Fondant is such a fun medium of cake decoration to work with. However, if you don’t understand how to work with fondant, you might be frustrated.
In this article, we’ll deal with some foundational/basic issues on how to work with fondant so stay with us.
How to Harden Fondant
One issue that many people encounter when working with fondant is that of a sticky and overly soft dough.
The consistency of your fondant is the basis for a successful endeavor when you work with fondant. If it is too soft, it would stick on your fingers and work surface and wouldn’t allow achieve whatever you need to with it. Fondant that’s too hard would not be pliable enough to work with.
Another issue is getting fondant figures or decorative pieces to dry fast enough for when it’s needed. Truth is that the best media to use for any cake decoration piece with structure include gum paste, pastillage and modelling chocolate. That said however, if you have to work with fondant, then you need tips and trick on how to make it work.
So here are a few tips on how to harden your fondant:
Add CMC Or Tylose To The Fondant
A quick way of making fondant harden fast is adding CMC or Tylose powder. These ingredients are sold in any shop that sells baking products; they are easily accessible and affordable.
Tragacanth powder also hardens fondant but it takes about a day (24 hours) to activate. This means that it wouldn’t work if you want fast result.
So use a teaspoon or two of CMC or Tylose powder to one pound of fondant. The quantity you use however, would depend on the climatic conditions of your region. Use 1 teaspoon if you live in a dry region and 2 teaspoon if you live in a humid region.
Another thing to note also is, that you might have to add more depending also on the season (time of the year). Put the additives in increments until you get the consistency you desire or that feels right.
Use External Air
You can use external air to harden fondant faster. Place the pieces on a tray and set before a fan overnight. You can use a hand (blow) dryer if you don’t have enough time.Just set your dryer on low and run it over the pieces until they dry out. But ensure that the dryer is at least an inch away from the fondant pieces.
Use Your Oven
Preheat your oven at low heat for a minimum of 5 minutes then turn it off. Place the pieces on an oven tray lined with parchment paper and put the tray in the middle rack of the oven. Leave it in the oven for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Be careful not to touch the pieces when you get them out of the oven because they’ll be soft and sticky. Have no fear however, they’ll harden after a while outside the oven.
Use A Food Dehydrator
Dehydrators are appliances that are used to dry out vegetable and fruits. We already have an article that deals extensively with food dehydrators; click here to read it.
Use a Cabinet/Cupboard With lamp or Light Bulb
This is a trick that originated with bakers in humid regions. Most of them battle with dropping or wilting fondant pieces so they had to come up with ways to keep decorative fondant pieces firm.
First, build a cupboard with a glass door or convert a cabinet in your kitchen for that purpose. Install a low wattage light bulb in the cupboard (the light bulb would be on at all times). If you have issues with electricity, you can place a lamp in the cupboard.
Next, you place your fondant pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper and place the tray in the cupboard. The heat from the light bulb or lamp would remove every moisture from the fondant pieces. It would also serve as great storage for your fondant pieces.
There is certainly a scientific explanation as to why a sachet of salt placed in close proximity to fondant pieces would help them dry faster. However, we do not have the time nor space to discuss that now but suffice it to say that it works!
Place a sachet of salt in a large box and then place the fondant pieces an inch away from the salt. Let the fondant pieces be as near as possible to the salt without actual contact. This is to ensure that the fondant pieces don’t absorb the taste of salt.
How To Soften Fondant
We have mentioned earlier that the consistency of fondant to key to desirable results. So what do you do when your fondant is harder than desired? The following are the kitchen appliances that you can use to soften hard fondant:-
Use A Microwave
Place the hardened fondant in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave in increments of 5 seconds until it softens to the consistency you want. Remember not to start kneading the fondant immediately it comes out of the microwave or else you’ll burn your hands.
Use a Double Boiler
In a situation where you either don’t have a microwave or don’t want to use one, you can use a double boiler.
From personal experience, a double boiler works better than a microwave. This is because the leftover of fondant softened with a microwave becomes inordinately hard unlike the one softened with a double boiler.
How To Use A Double Boiler To Soften Fondant
Ok here’s how it works; place the fondant in a ziplock or plastic bag and put in a small saucepan with very little water(this is to prevent the plastic bag from sticking to the bottom of the pan) . Then place the saucepan in a larger saucepan with water up to halfway of the smaller saucepan.
Boil on slow heat until the fondant is softened to desired consistency. Again remember to allow the fondant to cool down before kneading.
One other option is to add a teaspoon of glycerin to one pound of fondant. Knead very well. If it’s not softened enough you can add one more teaspoon of glycerin and knead until you get the desired consistency.
You can use vegetable shortening if you don’t have glycerin. It also works fine and is readily available.
Check out this video on how to correct the consistency of your fondant
Use A Pasta Roller
This is one hack that was shared by a veteran cake decorator. Cut the fondant into small pieces and pass through the pasta roller. This would make it more pliable to knead and use. Remember to cover the pieces with plastic wrap as you roll them out to prevent them from drying out again.
You would also need some vegetable shortening on your working surface and hands as you knead the dough.
Storing fondant is a very important basic fact to grasp. This would save you a lot of time and energy when working with fondant. If you know how to store fondant properly, you can make double batches of fondant and store leftovers.
We have written an article on gum paste and it covers many aspects. Click here to read the article. The same principles for storage that we explained in the article applies to storing both gum paste and fondant.
We also recommend that you check out some of our previous posts:-
- Cake Boards – Covering the Bases
- DOWAN® 3 pc Mixing Bowls-Complete Review
- Cake Piping Kits – A Newbie’s Guide
- Cake Turntable: A Decorator’s Best Friend
- How To Store Fondant Decorations
- ZGO Silicone Utensils Set -Full Review
There are many more tips and tricks on how to work with fondant. We’ll be bringing them to you in subsequent posts. Stick with us, it’ll be real fun and educative.
Let’s leave you with another great video:-
This video would show you some basics about working with fondant.
How To Work With Fondant – FAQs
What Is Best To Put Under Fondant?
The question of what is best to put under fondant refers to what kind of icing or frosting to cover the cake with before finally covering with fondant.
The best icing to use under fondant is the one that is best suited to the cake recipe you baked and the climate of the region you live in. Some of the frostings that you can use include buttercream (any stable recipe) and ganache.
One cannot tell you which frosting to use just off the top of our heads because of the issue of the climate you live in. The rule of thumb is that the frosting must be stable enough to hold the fondant to the cake.
How Do You Get Fondant To Stick To Buttercream?
There are a number of things that you can do to get your fondant to stick on buttercream. The most popular of them is to spritz the cake with water from a spray bottle.
This is because your buttercream surface may be too dry to allow the fondant to stick to the cake.
Many newbie decorators make the mistake of leaving their buttercream wet and them placing the fondant on it immediately. But that would make the fondant squishy and sometimes even begin to melt the fondant from inside.
Our answer to the next question would help you see another method of getting your fondant to stick to buttercream.
Does Buttercream Need To Set Before Fondant?
Your buttercream need to set before you cover the cake with fondant. And by setting, we mean that the buttercream needs to be stable so that the fondant can stick properly to it without mishap.
So follow these simple steps:-
(i) Crumb coat your cake with a thin layer of buttercream, then place in the fridge for about 15 to 30 minutes.
(ii) Bring it out and then cover with another layer of buttercream and put back into the fridge.
(iii) After about 30 minutes, bring out the cake and then roll out the fondant and cover the fondant.
How Much Buttercream Do You Put Under Fondant?
The quantity of buttercream you put under fondant should be such that would completely cover the cake. This would ensure that no brown (or whatever color the cake is) would show through the fondant.
Additionally, a good coat of buttercream or ganache would provide a level surface for the fondant to sit on.
So technically, the buttercream on the cake should be about ¼ inch thick. Note that the buttercream should not be as thick as when it is if you are making a buttercream cake.
Can A Fondant Cake Stay Out Overnight?
A fondant covered cake can most definitely be left out overnight. As a matter of fact, fondant covered cakes are not meant to be refrigerated. That is why it is not advisable to use fillings that need to be refrigerated in a cake that you intend to cover with fondant.
Most times we decorate our fondant cake orders that have to be delivered in the morning a night before. And after decorating, we just leave it on the countertop and ensure that the room is cool and dry. You can also cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap to further help keep it nice and dry.
Do You Let Fondant Decorations Dry?
You must of necessity leave your fondant decorations to dry before use otherwise you wouldn’t get the best out of them.
When you make your fondant decorations, lay them in the appropriate tray or drying rack or flower former. This would enable them to retain their shapes as they dry.
Can I Use Jam To Stick Fondant On Cake?
You can use jam to stick fondant on cake; the argument has been whether to use it on a frosting or just directly on the cake.
Some cake decorators brush jam all over their buttercream or glazed cake before placing the fondant on it. We have experimented with just brushing jam over the plain cake and then covering with fondant.
First, you torte your cake and fill. Next you ensure that the cake is absolutely smooth. We achieve this by trimming the edges and then applying a very thin crumb coat on the cake and allow it to crust (or set).
Then finally, we brush on a thin layer of jam all over the cake before covering the cake with fondant. Ensure that the jam is not too thick or else the surface of the cake would be slippery and the fondant would not adhere properly.
Note that this method is best for cakes that are to be covered with dark colored fondant. Secondly, the fondant has to be a bit thicker than the one used to cover a cake with a buttercream or ganache foundation.
Why Is My Fondant Cake Sweating?
Your fondant cake is sweating because it has been exposed to moisture. This is the major reason why it is not advisable to refrigerate fondant cake or fondant decorations.
Cake decorators who live in humid regions would have issues with their fondant cakes sweating. The simple solution to this is ensuring that your fondant covered cake is kept away from moisture.
You can achieve this by the following:-
(i) Decorate the cake and also store in a well-ventilated room or an air conditioned room.
(ii) If you would not deliver the cake the same day or in 24 hours’ time, you can place it in a cake box. And then put some rice paper in the box; this would help to absorb whatever moisture is in the environment.
(iii) Finally, if you are making the fondant from scratch, it is best to omit glycerine, reduce the glucose and add or increase the CMC in the recipe.
How Far In Advance Can I Make A Cake Covered In Fondant?
You can make a fondant covered cake a day or 3 days in advance. The length of days your fondant covered cake would last depends largely on the following: – the recipe of the cake, the climate of your region and how well you can store the cake.
There are many cake recipes that can keep for a week without refrigeration. So we advise you bake those types of cakes when you want to make fondant covered cakes well in advance.
Also check out our article on how to store fondant decorations; the information there applies to fondant covered cakes (that is as far as they are made with recipes that would keep for long).
Does Fondant Crack When Dry?
The primary reason why fondant can crack when it dries is the recipe that you use. If you add too much CMC or Tylose to the fondant, it can crack when it dries. This is because the glycerine which helps restore the consistency of the fondant is not in the right proportion to other ingredients.
If you also live in a dry region with little or no humidity, you would surely encounter the issue of your fondant cracking when it dries.
So knowing the climate of the region you live in, would help you know which type of fondant recipe to use. Then after getting the right recipe for your region, handle your finished fondant decoration with care so that it wouldn’t not crack.