How To Get A Gold Finish On Fondant: 3 Methods Compared

Gold-painted fondant is very popular, but you need to be careful about how you do it and what type of gold paint is used. 

To paint fondant gold, you will need to make sure that the gold dust that’s being used is food-grade and labeled edible. There are many types of gold dusts that are labeled non-toxic and shouldn’t be used to apply to anything that will be eaten. 

Painting fondant that will cover a cake requires edible paint made from edible gold dust and either water or vodka.

3 ways to paint fondant gold

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gold and pearls cake

The metallic finishes on fondant are done with gold or silver luster dusts that are made into paint, but if you don’t put them on right they won’t look as metallic as you want them to.

You can also use metallic edible paints, which are premixed and available in different brands in different countries. 

I’ve done a lot of cakes with metallic details, but I don’t think that I’d even done one that was as intentionally shiny as some of the ones that I’ve seen recently. 

I asked one designer how she had done the finish on one of her cakes, and she said that she used a big brush and diluted gold luster dust.

three fondant pieces

I wasn’t sure that would work, since I was thinking about the brush marks, so I tried it, plus a few other methods, to see which would be more metallic. 

Keep in mind the non-toxic vs. edible issues, too…Some gold dusts aren’t even non-toxic, they’re marked as decorative use only, so tell people not to eat things that aren’t labeled as edible.

I used three pieces of gumpaste, vodka and gold luster dust. The brush was a soft one that’s similar to a puffy makeup brush, so it wouldn’t leave edge marks. 

I also used one piece of candy clay because the oils from that usually give a better shine than fondant or gumpaste does.

Dry gold on fondant.

gold painting on fondant

First, I brushed dry dust on the gumpaste. It was a lighter color, and not as metallic.

Gold candy clay.

gold dust on orange candy clay

Next was the candy clay. This gave a good shine, but the color wasn’t as deep. 

I could see the color of the clay through the dust, so if it was on white it wouldn’t have been as dark a metallic.

Gold paint on fondant.

gold edible paint on fondant

Next was a gold paint trial on fondant.

The large fluffy brush, used with a thick paint made of the vodka and luster dust, actually did cover well and didn’t leave brush marks after I went over it a few times. 

The shape of the brush was the key to this, in my opinion…The rounded edge didn’t leave a lap mark.

For a list of the cake decorating and baking supplies that I recommend, click here to see my Amazon shop list.

Airbrushed gold on fondant.

gold airbrushed fondant

Last was the airbrushed gold. This gave as good a shine as the brush had, and it used a lot less luster dust. 

BUT…I think that the thick coat of “paint” that was applied with the brush filled in the tiny bumps and texture on the surface. 

The airbrush didn’t do that, so it had a rougher appearance than the one with the brush did.

The best method, and something to watch out for.

Now…After these trials, a thick coat of luster dust mixed with vodka did give a good shine and deep color. 

But there’s one missing element that hadn’t come up in any of the discussions about the technique that I’d had, but I noticed when I started looking at all those photos. The lighting.

Notice the difference in the strips that I was holding up in the photos? 

The light coming from the nearby window totally transformed the gold from flat to metallic and shiny. 

You can paint a cake gold, but if the lighting isn’t right it isn’t going to look as metallic as it will if there’s a light shining on it.
This is actually something that I warn brides about if they want silver on their cakes. 

Without the right lighting, silver metallic details can look grey, not silver. 

With a camera flash the details on metallic cakes might make the photos look a lot more metallic than the actual cake did. 

If the bride is okay with pewter, not bright silver, this might be okay, but I always warn people anyway.Using this gold cake as an example, look at how the camera flash and the lighting is reflecting off of the metallic and makes some parts of the gold look brighter. 

little gold wedding cake with fondant pearls and sequins

This makes the entire cake look metallic because your brain fills in the blanks and tells you to see the entire thing as metallic if part of it is reflecting that way.
For a tutorial on how to make the edible sequins on the gold cake, click here.

So I think that the key to getting a very metallic look to a cake would be to use a thick coat of the luster dust in alcohol, and then make sure that the lighting in the venue is conducive to enhancing the shine. 

Suggest that the bride have a lighting person put a pin spot shining on the cake table if she wants a super reflective, metallic surface. If the room is too dark it will look gold, but it won’t shine.

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