Cake Decorating Tips: An Introduction to Fondant

For many people “fondant” is not a familiar term, but most people have seen the firm sugary icing that often adorns traditional cakes for weddings, showers, and christenings. Fondant, also known as sugar paste, is an icing made primarily of confectioner’s sugar and gelatin. It can be kneaded, rolled, cut into shapes, molded, and embossed. As a cake covering it provides a wonderfully smooth canvas for decorating and seals in the freshness of the cake. The following cake decorating tips are designed to help as you begin to explore the world of fondant.

Fondant Coverings

You can make rolled fondant from scratch or purchase a ready-to-use rolled fondant to cover your cake. Making fondant from a mix is another option. Any leftover icing can be stored for two months in an airtight container at room temperature.

The key skills for using rolled fondant are mixing, kneading and rolling. If you have never rolled fondant before and you are not experienced with rolling out pastry dough, you probably should take a class.

Following are basic steps for covering a cake with rolled fondant:

  1. Apply a light layer of butter cream icing.
  2. Knead the sugar paste to a correct consistency.
  3. Roll the dough out without allowing it to stick or crack.
  4. Lift the dough and drape it over the cake.
  5. Using a smoother, carefully shape the fondant to the cake, removing air bubbles.

Another method of covering a cake is using poured fondant. While rolled fondant gives you a semi-soft surface, poured fondant becomes smooth, shiny, and semi-hard.

An elegant application for rolled fondant is covering the cake board. The board can be the same color as the cake and flow outward from the cake—or it can be a separate element of the design. For example, if the cake is a boat, the cake board might be the blue water underneath.

Coloring and Flavoring Fondant

You can color fondant using coloring or use pre-tinted fondant. You can also purchase multi-packs of pre-colored fondant for the decorations. To color fondant:

  1. Roll icing dough into a ball.
  2. With a toothpick, add dots of color to a few spots on the ball.
  3. Knead ball until color is fully blended, or roll it out before it is fully blended to get a marbleized effect—you can also marbleize by kneading two different colors of dough together.

Fondant Decorations

Attach fondant decorations to a cake by lightly brushing with a damp brush and pressing gently onto the cake.

Key decorating strategies with fondant are:

  • Make cutouts, using a cookie cutter or fondant cutter.
  • Use a ribbon cutter/embosser. With this gadget you can cut ribbons in straight, zigzag and wavy shapes, with a plain surface or embossed with beads or stripes.
  • Create ruffles.
  • Cut, sculpture, and assemble shapes such as flowers and animals.
  • Emboss designs onto the cake surface or on shapes to be attached to the cake; these can be filled in with piped royal icing in a contrasting color.
  • Make ropes, by hand or with a sugarcraft gun, and twist them together for edging effects.

Final Cake Decorating Tip for Fondant Beginners

There is much room for artistic talent and creativity when working with fondant. When you look at cake decorating books and magazines for ideas and more cake decorating tips, you will see that designs can range from complex to very simple. Experiment with just a few new elements at a time. Even if you use two colors and one type of decoration, you will achieve pleasing results.

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