Covering a cake with Fondant Icing is now a trend in cake decorating if you want to have a smooth, dainty, and professional look for your cakes. But making with a perfectly smooth fondant-covered cake, without wrinkles or air bubbles, can be achieved with loads of patience especially if you are a novice cake decorator. After all, the secret weapon lies on the pliability, the right ways to knead, roll out and lift, and even out the fondant. With more practice, you will find that covering a cake with fondant is very easy.
The first time I was helping myself to work with a ready-made rolled fondant was a disaster. I found it hard to roll the fondant according to the preferred thickness because it got dry easily. Then, the worst of all, when I was covering the cake it got many bubbles trap. The fondant sheet started to crack and I can’t get the smooth surface that I want. I even struggled with the pleats around the bottom as well cracking and tearing of the fondant on the sides, and there were cornstarch or powdered sugar spots all over the fondant!
I searched in the internet for pictures and instructions to give me the best idea but I felt like there’s a lack of good suggestion all in one place. The videos went by so quickly that it seemed those adept hands were covering the cake with no issues but I toiled to figure out what they were doing.
But with many attempts and practices, I was eventually able to comprehend and establish my own style of covering cake with fondant. So, here I will take you through my biggest tips and pointers for getting a nice finish so you can learn to cover your cake without pleating, tearing, holes, or any other frustrating issues that you have rather than beating your head against the counter.
This is good for those who are new to fondant as well. However, I definitely agree that watching videos also helps immensely, so combine my style with some other videos and information out there.
Step 1: Get the right kind of fondant
Buying a ready-made fondant can be a bit expensive. So, I started making fondant from scratch using the best recipe and the one I use all the time. A half batch can cover up to one 10-inch by 3 inches round cake and it’s actually not all that hard to make.
To the correct consistency of making my fondant at home, I still bought a package of pre-made, high quality fondant and mixed it with my homemade one. I normally bought a container of Satin Ice, or sometimes Fondx.
Step 2: Level your cake evenly
The shape of your cake can also influence the final result on covering your cake with fondant. A cake that is perfectly smoothens and even on all sides is more pleasing and appears more beautiful.
You have to make sure that you have level off or flatten to the top surface of your cake properly using a cake leveler or serrated knife.
Step 3: Ice your cake as smooth as possible
Before covering your cake with fondant, make sure that your cake is covered with a layer of icing at least ¼ inch thick. I normally use buttercream under my fondant that is smooth and hard as possible. Coating with buttercream will help the fondant to stick to the cake and smooth out any bumps or imperfections on the cake surface. It will make the fondant looks clean on the surface.
I use an icing spatula or offset spatula to get my buttercream smooth on the cake’s surface. I also prepare some cornstarch, vegetable shortening, a nonstick rolling pen, and a large working station or I preferably use rolling mat to work with the fondant.
Step 4: Knead your fondant properly
It is necessary to always knead the fondant to make it pliable and avoid cracks and tearing. If working with a huge amount of fondant, I basically divide it into several pieces while kneading. I zap each piece in the microwave for two 5-second increment to soften it slightly. It should not be longer than 5 second because it will melt then I started working it on my rolling mat.
I keep the other chunks in a plastic wrap or air tight container to prevent it from drying and crusting while I am working.
While kneading each section, I add a dollop of shortening (I use Crisco brand) and a dollop of glycerine to soften the fondant and make it smoother and more pliable. The shortening also helps the fondant to be less sticky. That’s way, you can use less corn starch (or powdered sugar) when you’re rolling. Corn starch and powdered sugar leave white stuff everywhere and can dry out your fondant.
Once all the individual chunks are kneaded properly, put them together and knead the fondant until it’s warm, soft, smooth and pliable.
Step 5: Use corn starch or powered sugar sparingly
I slightly dust my working surface with little corn starch to keep the fondant from sticking to the surface and rolling pin. I prefer corn starch because it doesn’t dry out the fondant and will not make the fondant sweeter rather than using powdered sugar.
As I roll, I put my hands under and all around the edges to make sure it isn’t sticking to the counter. If need be, I sprinkle just a bit underneath and rotate the fondant slightly to distribute.
Step 6: Roll out the fondant wider
Measure your cake across the top and sides. Then add another 2 inches to the dimension. So if you measured 10 inches across the top and your cake is 3 inches tall, that’s 16 inches of cake total. Roll out the fondant to at least 18 inches. I actually like a little more.
More fondant along the bottom means you have more to work with when it comes to lifting and smoothing around the bottom and less opportunity for pleating and folding along the bottom.
Step 7: Roll the fondant up
Roll the whole fondant onto your rolling pin. Don’t try to lift it with your arms or your hands and put it onto the cake. You’ll get more air bubbles if you try to do it like that.
The rolling pin method allows you to roll it slowly over the top of the cake.
Step 8: Secure the top edges first
Once you’ve rolled it onto the cake, secure all around the very top first. This will prevent the weight of the fondant from pulling away from the edge and tearing your fondant.
The other thing that helps prevent fondant from tearing and breaking is the glycerine and shortening you added when you kneaded the fondant earlier as well as using a scant amount of corn starch (or powdered sugar).
Step 9: Lift up and in
Now you’re going to work your way down from the top, smoothing out the fondant. Work your way around the cake, smoothing a half inch to an inch at a time all the way around, then keep going around until you get to the bottom.
As you smooth with one hand, use your other hand to lift up the excess fondant on the bottom and push in towards the cake just slightly. It sounds completely counterintuitive, but just try it. Up and in.
All that excess will help you with this. Keep lifting as you smooth down.
Step 10: Smooth and cut
Once you’ve smoothed it all the way around with the fondant smoother, cut off all the excess with a pizza or pastry cutter.
Then use a fondant smoother to smooth it all down. Push in and move it up and down all around the cake. You’ll end up with a little bit more along the bottom edge.
Use your cutting wheel to cut it again as close as you can to the bottom edge.
Step 11: Use a butter knife to get a clean edge
Take a butter knife and work my way around, using it to gently remove and/or tuck in any excess underneath and create a nice smooth edge. If there’s still a lot you didn’t get, use the pizza cutter again. If it’s just a tiny bit stuck to the cake board, you can scrape it off the cake board with the butter knife. If there’s some that is uneven, use the butter knife to press it gently up into the cake.
Now you have a smooth cake with no folds or pleats and a nice clean edge along the bottom.
Now you don’t have to worry about positioning your decorations to cover up your mistakes!
Hope you learn something from this post and enjoy decorating cake right from your own kitchen.
See you again until my next post!
Lots of Love,
Riah – the Lady behind Happy Baker Delights 🙂