There are different types of fondant icing, only rolled fondant icing is covered in this guide. Rolled fondant icing is also known as sugar paste. The softer, more molded look of fondant icing is often used for birthday and novelty cakes. Fondant icing is popular with professional and home cake decorators due to its ease of use, it can be applied in one layer and rolled fondant can be bought ready made. Knead well until smooth and pliable, roll to the required shape and thickness. It can be frozen, but must be allowed to defrost naturally. The icing can be flavored using the essences and/or colored using the liquid, paste or powder dusting colors. To add the colorings use a cocktail stick, adding a little at a time to achieve the desired shade. Too much coloring or flavoring will make the paste sticky. Powder colors seem to fade less.
The icing can be easily molded into flowers, animals and other shapes – once molded it will dry and retain its shape. However, after a period of time the shapes can soften as the glycerin content attracts moisture so it should only be used on decorations that are to be consumed quickly.
Glycerine maybe added to rolled fondant if it is too dry or seems like an elephant skin texture. If glycerine doesn’t work, then try a little shortening. You have to play with fondant texture, depending on the climate and weather.
Applying Fondant to Cake:
Most fondant covered cakes are first covered with a layer of marzipan, this allows for a very smooth, straight edged cake. Today most decorators will use buttercream which will sag as a cake sits. I prefer using whipped ganache in which gives a wonderful flavor when cutting the cakes.
To cover a cake with fondant: Dust a clean pastry cloth, or a smooth, clean surface, with mixture of 50% cornstarch and 50% confectioners’ sugar; roll the fondant with a rolling pin until it is approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, depends on brand types of fondant using. Make sure the fondant is large enough to fit over the top and sides of the cake, measuring top and sides. Slide both hands under the fondant, carefully center it on top of a cake that has been iced with buttercream and refrigerated (The buttercream makes the fondant adhere to the cake.) You may apply Ganache to coat cakes prior to applying rolled fondant, this taste very good and allows a firm surface for the rolled fondant to be applied too.
Dust your hands with cornstarch and smooth the fondant, starting at the top and working down the sides until the entire surface is even and flat. (Being very careful not to stretch or crease, this will cause elephant skin effect in your finished fondant, if this should happen, peel fondant off your cake; re-knead re-roll and repeat the process) Cut off the excess icing around the bottom of the cake with a pizza cutter or sharp knife; work fondant with hands or fondant smoothers, to give a smooth finish. Finish fondant cakes by adding embellishments with fondant draping, lace and complete by decorating with royal icing or buttercream.
Storage of Fondant Cakes
Many Professional decorators feel a fondant covered cake will hold the moisture in the cake for 3 to 5 days, depending on your atmosphere. I personally don’t want to go beyond 3 days. I prefer the cake to have a fresh taste. (I refrigerate my cakes, if they have perishable type fillings and no royal icing design work) Condensation can develop; this could change the base color of the fondant. If using a colored icing to decorate, this could cause bleeding or dripping on sides of fondant if placed in refrigerator.
For show cakes, do not refrigerate your covered cake! When you take the cake out of the refrigerator, moisture will condense and destroy your beautiful surface. Your best option is to store the cake in a sealed bakery box. The cardboard sides of a box will keep the dust in the air off the cake, but allows the Fondant to breath.
Rolled Fondant cakes were traditionally done on heavy type cakes, such as fruit cakes in Europe. In Europe the cake was traditionally covered with Marzipan, then a layer of rolled fondant, this sealed the cakes freshness for several weeks without refrigeration.