There’s a magic ingredient in cake decoration that does wonders and transforms boring cakes into masterpieces. That magic ingredient is edible luster dust!
Gone are the days of boring all white or pastel colored cakes. Bolder colors with shimmery and shiny accents have taken center stage in the cake arena.
Maybe you have been wondering how those incredibly stunning cakes are created and if you’d ever be able to create such.
You need some help if you want to quit the stands and join creators of awesomely splendid cakes. It’s your lucky day! We are here to help you!
Before we go further, let’s start first by explaining what this ingredient is and its components.
What is Edible Luster Dust?
Edible luster dust is a form of powder that’s used to decorate cakes and other baked goods. It is also used in other branches of the culinary arts. It’s tasteless, not poisonous and can be ingested (it’s edible).
Edible luster dust comes in a wide variety of colors that are used to create metallic glossy finish on baked goods. There are myriads of ways and methods of using edible luster dust; there is really no right and wrong way of using it. The end justifies the means.
That said however, you know that there are always rules of thumb for everything in life. Same goes for decorating with this magic ingredient.
Components of Edible Luster Dust
When you look at the label of most edible luster dust, they do not list the ingredients they are made of. There are some factors that affect the ingredients used in making each type of edible luster dust. One of such factors is the color and intensity of the edible luster dust.
The most commonly named ingredients on many luster dusts labels include: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Carmine and Iron Oxide. Some labels also cite Chromium Oxide or Iron Blue.
If you want to mix in edible luster dust to elements that would be eaten, you need to be sure of the ingredients. You can call the manufacturer to ascertain the ingredients used in the product you want to use.
This issue doesn’t usually come up as most cake decorators don’t use edible luster dust on elements that would be eaten. That’s not to say that edible luster dust is not food safe. In fact some manufacturers have gone a step further to indicate whether a product can be ingested or not.
Always check the label or product description to be certain. Some would have FDA approved stamp on them others would have food grade stamp. There are others still that are clearly labeled “not to be consumed”.
Different Types of Edible Luster Dusts
Edible luster dust is an umbrella term used for any decorative dust or powder. There are specific products in this broad category and they include highlighter dust, pearl dust, disco dust, petal dust and sparkle dust.
Though they are all used to decorate and glamorize cakes, they all have different components and create different effects.
Let’s briefly look at them individually and highlight the effects they produce.
Luster dust is actually the most subtle of all the other kinds of edible luster dusts. It comes in a wide variety of color and adds a beautiful sheen and subtle sparkle effect. Luster dust is fine and smooth and can be diluted to be applied with paint brush or airbrush gun.
Some brands of luster dusts are labeled as safe to ingest while others though food safe are labeled “not for consumption”
Pearl dust produces a sparkly pearly luster with a hint of color to it. It is usually opaque which makes it ideal for use on decorations that don’t require too much color. The good thing about this edible dust is that it can also be mixed with petal dust for a little color.
Petal dust is best used for gum paste flowers. This is because it produces strong deeper hues and has a matte finish. This matte effect gives gum paste flowers a more realistic look.
Sparkle dust produces the sparkle and shine effect which is quite similar to the luster dust. The only difference is that the grain of sparkle dust is larger than that of luster dust. Because of the larger dust grains, sparkle dust works well for dry usage. That way the sparkles would stand out more.
That means that you can use sparkle dust when you want an effect that’s not over the top but not as mild as with pearl dust.
Highlighter dust is used to give high gloss metallic finish and they come mostly in gold and silver hues. Though they may look similar to the other edible dusts, highlighter dust gives off the highest sheen.
This type of edible luster dust are usually labeled “for decorative purposes only” They work beautifully for cakes that require bold, in-your-face popping colors. Although the most popular colors of highlighter dust is silver and gold, other colors are available too.
As the name implies, disco dust is the most glamorous of the edible luster dust family. This is because it has the largest grains of all the others.
It is ideal for creating “bling” effects and making your decoration to sizzle and sparkle. This magic ingredient is not ideal at all for very formal or traditional decoration. They cannot be used for airbrushing because of the large grains.
Now that we have discussed the basics of edible luster dusts, let’s move on to tips and techniques for its usage.
Tips on How to Use Edible Luster Dust
Edible luster dust can be used in several ways and on different medium. In this segment, we shall discuss some of the methods and medium.
You have to prepare your dust properly to get the best out of it. The first and most important thing to note is that edible luster dust is not water soluble and so should not be mixed with water. It won’t work at all; it must be mixed with a liquid that’s alcohol based.
Scoop a little edible luster dust into a bowl or paint palette and add one or two drops of vodka and lemon. You can also use clear vanilla extract or edible spirit. Stir the mixture well to form a paste. Remember that your consistency has to be right.
Get the Right Consistency
If your mix is too thick your painting would streak and look untidy and if it’s too thin, it would run. We want to assume that there’s an instruction manual or tutorial that you plan to follow.
Well, assuming you don’t have any guide, here’s what to do. Start out your mixture on the thick side and test on a piece of fondant. Keep thinning out until you get the right consistency. Bear in mind that as you work, the mixture would dry out so you’ll need to keep thinning it out. But be careful with this process.
Note that you can also use your luster dust as it is (dry); if that’s the case then you don’t need to mix it with anything.
You can also check out this video…
When applying the mixed dust paint, you have to see yourself as an artist and so think and work as one. First of all the type of brush you use matters a lot.
The surface you want to apply the paint on determines the type of brush you would need. If you are painting a large surface(like an entire cake), you would need a medium size blush or flat brush. If you are painting in designs, you would need a brush with delicate tips and bristles.
Some designs might require that you use several sizes of brushes; remember that the size of your brush determines the brush strokes and the effects produced.
Do not take this lightly. We suggest you get a tutorial or a template to copy. This would surely help you get a hang on the types of brushes and the effects they would create.
How to Airbrush With Edible Luster Dust
Fill your airbrush gun with the liquefied solution of edible luster dust and airbrush designs onto your cake.
If you are already comfortable with airbrushing then you shouldn’t have any problem. But if you are not, you can read our article on cake airbrushing to get some tips.
You may decide to do your airbrushing freehand or you may need to use templates and stencils. This depends on your airbrushing skill level.
How to Use Edible Luster Dust with Stencils
Stencils help you to create stunning designs on your cake and baked goods. There are several ways of using edible luster dust with stencils. We’ve already discussed one of the ways and that’s airbrushing.
Another way is on fondant either directly on the cake or before placing on the cake. If you are using it on fondant, here are the steps:
Roll out your fondant to the desired thickness and press your stencil into the fondant. Remember to dust your working surface with cornstarch and also your stencil. This is to ensure that there’s no stickiness anywhere.
When you press in your stencil, be firm but also careful not to press it too deep that the details would tear out.
Use your dust or the liquefied mix to paint over the stencil; ensure that all the details are well covered with paint. Allow the paint to dry before you remove the stencil. Then cover your cake with the designed fondant. You can also make fondant cut outs with the designed paste.
You can also use this method on a cake already covered with fondant. In this case, you have to be careful to let the fondant dry first before pressing in the stencil. This is to ensure that the handling of the cake does not smudge or dent the shape.
How to Use Edible Luster Dust in Icing
Butter icing or buttercream is one medium that’s too soft for you to paint edible luster dust on. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a glittering and shiny butter icing. All you need to do is add the edible luster dust to the frosting before using it.
Royal icing can be left to dry and then carefully painted with edible luster dust.
Whichever way you want to use this dust with icing, remember that it has to be the type that can be ingested. So check the label of product description well before purchasing.
Two Methods of Applying Edible Luster Dust
We have touched briefly on how to use edible luster dust in the foregoing. We would now discuss in greater details two methods of applying edible luster dust and the tools required.
These methods are the dry method and the wet method of application.
Dry Application of Edible Luster Dust
In the dry method of application, you do not liquefy the edible luster dust. You use a soft blush brush to paint your cake surface to get the effect you want.
The advantage of this method is that you do not have to grapple with getting the right consistency of liquid solution. It also allows you to paint without any streaks of paint on the cake and leaves you with an evenly painted surface.
The disadvantage of this method is that it uses way more luster dust than the liquefied solution. This makes is a more expensive method than the wet method.
Ingredients and Tools Required
The ingredients and tools required for this method are
(i) Fondant or Gum Paste– This is either to cover the whole cake with or to make decorations and accents.
(ii) Food Coloring – You use the food coloring to color the fondant or gum paste before applying the edible luster dust.
(iii) Edible Luster Dust– To create the shimmer and shine effect required.
(iv) Vegetable Shortening – The vegetable shortening would serve as the “glue” that adheres the edible luster dust to the fondant or gum paste.
(v) A Soft Blush Brush – This is essential for the proper application of the edible luster dust.
(i)First start off by coloring your gum paste or fondant in a lighter shade of the color of the edible luster dust. For instance, if you are going to use gold edible luster dust, then you have to color the fondant deep yellow or a dark shade of ivory. Similarly, if you’d be using silver luster dust, you color the fondant light gray. This would reduce the quantity of edible luster dust you would have to use before you get your desired effect.
(ii) Secondly,cover your cake with the fondant and rub in a thin layer of shortening all over the cake. Ensure that every bit of the cake is well covered with the thin layer of vegetable shortening.
(iii) Thirdly,spread a paper towel on your working surface and place your cake turntable on it. Then place the covered cake on the turntable.
(iv) Finally,gently dab your brush into the luster dust and proceed to paint in smooth even stroke all over the cake. Always alternate using different sides of the brush when one side is clogged with luster dust.
This method is quite simple and gives you a smooth and glossy effect and what’s more, it doesn’t need time to dry. This is your go to method when you don’t have enough time to allow your edible luster dust to dry.
Check out this video for more clarity
Wet Application of Edible Luster Dust
In this method, you have to liquefy the edible luster dust; remember that you can only do this with an alcohol based liquid. You can choose to use vodka alone, or with lemon. You can also use clear vanilla extract or edible spirit.
When you have liquefied the edible luster dust, you then go ahead and paint your cake with it.
This method is ideal when you have cakes with uneven surfaces, fold designs and hard to reach places.
Ingredients and Tools Required
The ingredients and tools needed for the wet method are similar to those needed for the dry method. The only difference is that you’ll need the wet ingredient for liquefying and a different kind of brush set.
These different ingredient and tool are the edible spirits and the paint brushes.
(i) First, follow step one of the dry method.
(ii) secondly,cover your cake with the colored fondant and smooth out properly. After that leave the fondant to dry so that it won’t be smudged or dented when you start painting.
(iii) Thirdly ,follow the steps in Tips on How to Use Edible Luster Dust and How to Get the Right Consistency of Edible Luster Dust Paint above.
(iv) Next,proceed to paint your cake with the paint brush.
We recommend the following articles for more information on some aspects of cake decoration and tools needed:-
- How To Color Fondant
- Cake Piping Bags- All You Need To Know
- How To Make Fondant Bows
- Cake&Deco Russian Tips-Full Review
- How To Work With Fondant
- Cake Piping Nozzles – Understanding the Essentials
Edible Luster Dust – FAQs
Can You Use Luster Dust On Chocolate?
You can use luster dust on chocolate just as on any other frosting used to cover cakes. When applying luster dust on chocolate you have to ensure that the chocolate is dry. After that, you add edible spirit to your luster dust to form a spreadable paste. Then go ahead and paint the chocolate.
This application applies to chocolate covered cakes, chocolate drips on cake, strawberries dipped in chocolate and all forms of cake decoration with chocolate.
Remember the rules of working with edible luster dust as we have discussed in the foregoing article.
How Do You Use Luster Dust On Strawberries?
You can use luster dust on strawberries in very simple steps and they are as follows:-
(i) Cover your strawberries with chocolate; you can achieve this either by dipping the strawberries in chocolate or pouring the chocolate over the strawberries. (we prefer to use white chocolate).
(ii) Leave the chocolate covered strawberries to dry
(iii) Mix your luster dust as per instructions and using a paint brush from your cake decorating set, apply the ‘paint’ in long even strokes. If your paste is too light, you may have to use two coatings. But if you get the right consistency, one coat would do.
Note that using a luster dust paste that’s too thick would not allow you to achieve that sleek glossy look. So the trick is to get the right consistency.
Can You Put Edible Glitter In Drinks?
You can put edible glitter in drinks; this is one sure way of making your cocktails fun.
There are some edible glitter products that are made solely for drinks; one of such products is the Signature Drink Lab Edible Glitter For Drinks. But if you do have the regular edible glitter used in cake decoration, it can still suffice.
Note however that the luster dust that would work best for drinks is the type that we classified under edible highlighters or disco dust. Refer to the main body of this post for clarification.
Can You Use Gold Luster Dust On Buttercream?
You can use gold luster dust on buttercream using all the methods we highlighted in our article above. But one thing you must bear in mind is that when using gold luster dust, (or any color of luster dust) you have to let the buttercream crust. This is especially true for the painting method.
To paint gold luster dust on buttercream, let the surface of the cake be a bit firm to the touch( you can lightly press a finger to the cake without denting it).
Some people like to mix in the luster dust into the buttercream but it wouldn’t get the same effect as when it is applied after you have used the buttercream to cover the cake.
Can You Put Edible Glitter In Cake Mix?
You can put edible glitter in your cake mix but the issue is whether it would survive the heat of the oven. It is just best to use regular food color for your cake mix and then use the edible glitter for decoration.