Working with Fondant
Coloring, flavoring, and working with fondant is the most fun part of the process! Once you've made (or purchased) your fondant, you can flavor it to make it more tasty, dye it any color you wish, and then work with it to form figures, shapes, bows, flowers, and just about anything your imagine can think up. Anything that could conceivably be made with clay can be made with this favorite of the edible clays (click here to learn about other sugar craft options.)
Start by making your fondant with our basic fondant recipe.
Remember to store your fondant recipe mixture in a large ziplock bag (or cover it with a damp cloth) to keep it from forming a crust. Better yet, wrap air-tight in plastic wrap and THEN store inside a zip lock bag or sealed container. If you DO get a crust, don't worry, just sprinkle a little corn starch and knead it in. Never add liquid to your fondant mixture. It will just become sticky.
Its natural bright white color makes fondant perfect for coloring. While you can purchase premade, pre-tinted fondant in a variety of colors, it's quite easy to color fondant yourself.
Use concentrated icing color (such as Wilton gel colors,) rather than food coloring, and remember to add a small amount at a time. You might be surprised at how little it takes!
Steps for coloring fondant:
Fondant can be flavored with chocolate, mint, berry, vanilla, or any other flavor you enjoy. Follow the same basic rule as with coloring... go slow! It's much better to error on the side of a weak flavor than too strong of a flavor.
Dab small drops of concentrated icing flavor onto your fondant ball and knead thoroughly. Taste and adjust if necessary.
Fondant can be warmed and thinned with sugar syrup to make it pourable (for instance to pour it over petit fours.)
Working with Fondant:
Work with small amounts of fondant at a time unless you're making a large piece such as to cover a cake with. Speed is key (although not quite as important as with gum paste or pastillage.) Keep plastic wrap handy to cover any unused portions or in case you need to take a break.
The more deeply you knead it, the easier it will form into shapes or especially flatten (if you're trying for a thin sheet to drape across a cake for instance.) If your body heat makes it become a little sticky, simply knead in a little corn starch to thicken the fondant.
It's a good idea to make a corn starch "puff" by placing some corn starch inside a cloth (an unused cleaning cloth is fine) and tying with a rubber band. Use the "puff" to dab corn starch on your fondant when needed.
You can purchase special tools for working with fondant but, unless you plan to do it quite a bit, you can also just use things from around your house as your fondant tools. Grab any and all of these that you can find before you begin (well, any that sound like they'll help you make whatever fondant creations you're trying for):
Dust all of your tools with confectioners' sugar before working with fondant to prevent sticking. Play around with your fondant tools and see what you can do.
Covering Cakes with Rolled Fondant:
Since this website is about gingerbread houses and we're coving fondant primarily for decorative accents, I won't go into great detail on covering cakes with fondant. The basic principal though is that you roll out your fondant very thin and drape it over the cake, smooth it, and then trim the edges off. It makes a beautiful, smooth surface on which to decorate. Most bakers put a layer of frosting on the cake before draping the fondant.
This same technique can be used to make interesting gingerbread house siding or to achieve colors or materials that can't be as easily accomplished with royal icing and candies. Drape a gingerbread lighthouse with stripes of colorful fondant for instance.
If you want to learn more about working with fondant on cakes (and wedding cakes primarily), check out Wedding-Cakes-For-You.com. The site shares the latest cake styles and the best recipes from a Connecticut award winning pastry chef.
Fondant Flowers & Figures:
Making fondant flowers, figures, creatures, or anything one might typically make out of clay is easy working with fondant. You just have to work quickly. Roll small balls of fondant for heads and bodies, squish them into solid cylinders for legs and arms... You get the idea. Use various colors of fondant for detail work or just paint the details on using edible paints and gels.
"Gluing" Fondant Pieces Together:>
When working with fondant figures and characters, you might need to stick several pieces together for your finished product. Do not use water for this as it will just result in the pieces becoming sticky and less sturdy.
Some people use food flavoring extracts, like vanilla, while others use a very watered down version of fondant (mixing a small amount of fondant with water until it has the consistency of a thin icing and then placing the mixure in an icing bag to squeeze when needed.) Others use piping gel.
My favorite method is to use a Tylo "glue" (which works well for connecting all kinds of edible clays, not just fondant.) Here's how...
Making Tylo Glue:
Brush this Tylo glue onto each fondant piece you wish to join and allow to dry.
Have fun with our tips for working with fondant and make sure to share your finished products here!
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