Some cakes are so intricate they give the impression of being edible works of art, their impeccably smooth surfaces elaborately topped with sugary flowers, bows, ribbons, and beads—all somehow crafted with icing.
As anyone who has ever worked with plain buttercream frosting knows, producing these kind of flawless cakes is impossible with the inexpensive gooey stuff that comes out of the cans you’ll find at the local supermarket. Instead, you’ll have to turn to fondant icing, a special concoction made out of melted sugar and a variety of other elements (such as gelatine, agar, and glycerin), which make it easy to roll into sheets (which are then carefully draped over the cake).
If you are contemplating becoming a professional artisan cake baker, you are no doubt already familiar with the necessity of using fondant icing, and the painstaking process of mixing the ingredients and then rolling the icing out by hand, struggling to get just the right thickness. However, there is a better way: if you’re looking to “go pro”, it’s strongly advised to invest in a fondant sheeter.
While the initial expense may seem daunting, not only will owning a fondant confectionery sheeter save you enough time to pay for itself (especially when it comes to rolling large pieces), it will also preserve your physical health over the longterm. Like many jobs that require a lot of repetitive motion involving the hands and arms, hand-rolling dozens of fondant sheets a day is extremely punishing to the back and wrists, significantly raising your risk of work-related stress injuries.
A fondant sheeter also makes it significantly simpler to produce professional-looking cakes, as they enable the baker to easily adjust the thickness of his or her fondant sheets. They also produce a much more uniform thickness, which is absolutely essential to creating the breathtakingly smooth look that is the sought-after ideal for any professionally-made cake.
While commercial-grade fondant sheeters are typically very large (too large for most home-based operations), countertop models are also available. Both models will often cost upwards of 1000 pounds, but you can sometimes save money by looking for a used model.
If you’re truly pinched for both space and money, you may be able to get by in the interim by using a pasta-rolling machine (while pre-rolled sheets of fondant are available, they tend to be very limited in size and shape), but beware: not all of these are compatible with fondant, and attempting to use them with fondant may void their warranties. Be sure to read the warrantee and instruction manual for your particular model of pasta dough roller thoroughly before trying to put fondant through it, lest you end up with one very expensive sticky mess. And of course, be sure to clean the machine very thoroughly after each use, especially if you ever plan to use it with pasta again.