There is something about creating your kids’ birthday cakes yourself and with only a couple of exceptions, I managed to do do so for a combined number of 18 birthday cakes. In addition, I have made cakes for family and friends, school functions and even sold a few of them. I began by decorating with buttercream icing, but was soon intrigued by the multitude of decorating options that come with fondant. My first attempt of making traditional fondant was a disaster and purchasing already-made fondant is quite expensive. Finally, I ran across a recipe for marshmallow fondant on “What’s Cooking America” and never looked back! I have used this recipe (or slight variations of it) for over 7 years now…
- 16 ounces white marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
- 3 to 5 tablespoons water
- 2 pounds icing sugar – sifted (Peggy Weaver suggests using name brand powdered sugar and I have stuck to it without exception)
- Crisco shortening (to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands)
Combine marshmallows and 3 TBSP water in large, microwave save mixing bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each time, until marshmallows have completely melted.
If you only use one color of fondant, or need a large batch of one color, now is the time to add a few drops of food coloring to the marshmallows (even though you may need to still adjust later).
Prepare your work surface by lathering it with crisco icing. Once the marshmallows have melted, add about 2/3 of the sugar to the bowl and mix with a spoon as much as possible. It will become very difficult, at which point, you will need to dump the mixture onto your work surface. Add the rest of the sugar, lather your hands with shortening (you may have to reapply once in a while) and start kneading. If the dough feels too dry, add up to 2 or 3 more tablespoons of water, but be careful not to add too much, since it will make your fondant tear if it is too moist. You keep kneading until it feels somewhat like play dough. It is difficult to describe the feeling and it might take a couple of batches to get a feeling for when the fondant is perfect.
I find that if you use the fondant right away, you may still have a few persistent powdered sugar lumps, but if you prepare it the day before, the sugar will have had time to dissolve, especially if you leave the fondant carefully covered at room temperature. I generally use plastic food storage bags (they can be cleaned and reused; but this is for another blog) and squeeze as much air out as possible.
To dye fondant, pinch of the amount needed for a particular color and add a very small amount of food coloring (a little goes a long way and you can still add more later). Start kneading until fully incorporated.
I experimented with different fondant tools and rollers, which is part of the fun, but you slowly get a feeling for what works best for you. When I cover a cake, I measure the diameter of the cake, plus 2x the height of the cake, plus a couple of inches for good measure, and carefully roll out the fondant on a surface covered with corn starch (the starch can later be brushed off with a soft-brissle brush). I then use a large rolling pin to roll up the fondant (similar to how pie pastry is transferred to a pie plate) and gently lay it over the lightly frosted cake (if you use white fondant, it’s best to cover the cake with a light colored butter cream icing, to avoid the appearance of “shadows” on the fondant later one) . The only two tools, I really wouldn’t want to miss when working with fondant are my Wilton fondant smoother and cake turntable. Everything else can be improvised easily.
I first smooth out the top of the cake and then work my way down the sides, constantly turning the cake. You can not smooth out the sides all the one at one point, but first smooth out the top two inches even;y around, then the next few inches, until you reach the bottom of the cake. Then, carefully trim the excess fondant. Now it’s time to decorate your cake and let your imagination run free…