Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Art of Pastillage

As part of their final exam, our senior students create an elaborate centerpiece decoration using pastillage. Pastillage (PAHS-tee-AHJ) is sugar-based dough used to make three-dimensional sculptures, decorative ribbons, appliqués and other decorations. This is one of many ways our students can display their artistic and creative skills. It’s hard to believe that the final product is edible, although we don’t really recommending eating it.

Pastillage and its sugarcraft cousins gum paste and fondant, can be molded, rolled and cut into shapes. What sets pastillage apart is the use of gelatin in the dough which helps make it sturdier and firmer. Pastillage is naturally white but can be tinted or spray painted using an air brush. It is important to use stainless steel bowls and tools to keep from discoloring the dough.

Once the pastillage dough is made, it must be wrapped in plastic to keep it from drying out. Decorations can keep for one year or more because pastillage is not sensitive to temperature or humidity. So, a centerpiece can be used for many events as decoration. We keep several on display in our hallways here at the Culinary Institute LeNôtre.
To make pastillage at home, try the following recipe:


Pastillage

Yield: 2 lb. 9 oz.

Ingredients:
2 lb. Powdered sugar, sifted
4 oz. Cornstarch
0.5 oz. Gelatin, softened
4 fl. oz. Water, warm
1 oz. Corn syrup
0.5 fl. oz. Lemon juice

Method:
Place the powdered sugar and cornstarch in the stainless steel bowl of a mixer fitted with a stainless steel paddle attachment.

  1. Melt the gelatin in the warm water and stir in the corn syrup.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the bowl. Add the liquid mixture and blend the ingredients on low speed. Add the lemon juice. Mix until combined.
  3. Remove the pastillage from the bowl. Immediately wrap it tightly in plastic.

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