Fun with Fondant

I’m not a cake decorator, but for as long as my children enjoyed a special cake for their birthday, I did my best to create a cake of their wishes.  I even took a cake decorating class way back when and mastered a few things with buttercream frosting.  Now I have grandchildren and after many years of not decorating cakes, I am back at it, having fun and learning new things!

Sometimes the grands just give me a theme for their cake and look forward to what my imagination creates.  Other times, they are a bit more specific. This year my 8-year old grandson sent me a picture. He thinks BIG and presently has his sights set on expensive race cars, specifically Lamborghinis’!  One look at the picture told me this wasn’t a buttercream frosting cake—I was going to have to learn how to cover the cake with fondant! 

I chose to make my own marshmallow fondant rather than make or buy traditional fondant.  Marshmallow fondant requires just three ingredients—marshmallows, icing or powdered sugar, and water.  It is inexpensive, fast, fool proof and tastes good!  Basically it involves melting down fresh marshmallows with a small amount of water and adding the powdered sugar to get the right consistency.  (Some recipes also include vegetable shortening.)  The recipe that I used can be found at the end.  Traditional fondant differs in that a marshmallow base is first made from unflavored gelatin, glycerin, butter, water, and corn syrup and kneaded with powdered sugar.

I had so much fun with the fondant!  Marshmallow fondant is almost like playdough—roll it, sculpt it, cut it, mold it.  I found some great tips and videos for handling fondant and covering a cake on the Wilton website. My adjustable thickness rolling pin came in handy for rolling the fondant to an even thickness for covering the cake.   I also found my silicon baking mat useful; I rubbed a small amount of vegetable shortening on it before rolling the fondant.  When it came time to pick up the fondant, it peeled up smoothly and easily. Fortunately for me, everything worked so very well; the cake came together beautifully and was the delight of a special little boy!

Because I had a little fondant left over, I researched how to properly store it.  While fondant is best used fresh, it can be stored and used at a later date. To keep the fondant from drying out, rub it with a small amount of vegetable shortening, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in an airtight, zip bag removing as much air as possible. Add a date and store in the refrigerator.  With proper care, it should be good for a couple of months; the greatest risk is getting dry.  I don’t know that I will be using it anytime soon for cake decorating, but it just might come in handy as an ‘edible’ clay for entertaining grands.

Freezing is not recommended as condensation in thawing could change the consistency and texture of the fondant.  Water begins to dissolve the sugar in the fondant and makes it sticky.  For the same reason, fondant covered cakes should not be frozen after decorating.  Further, condensation between the cake and fondant may cause bubbling.

Marshmallow Fondant
10 ounces marshmallows
3 tablespoons water
Approximately 6 cups icing/powdered sugar, sifted

Pour the marshmallows into a microwave-safe bowl, add the water, stir, and microwave in 30-second increments until the marshmallows are creamy and melted (2-3 minutes). Add the sugar and mix with a big spoon or hands.  After the fondant begins to come together, turn it out onto a well-oiled surface (I greased my countertop and hands with vegetable shortening) and knead, adding more icing sugar if needed, until it’s nice and smooth. To color, add paste or gel food coloring and knead to incorporate. Flavoring can also be added using a drop or two of food-grade essential oil.  This amount makes more than enough fondant to cover a layer cake or ¼ sheet cake.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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