The sweet art of sugar


There's been a surge of cooking and baking shows and competitions in recent years and it's enough to inspire even the most inexperienced home cook to take a stab at something new.

That's just what one woman wants you to do. She makes art entirely from sugar, and she says you can do it too!

It may not look like it, but you eat it. Sugar art is made entirely of sugar. Certified master sugar artist Peg Tucker has been playing with sugar for a quarter of a century.

"This to me is like working with a blown glass, which has always been a passion. Since I couldn't do that, I could do this," Tucker said.

She's won countless awards for her cake decorating and sugar sculpting skills. Now, she travels the country teaching the art of sugar.

Sticks make playing easy. Melt the sugar sticks in the microwave, then pour into an aluminum foil mold. As it cools, pull and shape the sugar into a base.

"The limits of what you can do to this is only by your own imagination," Tucker said.

Pour sugar into molds to make individual pieces to add to your base.

"Once you have all your pieces together, it will go extremely fast," Tucker said.

Tucker's students range from hobbyists to serious bakers. By adding sugar pieces to cakes, bakers can increase profit.

"When you get somebody who can bake and decorate, it's a homerun for them," Tucker explained.

For Lori Kunkel, sugar art is a hobby.

"it's relaxing to me. Gives me something to do. Something to keep me occupied," said Kunkel.

It fills a different need for Ginni Cormack.

"One of my college majors was fine arts and I used to be an oil painter. Cake became my canvas," Cormack said.

The sugar can cause severe burns, so be careful. But Tucker urges people to just try it.

"Get a little bit of it. Use common sense, respect it and then just enjoy playing with it," Tucker said.

You need to use high quality molds, like gum paste molds, for individual pieces. Don't use those plastic molds designed for chocolate or the sugar will burn right through them. Isomalt sticks are often carried at hobby stores. Some sugar artist also say you can order them from www.cakeplay.com.