Say that you’ve made a really amazing cake and all that’s left to do is decorate it. Look in your cupboard and the box of white sugarpaste or fondant icing is shining like a beacon. You roll it out and it starts sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface, it has cracks and it isn’t big enough to cover your cake. Hopefully with my guide to using fondant icing, your problems will all be fixed.
Stage 1: Dealing with the actual cake and its intricacies
Make the sponge preferably the day before and add the filling. Complete a crumb coat
Fondant icing is often seen in incredibly decadent wedding cakes. All of these cakes have one thing in common, a crumb coat.
A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream which protects the fondant from being contaminated with crumbs from the freshly made cake. The structure of freshly made cakes hasn’t had time to set, which is why when you cut freshly made cakes, they always are crumbly. In many large bakeries, particular industrial ones, you’ll find that they always refrigerate the baked cakes which allow the structure to set and the cake is less crumbly so it is easier to cut and shape their cakes, preventing crumbs getting into the fondant. The crumb coat extra insures that this doesn’t happen. It also provides a surface for the fondant to attach itself to.
Stage 2: Rolling out the fondant icing
To prevent the fondant icing sticking to the work surface, dust the surface lightly with icing sugar, as if you were making bread. Then knead the fondant until it becomes somewhat pliable. If you wish to colour the fondant, dip a cocktail skewer into gel food colourings for the best effect.
Be aware that these colourings are much more powerful and potent than your bog standard liquid colourings. They are much more expensive but they will last you much longer than any other liquid colouring mainly because you do not need as much. Continue to work the colouring into the fondant until it becomes even.
When using a rolling pin, avoid applying too much pressure. Use a smaller rolling pin and be light with your hands.
Stage 3: Shaping and cutting
a) Fondant Coffee Beans
Colour the sugarpaste a very light grey (using a very small bit of black colouring) – don’t worry, the colour isn’t the final colour of them however it does help the final coffee beans look realistic.
Take a small chunk of the sugarpaste (about 5 grams) and roll it into an egg shape. Avoid having tapered ends. Using the blunt side of a table knife, make a small incision in the centre so it resembles a coffee bean.
Roll the fondant bean in cocoa powder and then allow to dry out on a plate for about 30 minutes. This means they become firm and less pliable. Then toss them between your hands to get rid of the excess cocoa powder.
b) Fondant Garden Scene
How you decide to use it is up to you, I placed it onto a cupcake for an attractive children’s cake (of course do not allow them to eat it, otherwise it would be a sugar overload). I’d advise this not be consumed but rather a decorative piece.
Colour 3 portions of fondant icing a baby pink, a bright green and brown. Take a small portion of fondant and colour it yellow.
Roll out the pink fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out a circle of fondant, using a fluted cutter, and apply onto the surface on a cupcake.
Roll out the green fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Using a table knife, cut out a leaf shape. Then with the knife, create the classic markings of a leaf. Lay the leaf on top of one side of the pink fondant.
For the brown snail, make a long sausage about 20cm long. Take one end and tightly roll it into a spiral shape. Then allow the neck and body to roll upwards and tuck the end back on itself to create the head. Apply a small dot of yellow fondant for the eye. Place on half of the leaf.
c) Fondant Flowers
Take 5 grams and roll into a ball. Flatten out with your thumb and then roll up from one side into a coil shape. This is the centre of your flower.
Take 8 grams of fondant and flatten out into a petal shape. Wrap it around the centre loosely, ensuring that the petal is slightly offset and the petal touches the centre at the bottom only. Using your thumb, open up the petal slightly to create a slight gap.
Repeat this process of making 8 gram petals. Each time you apply the petal, make it come up slightly higher up the centre coil and overlap the petals by about 5mm on the coil. Remember to open up the petal before applying another petal. Try to make each petal slightly larger than the one before. By the third “layer” of petal you will need more fondant to make the petal bigger but the same thickness. After 9 petals, pinch the base of the flower where the fondant all touches so the excess fondant comes away. You may wish to add a ball of yellow fondant in the very centre.
Some professionals will colour the petals such that the shades get lighter as you go out. Feel free to do this, but it’s a bit of a faff for me. Some will also brush the flowers with coloured/flavoured powders for the same effect.
d) Fondant Butterflies
Roll out plain white fondant to a thickness of 3mm and using a cutter, cut out butterfly shapes. Fold a piece of baking parchment so it has a crease. Rest the centre spine of the butterfly on the crease and allow to dry out and set.
Fondant is so incredibly useful in a cake maker’s kitchen. Once you get used to the intricacies of rolling it out, learn how to colour fondant cleverly and learn how to make different shapes to suit all manner of occasions, fondant is your very sweet best friend.