Alright! As promised in the marshmallow fondant recipe, here is my wisdom from a single attempt at covering a cake with fondant. Clearly, there is a lot more to learn, but I’ve got a few tips now that I wish I knew a few days ago…
To start off, you want your cakes as even as possible. I had a spare chocolate cake in the freezer, and didn’t notice until later that I’d cooked it in a different pan than the red and blue cakes, so it was sliiiightly larger. D’oh!
Next, crumb coat your cake. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the cake and allow it sit out for an hour or two so that that frosting dries and hardens. That layer of dried frosting keeps the crumbs in, helps keep the cake fresh, and helps the fondant stick in a fondant coated cake. You want your crumb coat to be a smooth as possible, as bumps in the frosting will create bumps in the fondant.
Then you’re ready to coat your cake!
When working with fondant, use powdered sugar much they way you would use flour when working with dough, to prevent things from sticking when you knead and roll. In these videos, the cake decorator has a tied off bit of a pair of nylons filled with powdered sugar, which allowed him to tap the little satchel on his work surface or on the fondant and get a thin, even coating. More reasonable than my “throw a handful!” technique, but I didn’t have any tights to spare.
Roll out your fondant into roughly a circle. Keep moving it as you work, so that the bottom doesn’t attach to your counter.
Lightly sugar the top of the fondant, and then very loosely roll half the fondant around your rolling pin. This really requires one of those massively long rolling pins. (Like my ex-roommate Alex had and I always thought was ridiculous. Who knew?!) My rolling pin was nowhere big enough to lift all that fondant, so I ended up loosely folding it, which left a seam directly across the middle of the cake.
You then use a smoother to rub the fondant on to the top, and then down the side. Keep a bit of tension on the fondant farther out from where you’re pressing it on to prevent wrinkles. Supposedly you can use a sugared lump of extra fondant as a smoother, but I found that that actually caused small rips, so try with caution. They make specific flat doohickies as smoothers, I had to do it hand.
When attaching other, decorative pieces of fondant, the generally accepted glue is buttercream. I found that, at least for lighter pieces, rubbing a wet finger on the back of the piece you want to attach is enough to make it stick. I think if you were sticking on a larger, heavier piece, you would attach it with a small blob of buttercream and support it overnight or so until the frosting sets.
The recipe I followed for the fondant had mentioned that it was easier to color the fondant while you were making it, rather than once you are using it. I had thought that was just because it was hard to get the color even in later kneading. Wrong! Adding even the limited moisture of the food coloring turned the fondant back into a ridiculously sticky mess. It took tons more powdered sugar to get the dyed fondant to a texture I could roll out.
If you have flower cookie cutters, you can press a toothpick in the petals to create veins and creases real petals have. I don’t have flower cookie cutters, so I made…fireworks? I guess?
The extra fondant got turned into unicorns, obviously. It’s only patriotic!
The cake make it up to the roof where we watched fireworks…
…and was well enjoyed. Super popular cake! Everyone really liked the flavor of the fondant with the cake and frosting.
Another thing I learned – I took this cake out of the freezer and coated it immediately. Mistake! Apparently you should put fondant on room temperature cakes, or the difference causes condensation that melts the fondant. You also shouldn’t store a covered cake in the fridge, just in a box on the counter – the crumbcoat and fondant protect the cake well enough to keep it fresh for several days.
That is about all I can think of that I’ve learned. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask, but I’m definitely no expert! It was kind of a pain, but from a taste standpoint, definitely worth it. Yum!