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.
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.
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.
Fondant Smoother - to be used when finishing off the fondant icing
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 cakeClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.