Whether you’re a bride, a cake-curious baker, or a cake design professional, there is a lot to know about fondant. There are many things I wish someone had told me when I first started so that I didn’t have to learn the hard way, and apparently I’m not the only one. I asked my Facebook friends for their input, and they had lots to say. Here are my top ten (with lots of help from my facebook family).
1. Fondant can be refrigerated. I had one of those I’m-never-making-another-cake-again cakes several years ago on a blazing hot day in Malibu, CA. After that, I started refrigerating my cakes. You can read more about it here (it’s tip #4). I’ve heard that some cake artists use humidity controlled fridges, but I’ve yet to find any. I do try to keep my cake fridge at the warmest setting to minimize the difference between the fridge temp and the air temp, thereby limiting the amount of condensation (or “sweating”) that forms when the cake comes out of the fridge. Sweet Cakes by Rebecca notes that condensation can be minimized by boxing the cake and wrapping the box in plastic wrap. I usually just mine in a cardboard box. I find the cardboard absorbs excess moisture in the fridge.
2. Keep colored fondant out of direct light. Any kind of light. Even electric light can fade your fondant. Jasmine Clouser Couture Cakery had this to say: “Coloring fondant lavender is tricky. If you put it in the sun at all it will turn blue. Keep your cake and decorations in a dark place or covered it if there is any lavender or purple. When the cake is out at the reception keep it out of the sun. Using precolored fondant is better than using gel when it come to purple.” Excellent advice. I would add pinks to list too.
3. Fondant won’t make an imperfect cake look perfect. They say that to truly understand digital photography, you have to first understand film. The same is true of cake: to truly understand fondant, you must have a basic understanding of buttercream cakes. Skillfully covered fondant cakes are deceptive: the fondant looks so impeccably smooth, many people assume that (1) it’s easy and (2) fondant is all that’s needed to get that perfect finish. But fondant won’t make a bumpy, lumpy, lopsided cake look any better (and might even make it look worse). It is absolutely critical to have a smoothly iced cake with a level top and plumb (straight up and down) sides underneath fondant. Take the time to learn this skill if you haven’t already, and your fondant cakes will look a lot better.
4. Fondant is not ideal for all designs. Fondant’s gummy property makes it great as an icing, but terrible for certain design work. Because it won’t hold it’s shape, vertical or horizontal lines, sugar flowers, and the like are very difficult to execute with fondant. At the shop we use three methods. We either add tylose to fondant to stiffen it, make a 50/50 mixture of fondant and gumpaste, or ditch the fondant altogether and use gumpaste.
5. Fondant tastes better than you might think. Many of my brides who say they’ve heard fondant tastes horrible are usually pleasantly surprised by the taste. I always share with them that my objection to fondant is not necessarily the taste, but rather the gummy texture of the fondant with the crumb of the cake. However, since fondant firms up a bit, it is easy for guests who really don’t like it to peel it off, and for me, you can’t beat that perfectly smooth look of fondant, so it’s a trade off that’s well worth it.
6. It’s (sometimes) easier to cover a large cake than a smaller one. Many people are intimidated by larger cakes, but when the sides of the cake are smaller in proportion to the diameter of the cake, it’s actually easier. Think about spreading a flat sheet on a mattress. The sheet lies flat and a little hangs smoothly over the sides. Now imagine taking that same bed sheet and trying to smoothly cover a broom stick. It would be virtually impossible due to all the draping. In this analogy, the bed sheet, with it’s large surface area and relatively short sides, is the larger cake while the broom stick, with its very tall sides and relatively small surface area, is the smaller cake. Basically, a cake that is taller than it is wide is more challenging to cover than a cake that is wider than it is tall.
7. Fondant will be affected by temperature and humidity. When fondant is cold it tends to stiffen. When it’s warm it gets soft and droopy. When it’s humid, sticky. The best way to combat the changes? A temperature controlled room definitely helps, and shortening or cornstarch can decrease the stickiness, but a lot of it comes with practice. Unfortunately with this one there’s no easy way of avoiding it. Just remember that if your normally cooperative fondant turns to into a big droopy mess, it’s probably the weather and not you. Try not to get too frustrated, take brakes if needed, and remember that it’s all part of the process.
8. Water and fondant don’t mix. You must be absolutely vigilant when working with fondant not to get any water on it. Water droplets will dissolve the sugar in the fondant, leaving small pock marks on an otherwise perfectly smooth surface. I always box my cakes for transport, just in case, and I always instruct brides getting fresh flowers on their cake to communicate to their florist that the flowers must be absolutely dry before being place on the cake.
9. It’s expensive, and you get what you pay for. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the cheaper, more commercially available fondant. It’s harder to work with, is more elastic (in the worst way), and has a shorter working time because it dries so quickly. Satin Ice is the industry standard, but there are also other brands that are excellent. Kristin Sabol Kirkpatrick shared on facebook that “not all fondants are created equal! Just because someone swears by a certain brand, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you!” Some fondants (like Carma Massa Ticino Tropic) are actually formulated for humid climates. The specialty fondants are definitely pricier, but if you calculate all the sleep you’ll lose over fondant that sweats, cracks, or bulges, it’s well worth the investment.
10. I really like this tip from Oven Couture ~ Smallish Confection Perfection: Buy pre-colored fondant! You can spend a long time (and risk drying out) trying to get white fondant black, or you can just spend a little more and buy it. I vote buy it.
And of course, a cake! A ruffled heart cake inspired by Valentine’s Day.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Feel free to share any I’ve left out! We always love to hear from you. Best of luck!
Comment on “Ten Things You Should Know About Fondant”
Hey I just a covered a cake in black fondant and used water to make it shiny by painting a thin coat over the cake. This was of course before I read this post….
Now what should I expect to happen? It’s currently in the fridge
I would expect it to evaporate but still leave a shine. Let me know how it comes out!
Wondering why I made a cake last night and today the fondant is hard. Is it still edible?
Yes, the water content evaporates and it dries out. It is still edible.
Thank you for all your wonderful tips! I just finished making my very first marshmallow based fondant…and I am so happy, it came out awesome! I just wanted to share it with someone since its after midnight and I’m all alone!
Can u kindly share the recipe or the website from which u made the marshmallow fondant?????
Sorry but I don’t make marshmallow fondant. I believe Liz Marek’s recipe is the one most people use: http://artisancakecompany.com/recipe/the-best-marshmallow-fondant-recipe-ever/
Hihi! Recently I learn to make a fondant cake
But on the first try my fondant cake look wet and slightly shiny and I don’t know why. At first I thought it’s because I kept it inside the fridge or cream cheese frosting
But today I made it again with chocolate ganache and I have the same issue
What could that be? Must I only use buttercream to frost my cakes for fondant? Thanks in advance
Did you refrigerate the cake after covering it? If so, you’re probably seeing condensation that formed when you took the cake from a cold fridge to a warm air temp. This post can answer some of your questions: https://ericaobrien.com/blog/yes-you-can-and-sometimes-should-refrigerate-your-fondant-covered-cakes/
Wish I’d found u before now. I have two 2-tiered cakes to go out this morning and I hate the way they turned out fondant-wise. I use satin ice as well and let’s just say I made major humidity issues yesterday while covering the cakes. Apart from which I colored the fondant against my better judgement I bought ivory fondant and colored it blue, green etc uaing gels rather than buying the pre-colored fondant and lighting the colors with some white fondant. Now I have elephant textured, saggy fondant covered cakes. I feel so defeated. Woke up to rain this morning and they’re worst…any tips/ advice for the future. I’m from the Caribbean. ..Trinidad and Tobago to be exact.
Oh no! That’s awful. We’ve all been there Melonie. I generally color all my own fondant. The trick is to work very, very quickly. As quickly as you can without any distractions. You might want to purchase a de-humidifier which is less expensive to run than air conditioning if A/C is not an option.
Hi Erica, thank you for your beautiful website. I was just wondering what brand of fondant do you use for your cakes?
Hi! Thank you so much. I always use Satin Ice. Thanks!
I have to make two cakes but I am going away and was wondering if i covered my cake in fondant and kept it in a closed box in the fridge, at not a very cold temp would it last up to a week? Or would it start to crack? As I seem to notice crack after a day or so why is this?
How long does fondant last on a cake without being ruined. It’s a detailed cake design.
Cracking is generally due to “settling”. The weight of fondant causes the cake to compress, so the fondant has no where to go. It is best to allow your cakes to sit overnight without fondant so they can settle, and then cover them the next day. A lot of factors determine how well your fondant will hold up: moisture content in the air, moisture in the fridge, the kind of cake (dense v. airy) and filling. It’s not possible to say how long the cake will last. In ideal conditions, the cake should be fine for a week. For me, however, I like to make my cakes as close to the date they’re being eaten as possible. Perhaps you would consider doing a faux cake for display and a serving tier that could be made the same day as the event?
hi I’m making a tiered cake covered in fondant & I was just wondering if I should let the fondant dry on each layer before I add the next tier?? Thank you so much xx
We don’t allow our fondant to dry since we are using buttercream under the fondant and keep our cakes in the refrigerator (where the moisture prevents drying). It sounds like you might be concerned about stacking them? If so, I would ensure that your tiers are being properly supported. I prefer wooden dowels but some people use plastic dowels or even straws.
Best of luck!
Hi Erica please could you help me I made a lovely fondant high heel shoe I removed it from the drying ramp and placed it on a cake board to dry out further. Two days later it broke and fell to pieces
It’s hard to diagnose without knowing the conditions it’s in (climate, humidity, temperature, etc.), but fondant really isn’t used for modeling. Most sugar artists use gumpaste or modelling chocolate.
Question…I’m in a cake contest on Sunday. I made a fondant bow tonight (Thursday) to use as the cake topper. Can I leave the bow out on a plate covered in plastic wrap until Sunday or should I put it in the fridge?
I will be putting it on a buttercream cake.
Do you want it to be dry and firm or soft and moist? If you want it to dry, I would leave it out at room temp to dry, provided there is no humidity in the room. If you need it to be soft and pliable, you can wrap it so it retains some moisture.
Love your advice! But I have a question. After using the fondant how do I keep the leftovers from getting messed up?And also, how long can I keep my fondant in the fridge without it getting dry, should I leave it out?
Not sure what you mean by “the leftovers” or “messed up”. Can you be more specific?
As for storing fondant (when it’s not on a cake), I recommend keeping it in the storage bags that it comes in, wrapped as tightly as possible, and in the bucket it comes in. Keep it out of the sun in a cool room or closet.
Hi Erica, I am making my daughter’s wedding cake in 4weeks, the wedding reception is going to be at a hotel over an hour away and we will be travelling there the day before wedding.., with the cake..! There is nowhere at the B&B we are staying at to store the cake so it will have to go to the hotel, how do I keep this cake fresh and looking good overnight? I’m not sure if there will be any refrigeration available and I have never put a fondant cake in a fridge before…
Read my recent post on refrigerating fondant here: https://ericaobrien.com/blog/yes-you-can-and-sometimes-should-refrigerate-your-fondant-covered-cakes/. It should answer most of your questions.
Best of luck!
Thank you Erica! I think I’m going to take the plunge and refrigerate …!
..if i cover my cake with fondant it starts getting loose after a day…i keep it at room temp in cake box…any solutions?how to store in weather here is either sunny or rainy or winters
You should store it in the fridge in a corrugated cardboard box. The cardboard helps absorb moisture in the fridge.
I’m decorating some cookies for a friend with fondant icing.
Once the fondant is on the cookies they start to go soft.
Is there anyway to prevent this ?
Many thanks Catherine
Not clear: Are you saying the cookies soften? They are absorbing the moisture from fondant and also the fondant is trapping the moisture already inside the cookies and condensing it. The only alternative is to cut the fondant and allow it to dry before putting it on your cookies. If you prefer not to do this, I would put the fondant-covered cookies on a rack so the air can circulate.
Tjanks for all the tips. My question is i dont typically cover my cakes in fondant i use the fondant More to make characters or accents on the cake however i have been finding them to dry out and harden. Even when i recently covered my cake on small cut ot pieces of fondant to make a minecraft cake they hardened even after refrigeration and haf to leave out all day just to not have a hard cover over the cake. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!
Fondant will start to dry (i.e., the water in it begins to evaporate) as soon as it is exposed to air. You can try wrapping the pieces air tight in plastic wrap so they are protected from the air. I would also try modeling chocolate. Good luck!
Your website it so helpful and your cakes are absolutely beautiful! I am going to try a ruffle cake soon and have a question about it…do you cover the cake in fondant and attach the ruffles to that or do you cover it with buttercream and put the ruffles on the buttercream?
Also, what is best to remove excess powdered sugar or cornstarch from fondant when finishing a cake?
Thanks for your help!
I cover in a matching-colored fondant first and attach ruffles.
If you’re unable to rub of the sugar or cornstarch, you can airbrush the cake with vodka or grain alcohol.
Sometimes i have a problem with the cake that i covered with fondant, after i refrigerated the cake (with buttercream) overnight then i covered with fondant right away, but when i tske the cske out from the fridge and have to finish the decoration, the filling and frosting like start become soft, make the side of the cake that i covered with fondant doesnt look smooth again, And if it’s 2 tier cake the top of the cake looks not straight/stabil anymore. should i put the cake back to the fridge after i cover it with fondant before i doing a final decoration, or maybe to much frosting cause the cake not stabil and the fondant getting soft easily, can you give me an information how tick the filling and frosting should be before we cover it with fondant?
And some customer wants to pick up the cake a night before the event (ex: birthday cake or anniversary cake), the thing that always make me worry is, the cake will look not good anymore because they dont know how to store the cake
Really need your information please, thank you so much
Hello, im looking to make a ballerina fondant cake for saturday. Does anyone know how to make the ruffles for it. Im unable to post a pic but if you google Ballerina fondant cake you will see it. 2 tier with ballet slippers on top and the beautiful ruffles on the sides of the cake. Does anyone know how to make those ruffles? i cant find a tutorial on it. Also im making home made white cake mix with a fruit filling for it, decrumbing it with buttercream then planning on covering it all with fondant and putting those ruffles on the sides of it.
Any advice to all that 🙂 Thanks!
Also when should i make what parts when ? and should i leave the cake at room temperature thursday night onces it done till sat at 2pm or fridgerate it. Im unsure if it will fit in a box and in my fridge. help!
Hi, I have a question about making decorations for a wedding cake… I’d like to make decorations in advance but I’m finding that they get too hard and don’t mould around the cake (such as pearls and swags). I’m currently using fondant with some tylose. What should I be using? Thanks for the useful tips so far!
Tylose is a drying agent and will speed drying. You can try making them in advance and wrapping them airtight in plastic wrap so they don’t dry. Some people keep them in the fridge to retain moisture. You can also try modeling chocolate.
im making two 8in rounds covering them in fondant can i put them in the refrigerate in a plastic cake container over night
I don’t have much experience with plastic cake containers. I like cardboard boxes because they really absorb the moisture. I don’t know how air-tight the plastic containers are. Sorry!
Hi what is the best way to make a structure stay on top of the cake? I have had bows and deer antlers falll. Am I not using the dowels correctly?
Not sure what you mean by structure. What are you making your ‘structures’ out of? How are you attaching them?
Thank you so much. I have always worked with buttercream and in the past yr ventured out into the fondant world. This was a great help
I have a question about fondant refrigeration. I’ve wanted to keep my fondant cakes in the fridge but I’m concerned with getting air bubbles after the cake is delivered and at room temp. Do you ever have this problem? Any tips?
Thank you for sharing! It’s very interesting! I have a question for you: I would like to make ruffles like ruffled heart on valentine cake… How can I do this??? Thank you very much!!
I actually did a tutorial for Project Wedding that should be posting very soon. If you follow me on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EricaOBrienCakeDesign?fref=ts), you’ll see the link when I post it.
What a lovely and thoughtful post, thanks so much for sharing!
I’m just dreading the summer, a short warm snap has reminded me I really need to figure something out before it starts heating up again! My shared commercial kitchen often is at around 90f so it makes cake decorating extremely difficult! Hoping that something happens to make my life easier, or I manage to find a climate controlled environment to work in!