On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Claire Bowman’s Cake Lace Product and Mats

27 Comments

2014-02-03 10.21.53

Claire Bowman Chantilly Lace Mat

Have you seen a cake decorated in sugar lace? Sugar lace is fairly new, but all the rage. It’s so very beautiful. There’s lots and lots of cakes I’ve seen that are so elegantly decorated with sugar lace.

Before Christmas I ordered some Sugarveil mix and a silicone doily designed silicone mat from Lindy. I still haven’t used the Sugarveil mix. From what I can gather Sugarveil was the first “lace” product on the market. People have been trying to work out what the ingredients and proportions are and there’s been varying degrees of success.

Different thicknesses of silicone

Demonstrating differences in silicone thickness and pliability.

I’d heard about Cake Lace from the reading some comments on the NZ Cake Decorators Facebook page. I’d looked at the wonderful mats and I almost put in an order. I hate the cost of shipping and that put me off.

Then new Claire Bowman mats were released just recently and I went in search again for the prices. This time I decided not to deny myself and ordered a starter kit and a couple of extra mats. I also put in an order for a couple of Dab mats that I’d spied.

This blog post is about my experience using the Cake Lace product by Claire Bowman.  I used the Cake Lace in Claire’s mats, the one mat I used for the homemade recipe and the new Dab mats that had recently arrived. I was so excited by this experiment.

Some of these photos, the ones were I’m using making the Cake Lace and filling the silicone mats were taken with my phone, the ones after the lace has been removed from the mats are with my dSLR.

Usually I post photos of a recipe I’m following, but there’s no need. Claire had a very thorough YouTube of making up her Cake Lace as well as how to use it with the silicone mats.

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After Part B, finally it’s getting some volume

What I found was  the amount of lace I was making was almost too small for the KitchenAid mixer, but this is the same mixer Claire demonstrated, using the same quantity of ingredients. I had to scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times because the whisk attachment wasn’t reaching it (I probably need to adjust the height/position of my attachments). Once I added part B things improved and the mix increased in volume making it much easier for the whisk attachment to do the job of whisking.

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Ready. Perhaps I should have waited for more bubbles.

The smell of the mix is really intense, a nice sweet aroma, but don’t let that fool you into dabbing your finger in the left over Part B that’s on your measuring spoon. Being the curious creature that I am I just had to have a little taste. It was so strong, and I’m not sure what it was meant to taste like, but I do NOT recommend a taste test. But if someone told me not to try I’d still do it 😉

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Just how much do you really need to apply to begin with? It wont take long to get to grips with that.

Using the mix on the mat is pretty simple. I had a bit of trouble trying to work out how much would be enough. I didn’t want to plop too much on the mat and end up having so much it was running off the sides. I didn’t want to waste any of the mix. I needed to add more than I thought but it was easier to figure out just how much once I got going.

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The excess scrapes off so easily with the spreader/knife from the starter kit. See the top photo.

As you’d expect with using delicate patterns, some of the mix doesn’t quite site neatly into the tiny grooves on the first pass. You need to go over some bits of the mat several times. It’s not difficult, you just have to keep an eye out and make sure the mix has filled the design fully.

Using the sweeping motion back and forward and sometimes up and down as Claire mentioned (a paddle sort of motion) was meant to help get any air bubbles out. I must admit this was the most disappointing part of the look of the finished lace for me. Perhaps I haven’t got the technique right, or maybe I should let the lace mix rest for a while, like you do with Royal Icing, to encourage the air bubbles to the top.

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Unwelcome air bubbles.

I was being a bit cautious with the mat, it’s very supple and I was worried somehow I’d end up tipping the lace out of the design, but I soon realised that I needn’t be quite so careful. Not to be reckless, but I didn’t have to be so precious about shifting the mat from the bench to the baking tray, or just shift it out of the way while I prepared another mat.

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Top two mats from Claire Bowman. Bottom 2 (left) Dab and the doily was the original mat I purchased. Unsure whose it is.

I put the first mat (the one with the 3 lanes of complementing design) in the oven while I worked on the other mats. I left it in the oven at 70 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. When the time was up I thought the mix still looked too glossy, but it had flattened in the mat, so the mix was no longer sitting flush with the mat, it had shrunk down. Does that make sense?

2014-02-03 10.59.17

This is what you expect to see when the lace is ready for removal.

I pulled at the edge of the mat but it didn’t look to me like the lace was separating so I put the mat aside and put the remaining mats into the oven.

When the 15 minutes was up the other mats looked more likely they were dry enough but I put the first mat back in the oven with the oven turned off, then about 5 minutes later I decided to return the 2nd sheet as well, just to be absolutely certain.

All up the first mat had been in the oven 15 minutes of active baking/drying and 15 minutes with the oven turned off. The second tray was 15 minutes of active baking/drying and 10 minutes with the oven turned off.

2014-02-03 11.02.07

It still looked a bit flimsy, like it wasn’t quite ready, but it was. I didn’t use the spreading tool on this first bit and ripped a little bit of it.

This time the first mat showed more promise that the lace would separate from the mat. I wasn’t completely sold on it and was a bit haphazard in my approach to extracting it. In fact I had the mat half way in the middle of the bench and was leaning over the bench to reach it and then tried to pull it away. I was not doing what Claire showed, I was not using the knife/spreader and not surprisingly, the lace tore. But then I realised it was actually good to go so I got serious about the task at hand removed the rest of it properly.

Use the knife to assist in extraction

The bit I tore by not following Claire’s instructions. Pay attention.

I was thrilled how supple the lace was.

The Dab mats were harder to get the lace from and I ended up tearing a tiny bit here and there, but it is easy to place and not tell it’s torn.

Dab lace

The bubbles are noticeable, well to me. These two are from the Dab mats.

The heart mat wasn’t difficult to extract from, but due to the design, there was one part that wouldn’t pull away from the mat as it was being bent back. Just that tiny little scroll, the photo from my phone shows the best.

2014-02-03 11.34.18

That little bit there will catch, watch for it. It’s easy to extract, but it wont come away cleanly with the main part of the design.

Now I have all this near perfect cake lace and I’m not sure what I’ll use it on. I was in awe of how flexible it was. I had heard it was, but most photos I’d seen were of cakes already adorned with the cake.

So here are quite a few photos to show just how bendable, flexible, pliable the cake lace is. I even got to draping it round and round my wrist and it never tore, it didn’t crack, it didn’t do anything but drape like it was a piece of fabric.

Very flexible

Wrapping the lace is a breeze.

Lots of movement

Flexible, supple, bendable.

Like a lacey sleeve

It really does look like lace, especially if you drape it over your arm like a sleeve.

I’ve stored the cake lace as directed by Claire. It’s been wrapped in both waxed and baking paper and stored in a box (which isn’t sealed). Yesterday I grabbed the doily one just to see if after almost two weeks (two weeks is on Monday/tomorrow) it had remained soft and supple.

Storing cake lace

Stored ready for when I dream up a cake to decorate with this product.

The verdict? Yes! I did find I had to peel it off the paper, I hadn’t expected that. I’m not sure why it sort of stuck to it, but it wasn’t difficult to remove. The doily feels and behaves every bit the same it did the day I made it.

So is there a downside? Yes. There are two:

  1. The cost
  2. The air bubbles

I don’t know what to say about the cost. The product has to come to NZ from the UK and then there are duties and taxes that have to be paid, so it’s not cheap to buy. It seems so unfair when it’s not the equivalent cost (with the exchange rate taken into account) for people to purchase in the UK. As it happened I bought mine directly from The Cake Decorating Company in the UK. At the time I hadn’t been aware that KiwiCakes was now stocking the product. I’ve done a few sums and even with the exchange rate (at the moment) and the cost of shipping, for me it is still more cost effective to buy from the UK. It’s a sad predicament because I far rather support NZ business, but when it comes down to it, I don’t do this as a business, I can’t write off any of the costs. If we were talking just a few dollars then it would be a no-brainer. I’d buy locally.

As for the second, the air bubbles, I’m not sure if it was my lack of experience/technique, if perhaps I should let the mixture rest for a while to see if the bubbles would just work themselves out, or whether it really doesn’t matter because unless you’re studying the lace you probably wouldn’t see them.

Cake Lace moulds

Beautiful, delicate lace.

I’m not sure how much I will get out of the rest of the Cake Lace mixture, but I love using it. Now I just have to dream up some cake or cupcakes that would be worth of decorating with this lovely product.

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27 thoughts on “Claire Bowman’s Cake Lace Product and Mats

  1. Great blog, I was wondering exactly what sugar lace was and how it worked. It looks fantastic. If only I had a reason (and the money) to try it!

    • Hi Jasmine, I know exactly what you mean. I don’t have any need to make the sugar lace either, but one day ….. You never know 😉 I love new products and after a while I can’t resist splurging on something I don’t necessarily need, just so I can see for myself what everyone else is raving about. Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂

  2. i have made some of the same experements…..i have also used sugar veil.so i was used to the technic of spreading the lace….my problem is i tasted the part b …ugg…now i have tasted the lace ,and that is not that much better!! i am worried about putting it on a wedding cake i am makeing have you tasted the finished lace? what do you think of the taste?

    • Hi Jacqueline. Yep, I’ve tasted it. I didn’t find it awful but I’d probably remove it from a slice of cake before eating it. I found it sort of gummed up and became a solid lump making it unpleasant to chew more than the taste bothered me. It’s certainly edible, but I’d probably not. Not sure if that helps. It wouldn’t stop me using it on a cake. I don’t know whether it might come unstuck when cutting a cake to know whether people would likely leave it behind anyhow. Cheers!

    • Claire often demonstrates cake lace in the craft channel (www.createandcraft.tv) and she has said that bubbles could be caused by the oven being too high, which can cause the sugar to overheat and bubble. I use cake lace and haven’t had a problem with bubbles so it’s probably not the mixing stage that’s the problem.. you can flavour the lace using concentrated flavour oils such as the Loranne flavourings.

      • Hi Diane, thank you so much for leaving a comment about your experience, and what you’ve seen Claire demonstrate. My oven does tend to run hot so I’ll bear this in mind next time. I bought silver and more white when I was in Australia over the New Year so I’m definitely having another crack at it. I love how supply it remains months and months afterwards. I can’t remember if I’ve used Loran Oils with Cake Lace, but I have with homemade cake lace. Will have to give that a crack too. Cheers, Anita

  3. loved reading your comments. I have been fiddling with cake lace for a couple of years, first with sugar veil which I hated as not suitable for our humid climate ,comes out of the mat but goes soft and sticky ended up tossing it. The newer varieties flexi paste and Clare Bowmans cake lace are promising have been playing around with both. America also has a product called dress lace check it on google. Try using 2 layers after the first 10 mins in the oven let it cool and then do another thin layer and dry again, removes all the air bubbles and easy to remove. The mats are much, much, cheaper from China and work just as well
    happy decorating
    Erin

    • Hi Erin, I’ve seen that Dress Lace on Global Sugar Art. It looks good. I hadn’t thought do do a second layer of the cake lace, it would make it quite pricey. I’ve been given some of that flexi paste to try and crystal lace. I’ve got lots of playing still to do, plus I’m going to try tweaking a home made recipe. I love fiddling about. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s always interesting to read others experience, and learn from that too. I agree, the mats are a lot cheaper off eBay (usually from China). I sometimes look on aliexpress and banggood too. I bought a couple of Dab mats there, but they’re quite small. Good luck with the other brands you’re trying out.

  4. At the moment ,cake lace is driving me nuts with air bubbles ,I have one drying at the moment ,after giving it a second coat, no bubbles as I look at it ,and hopefully none when I peel it off, any advice please to stop the bubbles on the mat.?

    • Hi Breda. I wish I had a solution. I’ve heard of another person who recommended reapplying more cake lace mixture to resolve/lessen the air bubbles. I’ve not tried it myself though. I had a request on my Facebook page from The Cake Decorating Company to share the link to this post with them. They’ve not left a comment here or on the Facebook page. I thought they might have had some pearls of wisdom to share about the bubbles, or to check my application method. I just wonder if there’s more to the paddling of the cake lace into the mat. If you’ve got the time, I’d love to here how you got on with the second coat. Thanks leaving a comment. Cheers

  5. Hi! I found your blog looking for a solution to the bubble problem.
    What i do now is leaving the mat to airdry for about an hour.
    Then i put it in the oven for 15 min at 60 degrees celcius.
    Somehow that solves a part of the bubble problem.

    Saw the cake you made with this lace, it was beautiful!

    • Hi Eveline, thanks so much for taking the time to leave and comment and what you’ve found has lessened the bubbles. I think like royal icing, if you can let the mix sit, the air bubbles will rise. I’ve tried leaving the cake lace mix and using it later but it didn’t make any noticeable difference. I’ll give your suggestion a try next time 🙂 Thank you

      • I know, I tought that would mak a differenc too, but it didn’t.
        What i did find is that if you leave it to sit in the mat for a while, some of the bubbles will pop and there the mixture will spread and leave a gap which you can fill up before putting it in the oven.

  6. Thanks Eveline, I’ll try to be patient and leave it an hour, then reapply more cake lace as needed. Cheers.

  7. Thank you so much for all the comments. I was re4ally pleased with my lace when I made it but found that my lace went soft and sticky did not hold the shape (as seen in demonstrations). What am I doing wrong please?

    • Hi Lynne, I’m far from an expert on Cake Lace but I wondered if you were storing it in parchment paper. I’m not even sure if you were using straight from making it. I’ve not experience soft and sticky cake lace. Our humidity might be different and perhaps that may be a factor. Have you contacted The Cake Decorating Company? They have a Facebook Page and are pretty active on Facebook. They would be better able to offer some real assistance. Good luck.

  8. Just used your kit for the 1st time this morning, amazing results and so quick to make,I dusted the silicon mat with just ordinary flower worked a treat if you don’t have spray cooking oil.so pleased with results can’t wait to make more thankyou

    • Hi Ann. I just wanted to clarify that the Cake Lace isn’t “mine”, it’s Claire Bowman’s. I wrote a review on my experience using it. Anyway it’s lovely to hear you’ve had such a great experience using it 🙂 Cheers Anita

  9. I was really pleased to find this blog post as I’m considering experimenting with cake lace for my own wedding cake next year! I’m going to a cake and baking show tomorrow so doing some online research before I get there – hoping I might be able to pick up a good deal perhaps. It’s great to read about your experiences and I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

    • Hi Joanna. More and more I’m reading that people are saying to apply a second coat of cake lace after some minutes in the oven. And the more I look at other people’s application of cake lace the more I see little bubbles. I guess it’s par for the course and I need to stop being so picky 🙂 All the best at the cake and baking show and good luck with your experiences 🙂

  10. Hi everyone. I found this recipe for home-made cake lace on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IIgs68L1nk – scroll down below video for full recipe (you need to click ‘show more’). It works a dream – with no air bubbles – although it does need two layers. I was amazed at the results I have had and it also stores with no problem.
    The first time I had to add twice the amount of water than stated in the recipe – the next time I made it I used half the amount of Tylose and the right amount of water; both worked. Maybe that was because I used glucose rather than corn syrup (as this is hard to find in the UK). I used a hand mixer to work it all together and then at the end squashed it around a bit in the bowl with a silicone spatula to get rid of any air.
    After a few experiments with different approaches I decided I didn’t need to dust/oil/prepare my mats at all. I am very slapdash and lazy in the kitchen so that suits me fine. So far I have only used a couple of Claire Bowman mats but if I can perfect a tasty version then I may order some from Hong Kong / China as they are soooo cheap on Ebay.
    It seems to be a very forgiving recipe – if it got too dry in the oven I just covered it with a slightly damp tea towel for a very short while and it became flexible again. If it was the first layer I didn’t bother doing that – just added more and that restored it. I found that some designs dried faster on the more delicate parts whilst the centre part took longer – so I just laid my damp cloth on the drier bits if I needed to. Now that I am getting better at judging drying time I don’t find it a huge problem. Like others on here I have found using a warm oven that is not switched on is helpful to finish drying it. I’m too impatient to air dry it but I think I will have to try that for my chocolate version (see below)
    To make it whiter I tried Sugarflair Extra White gel paste but it didn’t work very well. So I used Sugarflair Super White Powder which worked fine. I haven’t achieved a totally white lace – more an ivory colour – but as I am dusting it all with good old lustre dust it really doesn’t matter. It can take a lot of lustre dust as the lace t never really dries out, but I have also had success painting it with Click-Twist pens and my own lustre dust/alcohol paint mix. Gel colours work well (I’ve only made pastel shades) but the ivory base will obviously alter the shade – a toning lustre dust fixes that though.
    So the biggest drawback is eating the stuff!! I’ve not used the ‘real’ products, but I came to this blog looking for information on whether they were really edible from a taste and texture perspective. The home-made version turns to a tasteless blob when you try to eat it – but it seems that this is also the case with the ‘real’ laces out there. I only use it sparingly on cakes and cupcakes due to this but I have used it successfully for the bits that aren’t normally eaten – to decorate the cake board, to dress up a cake stand and as posy lace on flower sprays/arrangements. Easy to mould it to shape for circular cake boards – I usually make little snips to make it easier to ruffle a straight run and use glue made from Tylose or a blob of royal icing to fix it in place.
    So for convenience, versatility and price I am sticking to my home made version. Its a shame it is not nice to eat but it is just so pretty I am determined to keep trying – about to start experimenting with a chocolate hybrid to see if I can make truly edible lace!

    • Hi Fiona. Wow what a comprehensive recap of your experience with lace mixtures and mats, thanks for sharing. I haven’t thought to use lustre dust/powder with the cake lace yet but that’s a good suggestion. Thanks again for taking the time to explain what you’ve tried and what has and hasn’t worked and what results you’re happy with. Have fun!

  11. have you ever eat this? Do you like?

    • Hi Catalina. I have tried it. It’s a nondescript flavour. It’s the mouthfeel that’s odd. Not quite like rubber. But it certainly doesn’t dissolve easily. It’s not chewy either. It does disappear but it’s not something I’d eat. In fact I’ve used it on another cake and I pulled it off when I sliced the cake up. I really only see it as being decorative, though it’s certainly edible.

  12. Thank you for your wonderfully clear tutorial. I’ve been wanting to try this, but can’t find any information on whether it’s possible to use cake lace on iced cakes, instead of fondant cakes (which I hate!) What do you think?

    • Hi Toni, sorry for the delay in replying, we’ve just returned from holiday. I think there will be too much water content in a buttercream cake and will dissolve the cake lace. I would suggest trying it out, maybe make doily or something and put it on a cupcake and see how it holds up. It might be that it’s good for several hours and that might be all the window you need. Good luck!

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