Learning how to roll, cut, layer and shape fondant is a great skill to have in your arsenal.

Whether you’re a reasonably confident home baker or an absolute beginner, it will be easy to feel like a pro when you get a hang of the basics.

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to cover a cake or add some decorative touches to your confectionary masterpiece, we’ve got you covered with the essential know-hows.

What is fondant icing?

Fondant is a creamy white sugar, a thick mass used in different forms for the purpose of confectionery and cake decorating. There are different types of fondants such as rolled fondant, sculpted fondant and poured fondant.

For covering cakes use rolled fondant as it leaves a perfectly smooth, satiny surface and is ready to use, hence the common product description ‘Ready to Roll’ or ‘RTR’.

Fondants are sometimes flavoured and there are a variety of different brands. 

You can make your own fondant but if you do please try to source an Australian recipe – as weather or climate has a big effect working with fondant. Commercially available fondants are generally good and usually made with Australian conditions in mind.

Top tips to managing fondant icing

TIP: Please remember practice makes perfect, by the time you have covered three cakes they will start to look better than most of the cakes you can buy commercially. Don’t be put off by a bumpy first attempt.

  1. Your icing will dry out very quickly so it is important to work quickly to avoid your icing is becoming cracked and difficult to use.
  2. When you are not using your icing (even for a minute) put it in a plastic bag or cover it with vinyl to avoid it drying out.
  3. If you have hot hands this will tend to make your icing sticky and then you will be tempted to over use corn flour that will dry your icing. Cool your hands under cold water and keep your corn flour to a light sprinkle.
  4. Weather will affect your fondant icing—humidity will make the icing sticky and very cold weather will make it as hard as a rock. We often wait a day if we have bad fondant weather.
  5. NEVER EVER refrigerate your icing when it is on a cake. Fondant will sweat in the fridge. Once your cake is covered it is perfectly fine to store in a cool place (20 degrees).
  6. Your excess fondant icing is best stored in a sealed bag or container. Please follow instructions on how to store your particular brand of icing as we store ours at room temperature.
  7. Safety: Always work the icing in small amounts and try and get above your icing when you knead it on the bench. If you are short, get a stool so you can use your body weight to help you knead. If you try and knead large amounts of icing you will put undue pressure on your wrists and make your job very difficult.
  8. Never cover a cake straight from the fridge. To achieve a professional finish only cover cakes at room temperature.
  9. Never use icing that is too dry or over kneaded. This will make the corners crack very easily.
  10. When making dark colours (such as red, black, brown, purple) make them the day before, the icing has time to relax and rest.
  11. Kneading and rolling fondant is an important part of cake decorating. Most people use old-fashioned elbow grease and rolling pins to roll the fondant out to the perfect consistency and thickness. A clean, smooth surface is ideal for rolling.
  12. Constantly add CORN FLOUR to your surface to ensure the fondant doesn’t stick, but only add this to the surface of the table, not the top of the fondant.
  13. The ideal thickness of fondant to cover a cake is 3mm because let’s face it, no one wants a thick blanket of fondant to overpower the delicious cake inside.
  14. A pasta machine can be used to roll out even sheets of fondant if you are adding decorations and details to your covered cake.

TIP: Kneading icing is not like kneading dough. If you keep pummelling it will stick to the board and become unmanageable. Treat your icing a bit like play-dough, keeping folding it in until it is smooth and warm to use but does not stick to the bench.

Adapted from Paris Culter’s book Planet Cakes: A Beginner’s Guide to Cake Decorating

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