Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fondant Fun

I looove to bake.  I’m not the greatest cook, but I take pride in my baking skills.  I have gotten a little adventurous over time when it comes to the cake arena, and while watching one of the many cake decorating TV shows that are available on TV, I thought to myself “I can do that!”  The hubs is always supportive in my baking endeavours because he wins no matter the outcome, it looks awful: he gets a sugary treat, it looks amazing: he gets a sugary treat.  With the wonderful task of baking the cakes for all of our family events, I have had plenty of time to practice.  So without further ado, here is my experience with fondant!

In order to have a smooth finish, level each layer of your cake getting rid of the mound that rises on top.  (I do this with an extra long knife, they make actual cake leveling tools but I have not purchased one... yet.  I do not recommend white cake, it’s too fluffy and has a hard time holding the weight of the fondant).  You should have already completely iced your cake making the icing as smooth as possible, I like to use an extra long icing knife but a case knife will work just fine.  The icing doesn’t have to be perfect, just smooth.
My little sister's 21st birthday cake

 What you’ll need:
10 ½ oz bag of marshmallows (the little guys)
3 tablespoons of water
LOTS of powdered sugar (I don’t even attempt this without a 2 pound bag)
Large glass bowl
Metal spoon
A rolling pin (anything but wooden)
A large work surface

Making the fondant:
In a large glass bowl, put the entire bag of marshmallows, drizzled with 3 tablespoons of water, in the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. (I have had the most success with a glass bowl, plastic takes more effort to clean.  You’ll also have more success if you chose a bowl that has a smooth, seamless surface on the inside – easier to scrape).

Stir the melted marshmallows with a metal spoon until it’s all melted evenly. (Again I use a metal spoon for ease of clean up, I did this first with a wooden spoon…not.fun.)

*If you plan on making it a color, this is the stage you want to add it.(If you would like plain white fondant skip this section).  Both the liquid food coloring drops and the bakers paste coloring works here, although my preference is the liquid drops (easier to mix in).   There isn’t a science to this, add as much as you want to get the color you desire, if you add a lot of liquid coloring you may just need to add more powdered sugar later.  You don’t need to add extra color to counter act the powdered sugar, believe it or not the mixture will retain this color even after the powdered sugar is added.

Muffin's first birthday cake
Here is where the mess begins: adding the powdered sugar.  I try to stir in as much of about 4 cups of powered sugar as I can while the mixture is in the bowl.  This should make the mixture stiff, if you get tired of stirring in the powdered sugar, no worries, just dump the remainder of the four cups(plus a heaping mound of extra) on a clean work surface and empty your fondant mixture on top.  Now knead. And knead. And knead.  Keep adding powdered sugar until it no longer sticks to your hands or counter tops. (This does require a good bit of elbow grease but it’s kind of like an arm workout..shhh, that’s what I tell myself).

Getting the fondant ready for application:
When the fondant is smooth it’s time to roll it out.  I used a marble rolling pin with a lot of success but later purchased a fondant rolling pin and retired the marble for this project. (Please, please, please, save yourself tears and heartache and don’t attempt this with a wooden rolling pin, I know it can be done, but it will take so much more time and effort).  Before you start rolling, load your counter top with powdered sugar, this will keep the fondant from sticking while you are stretching it out.  Roll the fondant into a circle as if you were rolling a pie crust. (This fondant is heavy stuff and is a lot easier to get onto the cake when you don’t have a lot of excess on the sides weighing it down).

There are two different methods to getting this onto the cake:
1)      Roll it up onto your rolling pin and then unroll it onto the cake.  This works as long as you have a large enough rolling pin.
2)      My preferred method, sliding two hands under the fondant and centering it above the cake and then laying it on top.  I have had more success this way I think because I have a little more control than with the rolling pin.

Graduation cake: TA high school with a bridge going to BYU
Now you need to work a little fast in order to avoid any kind of tear in the fondant, which would mean re-rolling.  From the top rim of the cake start shaping the fondant to the sides, making sure to do so equally around the cake and not just one side.  (If you try to focus on one area and work your way around from there you’ll end up with this funky looking pleat of fondant).  Do this gradually all the way down the cake.  (Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen perfectly the first time, it took me a couple of tries!  And if you get it on the first try, I applaud you!) Once evenly on the cake, trim the excess off around the bottom with a super sharp knife. (Try not to drag your knife, as this could cause a tear).

            Water is what glues fondant to fondant.  So cut ribbons, circles, and shape really (cookie cutters work well here) and dab a bit of water onto the backside to adhere it to the cake.

Finishing touches:
            Water also makes the fondant shine!  I have a couple of artist brushes that I use to dip into water and paint it onto the cake to give it a finished look. (Obviously only use the brush for cooking purposes, we don’t need a Van Gogh situation).  Try to avoid using water over multiple colors of fondant; the food dyes in the fondant may bleed onto other colors.  I have never tried a clothes steamer, but I know that it works as well!

Clean up:
            The fondant will dissolve with a lot of water, and I never have to scrub the utensils before popping them into the dishwasher.  If you don’t have a dishwasher, use piping hot water.  (Water will also get the fondant out of your clothes, not always the case with the food dye it leaves behind…)

And there you have it, everything I could think of to explain fondant.  Just think, you could make this for only the cost of the marshmallows and powered sugar!!  If you tried to buy this pre-made in the tub it would run you easily 20 bucks! And that’s just for one color!  Plus you get the extra bonus of pride knowing you and only you made your cake extra special!

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