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by Peggy Weaver

 

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Decorating Wedding Cakes with Fondant Icing - Questions & Answers
 


QUESTION:
I have
worked with the icing before but I have only used the pre-colored icing.  I have been reading the Q&A about fondant on this page and I noticed you talk about Wilton Fondant (which I am familiar with) and also MM Fondant? Where can I get that?

ANSWER:
You make the MM ( Marshmallow) Fondant at home.  It is very easy to make, inexpensive and quite tasty. Here is a link to the recipe on “What’s Cooking America” site and more fondant information:  http://whatscookingamerica.net/PegW/Fondant.htm
 

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 and 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 temperature 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.

 



Three-Tier Wedding Cakes:

QUESTION: 
I am making a three-tier wedding cake. I have purchased a 14", 10", 6"X3" deep set of bakeware. It is recommended that I use a heating core for a 10" cake and larger. My thinking is this will make a hole in the cake and I will not be able to have a complete flat surface for icing and fondant. Thank you in advance for your reply.

ANSWER:
To use the core, you grease the core inside and out. Push it into the middle and fill the core about 1/3 of the way with the cake batter. Bake.

When you remove the core from the middle, you also remove the inner plug.  Put a little buttercream into the hole and place the cake plug in the hole.  After the buttercream icing or fondant on the cake, no one will ever know there was a hole.


QUESTION: 
I love your site and have read it over and over again. I plan on making my own wedding cake in August of this year (2nd marriage for both of us). The cake will be larger than the amount of guests that will attend – just because I have never made a wedding cake and I want it to be nice. I plan on making a three tier with layers of 12-inch, 10-inch, and 8-inch with no spacers in between. What do you think of the sizes?  I want it covered in the MM fondant (I think) or Buttercream Icing. I have never worked with fondant. 

ANSWER: 
I personally like 12-inch, 9-inch, and 6-inch top for you to store for the first anniversary. Make them all about 4 to 5 inches tall, no matter what you use for the best proportional look. You have to make that choice. I always prefer a Marshmallow fondant.

 

QUESTION:
I am making a three-tier wedding cake and I will be using fondant icing for some of the decorations. Two of the layers will be polka dots. I am just going to pipe the dots, but they will be three different shades of pink!  So my questions is:  Can I use the same coloring for the fondant icing as I do the regular icing? If so, how do I go about coloring the fondant icing?

ANSWER:
Yes, I suggest that you use a Pink Gel Food Color. Not the liquid drops that you get from the grocery store. If you use the Wilton Brand, use a toothpick to remove the color from the little jar.  Start with a little, mix and add more as needed.  Never re-dip the toothpick in the gel.  Tooth picks are cheap and since you are working with food, it is better to be safe than sorry. My favorite brand is AmeriColor, to me it is easier to use and less messy. AmeriColor Food Colorings are in a drop bottle.  I can repeat my quantities easier by measuring drops. I think your best bet would be to use only one shade of the Pink coloring and use different intensities of that color for your various tints.

Coloring the fondant icing - Put your fondant on your table/counter and smash it out a bit. Using a toothpick or the dropper bottle mentioned above, put a drop of AmeriColor or small glob of the Wilton color on the white fondant. I like to pull of a golf ball size of fondant and use that to smear the food coloring around on the fondant. Put the ball in the middle, fold the fondant over it and knead the big gob of fondant until all of the color is evenly mixed in. You might need to add a bit of shortening to your hands and counter to keep the fondant from sticking. If it is still too pale, use the same procedure to add in more color. Remember that it is easier to add color than take it out.  Start with small amounts of color and add more as you need to. 

 



Gum Paste Flowers and Fondant Flowers:


QUESTION:

Here is my question - I want to make a cake that has the roses cascading down the sides of the layers (one side) with roses on the top layer. How do I attach the roses to the sides?

ANSWER:
Now you are talking gum paste flowers and you will need to have other flowers such as little trumpet flowers and little generic flowers also a few leaves as a fill in. Each flower is made separately and dried on a wire.  All of the realistic flowers on wires, are bound together to form a thick stem. That is the one way you can hold this type of flower cascade. You can do this but you will be spending MONEY on the supplies, cutters, rollers, foam blocks, and many other tools. If you want to make cakes in the future, this expenditure is acceptable but if it is a one shot deal, then you will save money by finding someone who will make the cascade for you.  Go to a quality local bakery and ask if they have a person locally who does gum paste work.  You should expect to pay the same price for the gumpaste flowers as you would real flowers but they can last for years if cared for properly.


QUESTIONS:

(1)  Do you put down a base of fondant or butter cream to give these flowers an elevated look?

(2)  How do I fasten them to the sides of the cake?

(3)  I am guessing that I will have to make the roses out of Royal icing? I also thought about making the roses out of gum paste. Have never worked with that either? Any suggestions on that?

(4)  What if I use real roses or flowers? Are you supposed to stick the flower in one of those water holder pick things or can you stick right in the cake? That would be a lot of plastic water holders in the side of the cake if I used real flowers.

ANSWERS:
(1)  The wiring structure is what does the job.

(2)  No Royal icing will “melt” and dissolve from the oils in the fondant.

(3)  Ok, you are jumping in over your head. It’s like saying you want to build a Ferrari without understanding anything about cars. I’d like to suggest that you pick up a book called Wedding Cakes that you can Make by Dede WilsonThis book will get you some of the info you want and help you focus on what you can do without spending lots of money on tools and equipment.

(4)  I personally hate all of the holes that are left from the flower viles. You can wrap the stems with flower tape and then stick it into the cake side but you still have the holes. You can ask a local florist to make a flower cascade for you.


QUESTION: 
I just have a quick question. I was planning on making fondant roses on a bridal cake but I was  wondering how far in advance to make the flowers so that they don’t sag or fall on the Saturday I was serving the cake.

ANSWER:
Here is a bit of information that might help you. This information is courtesy of a lovely lady named Sew Sweet.

  • Some decorators are adding Fixodent denture adhesive, the powdered kind only, at a ratio of about 1 tsp. of Fixodent powder to about a cup or a hardball sized mound of fondant. (This sound strange but it is food safe. After all many folks use this product in their mouth for their dentures).  Many decorators that have tried it are happy with the results.
     

  • I find that fondant items need a long drying time.  Plan a least a week for most flowers, and more if you live in humid areas. If the item is going to be eaten, you might want to try a slightly dry marshmallow fondant, (use a teaspoon less water) and see if it holds up for what you have in mind. If it isn't going to be eaten then you can go with the Fixodent hardening method.

     

QUESTION: 
Could you please help me? I am teaching myself to make fondant flowers - so far they look good. However, I am then painting them with the paste food coloring - this makes the flowers gooey - the ones I painted almost a week ago are still tacky to the touch.  I don't know if they will ever dry.  I'm taking them out of town to a birthday.   Is there some other way I should be painting these?

ANSWER:
I need to know something, are you really using fondant or gum paste? The two different mediums are used in two different ways.

Fondant can make successful flowers if the flowers or leaves are flat. Like flat daisies. fondant flowers, because it is made with something like Crisco (a grease), can very easily go limp and drip from the atmosphere or if it is touching anything moist on the cake.

If you want a very 3D, realistic flower, you need to use gum paste because it dries harder and can be easily colored.  This is the best choice for flowers by far! 

Think of it this way, both oil and gas are made from petroleum but the each are used for a different thing and in a different way.


QUESTION: 
I'll state the particular problems I'm having.  First, I was using the paste colors to paint the flowers - that softened the fondant petals, then they wouldn't dry and remain a sticky mess. THEN someone said to use the dry food coloring mixing it with either lemon extract, vodka or lemon juice. 

ANSWER:
That is because when you add liquid to fondant, it will melt the sugar and make a sticky mess.  Are you trying to do decorative work on the flowers? Like a flower that has just a purple tip but the rest of the flower is white? 

I’ve never heard of dry food coloring used with the lemon, or vodka.  I personally use Petal Dust with Everclear or occasionally vodka for coloring.


QUESTION: 
That seems to work much better EXCEPT for the fact that the dry colors are not as vibrant as the paste.

ANSWER:
I believe this is true, but if a method doesn’t work, you need to drop it and move on to another method.  That is why Petal Dust is used.  It remains very strong in the color intensity.


QUESTION: 
Do you find this to be true? What method would you suggest to 'glue' petals together - I have made a rather big iris - each petal maybe 3" to 4".  They need to be assembled to top the cake - how would I go about this, if you know.

ANSWER:
Typically you use a tiny drop of simple syrup.  This will slightly dissolve the sugars on both sides and when they dry they are “sugar welded” together.

Suggestion:
I suggest that you get a book on flower making. You will be very happy that you did. My favorite book is by Scott Clark Woolley and also his products. If you want to get veiners and cutters, you should look at his site. The tools are about the same price as other companies, but you will save money by being organized and purchasing as much as you can from the same vendor.  If you start purchasing products in different places from different venders, your money will go out the door very fast because you will end up with items you don’t need just to get what you do need for a project.

I can’t tell you how many cutters I purchased from one company, and veiners from another company. Then they didn’t fit together and I had to go to a third vendor. In other words, wasted money!



Coloring Fondant:


QUESTION: 
Your web site is an overwhelming, wealth of information,  A really super place to sit and learn and lose myself. On that note....... I am making my first wedding cake. I will be using fondant and will use your MM Fondant recipe. I want to color the fondant in a marbleized effect. Lilac tint and corn silk yellow - pale antique gold (very little) tint. What is the best way to achieve this. I'm so afraid of blending too much and having the "marble" disappear, or having it clump all in one spot. Thanks so much for any help.

ANSWER:
One thing I learned quickly. If your two colors are close in tone, they can fade into each other. You will loose the marble effect and sometimes you can get a muddy look. So make sure there is a little “depth” to your colors. Make extra MM Fondant (it’s cheap) take about a ¼ ball of it and color it. Repeat with the second color you want to use. Then practice blending them.

I usually put the balls of fondant on the counter in front of me and just look at them and see if they “Feel Good” together. Tweak the colors as needed. Here is the technique that I use:

  • Cut fondant color A into 5 pieces and do the same with Color B.
     

  • Stack the layers one on top of each other. Alternate the colors.
     

  • Press the fondant together and pull and stretch to form the marbling.
     

  • Occasionally, I will fold the stretched piece out into thirds so that I get a wavy marbling. Some folks like to gently twist the pulled fondant then roll it out.
     

  • Gently roll the piece flat so that it can be applied to your cake.

It’s a very simple technique that is very pretty.


 



Making Chocolate Quils:

 

QUESTION: 
I have been asked to make a wedding cake similar to the one I have attached a picture of. My problem is, I'm not sure how to go about making the white chocolate "quills".  Any ideas? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:
You will need chocolate, either white or dark, a pallet knife, a double edge comb scraper and a metal, broad spatula. The spatula looks like a 6-inch putty knife. I've used my metal bench scraper before and it worked pretty well. 

Prepare your counter by thoroughly cleaning and drying. If you have access to a huge sheet of marble, even better. I used my marble coffee table more than once.

Melt and temper your chocolate.

Spread a narrow band of tempered dark chocolate onto the clean surface. Using a palette knife spread it thinly to 5 1/2" wide. Now using the comb, create long straight lines through the length of the chocolate band. Allow the chocolate to firm slightly, then apply a second layer of chocolate on top of the chocolate. (You could make the bottom layer a dark chocolate and the top layer a white chocolate). Spread thinly and evenly with a palette knife. Allow to firm slightly. Use the broad scraper at 1" increments to roll-up the chocolate into quills.

 



Misc. Decorating Questions:


QUESTION: 

Hello, I want to use fondant on a large wedding cake. Then coat it with Wilton sugar crystals (little squares). I found this recipe in a magazine. My bride hates the taste of fondant but, really wants this cake. Two questions, what can i use to attach the sugar crystals to the fondant and should I use Wilton or make MM fondant? 

ANSWER:
I need to know - do the crystals look like really chunky sugar or is it flat, more like giant flecks of glitter? The picture you sent looks like Edible Glitter. It is very light weight and would stick to the buttercream. If you give the icing the very finest of misting with water and then sprinkle the glitter on. You could use the sugar crystals but every bite would have a definite crunch to it.

Have you ever gotten egg white on your counter and not cleaned it up right away?  When you get back to it, the egg white dries, flakes and is in random flat, shiny shapes. It is very light, airy and will sparkle. 

Edible glitter comes in colors but you would use white for a wedding cake but I have seen a mix of white and blue on a winter wedding cake to give the “icy” feel.  You would lightly mist the cake with water and sprinkle the glitter on.


ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:

I’ll take your questions one at a time:

(1) The sugar is heavy and it looks like tiny squares. Almost like pieces of flat glass.  They are not small like the colored sugars that we sprinkle on cupcakes.  I would say, more like giant flecks. 

They are about the size of Pretzel salt right? 

(2)  I was thinking about attaching it to fondant, so i could remove the fondant with each slice?

Removing the fondant on each slice would not be attractive on the plates.  I’d avoid this at all costs!

(3)  If the bride doesn't want the crunch.  I believe it would be too heavy for regular icing.  I just don't know what to use to attach the crystals to the fondant, without affecting the fondant. 

If you feel you must use the crystals, PLEASE make the fondant beforehand and try your technique a few times before your final run.

(4)   Do you think I could brush a thin layer of piping gel on the fondant or spray it with something?  I just need to know what to use for the glue. 

No piping gel! It will be goopy, dissolve the sugar crystals and cause “rivers” flowing down the sides of the cake as it dissolves and droops.

I’d only use the finest mist of water but PLEASE practice this technique before you make you cake.  Stand the piece up so that it will simulate the side of the cake.

 



Smoothing the Fondant - Baking Pan Sizes:


QUESTION:
I am making a fondant wedding cake for the 1st time - a little nervous! Anyway, on my practice cake, the fondant turned out good, but covering fell apart. I can see the lumps on the cake through the icing. I pinpointed a few issues myself - not enough buttercream icing underneath (not nearly 1/4") and fondant rolled too thin. Any other tips for that smooth, perfect finish?  Also, how much of your "doctored cake mix" do I need for a 4 tiered cake? Thanks a million!

ANSWER:
You are absolutely right. The thick cushion of Buttercream Icing will cover up almost all of the imperfections of your cake. Roll out your fondant to somewhere around 3/16 of an inch thick. 

With your warm hands, you can smooth the fondant out quite nicely. If you need to, mix equal parts of cornstarch and powdered sugar together and sprinkle a little on your hands. This will help you polish the fondants surface for an even better look.

First of all, I need to talk about your baking pans. For a wedding, a 4-inch tall layer is usually preferred.  You will need pans that are 3-inches deep.  t first I was reluctant to buy this size pan but over the years I have found them to be the best investment I’ve made in my baking supplies. The little extra height, even for a birthday cake, gives a much more impressive look and heightens the WOW Factor. Most decorators aim for a 4-inch tall filled layer, it gives the best balance to the eye, even with the 6-inch topper cake. Bake your layers cool completely and then slice all of them the same height so that all of the filled layers are a standard size. I freeze the leftover cake bits so that I can have a quick dessert of cake and fruit anytime.

With all that said, I like to use the following amount in 3-inch tall round pans. Always check to see if the cake is finished baking at the lowest time possible for a moister cake.   

Size     batter          temp      time
6”        2 ½ cups      325       35 - 40 minutes
8”        5 cups          325       45 - 50 minutes
10”      8 cups          325       55 – 60 minutes
12”      10 ½ cups     325       65 – 75 minute
 



Marshmallows Quantities:

QUESTION:
Hi, The MM fondant recipe is excellent! I'm planning to make it to cover my cousins wedding cake this Saturday. The only problem I have is with quantities. In Canada, quantities are in kg, grams and cups. I am having a hard time with the fondant consistency because I don't really know how many MM are in the bag, and exactly how much sugar is needed (don't have a scale...)  Is it possible to have the quantities for the MM and the sugar in cups please ? Thanks a million!

ANSWER:
I can help you a bit with your problem of quantities:

A bag of Miniature Marshmallows are approximately 450 grams and a bag of Powdered Sugar is approximately 900 grams.

Try to find products in you markets that equal these proportions.

Notice that for 1 gram of marshmallows you use 2 grams of powdered sugar.

Trying to tell you how many cups to use is really a problem. If you just pack the powdered sugar in a cup it your have one weight. If it is
loosely packed you would have a completely different weight. That is why I weight everything when I bake from scratch.

I know that you don't have a scale, so try to use the 2 to 1 formula when you purchase the products. That will get you the closest to the original recipe and the best results in your end product.
 



Misc. Questions:
 

QUESTION: 
I love the look of fondant and want to put it on my wedding cake. Small problem, about half the folks attending are diabetics. As I don't want to put anyone into a sugar induced coma, I was wondering if there is a Splenda or other "sugar-free" recipe out there. Do you know of one? Thank you.

ANSWER:
Hi, I'm a little hard core on this issue. It is your wedding, you have the cake you and you fiancé want. This issue of should not be your concern.

Wedding cake portions are supposed to be about 1 1/2 inch by 2 inches. It is not a food group. If someone is diabetic, they have the option of passing on the cake or according to their doctors instructions, eat a small amount of the cake. Diabetics are responsible for their own intake of food. NOT YOU! You are responsible for your health and if you agree to it, the health of your mate. Period.

You can't make fondant with Splenda, successfully. You need powdered sugar and considering that you use Marshmallows as the base of the recipe you have even more sugar.

If you wish to have a side cake or two for the diabetic guests, that would be a lovely, kind gesture.

Personally, a Lemon Pound cake with a bit of lemon glaze (done with Splenda) sound delicious to me, or a bit of an exotic offering could be a Gingerbread cake with a Lemon drizzle. I'll bet many of your guests haven't had had a slice of old fashioned Gingerbread in many a year.

I would also be very happy with a Chocolate Marble Cake, but I would add two (2) more eggs to this recipe to hold it together properly.
 


QUESTION:
My daughters wedding cake has real roses for the top. Should I freeze the roses also, or remove them prior to freezing?- Please answer soon. The wedding was Saturday 8/6 and I need to freeze the top soon. Thank you.

ANSWER:
You need to remove the live roses before freezing. Freezing roses destroys the cell in the petals and can turn them into a black mush when they defrost. If the couple wants to have roses when they defrost the cake, you could suggest a few silk roses or they could use fresh organic roses for the celebration.
 

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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.
 


Peggy Weaver
Email Peggy Weaver:

If you have any additional questions or comments that have not been answers in the categories above, Peggy will try to answer them for you.

Email Peggy:  (just click on the underlined): Peggy Weaver.


Please, please first check the sections above before emailing, as Peggy gets many repeat questions.

 

Looking for fondant icing tools and/or equipment and Gum Paste to help you decorate your cakes using MM (Marshmallow) Fondant Icing

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