My fondant journey…

Pizza fondant decorations

Okay, so I like butter icing. It holds fond memories of birthday parties and birthday cakes from my earlier childhood. Sure I’m only 15 and am hoping there are many more birthday cakes with butter cream icing in my future, though lately I’ve been curious about fondant. It produces the most awesome decoration possibilities.

The pepperoni pizza toppings in the headline picture are outstanding. I found this piece of art on TheCupcakeBlog.com. However, the picture proof of craftsmanship did not come with a recipe, so I hit the wire to find one I could try and tackle. I researched many and they all sounded doable [this one sounded great], but incorporated a lot of ingredients that I didn’t have readily available in my kitchen on a Saturday afternoon, (like glycerine). Then I came across a marshmallow fondant recipe by Whatscookingamerica.net that only calls for 4 ingredients. I have no idea of what it will taste like in the end, but then again to be honest with you, I’m not a fondant lover; however I am a fan of its decorating opportunities.  So I’m going for it. If you have an awesome fondant recipe you’d like to share with me, I’d love to give it a go as well. The journey is the best part of any destination  and I’m committed.

Please stay tuned for my marshmallow fondant outcome – I’m sure to post pics in the comment section. So here are the 4 ingredients I’ll be experimenting with:

  • 16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds icing sugar (please use C&H Cane Powdered Sugar for the best results)
  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)

Directions:

NOTE:  Please be careful, this first stage can get hot.

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler. To microwave, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total.

Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.

Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY (palms, backs, and in between fingers), then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle. (By the way, this recipe is also good for your hands. When I’m done, they are baby soft.)

Now it’s time to start. Your cake should be baked, and completely cooled. If you have a shaped cake, you can trim it now and then place the cake on a prepared cake board. In other words, you are assembling the cake puzzle on the board. You can also place the cake on the board first and then trim (you must be extra careful not to damage the covered board). I personally find that shaping first is the easiest and then transferring the cake.

Give the top and sides of the cake a nice thick 1/4-inch coating of Buttercream Icing (click on the underlined for buttercream icing recipe). NOTE: At first I was wondering why I needed to bother with this step. Well, there are a couple of reasons: The buttercream icing helps the fondant icing to “stick” to the cake and this cushion of undercoating icing helps to give you the beautiful smooth nearly perfect finish that you are looking for.

When you are ready to use the rested fondant icing, the first thing you need to do is decide what size you will need to roll your icing to.

click to enlarge

Courtesy of whatscookingamerica.net

Next, you need to sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on your counter to help prevent sticking (rub it in). Crisco coating. It will be pretty stiff when you try to knead it again, but it can be micro waved for 10 to 20 seconds, if necessary. Start off with 10 seconds (please be careful as items that have high sugar contents can get hot in the microwave very quickly). The fondant icing will soften right up and be perfect for rolling out and playing with. You want the temperature to be close to your body temperature.

Now is the best time to add your food coloring. I prefer to store my fondant icing in it’s natural color of white. Some colors can change the consistency of the icing. If you do need to store colored fondant icing, wrap each color very well in plastic wrap or Saran Wrap. Colors like red and burgundy are notorious for “bleeding” into other colors and ruining them. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Bag everything in Ziploc bags. Remember that food coloring can also stain your hands and nails. I have food-grade plastic gloves that I keep around. Add your food coloring, a little at a time, and knead it in. You can always go darker but it is difficult to go lighter. Red has a tendency to get darker as it sits and “ages”.

Pre-shape your icing into approximately the shape of your cake. For a round cake, make a disk shape. For a rectangular make a log shape.

OK, here is a point of controversy about the next step. Some instructors tell you to only sprinkle cornstarch on your counter before you put the fondant icing down, sprinkle with more corn starch, and then roll fondant icing out to desired shape. Some teachers advise that you grease the counter, put the fondant icing down, and lightly grease the top of the fondant icing as need to prevent sticking.

I prefer the cornstarch myself, but during very dry atmospheric conditions, I have been known to use the shortening method. The grease will help to hold in the moisture and keeps the fondant icing pliable. If necessary, add drops of water and knead it in thoroughly before proceeding. You will need to try out both ways in the future and decide what you like the most. A third alternative is a large-sized Roulpat Mat (31 x 23 inches). It really does work well and it can also help you with moving a large piece of rolled out fondant. I’ve never done it, but I was told that you just gently bend the mat edges downward with the icing still on it. Place the edge of mat and the icing next to the edge of the butter-creamed cake and flip the fondant icing over the cake. What was the top of the fondant icing that you rolled out, is now touching the buttercream and what was the bottom side is now the topside that you see.

Most folks do not have a nonstick rolling pin, but if you do, now is the time to use it. If not, lightly rub cornstarch on the surface of the rolling pin and roll out to the desired size. I like to roll my icing at least 1/8-inch thick. It’s thick enough for ease of handling and strength integrity. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 1/8-inch for the cake covering. When I’m making decorations with the fondant icing, I will sometimes roll it thinner. The MM Fondant icing is very forgiving and rarely tears but everything has it limits.

The technique that I use is to gently roll the icing on the nonstick rolling pin like a piece of fabric. DO NOT FOLD! An edge will be hanging down.

  click the pics to enlarge them  

Quickly place the fondant icing at one bottom edge of the cake and unroll the rolling pin, holding it about 2 inches over the cake. Your fondant icing will then “fall” into place. You should also have a bit of overhang over the edges. You might need a little cornstarch at this stage, but only use it very sparingly if you have a dark colored icing. I very lightly sprinkle the cornstarch over the surface and use a buffing motion with my hand to move it around and to level the surface. This motion seals the fondant icing to the buttercream, works out the bumps in the icing below the surface, and removes flaws from the joined areas in the cakes surface below. Please use a VERY gentle pressure to rub the surface of the icing. I often have a little pile of the cornstarch on the counter and dip my hands in it as needed.

Here is an important tip: Watch out for your fingernails as long nails can mark up your surface quickly and it is very difficult to smooth them back out.

If you notice a bubble in the surface, take a thin sharp needle and poke a tiny hole, at an angle, in the bubble. If you poke straight down, you can almost always see the hole even after the most careful smoothing. The angled hole lets the air out of the bubble, and with a tiny bit of rubbing you can reseal the hole.

I keep a clean, soft pastry brush close by, to move the cornstarch around. Do this lightly or you can leave brush marks on the surface that are almost impossible to remove. A number of companies make fondant smoothers for around $10. I have one, but I’ve used it only once and I’ve used my hands ever since. For me, it is easier and quicker. If you don’t handle the smoother correctly, you can damage the fondant’s finish.

Gently, with the side of your hand, push the fondant into the sides of the cake against the cake board.

To trim the excess fondant icing, you can use a sharp knife. I find that the easiest and neatest way is to use a Pizza Cutter. Hold it at a 45 degree angle from the cake board and the side of the cake. Go slow and follow the shape of the cake. If you hold the cutter at the correct angle, you will have an almost perfect bottom edge. Gently, with your finger tips, push any little leftovers in against the cake for the neatest appearance.  If the edge isn’t as nice as you want, you can always add a fondant rope or pearls. Buttercream shells, stars, or flowers look wonderful also. 

If your cake needs a bit of shaping, do it now. I used the outside edge of my hand to make the indents to define certain areas of the cake.

Well, you have finished the covering of your cake.

Many professional decorators feel that a fondant covered cake will hold the moisture in the cake for 3 to 5 days, depending on your atmosphere. I personally don’t want to go beyond 3 days. I like the cake to have a fresh taste.

Do not refrigerate your covered cake! When you take the cake out of the refrigerator, moisture will condense and destroy your beautiful surface. Your best option is to store the cake in a sealed bakery box. The cardboard sides of a box will keep the dust in the air off the cake, but allows the Fondant to breath

[This recipe is courtesy of  whatscookingamerica.net]

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