Ocean City Today

Walker discusses intricacies of rolled and poured fondant

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Mar 08, 2018

(March 9, 2018) The philosophy of a chef is to pursue knowledge on all levels.

Questions concerning learning, thinking and personal preference change as one advances their skills. Therefore, knowledge is a progressive discovery and increasing one’s repertoire of skills is understood.

Desserts, if you will, date back to ancient civilizations where people enjoyed fruits and nuts candied with honey. It wasn’t until sugar was manufactured during the Middle Ages that people began to enjoy a variety of “goodies.”

Today, the progression of technology and culinary experimentation has spiraled desserts to levels of incredible feat.

In the pastry industry, fondant has become quite popular due to the rise in competitions and baking shows. Gorgeous, intricate cakes are becoming the mainstream and would not be possible without the addition of this pliable product.

For those who are not familiar with the intricacies of fondant, a quick review is provided. The word “fondant” can refer to two different types of icing: rolled and poured fondant.

Rolled fondant is a dough-like product that is basically made from confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin and shortening. As the dough is kneaded, its texture becomes soft and supple. Then it is rolled out and molded over the cake.

Rolled fondant is the foundation of any high-end cake and its purpose is to create a blank canvass from which a work of art can be created.

Poured fondant is made from the same ingredients except the gelatin is omitted. This type of fondant is cooked and used for cake fillings, candy, eclairs, petit fours and Napoleons. That being said, the focus of this article will be devoted to rolled fondant and its connection to cakes.

Once your cake has been cooked and cooled, you will need to “crumb coat” it. Crumb coating ensures all rough surfaces are smoothed out with a base of icing or buttercream. Any crumbs or indentations in your cake will show in the fondant, so it is imperative to prep the cake first.

After your cake has been crumbed coated, prepare enough fondant to cover the entire cake. Measuring the opposite sides and top layer of the cake will yield exactly how much fondant you need.

For example, an 8-inch, two-layer cake, with two sides each 4 inches, equals 16 inches in diameter. Allow yourself a little extra just in case.

Before rolling out the fondant, knead it until it has reached a workable consistency. If the fondant is sticky, add a little confectioners’ sugar. If it is a little dry, apply a touch of shortening to your hands as you knead the dough.

Lightly dust your smooth work surface with confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking.

Roll out the fondant according to the size of your cake. To keep the fondant from sticking, lift and move as you roll. Add more confectioners’ sugar if needed. If you have a nonstick rolling pin, this is the time to use it.

When the fondant is ready to be applied to the cake, gently lift it onto the rolling pin and position over the cake. Very carefully drape the fondant onto the cake. At this point, it is highly recommended to use a smoother because the pressure of your hands will leave impressions on the fondant. Beginning in the middle of the cake top, move the smoother outward until the top is perfectly smooth.

The next step is to smooth the fondant on the sides of the cake. This gets a little tricky if you are working with a round cake as opposed to a sheet cake. The round cake will have ruffles or folds that are hanging down.

Simply lift the ruffle with one hand, and using your other hand, smooth and press the fondant to the cake using upward strokes. Continue this process around the cake and eventually working your way down the sides of the cake.

Trim the ends of the cake. Using your smoother, smooth the sides and you are ready for the decorating phase.

A few hints for rolled fondant sweeten the odds for success. If you want a tinted fondant, consider add the coloring to the gelatin mixture. It’s easier than kneading in color later.

Some pastry chefs find it easier to mostly mix the fondant with the dough hook and then finish kneading in the sugar by hand.

Before using refrigerated fondant, bring the dough up to room temperature. Microwaving for 30 seconds makes it even more pliable.

If the fondant does not want to stick to the cake, spray a little water.

In closing, applying fondant to a cake is an intricate art. The internet is a great source for detailed instructions. Have fun and try something new!

* The following recipe is taken from the Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy.

Basic, Rolled Fondant Recipe


8 cups powdered sugar, sifted

¼ cup water

1ounce packet gelatin

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon syrup

2 tablespoons shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Soften the gelatin in the water, dissolve the gelatin over a double boiler, add the corn syrup, shortening and vanilla. Make a well in the powdered sugar and add the lukewarm mixture and mix until well incorporated.

2.  Place on a powdered sugar surface and knead until all the ingredients are mixed well. Use as needed or refrigerate in an airtight container.

3.  Hold back 2 cups of powdered sugar when mixing. Humidity and other factors may affect the dough and the dough may require less powdered sugar.

Secret Ingredient – Imagination. “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

— Albert Einstein


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