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Thursday, March 05, 2015

How Does a DIY Sugar Lace Recipe Stack Up?

DIY Sugar Lace Comparison
This cake was made using a DIY Sugar Lace recipe and the Claire Bowman Cake Lace Chantilly mat.

A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that I hadn't purchased any new cake toys in a while, so I could therefore justify ordering a Silikomart Daisy small mat and some of their Tricot lace mix. Let the fun begin!

I mixed up the Tricot lace according to the directions and worked it into the mat. It went in quite easily. It didn't come out the same way.  I went through quite a few pieces of the Silikomart lace that either tore, or crumbled, or were just so gummy that it all stuck together. Turns out, that was probably my fault. Well, not my fault - my oven's fault. Everyone's oven is a little different, so do yourself a favour and spend 5 bucks on an oven thermometer. Once I did that, the lace came out much better. The mix comes in white, but can be easily coloured with a little bit of gel paste. It has a hint of caramel in the taste.

Next, I purchased a Claire Bowman Chantilly Lace mat and some of her pre-mixed cake lace in Pearlized White. I was surprised at how small the container was when it arrived, but was reminded that a little goes a long way. The product handles beautifully. The lace came out a little bit thicker than the Silikomart lace and was very flexible.

I wanted it in every colour! That would really add up, so I started searching the Internet for other options.

That's when I came across this YouTube video by Sugar Tree Cakerie on how to make your own sugar lace. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes. But, what I did have was all of the ingredients, so what the heck!

I was blown away at how easy (and inexpensive) it was to make my own sugar lace mixture and at how well the lace itself turned out.

I made a couple of small changes to the You Tube posters recipe (outlined below). The result was a mixture essentially the same texture as the Cake Lace. It spread beautifully into the mat. I will say, however, that the Claire Bowman cake lace seemed to shrink less than either the Tricot Mix or the homemade lace. To remedy that, you can always put a second coat onto the mat once the first coat has dried to give you a stronger lace. I stored the lace pieces in individual ziplock bags.

One week later, this is how they looked.

The Cake Lace was still perfectly flexible, the DIY lace less so, and the Tricot lace cracked when I took it out of the bag.

However, The Tricot lace was the whitest white - the others are more of an ivory colour.

Top: Cake Lace Pearlized White (one coat)
Right: DIY Sugar Lace (two coats), sprayed with Pearl Lustre
Bottom: DIY Sugar Lace (one coat), sprayed with Pearl Lustre
Left: Silikomart Tricot Mix (one coat)

There are a number of factors that will determine how your lace will turn out, including how much water is used (the more you use, the drier the result will be), how well you scrape the mat, your oven temperature, how long you leave it in the mat once out of the oven, etc. You just need to play around with it and see what works for you.

For this cake, I tinted the homemade sugar lace mix with a copper gel colour. Then I brushed copper lustre dust right into the mat before spreading the mixture onto the mat. I love the result! And, the lace came out of the mat much easier with the luster dust.

The colour possibilities are endless!

Will I always make my own lace mixture? Probably not. It depends on how and where I am going to use the lace. In fact, I am already eyeing the pre-mixed Cake Lace brand in Pearlized Ruby Red. I love how the Claire Bowman Cake Lace stays so flexible and I love the convenience of a pre-mixed product.

On the other hand, I also love that I have found an inexpensive alternative that is easy to make from ingredients I always have on hand and that works almost as well for my purposes.

This recipe cost me just $1.27 to make. The Tylose powder is the expensive part, but GumTex (Wilton) works just as well and with a 40% off coupon from Michael's or Hobby Lobby your cost would be even lower.

Here's How - DIY Sugar Lace

If you look at the video by Sugar Tree Cakerie and read the comments below it, you will see that everyone does this a little differently. You will find other videos and blogs that talk about different variations of that same recipe. All I can say is that this is what worked for me.

1/2 cup distilled water
1 Tbsp Tylose Powder (or Gum Tex)
1 Tbsp Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/4 tsp Meringue Powder
1/2 tsp glucose (or clear corn syrup)
1/2 tsp food grade glycerin (optional - keeps the lace more flexible)
white gel colour

In the video, they use a hand mixer. I don't have a hand mixer and to put such a small amount into my 6 quart Kitchenmaid caused it not to mix up very well.

So, the next time I made it, I just measured all of the dry ingredients together in one bowl, liquid ingredients into another, then mixed the liquid and dry ingredients together, stirred briefly and placed it all into my mini Cuisinart. (No need to mix Tylose and water first) Less than a minute later, I had a mixture that was the same texture (almost like thick mayonnaise) as the Cake Lace.

Here is the second part of the video which shows how to spread the lace mixture into the mat and bake it.

I found that leaving the light in the oven on as well as the convection fan and setting at a low temperature (the lowest setting on my oven is 135F) works well. I also left the door of the oven slightly open to let out any humidity. Fifteen minutes worked perfectly for me for the large mat; about 10 - 12 for the smaller mat.

So, give it a try and enjoy your own sugar lace at a fraction of the cost.