Fondant is an icing used to decorate and sculpt cakes. It is different than traditional buttercream in that it is more like stiff clay or a hard glaze.
Many people credit shows such as Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss for the rise in fondant awareness. But, working with this ingredient is more finicky than one might think.
1. It’s easy to make
Fondant is the thick, dough-like substance that is used to cover cakes and sculpt into designs or decorations. It’s often compared to Play-Doh, and it is very easy to work with. Many cake designers consider it a more versatile alternative to regular icing, especially for luxury cakes like those for weddings or bat mitzvahs. Regular icing can be difficult to work with, and can’t be made into complex shapes like bows or flowers.
The main ingredients in fondant are sugar, water and corn syrup. Gelatin and glycerin are added to make the fondant more pliable. Once it’s made, it can be colored and molded into any shape. Fondant also dries more slowly than buttercream, so it holds its shape well.
Whether you’re using it to cover or decorate a cake, the best way to work with fondant is to use your hands. Coat your hands with a thin layer of vegetable shortening or wear food-safe gloves. This will prevent sticking to the fondant, and keep it from becoming too stiff as you knead it.
The most important thing to remember when working with fondant is to know your limits. If the fondant becomes too stiff while you’re kneading, add a little bit of water at a time until it is soft and pliable again. If you’re making a large amount of fondant, it’s helpful to have a dough hook attachment for your mixer.
2. It’s inexpensive
Fondant, which is a sugar clay-like substance, gives cakes a smooth texture and professional look. It can also be used to decorate and shape baked goods into various shapes and designs. Fondant icing is most well-known for covering and decorating cakes, but it can also be used as a filling or to make decorative figures.
Although it’s possible to buy fondant pre-made, homemade fondant is often cheaper and better tasting. It’s also a lot easier to work with than store bought varieties, which can be very stiff and sticky.
Homemade fondant recipes vary, but the basic ingredients include sugar, marshmallows, vegetable shortening and flavoring. Most of these recipes also call for food coloring, which should be added in small amounts at a time and stirred into the fondant before using. It’s best to use paste food coloring instead of liquid coloring because it is more concentrated and won’t dilute as much when mixed into the fondant.
Once the fondant is made, it can be molded into different types of decorations to complement any cake or cupcake design. Some of the most popular fondant decorations include fondant flowers, fondant bows and letter and number cutouts to create unique birthday party toppers. It’s even possible to make fondant figures to add a touch of personality and humor to any cake or dessert. You could even create a whole party scene on your birthday cake with your favorite characters from movies or TV shows!
3. It’s versatile
Fondant is a versatile cake decorating ingredient that comes in both pre-made form and homemade variations to accommodate different tastes, budgets, and skill levels. It can be rolled flat to cover entire cakes, or sculpted into figures and decorations. It’s also easy to color and can be used with cookie cutters for letters, numbers, or shapes. Fondant is also the best material to use for draping sheets of over cakes, as it lends a smooth finish and creates a blank canvas for adding decorations or text.
The pliable nature of fondant makes it easy to knead and sculpt into intricate shapes. This is especially useful for cake decoration, as fondant can be used to create flower petals, leaves, and other dimensional decorations. Bakers can even use it to sculpt characters and figures, which can be particularly effective on wedding cakes or other specialty desserts.
It’s important to note that there are two main types of fondant: poured and rolled. Poured fondant is a liquid used as a filling or to coat cakes, and it’s typically thicker than rolled fondant. Rolled fondant is more like a sweet dough, and it can be manipulated into any shape you could imagine. Think of it as cake decorating with edible Play-doh, but much more fun to eat. Rolled fondant can also be shaped into candies, like Cadbury Creme Eggs, if desired.
4. It’s delicious
While some people may avoid fondant, others enjoy the sweet, pliable coating that covers and decorates cakes. It can be sculpted into three-dimensional creations or thinned down to a liquid for dipping and pouring. It can also add an airy texture that makes a cake light and scrumptious.
It is important to keep in mind that fondant is sugar, and it can dry out quickly. That is why it is best stored in the refrigerator, double wrapped, and covered in a plastic bag. This will prevent it from drying out and making a crust that is difficult to work with.
If you need to store it longer than a few days, Olayinka recommends adding a little vegetable oil to the fondant, and placing it in an airtight container or ziploc bag. This will help it retain moisture, and make it easier to knead, color, and shape.
Olayinka’s recipe is incredibly easy to follow, but she does note that you might have trouble finding food-grade glycerin. If you don’t have it, she suggests substituting with a bit more corn syrup or even a little honey. Just remember that substituting anything will change the flavor and texture of the fondant.
When you’re ready to knead the fondant, be sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent discoloring your hands. You’ll also want to use paste coloring rather than water-based colors, which can make the fondant too watery and affect the consistency.