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What is in pastillage?
All About the Decorative Sugar Dough, with Recipes

By Renee Shelton
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Pastillage is a sugar-based dough used for decorating and creating decorations for pastry, showpiece work and decorative molded forms. The dough is much like clay or play-dough where you can knead it and roll it out. Pastillage is worked then allowed to dry, setting up to a hard, sugar-based decoration. Depending on the mix, pastillage can be formed and sanded to remove any rough spots after it has completely dried. There are many, many recipes out there and most have the same ingredients: powdered sugar, gelatin, and water, with some recipes calling for an acid like vinegar or cream of tartar. I'm listing two recipes below. The first one I have used professionally, and it is a large batch recipe. It produces a fine pastillage that can be kneaded and rolled out paper thin on a sheeter for thin decorative pieces and is good for pressed items. The second is a good recipe that I use at home. It's simple to make and makes a nice white pastillage. When coloring either one, color the liquid first before adding to the mix to ensure there will be no streaks (but you still can knead in desired colors).

Pastillage (Large Batch)

Hot water        10 oz.
Vinegar          3 oz.
Gelatin Sheets   16 sheets
Powdered Sugar-1   4 # 8 oz.
Powdered Sugar-2   3 # 12 oz.

Place water, vinegar and gelatin sheets in a bain marie until about 90°C. Pour into a large stand up mixer with a paddle and add the first powdered sugar. Mix smooth, then add the last powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Can color the liquid for large batch colors or knead in desired color to dough. Roll out with cornstarch using a sheeter.



1 package of plain gelatin
1/2 c water
1 t cream of tartar
5 c powdered sugar
1 c cornstarch

Sift the powdered sugar and cornstarch together. In a small saucepan, place water and cream of tartar in, then sprinkle the plain gelatin over the top. Stir over low heat until dissolved. There may be an amount of cream of tartar that doesn't dissolve, just be sure no amount of gelatin is left undissolved. Remove from heat and add to bowl of stand up mixer, like a Kitchen-Aid. Put on a paddle attachment and with low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing spoonful by mixing spoonful (couple of tablespoons at a time or so) at a time. When all is incorporated, switch to medium speed until mixture is lightened and very white, about 3 minutes. Remove from bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for half an hour before rolling out. Can be frozen; place in refrigerator overnight to thaw. Roll out with cornstarch.

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From the recipe files of Renee Shelton.

Copyright © 2004-2010 Renee Shelton.
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All rights reserved.
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