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Now that I am doing a cake decorating class I frequently find that I need to buy icing, most especially sugarpaste and florist paste and have been trying out several brands to see which I prefer. One of the first Florist Pastes I tried was by Squires Kitchen. ~What is it~ Florist Paste is used to make delicate and detailed decorations for cakes such as Flowers or Frills. It is a type of icing which can be rolled very thin, and moulded and shaped. It dries hard, but care needs to be taken with decorations which can be slightly brittle. As well as White, Squires Kitchen also produce Florist Paste in 20 colours. I prefer to buy white and colour myself. The only exception to this being black, which I have brought pre-coloured as it can be quite difficult to achieve a proper black when colouring at home. The White Florist Paste is quite easy to colour. To do this you simply add the colour required and knead until fully mixed. If leaving your Florist Paste white you will still need to knead before use. To use you then simply roll out. The Florist Paste can be used with cutters, embossers and moulds. Your creations should be left to fully dry and harden before adding to your cake. I have found that I cannot roll this Florist Paste as thinly as other brands and as a result my flowers and frills do not look as delicate as I would like. I also found that when using cutters they did not cut as cleanly as with other brands. ~Storage~ Florist Paste must be stored airtight as otherwise it will begin to dry out and harden and can no longer be used. The Squires Kitchen Florist Paste comes in a resealable bag, and stores very well. I like to put an additional bag around this just to be safe, as it is both an expensive and frustrating waste if it becomes unsealed for any reason. The downside to the packaging of the Squires Kitchen Florist Paste is that it can be difficult to remove from the florist paste without damaging the resealable component and becomes more difficult the further down the packet you get. ~Price & Availability~ Squires Kitchen White Florist Paste is widely available from shops and online and costs around £4.99 for 200g. ~Recommends~ Squires Kitchen Florist Paste is easy to colour but does not cut as crisply nor roll out as thinly as some other brands of Florist Paste. This makes it much more difficult to work with especially with detailed flowers or Garett frills. I found that even using a simple butterfly cutter the edges were not always crisp. Given that this paste is quite expensive and from a well known brand I was quite disappointed- there are other cheaper brands which I much prefer and find easier to work with and so I would not recommend this Florist Paste. This review also appears on CIAO under the same username.
This Sugar Florist Paste is specifically designed for creating sugar flowers when cake decorating. It is used in preference to the usual fondant (sugarpaste) which is more readily available in supermarkets, because it is finer, and gives a more delicate and realistic finish. There are various types available, but I always use the Squires Kitchen SFP which retails at around £4.35 for 200g. It can be found in most cake decorating suppliers, such as Squires Kitchen (online), Lakeland, or Hobbycraft. The paste comes in a range of different colours, mostly pastels, but I usually buy the white one and then colour it myself using the food colour pastes from the same brand. This means I don't have any waste, as I'm unlikely to use a pack of paste in a specific colour before it goes hard, due to not having time (or reason!) to make and decorate as many cakes as I'd like. Obviously, if you were doing cake decorating as a career, the coloured ones would come in handy for multiple uses. You can also buy bigger 1kg packs which work out better value at £14.50, but I've never bought these for the same reason. This paste is billed as being "The Professional's Choice", and it is the UK market leader; from the courses I have attended, I would say this is probably true. It is an ultra-fine paste, which gives a very realistic finish. I guess if you think about what it's being used for, it would need to be rolled very thin to give the appearance of petals and leaves, which are paper thin. It gives a perfectly smooth finish, and doesn't break or rip when being rolled thinly. It dries rock hard and lasts for many years, which is nice for people like my mum who like to keep things I've made as keepsakes. I've got a lot of the flowers I made during my college course at home, and they have survived house leaks, house moves, and transportation, and are still in one piece having only lost the odd leaf or petal. The paste is very robust and your hard work won't go to waste, although it's very important to keep the paste dry so it doesn't go all gooey and melt into a Snowman type mess. The paste can be used straight from the pack, which is worth mentioning because I did a course once where she used a different kind of paste (petal paste) which needed to be stored in the freezer and taken out in advance of using it. I am not organised enough to plan for this kind of thing, so being able to take this paste straight from the packet is a huge advantage for me. The package is re-sealable, and this keeps the paste soft and malleable so you can work with it easily. If it isn't kept in an airtight package or container, it goes hard and crumbly and becomes useless. I usually keep it in the pack and then put it in Tupperware, because the seal on the pack does become less effective over time. It does have a sell-by date on it, but I usually use mine up well before this as the date will be generous i.e. a couple of years. It's worth mentioning that SFP is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians. Although it's unlikely you're ever going to eat the paste, it's probably going to come into contact with the cake so this is peace of mind for vegetarians. You might be wondering why I say it's unlikely to be eaten, but this is because the paste dries rock solid so you'd probably break a tooth if you tried to eat it. Add to this the fact it may also have been heavily coloured (E-numbers alert!), and may have wires inserted to hold the flower together, most people providing cakes with sugar decorations advise not to eat the decorations. Overall, this is a brilliant product which will give you a lot of use out of a small packet. As long as you store it in an airtight container, it will last a long time, and the finish is so realistic, my dad once thought I was winding him up by showing him real roses and passing them off as being made from flowerpaste - hence the title! (Review may also be posted on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)