I hated fondant and I hated decorating cakes with it. I hated working with it so much that at the beginning of my cake decorating business, I vowed to only make and sell buttercream cakes. But I soon realized the limitations of not using fondant. Clients ordering birthday cakes, especially for kids, usually want some type of fondant decorations. Kids like characters and cool scenes on their cakes. So I decided to start learning more about fondant. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs and books, and practiced a lot.
I’m finally to the point where decorating cakes with fondant doesn’t scare me, it actually excites me! I have to put together this ultimate guide to working with fondant so you would have a reference guide with all of the information in one place. Having good information on fondant all in one place would have saved me a lot of time when I was learning. Hope this guide helps you!
What is fondant?
Fondant is an edible icing.
It can be made into a poured fondant or a sugar dough. Poured fondant is used on desserts like Petit Fours and cookies. In this guide I will be referring to fondant sugar dough, which is used for covering cakes and adding decorations.
When you buy premade fondant from the store, it is usually made from sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin and glycerin. You can make your own fondant with marshmallows, confectioners sugar, and water. Check out that recipe here.
When do you use fondant?
Fondant can be used to cover whole cakes, or it can be used to add detail to buttercream cakes. Fondant is soft and flexible. It is also good for cutting out shapes that you want to lay flat on the sides of your cake.
How do I attach fondant decorations to my buttercream or fondant cake?
You can attach small fondant decorations directly on the surface of buttercream or fondant covered cakes. Fondant cutouts will usually stick to a freshly frosted cake If your are not, you can apply water to the back of the fondant cutout before attaching or to make sure your decorations stay you can use homemade Tylose glue for fondant.
How do I make my fondant dry hard?
When making 3D decorations for your cakes such as people or animals, you will want to add a hardening agent to your fondant. If you don’t, your figures will not dry hard and you will end up with a mess. Trust me, I learned this the hard way!
Tylose powder is a binding agent that hardens fondant when added to it. Fondant mixed with Tylose is known as gumpaste in the cake decorating world. Don’t worry, it won’t harden right away. You will still have time for modeling. You can also add pre-made store bought gum paste to your fondant. This is also called 50/50 paste. You want a 1:1 ration of fondant to gumpaste. 50/50 paste will also harden to allow you to make 3D figures for your cakes.
How do you color fondant?
Fondant comes in many different colors, but buying so many colored fondants can get expensive.
The easiest way to color fondant is with a toothpick. Stick the toothpick into the food color and wipe onto the fondant. Kneed the fondant thoroughly until your color is mixed through.
If you don’t want food colored stained hands you can wear plastic gloves. Gloves also help to keep colors from transferring from your hands onto other colors.
Adding too much color can also change the consistency of your fondant. It can become extra sticky. If this happens add cornstarch to your fondant and kneed until it’s not sticking to your hands.
How do you store fondant?
Fondant has a pretty long shelf life, but must be kept in an air tight container, Ziploc bag or wrapped in plastic wrap. Fondant starts drying out fast, so as soon as you are not handling it you will want to cover it. You can pre-make fondant decorations for applying to the surface of your cake by keeping them sealed in a Ziploc bag until you’re ready to attach to your cake.
Tips For Decorating Cakes With Fondant
1.Prepare your work space first.
You will set yourself up for success and less stress when you set up your work area and get all of your tools and supplies out before your start working with fondant. When I don’t do this, I have to keep getting up from working and it gets frustrating.
2. Have the right supplies.
Before beginning your project, make sure you have the right tools and supplies that you’ll need. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you don’t have a certain tool or ingredient when your in the middle of your creation.
3. Pre-color your fondant.
Coloring several batches of fondant can take time. Plan your cake timeline and color your fondant in advance on a day that you are not doing the actual decorating. Fondant colors will also deepen over a couple of days, so your fondant will be at its brightest color when you’re ready to decorate your cake.
4. Roll your fondant out to the right thickness.
Working with fondant that is rolled at about 1/8″ is best. Cut-outs are easier to work with when rolled thin and too thick fondant can cause cracks and other issues when covering a whole cake. Roller guides that go on the ends of your fondant rolling pin help with measuring your fondants thickness and rolling it out evenly.
5. Try different brands.
Every brand of fondant is not the same. If you’ve had trouble with one brand, try another. You will eventually find one you like more. Or you might like working with homemade fondant best.
6. Add Tylose if needed.
If your fondant is too soft to work with try adding some Tylose powder to harden it up a bit.
1. What is elephant skin?
Elephant skin is caused when your fondant is too dry. This causes your fondant to wrinkle and crack. To repair elephant skin add a small amount of shortening and knead thoroughly into your fondant.
2. How do I repair cracks on a fondant cake?
Use a fondant smoother and a small amount of shortening for small cracks or tears if fondant is already on your cake.
3. Why is my fondant not sticking?
If your fondant is not sticking to your cake or to another piece of fondant add water, or preferably Tylose glue.
4. Why is my fondant sticking to my counter, cutters and molds?
Fondant will stick to any surface if cornstarch or powdered sugar in not applied to that surface. Generously apply cornstarch or powdered sugar with your dusting pouch (learn to make your own here) to your work surface, cutters or molds. If any gets on your final decoration, gently dust it off with a dry or damp paint brush.
5. How do I get rid of rough edges on my fondant cutouts?
Gently rub your finger around the edges of your cutouts to keep the edges smooth and sharp.
6. My fondant decorations are too soft.
7. Why is my fondant melting?
Fondant cakes need to be stored in a cool dry place. Do not put fondant cakes in the refrigerator. Condensation will form and cause your fondant to become sticky, start sliding, and possibly cause your colors to run.
8. Why is there condensation on my cake?
You have stored your cake in a wet place, probably your refrigerator. Do not touch the cake. Place it in a cool dry area and condensation will seep back into fondant.
9. Why is icing seeping from the bottom of my fondant covered cake?
Your buttercream is too thin or your fondant is too thick. Make sure you are rolling your fondant 1/8″ thick before covering your cake.
10. Why is my fondant buckling or folding on my cake?
Again, your fondant is too thick.
Shew…..There is a lot that goes along with working with fondant!
It all might look intimidating at first, but with knowledge and practice you can begin making professional looking fondant cakes in your own kitchen!
Do you have any other questions about working with fondant? If so, I would love to try to help! Let me know in the comments.