Creative Cake Decorations: How to Make Gelatin Plastic

If you're looking for ideas for creative cake decorating, you have come to the right place. Learn how to make gelatin plastic, and you've got an impressive cake decorating skill for life.

Gelatin Plastic Bow on Cake
Photo via Nellie Cakes

Gelatin plastic is not difficult to make. It's simply a matter of mixing together gelatin, water and food coloring. Using a fairly low amount of water will allow the gelatin to become hard once it dries; a slow, gradual drying process allows you to get creative with cake decoration. While the gelatin is still malleable, you can cut it into shapes, sculpt it into ribbons or bows, or just let it harden in an avant-garde, freeform fashion.

Gelatin Flower Bunch

Cake decorator Pam Banyard created these beautiful gelatin flowers to decorate her daughter's wedding cake. 

Once hardened and dry, the gelatin plastic keeps beautifully, and can be used to adorn cakes with colorful, translucent forms which echo rock candy or (if you're feeling particularly fancy) stained glass. No matter what look you go for, the finished product is bound to impress.

Gelatin Flowers
Photo via Pam Banyard

Recipe notes:

Oh, the places you'll go

The supplies for this project are actually quite open-ended.

The things that you'll definitely need to make gelatin plastic are plain gelatin envelopes (we'd suggest starting with at least 6 or 8), water and food coloring. While you can pour the gelatin on to sheets of parchment to thicken to the point where you can manipulate the mixture, we find that it's actually easiest to pour the mixture on top of an overturned plastic lid, such as a flat bakeware lid. Avoid lids with words or imprints, as they will be reflected in the gelatin (you can easily avoid a few words along an edge, but avoid something with, say, a huge logo imprinted in the middle).

Get creative

From there, you can get creative with how you treat the gelatin once it has had the chance to become firm. You might choose to form the gelatin into spirals, in which case you'll need a dowel, lollipop stick or something to form the spiral around; you might choose to use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes.

The recipe appears below, along with several suggestions for creative ways to shape the gelatin plastic into creative cake decorations for your gorgeously iced or fondant-coated creation.

Gelatin Plastic
In the works: making gelatin plastic. Tutorial photos via CakeSpy.

Can you eat gelatin plastic?

Gelatin plastic is primarily considered a garnish. Will a bite be harmful? No. Nothing in gelatin plastic is toxic, and all of the components are commonly used in confections. So it is completely safe for consumption.

However, given the fact that it is plain gelatin, which has no added sweetener or flavoring, it might not be the most toothsome decoration. So while you can rest assured that it is non-toxic, let's just say that these shapes might be best removed from cakes before consumption, as you would birthday candles.

Patience, please

While gelatin plastic is easy and open-ended, one aspect which is not as flexible is the drying time. Plan on giving the gelatin plastic at least 12 hours to completely harden before using it in cake decorating projects. If not completely hardened, it can warp and melt, which we are pretty sure is not the look you're going for.

Gelatin Plastic Ribbon

How to make gelatin plastic

You'll need:

  • 2 envelopes plain gelatin (per color you'd like to make)
  • 6 tablespoons water (3 tablespoons per packet of gelatin)
  • Food coloring
  • Medium saucepan
  • Cookie cutters or other methods of shaping the gelatin
  • Scissors
  • A non-imprinted lid from a plastic container

Step 1:

Combine the gelatin, water and food coloring in a medium saucepan. Whisk everything together to combine. Once combined (it's OK if it is still a little grainy), place the pan over medium-low heat for about 30 seconds, or until the gelatin has dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken. It may slightly bubble along the edges of the pan.

Mixing Gelatin and Food Coloring

Step 2:

Pour the mixture into the top of the plastic container. Spread it gently with the back of a spoon, to both ensure even coverage and to discourage bubbles. A few tiny bubbles are inevitable, but try to break up cloudy patches or bubble clusters. Don't fuss with it too much, as the gelatin will begin to set quite rapidly.

Step 3:

Let the gelatin cool on this surface for 20-30 minutes. The entire disc should come off of the plastic surface with no trouble at this point; test it by trying to lift an edge. It should come off like a resealable label, with slight tackiness but little resistance.

Step 4:

Use your cookie cutters to cut the gelatin into shapes of your choosing; or, cut the gelatin into strips to form spirals or form ribbons. You can also pour the gelatin into chocolate molds!

Cutting Shapes from Gelatin
Note: If making spirals, wrap the strip of gelatin gently around a rounded surface, such as a dowel, straw or lollipop stick. Coating the round surface with plastic wrap can help with removal.

Winding Gelatin Around Straw

Or, you might choose to create a ribbon. This can be done by creating a series of loops and holding them together in the center, as in this tutorial.

If making more advanced or involved shapes, make sure that you have a support structure to keep things in place while the gelatin dries, as it can tend to warp while it hardens.

Step 5:

Let the gelatin dry for at least 12 hours (it may take longer for thicker pieces). If you let flat shapes dry on a baking sheet, be sure to rest a sheet of parchment paper on top to keep them from warping; however, even warped shapes can make interesting decorating components.

Gelatin Plastic Hearts
Note: Let your gelatin dry on a covered surface, be it on a work area or a parchment-lined baking sheet. Do not let the shapes harden directly on a counter surface, as it can be quite difficult to remove once it hardens. Do not use plastic wrap to cover the shapes, as it can capture moisture and keep the shapes from drying properly.

Step 6:

Once your gelatin plastic is "set," you can remove any bits and pieces you've had to keep it in place, and it is ready to use in your cake decorating.

Store your finished gelatin plastic in a single layer in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Avoid extremely hot, cold or humid conditions.

How would you use gelatin plastic in your cake decorating?

22 Comments

Claire Cowburn

do you use powdered gelatine or sheet,if powdered what is the weight.would love to try this out 🙂

Reply
aleyda

Can I add flavor to the gelatin without affecting the texture for the flowers?

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tianaa

How does gelatin beaheve in fridge,i am going to try make elza and i need it to her drees but i dont know doses it melt or something in fridge, soory for my english ,thanks

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Cindy Semrau

Don’t put gelatin flowers in the fridge. It will be okay for a few hours, but I would not risk keeping it there overnight as the condensation may effect the gelatin causing it to soften and melt at bit. They are easily removed from cake so if you are storing the cake in the fridge, make sure to remove the flowers first.

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Tina

Does the gelatin stick to itself after it’s dry? Or how would you adhere two pieces together?

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Melinda

You can use an edible glue. I use Tylose powder and follow the directions. If you’re making flower petals that you need to cluster together I use florist wire and florist tape. Hope these suggestions help.

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Amanda Marshall

Hello, please may you explain to me the gelatin envelope part of the recipe. I see you mention another amount in brackets. Having not used gelatin before I am a bit dump in this area!
Thank you

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Rebecca

Would this work for making the globes in snow globe cupcakes?

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Jessie Oleson Moore

I’ve never tried that, Rebecca, but it sounds like it could. You’d just have to mold the gelatin around something like maybe a silicone bombe mat. Let me know how it turns out if you try!

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Rebecca

Is it supposed to be like a window sticker, cause that’s definitely how it looks and feels.

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Kay

Jesse, Nice tuturial. Do you know if I can leave these on a buttercream cake overnight? I was thinking of using them for windows. The cake won’t be in the fridge, so that’s not an issue, but I would hate for the fat in the buttercream to make the gelatin look wierd. Thanks!

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Ann

Could I use this for flowing beer on a anti gravity beer cake

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Samantha

Hi. I was wanting to make gelatin lilies with a sheet I found to paint them onto wires. I was hoping to do a single two-tone petal, but I’m not sure if the two wet gelatins would mix, or if I let one dry the second color would wet the first and mix the colors

Reply

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