Cake Decorating Techniques - Covering a Cake with Fondant Icing

Cake decorating using fondant icing brings a whole new perspective to cake decorating. Once you have used fondant icing to decorate a birthday cake you will probably not want to use any other type of icing again.

It opens the door to a whole new world of cake decorating and allows you to bake special occasion cakes that look almost too good to eat.

Once you have mastered the cake decorating techniques using fondant icing then the sky is the limit. There is always a demand for well-made specialty cakes and you could quite easily turn this hobby into a viable home business.

How to Make Your Own Fondant Icing

Preparations Before You Start

I am going to go through the steps of preparing and covering a cake with fondant icing. For this exercise any baked cake will be suitable.

If you want to sculpt a cake and then cover it with fondant icing you will need to bake a firmer cake. Madeira cake is very popular for molded cakes.

You can make your own marshmallow fondant icing or you can buy ready prepared fondant icing. If you plan on making your own fondant icing you will need to make the fondant the day before to allow it to set.

Cake covered with butter icing
Cake covered with butter icing

Preparing the Cake

  • Bake your cake and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • If you want a perfectly flat cake place the cake in the refrigerator to cool before cutting with a sharp bread knife. Dust the cake to get rid of as much of the crumbs as possible before icing.
  • Place the cake on a cake board. If you have a cake decorating turntable place the cake board on the turntable

  • Coat the cake with at least a quarter inch thick buttercream icing as this will help the fondant icing to stick to the cake and at the same time ensure that your cake has a smooth finish.
  • Allow the butter icing to set for a few minutes while you prepare the fondant icing.

Preparing the Fondant Icing

When you remove the fondant from the packaging it will be reasonably stiff.

  • Break off a chunk of the icing and return the rest to the packaging and seal. If you needed to break the plastic bag to remove the icing store the unused icing in Ziploc bag.

  • An 8" round cake that is 4" high will require 24 oz of fondant for the covering of the cake.
  • Smear your hands with vegetable fat or any non-stick coating spray to prevent the fondant icing from sticking to the palms of your hands.
  • Knead the fondant icing as you would play dough. The body heat from your hands and the pressure from the kneading will soften the fondant to a pliable consistency.

The fondant icing should be soft enough to roll out with a rolling pin.

Using Colored Fondant Icing

  • Before you roll out the icing add the gel paste food coloring of your choice.
  • When adding the coloring the fondant tends to become sticky.

  • If you find it to be too sticky to work with add a small amount of icing sugar and work in thoroughly making sure that you leave no lumps.

  • Leave the fondant to lie open on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes to dry out a little if it is still a bit sticky.

Colored fondant in packages of either primary- neon- or natural colors are available.

You may want to use a different color than those available and then you will need to use the gel paste food coloring. Fondant is the same as play dough in that you can mix two colors to get the desired third color. Blue and yellow mixed together will give you green and turquoise and electric pink will produce a bright purple.

There are various color combinations and as this is outside the scope of this article you will need to experiment with the coloring until you get the desired result.

Black Fondant Icing on prepared surface
Black Fondant Icing on prepared surface
Rolled out black fondant with non-stick rolling pin
Rolled out black fondant with non-stick rolling pin

Preparing the Fondant Icing To Cover the Cake

Spray your working area, ideally your kitchen counter if this is suitable, with a non-stick vegetable spray. You can also dust the counter lightly with cornstarch to prevent the icing from sticking.

  • Pre-shape the icing in more or less the shape of your cake. Log shape for rectangular cakes and disc shape for round cakes.
  • Using a non-stick rolling pin or a fondant icing rolling pin roll out the icing to the desired size. An ordinary rolling pin covered with cornstarch or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray will also work.
  • The icing should be about 1/8-inch thick as this will allow for easy handling. Anything much thinner than this tends to tear.

To work out the desired size of the fondant measure the diameter of a round cake or the breadth and width of a square or rectangular cake. Measure the height of the cake and add 2".

If the cake is 8" in diameter and 4" high then the fondant must be 4"+8"+4"+2" = 18"

Placing the Fondant Over the Cake

Place the cake as close as possible to the working area once the icing is the desired size and thickness.

  • Gently roll the icing onto the rolling pin with one side hanging down - do not fold the icing.
  • Working quickly place the fondant at the bottom edge of the cake and then working over the cake remove the rolling pin by unrolling the icing. Make sure that the rolling pin does not touch the cake.
  • The fondant should now be suspended over the cake which will allow it to not only cover but to hang past the cake.

Wilton Easy Glide Fondant Smoother
Wilton Easy Glide Fondant Smoother

Fondant Smoother - to be used when finishing off the fondant icing

 
Gently press the fondant onto the sides of the cake with the palm of your hands
Gently press the fondant onto the sides of the cake with the palm of your hands
Make sure that all excess fondant icing is neatly cut off when once your cake is covered
Make sure that all excess fondant icing is neatly cut off when once your cake is covered

Smoothing the Fondant Surface

With a circular motion with either your hand or a fondant smoothing tool lightly work your way over the cake to seal the fondant and buttercream icing and work out the bumps in the icing below the surface.

This must be done very gently and care must be taken not to damage the surface with your fingernails. Marks caused by fingernails are very difficult to work out.

If there are bubbles in the surface of the cake use a straight pin or sewing needle to remove the air. Make sure that you pierce the surface of the icing at a 45 degree angle. If you prick the icing straight down it will leave a mark on the surface.

  • Trim all excess fondant around the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. A pizza cutter works well if you hold it at the right angle and work around the bottom edge of the cake.
  • If the cake is on a turning board remember to turn the cake very slowly. You don't want to damage the cake now so close to finished.
  • Gently work all the way round the edge of the cake and seal the fondant and icing along the bottom of the cake.

Examples of different edgings to finish off cake

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using Brown Sugar to create sea sand effectCakes for twins - fondant border across two cake boardsCrystal sugar and fondant edgingFondant beads used for edgingRibbon and Crystal sugar edgingFondant beads used for edging
Using Brown Sugar to create sea sand effect
Using Brown Sugar to create sea sand effect
Cakes for twins - fondant border across two cake boards
Cakes for twins - fondant border across two cake boards
Crystal sugar and fondant edging
Crystal sugar and fondant edging
Fondant beads used for edging
Fondant beads used for edging
Ribbon and Crystal sugar edging
Ribbon and Crystal sugar edging
Fondant beads used for edging
Fondant beads used for edging

Cakes that have been covered with fondant icing are usually finished off with either a ribbon, balls made out of fondant icing or crystal sugar so you need not be too worried about the very edge of the cake.

They say that nobody makes a perfect cake - the more experienced you are the better you get at covering the flaws.

Special thanks to my daughter Jenny whose cakes are displayed on this hub.

More by this Author


Comments 38 comments

Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Julieonline. Happy cake decorating.


Julieonline profile image

Julieonline 4 years ago

Hi Laura I have only just found your hub on the search for cake decorating. Ohh LOVE yours. Gorgeous work. Pinned on my Cake Decorating board!! Ty for sharing with us hubbers :)


Hokams Hann 4 years ago

I'v learnt a lot 4rm dis hub.keep it up


WillSteinmetz profile image

WillSteinmetz 5 years ago

So easy steps to follow. Thanks for sharing.


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you Eiddwen! Glad to hear that you enjoyed the hub.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great hub that is so well presented and easy to follow.

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading many more of your hubs.

Take care

Eiddwen.


MissE profile image

MissE 6 years ago from Texas

Cute cakes! Working with fondant is crazy fun!


PassinItAlong profile image

PassinItAlong 6 years ago

Fondant is very fun, thank you for this technique guide


selen 6 years ago

hi

i'll be making a cake just as the one on pic., with black fondant.. I want everyone to write birthday messages on it, so i thought about food writer pens, yellow color, but not sure if it'll be seen on black fondant..

desperately begging, help, please..


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub. Next time try something a bit less difficult. Dragons are not the easiest of creatures to make.

Thanks for the comment.


Rachel B. 6 years ago

I wish I had read this article BEFORE I tried to make a dragon cake. Let's just say it didn't look anywhere close to as marvelous as the cakes above! I'll just blame the dragon and say his flame breath melted the icing, ha!


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Glad you enjoyed the hub Handmade-Crafts


Handmade-Crafts profile image

Handmade-Crafts 6 years ago

A fantastic hub. Some really useful information. Thank you so much for sharing.


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks heart4theword

I really did have fun and cake decorating with fondant is a fun and creative hobby that is very rewarding!


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

I think you had fun, making this hub:) Seeing different cakes, really adds to ones imagination! Fun Hub:)


cake decorating books 6 years ago

Thanks for the hub, i see i really need to get one of those revolving stands to make my cake decorating easier...


ianbrad55 profile image

ianbrad55 7 years ago

very informative hub


Lee Thacker profile image

Lee Thacker 7 years ago

I like the way your brain thinks, makes me feel alive listening to what your thinking, very cool...Keep it up ...PS Now I Know Why I bookmarked your page ;-) ...Hope you are doing well,


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Pleasure pinkhawk - Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


pinkhawk profile image

pinkhawk 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

wow! yum..yum! creative and artistic!...now i have an idea to try! :) thank you for sharing ma'am..


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

The cakes that we ice are covered with plastic icing or what is known as fondant icing. I am not sure what the ingredients are as we purchase it ready-made. There are however various recipes available on the internet for fondant icing.


Plastic Surgeon profile image

Plastic Surgeon 7 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

That is indeed a unique and beautiful cake. What a great birthday present for someone. I am curious as to the ingredients of this icing.


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

cyoung35 I am so glad that my information could be of help to you. Good luck with smoothing your fondant in future cake decorating.


cyoung35 profile image

cyoung35 7 years ago from Corona, CA

This is great information, I always wondered why my fondant on the cake is not smooth. I'm going to show this to my wife so she can help me with this because I don't have the artistic ability she has.


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

I am pleased to hear that the cake decorating techniques described on this hub can help you.

Thanks for taking the time to comment on the hub.


judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

I have always been interested in learning cake decorating. Thank you for giving me a start! Congratulations on being voted a HubNugget!.....judydianne


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Glad to hear that your friends visited my hub Duchess. I have a lot of interesting hubs lined up for cake decorators.


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

Well, I know of at least two who have so far!


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you very much and yes I have become a Hub addict!

Hope your friends visit my hubs soon.!


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

Congrats on the Nomination!

I can see you have quickly become addicted to HubPages. I'm not surprised, you are good at this!

I don't like cake, or eat cake, or decorate them. But I had to read this because it is part of the Nomination process and I like to read them all.

Even though I'm not a cake girl myself, I found this Hub useful, and have already passed it on to my facebook friends and others who will find it very useful.

Good work


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Money Glitch

Glad you liked the hub and hope your sister does too,


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

Great Hub, My sister decorates cakes, I will make sure I share your hub with her. Congrats, on being selected as a Hubnugget Wannabe... Good Luck!


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you very much Ripplemaker. I am both delighted and honored by my Hubnugget nomination. Cake decorating is such a part of my life and it is only a pleasure to be able to share this with other people interested in cake decorating.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Laura, congratulations for your Hubnugget Nomination! Do you know whenever I think of cake decorating, it reminds me of my aunts who used to have a catering business. And I would see them making cakes and decorating, and I had so much fun seeing them. I am sure cake lovers would love this hub! To vote for this sweet hub, click here please: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Is-13-your-lu...


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Be-Moved.

I will do a hub on "Starting a cake decorating business" shortly


Be-Moved 7 years ago from ccruz@dreamit-to-buildit.com

I need to go to the dentist, haha... Nice post! Could you write a follow up on how you would go about starting a cake decorating business.

How much would it cost?

How would you market?

What would you charge?

By the way, I love Phil Collins too...

I'm hungry now... thanks...


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks but the credit goes to Jenny. I'm just sharing her expertise.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

You and Jenny make beautiful cakes! You're right--they look too good to eat!

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