If there is one question I tend to get a lot from Brides, it's "What is fondant exactly?" Funny thing is, this question comes after they state they do not want fondant, it's gross, and refuse to have it on their cake. Hmmm....that makes sense. Anyway, lets put the fondant questions and concerns to rest, shall we?
|Fondant leaves cakes smooth enough for any decorations. Including stencil work.|
Though there are several kinds of fondant, the one in regards to cake decorating (majority of the time) is ROLLED FONDANT. Rolled fondant is NOT the same as poured fondant. Different ingredients, different method, and most certainly a different blog entry. Rolled fondant includes gelatin, glycerin, corn syrup, flavoring, and powdered sugar. It's a pliable sugar dough that is rolled out to cover cakes and also can be used for decorations. It can be dyed just about any color or just left white.
Fondant, unlike buttercream, gives you a smooth and satiny finish to any cake. It can be steamed to make it shiny, airbrushed for texture, and more importantly it is much more stable than buttercream. Fondant can withstand the heat and bumpy car rides. Buttercream tends to become mushy and move around 70F and melt at 80F.
Buying vs. Making Fondant and the Perils of the Home-Maker-Cake-Baker Fondants
Here is where a true cake decorator tends to get annoyed. NO, you do not have to buy fondant. Yes, Cake Boss and several other big-time cake decorators buy fondant (in particular the Satin Ice brand). I can say that for six years I too bought it. It's easier, but certainly not cheaper. For about the 1/3 of a cost of a bucket of fondant you can make the same amount at home or in your cake shop. So why not just make it? Well to be quite honest...it's a pain in the...well you know. You have to mix, you have to measure, and you have to knead a bunch of fondant by hand. Benefits? You control the consistency, texture, and most importantly...FLAVOR!
If you are just too scared to make your own fondant, buy it. There is no shame. A LOT of bakeries just buy their fondant. You will notice, however, they all tend to buy the same brand...SATIN ICE. It's smooth, it's pliable, it tastes like vanilla candy. I can say this is my favorite brand as well. Let's cap on some others out on the market.
Wilton Brand - Buy this and kiss your clients goodbye. It's chunky, stiff, chalky, dry, and overall the worst fondant on the market. WORST! It's over-priced to boot.
Pettinice - Great brand, but pricey. For 15lbs the cheapest I can find is $65.00. It compares to the quality of Satin Ice, but is not flavored with vanilla.
Choco-Pan - I have had students in my cake decorating class ask if they can use this. Yes, but ITS NOT FONDANT. This is modeling chocolate. Two VERY different products. Modeling chocolate can be rolled thinner and cover more surface area that fondant and also is much more pliable. However, it also tends to tear and not do well on wedding cakes in heat (ummm...hello, it's chocolate). So I tend to avoid modeling chocolate unless it's for figurines.
Gumpaste - Again, this is not fondant. I have had students that used this thinking it was. This is for sugar flowers and other decorations that you want to dry to a rock-hard consistency.
Duffs Buttercream Fondant - Though it's technically fondant, I hate this stuff. It has WAY too many artificial flavors added and their "white" is actually a very dark IVORY color. Which royally sucks. Furthermore, dying this stuff is worse than bleaching black hair blonde. It doesn't take. It's very stiff. The only good I have found in this stuff is that it covers about a 1/3 more than normal fondant, but who cares when you have to work it to death.
If there are other brands I missed, it's because they are inconsequential to my point and probably products I will never use.
If you are using "marshmallow fondant" please for the love that is all cake decorating and holy...STOP IT NOW. It's flat, it's unpredictable, it has horrible coverage, and tastes like a chalky marshmallow and honestly...not true fondant. There, I said it. Those making this "fondant" are the ones ruining fondant for the rest of us. Majority of the clients I get that say they hate fondant, say its because they ate it on a homemade cake that "Sally Sue" made with her homemade marshmallow recipe.
Here is a recipe that I have found to be the most accurate for making true fondant that you can put on cakes. It can by dyed, though I recommend dying in the process of making, and covers just about any type of cake. The only drawback to this recipe (and basically any homemade fondant recipe I have found) is that it just doesn't harden like factory fondant. Why? Well look at the ingredient list on your bucket of purchased fondant. Yeah...see all that? That's why. Either way, this is good.
Kali's Fondant Recipe
2 lbs. of Sifted Powdered Sugar (Use a nice quality brand, such as C&H)
1/4 Cold Water
1 T. Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 C. White Corn Syrup
1 1/2 T. Glycerine
1/2 T. Clear Vanilla Extract (if you dont use clear, fondant will be yellow)
1/2 T. Clear Almond Extract
In a large (not metal) bowl, sift half the powdered sugar. Make a well in the center and set aside. In a medium pot, place cold water in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with gelatin and wait about five minutes for gelatin to dissolve. You want the granules gone. Turn on medium heat and heat until gelatin begins to melt and become clear. Add corn syrup and glycerine. Remove from heat and stir to combine. Add flavorings. Pour mixture into the well of your powdered sugar. Using a wooden spoon mix slowly by adding powdered sugar from the sides of your well until a sticky/stringy mess has formed. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until you can no longer mix with a spoon. Move to a non-stick surface (I use a vinyl mat) sprinkled with powdered sugar and knead until strong and pliable. This may require more powdered sugar or not. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest AT LEAST eight hours before use.
Viola and congrats. You just made REAL FONDANT.
...and now, you know what fondant is.