Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

For the Love of Fondant… or Not!

I am not a big fan of fondant. Just thought I should get that out in the open right off the bat. It’s a pain to work with, leaves much to be desired on the taste front and it’s just not my preferred medium when it comes to cakes.

On the other hand, fondant:

  • Acts as a short-term preserver of moisture and freshness, allowing a busy decorator to start early even if she  doesn’t have space for an 18″ layer in her refrigerator.
  • Provides a smooth surface ready to accept a variety of further decorations.
  • Is a favorite of brides all over.

Sigh.

Such was the case with the cake this weekend. The bride (now my sister-in-law) loved the smooth surface-look of fondant so I but the sugary bullet and rolled out 15 lbs of it Wednesday night. The cake received raves on both looks and taste at the reception, Saturday (though most folks did NOT eat the fondant covering) and the bride was especially pleased. Which was the entire point so, you know, it’s all good.

Kara's Wedding Cake
Kara’s Wedding Cake

The last wedding cake I did (about 5 years ago) was also a fondant-strosity. I recently came across pictures of it (beautiful, by the way) but I can honestly say I must have blocked the experience because I barely remember it’s delivery and assembly (I never transport cakes assembled) and nothing of it’s creation. I suppose it’s akin to childbirth–you forget the pain when you see the result (or so I’ve heard–my hands have yet to forgive me!).

At any rate, in the unfortunate instance that you (or I, for that matter) find yourself elbow deep in a pile of fondant, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Ice the cake smooth and let it crust a little bit before putting on the fondant–not only do folks want something underneath when they peel off the fondant, it helps hide any surface imperfections on the cake
  • Skip the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture and just oil everything up with vegetable shortening–keeps the fondant pliable and helps the rolling pin glide along the surface
  • You can re-roll anything that hasn’t already contacted icing–this isn’t like pie crust or biscuit, think of it more like sugary play clay, too much sand and stuff and it’s no good
  • Patching is tough to do, or at least to do well–it’s best to avoid them by steering clear of thin spots in your sheet or tears, and stretching what’s already there; adding pieces of fondant to cover larger problem areas can be done, though
  • Icing, applied with an angled spatula, to fondant that’s been allowed to set actually makes a very good spackle and can cover up minor cracks and dents that are bound to happen during transport

There was this one guy at the wedding was so excited to try fondant. He’d watched those cake shows on television and, as he tells it, none of the cake shops in his area carried it. When he found out his cousin’s cake was covered in it he was over the moon. We cautioned him not to get his hopes up, those of us who did not care for the taste, but he loved it. He said it was like candy.

I suppose the lesson is not to knock it ’til you try it, but I’ve tried it and I will be quite happy if I’m never called to try it again.

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker

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