Ever wonder how to “frost” a cake as smooth as glass? You use fondant!
Probably the most amazing trick that fondant is capable of is covering your cake super smooth! Well, now that I’ve said that, I feel like I’m undermining all the other cool things fondant can do. But you get my drift. You can use fondant to give your cake an utterly, perfectly smooth finish.
And, if you know what you’re doing, you can do it all by yourself! I’m serious!
And, while yes, there is a lot to know, it’s not hard. It’s a lot like rolling out a pie crust. Which you then drape over a fully assembled cake to create some fondant magic. Ok. So, it’s a little different from pie crust. But the rolling out part is exactly the same.
Before you start playing with fondant, you’ll need your cake to be fully baked, cooled, leveled, and assembled with frosting. It’s exactly the same amount of prep that you’d need to do if you were going to decorate with your frosting tips.
But it’s also important that you make your frosting job as pretty as possible.
Fondant is like water- it will take the shape of it’s container. So if you cover your cake with fondant, it will cover what’s already there. The trouble is, fondant doesn’t have magic powers. So if you have a cake that’s leaning and irregularly frosted, you’ll just have a fondant-covered tower of Pisa.
Before You Get Started let’s prep your work space.
Remember to knead your fondant before you start rolling it out. This is important to warm it up and improve it’s malleability. From there, it’s time to break out the rolling pin.
Let’s talk prep work first. You’ll want to roll out your fondant on a clean, smooth surface. Like I said before, fondant is very plastic and will take on the texture of surfaces it comes into contact with. This means it will not have a perfectly smooth finish if you roll it out on a perfectly smooth surface. So, if you use a cutting board with knife marks in it or on a tile countertop that has grout lines, it will take that shape.
Also, fondant is sticky. So try not to wear long sleeved sweaters that will drop lint into your fondant.
Time To Get Rolling
First things first. Start by doing some math! No, I’m serious. If you want to completely cover it, then you need to be precise and know what dimensions you need to make that happen. So the first step is to measure the diameter of your cake- and the height on both sides- in order to know how wide to roll out your fondant. For example, a cake that’s 8 inches wide and 4 inches high (on both sides) needs to be rolled out to a diameter of 16 inches.
Additionally, fondant will stretch as you adjust it to fit your cake. So you don’t need to roll your fondant any wider than your math tells you to.
It’s very important that you roll out your fondant to a uniform thickness. You can do this with a rolling pin or a rolling pin with special rubber bands on the two ends that ensure you get an even thickness. I don’t own any, but if you’re worried about keeping your thickness even, just look up “fondant guide rings” on Wilton’s website.
Now, the ideal thickness that you want your fondant to be is typically 1/8 of an inch thick. And, if your rolling and your fondant sticks to the rolling pin, add a light dusting of cornstarch or powdered sugar to your work station. This will unstick your fondant as well as prevent future sticking. And I’ve actually heard that confectioners’ sugar is the better choice for dry climates and cornstarch is preferable if you live somewhere humid.
Fondant’s Got You Covered
So, there are actually two different techniques you can use to cover your cake with fondant. One is to roll out a circle, like pie crust, and then gradually smooth it down the sides of the cake. This seals the entire cake in one seamless fondant coat.
The second is to roll your fondant into two sections. First you cut out a circle the diameter of the cake and set it on the top of the cake. Then, you cut a second piece of fondant into a long, rectangular panel the length and height of the sides of your cake. You actually want to use a razor blade to cut away the excess fondant from the bottom of your cake. Then you simply smooth the creases with water to seal them and use a fondant smoother tool to make the joint less noticeable. This method gives you really crisp edges.
In terms of tools to make your fondant perfect, you’re going to need a fondant smoother. This tool helps you get the fondant tight to the cake. And, if the frosting underneath your fondant is dried out, spray some water on it to make it tacky again. That way the fondant will stick. Of course, if you don’t have a spray bottle handy, don’t fear! Just get your hands wet and run them over the frosting. No problemo.
Oh, and you’ll also want a knife to trim the excess fondant off the edges of the cake as you smooth it tight to the sides.
If your fondant tears once you put it on your cake, you can repair it. Simply combine a small amount of additional fondant in a small bowl and add water until you create a runny paste. Then use an offset spatula to patch the tear. As it goes on it will look glossy. But I promise that as the water dries, the patch will be less shiny and eventually will blend in seamlessly with the rest of the fondant.
And if bubbles form in your fondant while you’re working with it, simply take a sewing needle and pop it! I recommend inserting it at an angle, it’s less noticeable that way. From there, just smooth out the indentation out with your hands to release the air from the pocket. Then hit with the smoother tool to blend the imperfection into the rest of the fondant.
Want to know what else you can do with fondant?
Now that you’ve covered your cake, it’s time to learn how to decorate with fondant accents! Click the Next Lesson button to discover what you can do with fondant cutouts! (Spoiler alert: you can do so much!)