Fondant icing is often fondly referred to as “baker’s play-dough” owing to its sheer malleability and the endless range of creative designs it can be used to produce. At the base of every fondant recipe lies the standard ingredients of water and glucose, but today this creamy confection is available in quite a few flavours, including Chocolate, Almond, Peanut Butter, Buttercream, and Marshmallow.
Once its ingredients are suitably blended together, fondant icing is not spread on the cake with a knife or spatula, but rather rolled out (or put through a fondant sheeter) and then carefully draped over the cake to create its signature smooth appearance. This is a process that takes practice to get perfect, and if you are not yet familiar with working with fondant, you will want to keep the following tips in mind:
While ready-to-use fondant tends to be expensive and thus it may seem appealing to start from scratch, when you are just starting out working with fondant, it’s highly recommended to stick with the ready-made variety, as it is consistent and will teach you what fondant should look and feel like.
It takes a fair bit of fondant to cover a cake, generally about a pound and a half of the icing to cover an 8-inch layer cake. As much of the joy of working with fondant is the versatility with which you can craft decorations, you will want to make a lot more than this so that you have plenty extra to experiment with. Try making flowers, butterflies, and other shapes to get the hang of using fondant icing for fine detail work.
Fondant dries very quickly, unlike buttercream frosting. Always keep any fondant you are not using covered! Also, it cannot be refrigerated.
Don’t be surprised if ready-to-use fondant does not taste terribly good; it doesn’t tend to be flavoured well, if at all. If you’re disappointed by this, don’t worry—your homemade fondant will be much, much better once you have the experience needed to work with it.
Keep your hands and work area as neat as possible, or those sticky fondant sheets will pick up just about every crumb they come into contact with.
Get the right tools. When you are just starting out, you’ll need a silicone mat, a rolling pin, and a smoother, but if you find yourself working with fondant a lot, you may want to invest in a fondant sheeter rather than hand-rolling sheet upon sheet of fondant (which soon gets both tedious and hard on the wrists). These are pricey, however, so may not be everyone’s first choice. If you are short on funds or feel the investment is impractical, certain models of pasta sheeter can be used in place of a fondant sheeter (be sure to research whether or not your model will be suitable—some will not work with fondant). Also, be aware that many fondant sheeter substitutes are only suitable for making smaller cakes, as they cannot roll large sheets.