Peggy's Baking Corner
by Peggy Weaver


Covering Cakes with Fondant Icing
- Questions & Answers
 

 


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QUESTION: 
My husband and I tried your fondant recipe and were happy with the taste and look, but when we tried to roll in out it tore and crumbled. It seemed dry and weak. Do you have any suggestions? We tried putting it in the microwave for a few seconds, but it didn't seem to help with the rolling part. When we tried to lift it off the table it immediately tore. 

ANSWER: 
Did you use the RIGHT size of marshmallow bag? There are 10 ounce bags and 16 ounce bags AND are the marshmallows fresh in the bag?  If they look dry, pass and look for another bag.

Did you use all of the Crisco shortening? You can even use a bit (up to 2 tablespoons) more if you need to. That helps with the stretching issue if you live in a dry atmosphere.

 


QUESTION: 
I found your "corner" and its great.  I tried your MM fondant recipe for the first (first time for any fondant) and thought I had made it properly.  It stretched and didn't tear but when I put it on the cake I had some issues.  It came apart at the edge of the cake in one spot and it seemed to just slide down the sides of the cake.  Also the decoration I made showed some cracks the next day.  Could the cake problem be caused by the fondant being too thick?

Also my layers seemed to slide to one side?  Any suggestions on keeping the thing together?  Good news is that it didn't look as awful as it sounds and I used your white cake recipe as the base and it was wonderful!  Thanks for any advice you can provide.

ANSWER:
You mention that the icing "came apart" at the edge.  That sounds like the fondant was not kneaded enough and not enough Crisco was used. Add a teaspoon of Crisco more and you should be fine after a good kneading.

Then you say it just "slid down the side of the cake". And that the "layers seemed to slide to one side".  These 2 things make me think that possibly the cake was not thoroughly cooled. When you use icing as a filling and the cakes are even the tiniest bit warm, the Buttercream will melt and slide.  The fact that the sliding happened inside the cake and outside the cake is a bell ringer for me.  Fortunately this problem is easy to fix and stress free.

 


QUESTION:
Help! Whenever I make the MM fondant and try to cover the cake, it cracks and breaks - - what am I doing wrong? I use the Wilton reccomendation for the amount of fondant to use, for example, 48 oz to cover a 10" cake 4" high.

ANSWER:
The answer is simple.  Add a bit more water and then a bit more Crisco. When your face is dry you add water (a moisturizer) and a night cream to hold the moisture in. Fondant is the same way, it is the skin of the cake.  It needs both the water and the vegetable shortening

Try this.  Add an additional tablespoon of water and knead.  Rub a tablespoon of Crisco on to your hands and knead that in thoroughly.  You might need to add another tablespoon of water and or Crisco to get the job done right. The MMFondant recipe is not sacred.  You need to tweak it to get it right for you.

Different weather atmospheres and products have different levels of moisture.   You need to adjust your recipes to accommodate that problem.   I have never seen any recipe that is absolutely correct for everyone, as it is written.  Every recipe needs to be adjusted to weather, altitude and the products that are being used. 
 


QUESTION: 
What a wonderful, informative site!  My son’s third birthday party is this weekend, and I plan to make a layer cake with a ball on top (it is the Wilton ball pan).  I am going to use fondant for the first time in covering the ball (the cake is based on a “Monster’s Inc” cake I saw on the web – the “ball” is the “Mikey” character). 

I haven’t seen any instructions for covering a ball shape – do you have any tips for this?  I was going to use the Wilton rolled fondant, but then found your MMF recipe and want to try it.  I would like to have something that tastes good and doesn’t have to be “peeled” off the cake.  For all of my son’s prior birthdays I have prepared and frozen the cake a few days before I frost it.  It always turns out moist and makes it so I don’t have to spend an entire day in the kitchen before his party.  I usually place the cake back in the freezer after I frost it (the day before the party).  Obviously, from what I have read, freezing fondant is not recommended, so I planned to leave the cake out after I place the fondant on it.  However, I am concerned that placing fondant on a frozen cake may create a problem as the cake thaws.  (Does this make sense?) 

I am trying to use my time wisely (a three year old and a 15 month old make it a little hard to concentrate) and make a cake that tastes as well as it looks.  Any tips or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for sharing you wisdom.  It has given me the courage to try something new.

ANSWER:
One fondant covering trick you might try is to take your cake and cake board off the turntable and put it on a large coffee can on the counter. Roll out your fondant a bit thicker and about 2 inches larger than needed. 

Buttercream your cake, and then place your fondant over the suspended cake. This will allow the fondant to stretch and go past the bottom of the cake and drape in the air. The area that has the tendency to fold and ripple should now be floating in the air below the cake. Trim off the excess fondant for ease of handling.  (You will no doubt have to retrim the fondant before decorating.)  On one side, start “attaching” the fondant by gently pressing the fondant into the buttercream.  Go to the opposite side and gently press until the fondant is attached and work your way around the cake.

In other words think of a clock face.  Gently press the fondant in at 12, go to 6 and press, go to 9 and press, then go to 3 and press.  If necessary, go to between 12 and 3 and gently press then go to between 6 and 9 and press, etc. until the fondant is completely attached. Go around as many times as you need to until all the ripples are blended in.

You can move your cake on the cake board back to the turntable or decorate the cake sitting on top of the can. If you leave it on the can, please be careful while you decorate.  It can be very unstable.

As to the icing, let the cake defrost to room temperature, put on the buttercream, and then immediately attach the fondant.

 


QUESTION: 
I have two questions:

1.  How do you ice a cake without getting crumbs all in the icing?! I have the hardest time with this! Especially when you need a smooth finish. I've heard a couple of descriptions like "crumb coat: and using a cake icier decorating tip.

2.  For basket weave design, do you ice the cake thinly first then go over it again with the basket weave.

ANSWER:
1.  You have it right. A crumb coat first is the way to go. You put on a very thin layer of icing and let it dry. A professional baker friend of mine taught me that I should bake the bake one evening, fill as desired, crumb coat with buttercream, and then put the cake in a place that will be undisturbed so that the icing could crust up completely.  NOTE: Don’t cover the cake. Let the air get to it and dry the coating out. The next day, ice the cake and decorate. I’ve used this style for quite a few years and it never lets me down.

As to the cake icier tip. I have one but I rarely use it. I simply put the icing on with a spatula. Now if I am going to do a ½ sheet cake, I will get out the tip and the 16” piping bag. But for a smaller cake I’m just to lazy. So, bottom line, I think that you need to coat and to ice your cake in what ever manner works best for you.

2.  Yes, cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and then start the Basketweave technique.

 


QUESTION: 
My question was about pourable fondant.  I haven't used fondant before-at all, but your website has been very informative, and makes me want to tackle it as a project.  My question is how you actually apply the pourable fondant?  Do you still apply layer of frosting below the fondant or not?  Are you supposed to cover the bottom of whatever you are covering (slice of cake, petit four, etc), and if so, how do you do that?  Do you pour it all over, let it set and then cover the bottom?  What way works best?  Thanks so much -

ANSWER:
One of the easiest ways is to use a screen, place the little cake on a screen that has a very clean cookie sheet under it. Pour the fondant over the cake using a spoon or a squeeze bottle.  I like to do 2 or maybe 3 cakes if I’m quick, then immediately move the cakes to a sheet of parchment paper. Your cakes can adhere to the screen. You can catch the excess fondant, gently rewarm and repour over the cake.

There is no need to apply a layer of buttercream before pouring.  Some folks like to put a very thin layer of Almond Paste on the top of the cake before pouring.  The almond is a favorite flavor additive but not necessary.

Don’t worry about the bottom of the cakes.  You don’t cover the bottom of a big cake so there is no need here either.

 


QUESTION: 
I am making a wedding cake with 5 individual layers, 14 square 12 Hex 10 square 8 hex and 6 square. I want to know how to finish off the hexagon sides and make them smooth. Do I need to smooth each flat side.? I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.

ANSWER:
When I’ve done a Hexagon Cake, I’ve found that the technique in exactly the same as with a square cake but finishing is a bit easier on me because of the smaller sides.  It doesn’t matter if you are doing the cake in bButtercream or fondant it’s all the same.

Please consider practicing before the big day so that you are comfortable with what you will be doing.
 


QUESTION: 
I just came across your website for the first time, and I'm amazed by how helpful you are to those of us who are novices at best. My question is about smoothing rolled fondant.  The excess on the sides always has nice drapes , if I wanted drapes, but I don't.  So, I take a pair of scissors and trim the drapes off, and then try to hide the cut edges.  On a round cake, I usually have three major cuts, and a place or two where I've had to patch.

I never see these flaws on professional photographs.  How do you get rid of all the extra fondant?  thank you so much.

ANSWER:
Don't cut the drapes off of the fondant. That is your problem! 

Step one is to place your cake on a cake board that is approximately 1 inch larger than your cake.  Apply a thick coating of Buttercream.  I like to use a layer that is at least ¼-inch thick. This greatly helps with the smoothing process and helps you achieve your  "perfect surface” goal.  Place the fondant on the cake as soon as possible after the Buttercream icing because you don’t want to apply the fondant to a crusted Buttercream icing. I’ve found that it is so much harder to work with the fondant if it is not well adhered to the Buttercream.  My technique is to roll out the fondant, lightly cover it with a plastic wrap, and then quickly apply the buttercream to the cake.

If you are using a "real" fondant you will have to roll the icing about 3/16-inch thick, and you will usually have ripples. With MMF you can roll it thinner, thus, making it even easier to smooth.  You can gently smooth the fondant with the side of your hand or you can purchase a smoothing tool.  I have the tool but I have never used it.

Try this trick.  Place your fondant covered, but not smoothed, cake on top of a large coffee can.  This will allow the drapes to flow past the cake round and it will be much easier to smooth out  those ripples.  Please be careful though.  Since your cake is suspended in the air, you can easily bump it and cause everything to fall over.

Smooth the fondant with your hand, gently pushing it into the thick under layer of buttercream. I usually like to trim the flow off to about 2 inches below the cake board just for ease of handling.  When you are finished with the smoothing, gently run a rotary cutter around the base of the cake and give it a final touch up of smoothing.

 

QUESTION: 
Thank you so much for your informative website! I am planning on using your mm fondant recipe this weekend to make a 3 tier, 2 layer, 6, 8, and 10 inch cake. Each tier will be a different shade of fondant. How much of the fondant should I use for each tier? I have never made a cake of this size before and have no idea. Also do people tend to eat the mm fondant as opposed to leaving it on their plate? Also, once the cake is assembled, can I cover the cake with saran wrap and leave it on the counter? Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:
I'd make two batches of the MM fondant (individually), and join them together so that they both have the same texture. You will have about 5 pounds of Fondant.

  • 6-inch cake needs about 1 pound 2 ounces of icing

  • 8-inch needs about 1 pound 8 ounces

  • 10 inch needs about 2 pounds.

Color each batch separately.

Now about eating the fondant. Many people have only tasted the old recipe of fondant and don't like it. I find that most folks will taste the MM Fondant and discover that they do like the flavor and texture. I think you'll be satisfied with the recipe and the results.

Now about your question about the saran wrap. I wouldn't. The cake can easily sweat and the saran wrap would probably stick to the finish and ruin your work. I find the best thing to do is to store the cake in a closed room so that the dust and pets can't get to it. If you can, place a cardboard box over the top. That is the best way but DO NOT refrigerate the finished cake. You could be asking for trouble. The cake will almost always sweat and a layer of condensation eats into the fondant's finish. This situation is way easier to prevent than to repair.

 


QUESTION: 
I haven't tried your recipe yet but I'm fascinated, and can't wait to try it.  My sister is so far the only person I have met who likes to eat fondant. My question is about how long you can let the fondant sit against buttercream.  I have made flowers from Wilton fondant and allowed them to dry, then put them directly on a buttercream covered cake.  They were all melted the next morning, I assumed from absorbing the oils from the buttercream.  Since this experience, I have always been worried about covering a whole cake in fondant too far in advance, fearing that the fondant will melt and run.  Any thoughts?

ANSWER:
I’ve had MM Fondant against buttercream for 5 days (eating leftovers) a number of times without any problems at all. It’s been a long time since I’ve use the Wilton Fondant and I’ve never made flowers with it but I really don’t think that the Wilton product melted because of just being close to buttercream though.  Fondant is mostly oil / Crisco based so the butter in the buttercream should not cause any problems.

I have a question for you.  Did you refrigerate the cake after it was completed? Refrigerating and then allowing the cake to come to room temperature has killed many a cake fondant covered cake.  When the cake warms up, the condensation/sweating can be disastrous. It can cause drooping and a severe marking of the fondant surface.

 


 

QUESTION:
Is it possible to thin fondant so it can be poured over Petit Fours????? -

ANSWER:
It most certainly can be used for Petit Fours but I’ve never tried it with the MM Fondant.

I purchase Dry Fondant in a bag, add water to the consistency that I want and pour away.  Below is a link to the online store that I purchase Dry Fondant from, Country Kitchen. http://www.countrykitchensa.com/catalog/product.aspx?T=1&productId=619099

I start with a 10 to 1 ratio of fondant powder to water.  I add a few drops of almond extract, lemon, or vanilla extract depending on my mood and the recipe for the day. 

Add a few drops at a time of hot water until you like the consistency of the fondant  and you find it easy to pour.  Depending on the humidity of your house, you could use a different quantity of water each time you bake.
 


QUESTION:
How early in advance can I make the fondant icing? Also in the directions, it says to coat it with Crisco and double wrap it, does that mean with saran wrap.

ANSWER:
I have made the colored fondant a week in advance with no problems. I coated it well with Crisco, wrapped it in a generous sheet of Saran Wrap, and then put that in a Ziploc Bag. I squeeze out as much air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for food safety.

When you want to use it, remove it from the refrigerator. You will find the ball is very hard. Unwrap the fondant, place it on a plate, and microwave it for 10 seconds. Now be very careful, the fondant might be hot.  Handle with caution.

Take the ball out and start to knead it. You might need to put it back in the microwave a few more times. Just make sure that you knead it well between each session in the microwave. 

If you feel the fondant needs a bit more moisture, only add a few of drops at a time and then kneed it well. My favorite technique for adding water is to break the fondant ball into 2 parts. On one part, put a few of drops of water on it with your finger and smear it around. Place the second part of the fondant on top of that and smash them together. Then, knead the ball to combine. The fondant works best if it is from room temp up to body temperature.  It should be pliable and stretchy. Don’t forget, you might need to put a bit of Crisco on your hands.
 

QUESTION:
Well my icing turned out wonderful, the MM recipe you gave me tastes great compared to the Wilton brand you buy at the store.  I have come across another problem though.  When I roll out the icing for a round cake how do I avoid the folding around the bottom of the cake?

ANSWER:
Glad to here that you like the Fondant.  It is so much easier to work with too.


QUESTION:
It seems that when I make a 4-inch high cake and try covering with fondant I seem to always end up with creases on at least one side of the cake!  Can you help?

ANSWER:
One trick you might try is to take your cake and cake board off the turntable and put it on a coffee can on the counter.

Roll out your fondant a bit thicker and about 2 inches larger than needed. 

Buttercream your cake, then place your fondant over the suspended cake. This will allow the fondant to stretch and go past the bottom of the cake and drape in the air. The area that has the tendency to fold and ripple should now be floating in the air below the cake. Trim off the excess fondant. You can move your cake on the cake board back to the turntable or decorate the cake sitting on top of the can. If you leave it on the can, please be careful while you decorate.  It can be very unstable.
 

QUESTION:
Thank you for the help, that seemed to work pretty well.  Do you have any tips for covering square cakes with fondant?  Same problem, always end up with creases!!!

ANSWER:
Well you have hit a nerve!  I always struggle a bit with the corners.

When I roll fondant out for a square cake, I try to roll it out in a square shape.

Put your cake up on something tall - like a coffee can, or something sturdy. (Something with a smaller diameter than your cake board, so it's holding your cake up, but not sticking out from under the board.) Then, lay on your fondant. Cup your hands around the corners first, to "apply" them. Then, do the "in between" part - the sides - while lifting out/up on the very bottom edges to prevent "puckers". Cut off the excess and finish smoothing!

Keep in mind though, that it is pretty much impossible to get really SHARP corners with fondant like you can with buttercream. Fondant will have a slight rounding effect no matter what and that's normal.


QUESTION:
I've been looking at your website and I'm hoping you can help me. I'm making a gingerbread house and need a smooth outer wall covering that royal icing can't provide. How would I attach fondant to gingerbread? How long does fondant last if sitting out (this is not for eating, just for decorating) and needs to look good for several months? Would the grease in the fondant break down the royal icing?

ANSWER:
Well, I admit to you that I don’t know the answers to all of your questions. I never had the inclination to make Gingerbread houses.  A neighbor lady made them for me and I would bake cookies for her. With that said, I do have books about making GGB houses and cities. The books are about the winners in the Grove Park Inn competitions.

I can’t see even one house that is fondant covered.  I think it is because the fondant won’t “act” correctly for an extended length of time.  Usually if the top level experts don’t do something, then there is a good reason for it.

Nicolas Lodge has a book out that tells about using royal icing on a cake.  The sides are perfectly flat and level so it is the technique that gives you the fine finish even more than the icing itself.

I do think that the royal icing would break down from the Crisco in the fondant after an extended length of time.

Sorry that I couldn’t help you more with this. Best of luck with your project.
 


Back to:

Peggy's Baking Corner Home Page

Check out some of Peggy Weaver's many Cake Decorating Articles, Tutorials, and Q&A pages below.

Fondant Icing/Covering:

Fondant Icing 101
(Recipe and Tutorial on making & using fondant icing)

Fondant Recipes

Making Fondant Icing

Bubbles in the Fondant

Covering Cakes with Fondant Icing

Decorating Cakes with Fondant Icing

Marbling Fondant Icing

 


Fondant does not freeze well at all, as a matter of fact, downright lousy. Do not even think about refrigerating it either. The condensation that can occur when you defrost or bring to room temp can destroy the finish of the fondant.

Now, if you are going to freeze the cake, as many folks do until the first anniversary, yes go ahead and freeze. The cake will not look as beautiful as it did originally but you just have to keep the idea in mind that it was perfect on the day of the wedding.
 

Buttercream Icing/Covering:

Buttercream Icing 101
Recipe and Tutorial on making & using buttercream icing)

Buttercream Recipes

Decorating with Buttercream


Wedding Cakes:

Assembling Cakes/Wedding Cakes

Cake Fillings

Covering Wedding Cakes with Fondant

Decorating Wedding Cakes:

(Lots of Q&A's on decoration a wedding cake)
 

Other Cake Baking and Decoration Topics:

Recipes & Baking Ingredients

Miscellaneous

Comments From Bakers

Cookies & Cookie Cutters

Peggy's Cake Decorating Idea Photos (The idea page has photos only and no detailed decorating instructions.)



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