Roll in the Fondant and Bring Some Flowers

Remember my first attempt at sugar paste or rolled fondant? Needless to say, me following an Allrecipes video didn’t work out for the techniques in my first attempt. It also did not help that I added too much icing sugar. Rule Number 1: You do not store fondant in the fridge. It just needs to go into an airtight container. Your fondant can be stored like that for up to a year.

Two roses and two carnations, one big leaf and a baby leaf on the cake as topper. Underneath the fondant holds a buttercream sponge cake.

The fondant used on this cake is actually Satin Ice. This is a white sponge cake with buttercream filling; cut into thirds. The cake was crumb coated on a turntable prior to returning it to the cake board. You want to make sure that the cake is properly coated, so that it will not dry out. Freeze the cake, so that it will be easy to work with fondant later.

Once the cake is frozen for at least one overnight, coat the cake with a bit more buttercream — but not too much because the buttercream may run, then the cake might have bubbles. I already covered my cake in class, but I was cutting my cake all wrong/uneven. (Pieces were coming off! But hey, if things don’t work out, we.. learn to improvise!) I eye-balled how much extra buttercream to put on the top to even out the cake. Using the spatula for both the sides and top first, I try to pull the spatula towards me while turning the turntable with my weak hand. Using a bench scraper at a 45° angle, again, I gently push the turntable counterclockwise, so that the bench scraper is being pulled towards me — not away from me. The instructor helped me identify spots that needed buttercream, so that the fondant will stick. She further went on saying that we could use jam or apricot glaze in lieu of buttercream.

Fondant dries really fast, so whenever not working with it, it needs to be wrapped up in plastic. Prior to using the ball of rolled fondant, we would have to knead it on a CLEAN dusted icing sugar surface so that it’s pliable and soft. Once kneaded, then we could shape the fondant dough into a square if the cake is square — similarly, round for round. Working with a roller with no handles is definitely challenging! Now, once it’s one big round circle, put your hand over the fondant and lay it over the cake on the turntable. Smooth out the top before smoothing out the sides. I find that cleaning any excess buttercream prior to laying fondant really helps. Cut about half an inch away from the bottom of the cake or so — wherever there could be icing on the fondant, cut the strip and throw it out. Clean out the bottom with a small knife. Smooth it again.

To glue pieces onto the fondant cake, use a bit of water. Caution: water will make your fondant look shiny, so be careful not to drop any on it.

The instructor was super helpful and showed me how to use my Wilton ball tool and my carnation cutters to bring the carnations to live! She told me that it’s best to have these flowers prepared ahead of time when making a fondant cake. So, a small drop of paste colour onto the fondant, fold it in half, knead it out until the colours are even. (This will help your fingers not get colours on it!) Roll until 1/4 inch thick. Dust a sponge (any sponge will do) with icing sugar, cut each layer with each cutter. Lay each layer on the sponge, use the big ball side of the tool, punch on the centre to create an indent. Then, the small ball on the opposite end to roll out the petals on the sponge. The advice I received was this: at home, lay each layer on each section of an empty egg carton, so that when it dries, it would ‘open up’. The instructor advised that it’s best to do each layer separately.

For roses, we started with a small fondant cone. Using small circle cookie cutters, cut as many circles as possible. Then, cover all circles with a cling wrap. Roll it out even more thin using just the cling wrap and fingers. It’s super neat how crinkly it looks — just like a petal! Then, layer it around the cone until you’re satisfied. Pinch out the bottom. Voila!

Close up on carnations, roses and leaves. Yellow buttercream was piped onto the centre of the carnations.

It’s also possible to make simple cut-outs using just cookie cutters and lay it out in 2D. Or you could make a bow. If you do prefer icing on fondant, buttercream is your best friend.

Have you ever wondered why fondant cakes cost so much?? Because it is an art to make — takes a lot of time and careful attention to details. Yet, I always hear stories of how customers’ expectations exceed their budget. If ordered from a baker, a fondant cake usually starts at $250 and it can go really high up. Depending on how extensive the details are, a cake could take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours to make and decorate.

Well, this was my last decorating class. With luck, with a sardine-canned schedule of juggling work, exams, designations and life, I hope I can try out a white chocolate buttercream recipe for mini cakes to be baked with a toaster oven! 14 weeks to Christmas… Can you believe it?