When do you use fondant vs gum paste? Do you just use gum paste for flowers?
Fondant is a sweet sugar dough icing that is usually used to cover cakes for a smoother finish (unless you have sugarshack's dvd ) or to add accents to a cake that cannot be made with buttercream. You can make it with marshmallows and powdered sugar (MMF), use Michele Foster's recipe (check recipe section), or buy it pre-made. If you buy it pre-made, steer clear of the Wilton brand. Pettinice, Satin Ice and Choco-Pan are all good brands and I'm sure there are others out there too.
Gumpaste is also a sugar dough with gum tragacanth added to it. It dries quickly and can be brittle. It is made with powdered sugar like fondant, but doesn't taste good. You wouldn't want to use gumpaste to cover a cake. It is preferred, over fondant, to make certain decorations, because it is stronger and dries faster. You can also do a 50/50 mix of the two for certain decorations.
Gumpaste is almost always used for flowers. Gumpaste is stiffer and can be rolled much thinner. It dries more quickly and becomes very fragile. The flowers can be gorgeous with gumpaste.
The recipe I use for gumpaste is about 1 cup of fondant and about 2 tsp. tylose. Knead the tylose into the gumpaste in small amounts until the fondant becomes stiff and slightly tacky. Rub shortening over the ball, wrap twice in plastic wrap, and then place in an airtight container. Let this set overnight or at least 4 hours before using.
Sometimes flowers are made with rolled fondant when they want a more casual look or want the heavier look for fabric effects.
Some of us can't use fondant for flowers because our hands melt the fondant! I sometimes envy those will cold hands.