Fondant is primarily used by professional bakers and is often found on wedding cakes or larger specialty cakes. By creating a shell on the cake, it gives cakes a smooth appearance that is difficult to achieve with regular frosting.
If you're considering using fondant to create a spectacular or elegant cake, you should know that fondant can be challenging. It's hard to work with and may even fall apart as you're working on it, so studying up on Fondant 101 will certainly pay off with a beautiful, delicious result.
A simple fondant icing recipe for beginners is a marshmallow-based fondant. You will need a bag of mini marshmallows, 2 tablespoons of water and icing sugar. Use the same amounts of mini marshmallows as icing sugar, with water thinning the mix. Depending upon how much fondant you need, you will have to adjust how much you'll need of each ingredient.
Combine the marshmallows and water together in a bowl, and melt them in the microwave. Add the powdered sugar, and keep stirring it in until the mixture reaches the texture of bread dough. When it is cool enough to handle, grease your hands and counter liberally with vegetable shortening, and knead the fondant. You'll be rolling it out like bread dough later. Cover it with plastic wrap, and let it cool overnight.
You can certainly make your fondant ahead of time. If you refrigerate it, the mixture will last up to two weeks. It's a good idea if you have some free time to put it together early so you're not scrambling while baking the actual cake. If you happen to mess up, you have time to whip up a fresh batch.
Applying The Fondant To The Cake
When the fondant is ready to use, grease a countertop and your hands with vegetable shortening, and roll the fondant as you would a ball of bread dough. When you roll it out, imagine that you are creating a sheet large enough to cover the entire cake, including the sides.
Ice your cake with a thin layer of regular frosting, which will act as an adhesive for the fondant. Then, carefully lay the sheet over the cake so that it drapes over the edges, and press the fondant up against the sides of the cake. It is best to make sure the cake is cool before you work with it; the fondant needs a stable base. Trim away any excess fondant with a knife.
One of the hardest parts about covering a cake with fondant is making sure the sheet doesn't tear or break. This happens often, so try having extra vegetable shortening on hand for quick cake frosting repair. Rub a small piece of leftover fondant and shortening on top of the crack to smooth it out. If you're following a simple fondant recipe and it gets too hard or crackly, you can add in just a touch more water and about a tablespoon or so of vegetable shortening. It'll help smooth out any cracks in the mixture so it will spread nicely on top of your cake.
Once you've finished frosting your cake, you're going to have to store it. Your best bet is to put the cake into a cake box and seal it. Don't refrigerate your finished product before serving. The cake and fondant will stay fresh as long as the box is well sealed.
Cake frosting, glazes and icings aren't only for eye appeal. They also add flavor and hold in the moisture. Some cakes need to be refrigerated and others need to be kept at room temperature. The type of frosting you choose should complement the cake in flavor and coloring and also is dependent on how the cake is best stored.