Rolled fondant is an amazing medium to work with, much like clay. It can be colored, flavored, cut, bent, molded and embossed to your heart’s content- and then eaten! You can make it from scratch, which isn’t difficult, or you can purchase it anywhere cake decorating supplies are sold, including on the internet. Fondant is a bit more expensive than other types of frostings, but if you want fun, this is how to have it!
Purchased fondant has a history of not tasting great, however you can mix in any flavoring to help. It usually isn’t about flavor, but rather it’s about being fancy. Having both qualities is nice, too. Making your own is a great accomplishment and tastes great every time. There are two basic recipes, one uses gelatin and glycerine, while the other uses marshmallows. Unused fondant can be kept in a cool dark place for several weeks. If it hardens, add a few drops of water to it before kneading.
Bake a cake according to the directions on the box or make one from scratch. It doesn’t matter which.
If you are using a multi-layer cake, add the filling between layers.
Crumb Coat the cake. This means to cover it in enough frosting to keep it from getting crumbly while working with the fondant. It will also help fill in imperfections on the surface, which might seem little now, but magnify when you continue to work. A thin layer of buttercream frosting works well.
- 2 sheets or packets of gelatin
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 tbsp glycerine
- 9 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
- Coloring paste
- Flavoring, as desired
- If you use gelatin packets, prepare them as directed on the box. Gelatin sheets need to be soaked in cold water for ten minutes, wrung out, then stirred into ¼ cup warm water until dissolved.
- Mix in the corn syrup and glycerine until well blended and set the mix aside.
- Put the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add the liquid a little at a time and stir until it makes a soft ball.
- 16 oz mini marshmallows
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla or other flavoring
- Coloring gel or paste
- 8 cups (one pound) powdered sugar
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- Microwave the marshmallows and ¼ cup of water for one minute. Stir. Microwave again and stir. If it does not mix up smooth, microwave in 30 second bursts and stir until it does.
- Add any flavoring. Fondant can be divided to make different colors. Add the sugar 1/3 at a time and mix. This will require some muscle as you move along!
- Rub some shortening on your hands to mix it more by hand.
- Coat a sturdy work surface with a light layer of shortening and knead it until it is silky smooth. If it feels dry, add a few drops of water. If you would like to use a color in your fondant, use a toothpick to apply the paste to the kneading surface and draw the ball across it to mix completely.
- Make a ball and coat it in a light layer of shortening. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 2 hours. Do not place it into the refrigerator. If placed in a cool dark place, it can sit for weeks ready to use. If it hardens after time, place it in the microwave for ten seconds to soften it again It should be like soft Play-Doh. Just knead it and off you go!
What can you do with it? Have a lot of fun! If you go to the cake decorating section of a discount, craft or department store, you will find many things to help you along. Embossers, cutters, molds and stamps will all assist your imagination to build three dimensional objects.
Tips for working with fondant:
If it tears, you made it too thin. Ball it up and try rolling it thicker next time. If you cannot get it off the work surface, a scraper might help. If not, ball it up and dust the surface better with corn starch or powdered sugar.
Making a Book cake
- Fondant, colored and flavored to taste
- Rolling pin
- Tape measure
- Sharp knife
- Fondant stiffening agent such as CMC or Tylose powder
- Powdered sugar
- Bake a cake according to the directions on the box or make one from scratch. It doesn’t matter which.
- If you are using a multi-layer cake, add the filling between layers. Trim the cake to the size you prefer.
- Crumb Coat the cake. This means to cover it in enough frosting to keep it from getting crumbly while working with the fondant. It will also help fill in imperfections on the surface, which might seem little now, but magnify when you continue to work. A thin layer of buttercream frosting works well, but you might choose to use purchased frosting as well.
- Knead the brown fondant until it is smooth, warm and pliable. Add about a teaspoon of the CMC or Tylose powder and mix well. Roll the fondant out on a lightly greased surface. It needs to be large enough to make the top of the cake plus the spine, which will depend on the height of your cake but about 11 inches, and you will need three narrow strips to tuck under the cake for the back cover. Strive to roll it to about 13 x 13. If at any point it starts sticking, add more shortening to the surface.
- Cut a piece of waxed paper at least as large as the top and one side of the cake. Cover the top of the cake with powdered sugar to keep the waxed paper from sticking to the frosting while you determine a close approximate to the size of the book cover you will need, plus the spine. Cut the rolled fondant to the size of the waxed paper. Ball up some aluminum foil, then flatten in out just a bit. Pressing the foil into the fondant will give it the rough leather look.
- Rub the surface of the fondant with more CMC powder. After an hour, lift it and do the other side. If you’d like to hurry the process, put corn starch on a baking pan and lay the fondant on it. Turn oven on the lowest setting, and let it bake for 15 minutes at a time, flipping and using more corn starch as necessary.
- Make the feather out of white fondant following the pattern. A thin snake of fondant will make the central vein. Use a bit of water to make it stick. When you are happy with the feather, it too can be baked.
- Make the lettering. I used silicon stencils forms however you can also make them free form or purchase letters. Add any other detailing you wish, have fun with it! Pieces can be added using drops of water, or CMC powder can be made into a paste-like glue for larger items.
Check out these titles for more ideas:
The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating by Autumn Carpenter
Step-by-Step Cake Decorating by Karen Sullivan
Cindy (Miss Cindy) has been circulating in Ohio libraries for many years. Currently she works at the Canfield Unit of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. She creates programming for all ages because while she likes the little ones, her passion is making ‘stuff’. Cindy’s husband requests that you do not show or tell her about any new ‘stuff’. But Cindy knows you will bend her ear, and she will turn it into a program lickety-split!