Making ze poured fondant

Traditionally, poured fondant was made by making a dense sugar syrup, then stirring it over a period of about half an hour until it turned into fondant. Fortunately, the modern age brought us the food processor, which made things much easier. The new standard poured fondant recipe goes like this: 2 1/2 cups (17.5 ounces) sugar, 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water and 1/4 cup (3 ounces) corn syrup. Combine that in a small sauce pan and heat it to 238 degrees.

As soon as the syrup hits 238, pour it into the bowl of your food processor and immediately…wait.

…for about half an hour until the temperature of the syrup drops to 140.

At that point turn on your processor and leave it on. The syrup will at first turn a slightly translucent yellow…

…before finally turning white. This will take only about two minutes.

Promptly pour the fondant into a quart-sized Ziploc bag, conveniently stretched over the mouth of a glass measure.

Let it sit until it’s cooled. At which point all you do is squeeze the air out of the top of the bag and seal it.

And voilà, a batch of poured fondant. Doesn’t look very “pourable” does it? In fact it’s hard as a rock (well, almost). That’s because you have to warm it and dilute it with a 2-1 sugar-water syrup before you can use it (but more on that soon). You can use it immediately or keep it (ideally in the fridge or even freezer) for up to a year.

Applying Ze Poured Fondant

Now I’d like to show you how you use that block of sugar putty on an actual cake. Of course most of the time bakers don’t use poured fondant on large cakes. The reason, because while it is delicious, it doesn’t give you a perfectly smooth and even finish. That’s OK in my book though, especially for a casual single-layer cake like I’m about to make. We start with, obviously, a single yellow cake layer that I’ve had stashed away in the freezer for moments like this. I actually prefer to work with frozen layers since they’re easier to carve and freezing doesn’t hurt them a whit. Start by trimming the brown edge off…

…then the top crust.

Why do this? Because poured fondant is semi-transparent. You’d be able to see these blotches beneath it. Also trimming gives the finished cake a more uniform shape with a nice flat top (those trimmings also make a wicked afternoon snack). What you’re left with then is a naked single layer like so:

Now for a little “crumb coat” of apricot jam that I’ve brought to a boil, strained, and let cool. Your crumb coat can be any type of jam you wish, though you want to use something in the same color family as your icing, since as I said, poured fondant is semi-transparent. You can skip this step if you like, but I thought I’d show it since, well, it’s something I like to do.

The idea here isn’t to create a thick “filling-like” layer, only to plug up holes in the crumb so the fondant goes on in a smoother coat. It has the added benefit of sticking down any errant crumbs.

Don’t forget those edges! And remember the reason for this coat is mostly functional. Gently scrape any excess off the cake. Once you’ve finished laying on the crumb coat, put the layer into the freezer while you get the fondant ready (you want the jam as firm and gummy as possibly so it won’t run when the fondant is applied).

So now we start the fondant. Beginning with a the clump of fondant I made last week, I put it into the top of a double boiler and pour in about half a cup of simple syrup (a 2-1 solution of sugar to water, brought to the boil, then cooled).

Apply a whisk and start to incorporate the syrup over very gentle heat.

The idea here is to “dissolve” the fondant more than melt it. Yes, you want to apply a little heat, but if the temperature of the fondant rises over 110 degrees you’ll start to melt the small uniform crystals you’ve worked so hard to create. The result will be a dull matte finish instead of a glossy one, which is one of the main benefits of a poured fondant. So use heat only sparingly, and allow it to cool a bit before application (say, 5-10 minutes), since a warm fondant will melt your jam crumb coat, causing it to run. Once you’ve gotten the consistency you want (adding small amounts of syrup as necessary), go ahead and add any flavorings or colorings you’d like.

Oops! Too much color. This is going to end up as a sort of egg-yolk yellow instead of the paler canary I was hoping for…oh well, close enough for food blogging. So then, go ahead and pour a portion of your fondant on…

Then quickly go at it with your icing spatula, pushing it outward toward the edges and letting it drip over the sides.

Once the top is covered you want to quickly smear the fondant around the edge so any additional fondant you pour over the cake will drip evenly down the sides.

This fondant is a bit too thin, but no matter, you pour over a sheet pan for a reason. If too much of the fondant runs off the cake, just wait a few minutes for it to firm up on the sheet pan, pour it back into a waiting vessel and re-apply.

In the end you’ll have a simple, delightful little iced dessert with a perfect ratio of icing to cake. Let it sit for twenty minutes or so for the fondant to firm (but not to the point it becomes brittle) and transfer it to a serving plate or a cardboard cake circle (ideally one with a wax top).

So there in a nutshell is poured fondant. Use it on a cake layer like this, on petits fours, coffee cakes, black and whites or as a base coat for decorated cookies. Yes, it’s a little fuss, but it yields a far more attractive and professional look than a powdered sugar and water “five-finger” icing, and without the mealy texture and cornstarch aftertaste. Do it once and you’ll see how easy it is, and how storable. An ideal thing, really, to stash away in the fridge or chest freezer for the day the cookie or pastry urge strikes.

This entry was posted in Pastry Components, Poured Fondant, Standard Poured Fondant. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Making ze poured fondant

  1. Ahn says:

    Dear Joe,

    I want to use poured fondant to glaze sugar cookies. I want to clarify the simple syrup recipe you gave “2-1 water to sugar” for diluting the poured fondant. Did you really mean 2 parts sugar and 1 part water? I search another site for simple syrup recipe and found it was a ratio of more water than sugar (one being 3 parts water and 1 part sugar. Is the recipe for your poured fondant the best for icing cookies? Please clarify. Thank you so much!

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Ahn…I actually meant 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. That a proportion that will give you the result you’re after!

      • Ahn says:

        Thank you so much for your reply Joe. I need a little more clarification about the measurement portions for simple syrup. I read your instructions about making cake syrup and you said the parts of these ingredients should be measured by weight like 6ozs of water to 3ozs of sugar. Is that the standard for measuring these ingredients? I wondered at times if it meant like 2 “cups” water to 1 “cup” sugar. It is confusing to me at times because liquid and dry ingredients are measured differently. Thank you, again, and I love your website!

        • joepastry says:

          I generally measure everything by weight, so, 2-1 water-to-sugar means, for example, 200 grams water added to 100 grams sugar. I understand that’s a little odd, which is why I usually use more precise measurements. Sorry for the confusion!

  2. Melodizzles says:

    I tried making the poured fondant last night but I ran into a problem. After I waited for the temp to come down to 140 I turned on the processor as directed. The processor rotated a few times before it got stuck in what turned out to be a bowl full of completely hardened sugar. What did I do wrong?

    • joepastry says:

      Wow…that’s amazing. I’m not sure. How big is your food processor if you don’t mind my asking? Is it a small chopper-sort-of-thing? I ask because if you’re certain the syrup temperature was 140, something caused that motor to stop. I wonder what it was? Hmm…

  3. Alex says:

    Hi Joe,

    In making the poured fondant, you stated that we should warm it and dilute it with a 2-1 sugar-water syrup before we can use it. If we want to use it immediately right after making the fondant, do we have to carry out this step?

    May I also ask if this is the type of fondant with which eclairs are coated with?

    Thank you.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Alex! As long as the fondant is warm it will pour pretty well. The problem with undiluted fondant is that it hardens very quickly. The syrup buys you a little time to pour and spread the stuff before it forms a skin and starts cracking. So I suggest using at least a little.

      Concerning éclairs, they’re usually just crowned with a little melted chocolate. However I can imagine that somebody, somewhere has topped them with fondant.

      Thanks for the email!

      - Joe

  4. Jaime says:

    I attempted to make poured fondant but ran into a problem – when heated (although I will admit there was too much heat), it just turned into a simple syrup. But I can’t help think that maybe something was screwed up at the beginning: when I was grocery shopping I asked my husband to turn on the cooled fondant for two minutes, showing him what the fondant should look like within 2 minutes. He texted me to say that it took more than 10 minutes to get the white color – could it have been over processed? Also, how long does simple syrup take to make?

    On a lighter note, the marzipan and genoise cake came out perfectly! Thank you!

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Jaime!

      Glad to hear about the marzipan and the génoise, though of course the fondant issue is a bit of a downer. If in truth it did get very hot (instead of merely warm) the crystals would have melted and the whole thing would indeed have simply reduced to syrup. I’ll make a note about that in the recipe…do not boil or simmer.

      Is it too late to try again? Sorry for the bad results!

      - Joe

  5. Melissa says:

    Hi Joe,
    I’m a pretty experienced home baker, and followed the recipe exactly. Anyhow, even when completely cooled mine did not turn out solid. It is still liquidy. :(
    Any thoughts? What went wrong? Can I still use this as a base for a glaze? I am wanting to use it as a base for fondant glaze for religieuse. The recipe is something like:
    4oz pouring fondant
    3oz melted white choc
    Flavoring such as pistachio paste or coffee or fresh raspberry coils or
    Thank u!! Awesome website!!

    • joepastry says:

      Very sorry to hear that, Melissa! I’m sure we can figure out what went wrong. First, how much syrup did you add to it?

  6. Annie says:

    Can I replace corn syrup by anything else? I can not find corn syrup in my country.

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Annie!

      You can make something equivalent to corn syrup like this:

      16 ounces water
      2 lbs, 10 ounces sugar
      1 teaspoon cream of tartar

      Combine all of the ingredients in the saucepan and stir until the sugar is completely moistened. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over high heat. Do not stir the sugar after this point.

      Boil the syrup until it just barely reaches a temperature of 240° Fahrenheit. Immediately turn off the heat, remove the thermometer, and move the pan to a cool spot on the stove or a cooling rack. Allow the syrup to sit undisturbed until it has cooled completely, at least an hour.

      Best of luck!

      - Joe

  7. Ellen says:

    Hi Joe,

    Your site is great!

    I was hoping for some advice. I attempted the first stage of this fondant tonight, but within less than 30 seconds of processing, the sugar mixture was already white and starting to harden. Did it just cool too much or is it ruined? I’ve put it in a bag to potentially use over the weekend, but would I be better starting again from scratch?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


    • joepastry says:

      Hi Ellen!

      It sounds to me like you’re in good shape. If the temperatures were correct before you started processing, everything should be good! Have fun and let me know how it goes!

      - Joe

  8. ong says:

    I do a chocolate fondant to coat my eclair, my recipe for the fondant is commercial fondant + chocolate coin +water, it can be running but to the next day , it became crystallisation how to prevent this problem, and how to retrieve it to the running state?

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Ong!

      You can try adding a little glucose or corn syrup to the mixture to prevent the crystallization. Otherwise my best suggestion is to re-melt it once it firms to make it pourable.


      - Joe

  9. Cheryl says:

    What fun. You seem to turn up in my searches lately. :) I dipped sugar cookies in poured fondant tonight and thought I’d see what others were doing. I’ve happened upon you several times lately.

    • joepastry says:

      Clearly we were destined to meet, Cheryl! Thanks for the note and come back often!

      - Joe

  10. Amy Handler says:

    Thank you for your site and your work! “making ze poured fondant” is still not linked to the black and whites, though. Never mind! I finally have a use for a food processor. Of course, I no longer have a real food processor. I do have a super powerful blender and I’ll try that.
    When I still lived in NYC, after retiring as a pastry chef, I was able to walk to the nearest pastry shop and convince them to sell me a few pounds of the commercial fondant. The only way I knew to make it myself was the old way: pour the hot syrup on a marble slab and work it by hand.
    Here are some fondant tricks:
    1) Reheat it in a stainless steel pan mixing with your hand right in it. When the bottom of the pan gets too hot to touch, take it off the fire, stirring constantly. Move back and forth over the heat with one hand in the pot, adding only a little syrup if necessary, until the temperature is 110 (comfortably warm) thoughout and the consistency is right for pouring. The faster and more the icing is worked, the shinier the finished product. Raw egg whites work even better than syrup.
    2)When making marzipan from almond paste, use fondant instead of glucose or corn syrup. The marzipan will be whiter.

    • joepastry says:

      Fabulous, Amy! And what terrific tips! Who knew working the fondant produced a shinier coat? I’m going to try that in the very near future as I still have some fondant sitting around. Nice marzipan tip as well!

      Thanks very much for checking in and I’ll put a link in soon!


      - Joe

  11. Pia says:

    I came across your website when searching for a recipe about making poured fondant. Here in Finland we call it ‘pomada’, though, but it is the same sticky stuff.
    Your recipe seemed very promising and as I tried making it, every promise was fulfilled! My batch was perfect!
    It’s important not to stir the mixture as it is boiling to prevent any crystals forming to the edges of the pan. I let mine cool in the same pan I boiled it in and just let it sit, untouched (very important not to touch it while cooling, btw) and used a hand-mixer to beat it white and fluffy.
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us! It was super-easy to follow and very informative.
    With best wishes, Pia

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Pia!

      Thank you very much for the delightful note. I’m so glad it turned out well for you. Please come back — and keep me updated on your baking adventures!

      - Joe

  12. Kitchen Fairy says:

    I make fondant using the method described in The Cake Bible. Can I thin that down with sugar syrup to make a pourable fondant?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey KF!

      You mean watering down rolled fondant to make a pourable one? No, you won’t be able to do that I’m sorry to say. Poured fondant is a candy while rolled fondant is more like a pliable putty. But poured fondant is easy to make!

      Best of luck,

      - Joe

  13. giselle says:

    hi Joe,

    I have tried making poured fondant using your recipe, but while i waited the mixture to cooled down to 140, the mixture become hardened. I cant do anything since it was hardened. Please tell me whats wrong. Why my mixture not liquid and thickens like yours.

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Giselle!

      You mean to say that it hardened before you had a chance to whip it in the food processor?

      - Joe

      • giselle says:

        yes it hardened as soon as i started to whip in the food processor. it became small little rocks.
        Pls help me , i wanna make again this morning. thank u so much.

        • joepastry says:

          Hello Giselle!

          It sounds like a problem with the syrup…like it started to crystallize as soon as it started to cool. Did it come up to temperature do you think? Perhaps there was some sugar on the side of the pan when you went to pour it out. Those are my best guesses at the moment!

          - Joe

  14. Jenni says:

    What are the chances you could make this with maple syrup for a maple fondant or honey, like you can for making Italian meringue?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Jenni!

      You could substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup I think, though the fondant would be less flexible and more likely to flake when it cools. A better way to go is to substitute crystalline maple sugar for the regular granulated!

      Let me know how it goes if you try it!

      - Joe

  15. Ilan says:

    Hey Joe,

    I made this poured fondant recipe and it never got hard for me (as in, before any diluting). I mixed it in the food processor and it got really white, like yours. But, a few hours into cooling, it’s still very liquidy. Maybe something is up with my thermometers, but it looks very much like yours. Any ideas on what I can do? Maybe stir in some powdered sugar? I don’t want to really sweeten it too much more though…



    • joepastry says:

      Hello Ilan!

      So sorry to hear that. It sounds like the syrup temperature didn’t get high enough. If it’s still liquid today then that’s definitely the case: too much water remains in the mixture. You can indeed thicken it by adding powdered sugar. Though the icing will be more inclined to buckle or chip, it’ll still be quite usable.

      Better luck on the next attempt!


      - Joe

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