One of the things about our huge cake show here in Austin every year is that we get a lot of amazing folks in from all across the country and around the world. One of the other things is that there are so many of them and so many wonderful things to see and do at the show – and that’s aside from the massive volunteer hours we on the core team pour in – that I inevitably miss doing some things or talking to some people.
Thus I spent the bulk of the show at the kids’ area which was diagonally across from the super-talented Sidney Galpern‘s vendor booth. Throughout the show I meant to go over and chat with her and check out her cool Isomalt wares, because even though I’ve never worked with Isomalt (I want to but haven’t been able to cost-justify it), a lot of the silicone tools made for gumpaste or Isomalt work very well with gummy.
Alas, the show came to an end and although I was literally the last person to leave, I didn’t manage to get time to check out Sidney’s wares. So I emailled her after the show to ask if her Simi Flex Form Molds – made to allow for free-form Isomalt pouring – would work for gummy.
She didn’t know but wanted me to test them. And because she’s not only amazingly talented but also as sweet as the sugar she sculpts, she insisted on sending them to me for free to test. That’s my way of saying the necessary disclaimer that I got the products I’m reviewing for free and that I consider the maker/seller a friend, but I swear my opinions are 100% honest nonetheless.
So: can you use Simi Flex Form Molds to pour gummy shapes? Short answer: yes! There are some caveats but if you want to pour pre-shaped, thicker sheets of gummy than you can just with open-flow, you can absolutely use these products to help. Sidney and I had wondered if piping gel would be required to prevent the very runny gummy from pouring out all over the place but as you’ll see in the tests below – even using texture mats – no piping gel is required.
For my first test, I used one of the flex form strips in a random, fairly tight shape on a smooth silicone mat. I filled it with basic gummy in orange.
Random loop with orange gummy added as full as possible without risking overflow.
I was worried that the join would leak, but it didn’t, at least at first. I had it pushed together fairly firmly and the whole thing pushed down on the mat, and that worked well.
Closeup of the ends of the flex form strip pushed together. You can see the gummy through there but it isn’t leaking out.
But after a short time I noticed that the other side was leaking from beneath. I tried to get a picture but the camera couldn’t focus properly because as I took the photo the tight inner curve popped out, which explains the leak:
That curve popped out just I snapped this photo so there was no time to try for a better one.
When it popped out the whole thing expanded so fast that it actually left a bubble which then slowly filled itself in:
Seconds later as the whole thing flowed out to fill the new space and the bubble left behind.
So definitely be careful not to make a shape that the silicone doesn’t want to hold, or at least weigh it down (I have done this on a separate project since which I’ll post about next week, but can’t yet because it’ll be in competition this Sunday).
I let the piece firm up on the counter for a good 15 minutes and then put it in the fridge to be extra-sure that it was solid. Then I was able to easily remove the strip, which left a nice smooth edge everywhere but at the join, and even there it was pretty good:
The dribble to the left is incidental from the baster and not related to the test, but the excess left along the top inner ridge illustrates how the level fell when the edge flipped out and expanded the area.
On the other side where it had flopped out, there was still some leakage from below. But as you can see, it has a clear trim line and it’s no problem to cut that flap off and throw it back in the pot.
Other than the tight curve popping out, this was otherwise a pretty good test that yielded a slab of gummy that couldn’t be made just using standard open flow.
I tried a less-curved shape for a second test, this time on a very shallow texture mat to see if it would leak.
This time I didn’t make such harsh curves and also gave it time to sit and sure it wasn’t going to pop out. It’s also on a lined texture mat.
On this test, the join parted a little, probably because the strip didn’t stick to the texture mat as well as it did my silicone mat. But I was very pleased that the small leak cooled as it came out, becoming a self-plugging leak.
This very slight leak firmed up quickly and plugged itself. So yeah, this is kind of a gummy scab. Yum!
Here’s the piece solidified. It looks like there was some very minor leaking around the sides, but again, this can be easily trimmed off. In fact, most of the time it’ll tear off, but if you’re concerned you should of course use a blade on a separate surface for neat trimming.
You can tell where the ends joined by the little scab-bump, but that and the other leak bits are easily trimmed off.
This sheet is considerably thicker than the ones I make for my Flexible, Edible Stained Glass technique, which flow out without barriers. This would be much more useful for making something like a pond on a cake (with the caveat that fresh gummy has enough moisture to turn fondant to goo and will actually tunnel its way through over time).
The texture came through quite nicely, as it always does with gummy.
For my next test, I moved up to a deeper texture mat and tried looping the strip around itself to see if that would affect leakage.
This is a brick texture mat with deeper indentations than the previous fine-line mat.
This one did leak on the underside a little bit more, but again, it was self-plugging.
A self-plugging leak under the bottom edge, no doubt because it’s impossible for the mold strip to lay perfectly flush against a texture this deep.
A slightly larger gummy scab, but again this cooled and set to hold the rest back.
So these flaps are bit thicker and probably can’t be torn off, but it can still be trimmed. Further, the wrap-around method did let me make a tighter circle, although there’s a clear step to the edge. This could also be trimmed, but that’d be a bit trickier to do smoothly.
Pushing the molds to a reasonable limit still yielded perfectly usable results that just need some trimming.
Again, you can get nice, thick sheets using these:
You could use sharp cutters on these to make shapes of all kinds.
Sidney also sells various shapes that can be put on your mat before you pour to leave indentations. Here I tested a flower and a sea shell, and they work perfectly fine:
Just make sure they’re flush with your surface so nothing flows under them.
The shapes pop out easily once you get ahold of them. Be careful not to damage anything with a sharp tool; just use something enough to catch an edge of the form and lift it out.
Based on other similar molds I’ve played with, I know that as long as this first piece is very cold and firm, you can fill the indentations with another colour or type of gummy. I also know that some colours disappear into others. For instance, if I filled these shapes with yellow, they wouldn’t be seen. If I put some black in, they would, but at this thickness would still be obscured (which you can glean from how obscured the shapes themselves are two photos above). However, you could definitely fill your piece to just deep enough to make a super-thin covering over the inclusion, and then carefully add a different colour that way. There are a lot of different creative possibilities here.
Overall, I give the strips a solid thumbs-up for making thick gummy sheets. As mentioned above, I’ve used them for a project since that I’ll reveal after this Sunday. If you want to be able to cast guided sheets – especially thick ones – you should definitely get a set of the strips. If you’re playing with gummy with kids or have lots of creative possibilities, the inclusions sets are fun add-ons.