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Learn to work with fondant like a pro

Cakes are getting more intricate and beautiful thanks to food reality shows and celebrity pastry chefs. Fondant is the key to a truly unique cake — and with a little practice you can create beautiful cakes just like your favorite bakery.

fondant cake

Learning to work with fondant is a combination of technique and practice. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • While you are learning, it is best to get the ready-to-use fondant available at most craft and cake supply stores. It’s important to have a consistent product to practice with and you can learn to make your own later on.
  • You’ll need about a pound and a half of fondant to cover an 8-inch layer cake, not including extra decorations.
  • It dries out quickly so it is important to keep it covered when you aren’t using it.
  • Fondant can’t be refrigerated. You can make the cake ahead and leave it at room temperature for up to four days but you’ll need to use a cake filling that doesn’t need refrigeration.
  • Ready-to-use fondant is not very tasty. You can combat this by kneading in up to five drops of flavored oil per pound and then letting the fondant stand overnight in an airtight container. You can also use this method to color the fondant with food color.
  • It is important to keep your hands and work area very clean. The fondant will pick up lint, pet hair, crumbs and anything else that it touches.
  • Invest in the tools. Fondant is much easier to work with if you have a silicone mat, rolling pin and smoother. You should be able to pick these up at your cake supply shop.

Step 1: Crumb coat

Cover the cooled cake with a thin layer of buttercream icing and then chill it for thirty minutes. Add another thin layer of buttercream. This helps to seal the cake, keep it fresh and give the fondant something to stick to.

Step 2: Roll

Knead the fondant until it is soft and pliable.

Use a silicone mat or dust a smooth surface with equal parts of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Using a special silicone rolling pin, smooth the fondant out until it is between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick and slightly larger than the surface you want to cover.

Step 3: Cover

Gently lay the fondant over the rolling pin just like it was a pie crust. Slip the cake under the fondant and then gently position the fondant on the cake.

Step 4: Smooth

Beginning in the middle of the cake top, gently move the smoother outward and down the sides of your cake. This removes air bubbles and shapes the fondant to the cake. If you do happen to get an air bubble, just insert a clean pin at an angle to release the air and smooth over it again. Trim off the excess fondant at the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife.

fondant cake

Photo credit: Janet LaDue

Step 5: Decorate

You now have a completely smooth surface as the base of the rest of your fondant decorations. These can be made in a variety of ways — cut, shaped or molded. You can also use a soft brush to paint the fondant or dust it with edible glitter.

Tip: If your first go at fondant turns into a mess, don’t let it ruin your party! Pick up a buttercream cake like the Cake Boss Cakes, now available at stores nationwide. They’re affordable, flavorful and will make you look like a cake-decorating pro!

Tell us

Do you have any tips for working with fondant? Share in the comments below!

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