paste online every time I needed it. Which turned out to be quite lucky as the following week at my cake class, we were told we needed twice as much Mexican paste for another project next time!
So how do you make Mexican paste? Here are the instructions that Lorna gave us:
1. Place 227g icing sugar in a bowl
2. Add 3x 5ml teaspoons of gum tragacanth. Mix together.
3. Add 6 x 5ml teaspoons of cold water
4. Stir until it becomes crumbly but damp enough to bind together. Add a little more water if it is too dry or icing sugar if it is too wet
5. Turn out onto a worktop and knead until pliable. Plaec in a plastic bag and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours until firm.
If you won't need the paste for a while, you can freeze it, but according to Lorna it's best to roll it into a cylinder and cut into slices and freeze each slice in a separate freezer bag. Even if you use the paste right away after the 12 hours, you'll find it's extremely hard. After just a couple of minutes of kneading it becomes much more pliable and is usable for modelling - but it's really hard to knead! The trick is to break off small pieces and knead them.
You can also colour Mexican paste in the same way that you would colour sugarpaste - a gel or concentrated colour is better than a bottle of liquid food colouring. I coloured mine pink and black - which was extremely messy - but you will see why in my next post!