Working with Fondant

Green ribbons made with fondant

Working with fondant isn't as difficult as it might seem. Fondant is a favorite supply for most advanced and professional cake decorators, and it gives cakes a sleek, unique look that just can't be achieved with ganache or buttercream frosting. Fondant is also a common choice for wedding cakes, as a smooth layer of white or colored fondant gives layer cakes an elegant look that's perfect for an upscale occasion. Working with fondant is a lot like working with clay, and it allows for a lot of creativity in design.

Getting Fondant

Premade fondant is available for purchase at many craft stores, large grocery stores, and specialty baking stores. You can also order fondant online from cake-decorating suppliers and retail baking stores. Generally, you'll need about one pound of fondant to cover a double-layer 8- or 9-inch round cake. Some varieties of tinted fondant are available, but most commercial fondant is white. If you want specific colors, you may have to tint them yourself with gel coloring. Store-bought fondant will last months if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept in an airtight container.

Another option is making your own fondant. Mixing the fondant dough and kneading it can be time-consuming, but it's cheaper to make fondant than to buy it. When you create your own fondant, you can tint it in the amounts you need and flavor it to your preference. Homemade fondant can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, for about a week. Many people dislike the flavor of fondant, but homemade fondant generally tastes better than store-bought fondant.

Coloring Fondant

Most decorators use a toothpick and gel coloring to tint their fondant.

  1. Knead the block of fondant that you would like to tint until it is smooth.
  2. Pat the fondant down into a rectangle or circle.
  3. Dip a toothpick into some gel coloring and use the toothpick to streak the coloring across the fondant.
  4. Wear plastic gloves while kneading the color into the fondant. If you don't, your hands may get dyed, too.
  5. Knead in just a few streaks at a time until they are incorporated. You can always make fondant darker, and the tints generally darken over time.
  6. Add flavor extracts to fondant in the same way you add color. Use a toothpick to dab on drops of an extract, and then knead it into the fondant.
Top tier of a fondant wedding cake

Preparing Fondant

Fondant dries quickly and won't last long in open air without hardening, so it's important to work fast and keep the fondant fresh. Cover unused fondant with plastic wrap or a damp cloth.

To roll out fondant, sprinkle a flat work surface and a rolling pin with cornstarch. Roll out the fondant, reapplying more cornstarch if necessary to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin or the work surface. When the fondant is about 1/4 inch thick, it is ready to cut or apply to the cake.

Fondant Decorations

Form decorations and cutouts yourself when working with fondant by using cookie cutters or a sharp knife to cut shapes from the rolled fondant. Fondant flowers are a popular decoration for wedding cakes, and cutters made specifically for fondant can also help create flowers quickly. Just press them into the fondant and gently remove the cut shapes with a flat spatula. You can let the decorations dry before adding them to the cake or add them right away. Secure decorations with buttercream.

Fondant tools such as crimpers, imprint mats, and sculpting utensils can make fondant easier to work with and are good choices for adding intricate decorations and designs to fondant figures.

More Tips for Working with Fondant

  • Fondant can be melted and poured over cakes and small desserts rather than rolled out.
  • Rather than mixing food coloring into kneaded fondant, you can use an airbrush technique or luster dust to add shimmer to fondant.
  • Let cakes cool and firm before coating them with fondant or other frosting.
Working with Fondant