Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Make Fondant

This photo was taken the day after, so the handle broke a bit over time
The other blogger has been making a lot of cakes recently, She has reached the limitations of buttercream frosting and started dabbling in the world fondant. I was shocked after learning that a 2 pound container of (borderline inedible) fondant was going for $20 at Michael's Arts and Crafts and skeptical of the air of mystery perpetrated by television cake makers that fondant is difficult to work with and should only be handled by the professionals. But after sitting down and watching my first episode of Cake Boss, I thought ‘if that guy can make fondant anyone can.’ Turns out my prediction was correct, homemade fondant is easy to make (a similar process to bread or pasta making), is easier to work with and tastes MUCH better than the store bought stuff, and most importantly only cost about $6.50 per 2 pound batch.

Note: this post will only deal with making a batch of fondant, decorating with fondant will be addressed by the other blogger in later posts

  • 2 lb (one bag) of confectioner/powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup light/white corn syrup (some recipes call for glucose see lesson learned #2)
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin (see lesson learned #3)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Gel food coloring (if making colored fondant)
  • Large non-metal bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Clean counter top for kneading
  • Sifter, a good sifter that can be operated with one hand is best
  • Latex gloves (if coloring and don’t want to dye your hands, I prefer to feel the fondant)
  • Sift 1.5 lbs of the powdered sugar into the bowl
  • Pour the 1/4 cup of cold water into a microwave safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin over top, let stand 1-2 minutes
  • Microwave the gelatin/water mixture on high for 30 seconds, the mixture should go from a solid jello-like state to a liquid (this can also be done on the stove top)
  • Stir the corn syrup and glycerin into the melted gelatin until thoroughly mixed
  • Pour liquid mixture into the powdered sugar and mix with wooden spoon until a solid ball forms, this will be very sticky so make sure to dust you hands with powdered sugar before handling
  • Generously powder your workspace and kneading hand with confectioner sugar. Kneed the ball of fondant slowly adding the remaining .5 lb of sugar. (I kneaded with one hand and sifted sugar with the other clean hand) Be sure to dust the workspace and your hand often.
    • Note if adding color do it at this stage see lessons learned #1
    • Using a toothpick, brush gel coloring (do NOT use liquid food coloring for this) on the fondant. Knead fondant until color is mixed throughout, then knead in more gel coloring until you reach the desired color. Start off slow, you can always add more coloring, but you cant take coloring out.
Lessons Learned
  1. Coloring - For the first batch we made, I added coloring after going through the whole fondant making process, ie after kneading in the full 2 lbs of powdered sugar. As I kneaded the coloring into the fondant, I had to keep dusting with powdered sugar so the fondant would not stick to the table or my hands. When it was all said and done i had added roughly another 2/3 cup of powdered sugar. As a result of adding more sugar, the fondant got too dried out and brittle. It wound up ripping in several places as we rolled it out and put it on the cake. For the next batch I added the coloring as I kneaded in the final 1/2 pound of the 2 pounds of sugar called for in the recipe. I was able to avoid adding extra sugar, the fondant came out with the perfect pliable texture, and covered the cake like a charm.
  2. Glucose - Every fondant recipe called for either glucose or light (white) corn syrup  as a replacement. We tried both and we couldn't see much of a difference. Corn syrup contains between 15% to 20% glucose and a mixture of various other types of sugar, so it is not quite the same thing as pure glucose. The pure glucose batch of fondant was slightly stiffer because pure glucose is much more viscus than the corn syrup, but this difference was negligible. We could not really detect a taste difference between the two batches.The biggest difference between the two batches was price. A container of glucose from Michael's Arts and Crafts cost $5 and you can only get one batch out of it. Plus you would have to make a special trip to a baking supply store to get a hold of glucose. I don’t think it is worth it.
  3. Glycerin - Glycerin is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that has a huge range of uses from food production, to medical applications to use as a lubricant and antifreeze, its Wikipedia page is truly worth a look. After some research, I discovered the glycerin sold at the pharmacy is the same as what is sold at cake stores. Glycerin can be found in a couple places within you local drug store. I originally found it in the suppository section, but the thought of applying glycerin to the fondant in that manner was a little offputting. I asked the pharmacist if they had glycerin in a larger container, she looked me up and down and asked skeptically ‘A bigger supposiitory?’ I have put on a few pounds since college, but I don't think my booty would require a larger-than-normal suppository. After some clarification she pointed me towards the skin care section where a bottle costs $5.

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