Category Archives: Fondant

Chocolate (Poured) Fondant

Chocolate poured fondant is most commonly used for decorating Napoleons and petits fours. It’s a snap to make, but pictures always help. So here goes. Just melt some poured fondant in a small pan:

Add about a tablespoon of cocoa powder per 8 ounces of fondant. Alternately you can use about three ounces of bittersweet bar chocolate, though if you proceed to refrigerate pastries finished with this sort of chocolate poured fondant you’ll likely get streaks of cocoa butter in your finish. Just sayin’.

…thin it with about 1 teaspoon of water per half pound of fondant…

…and pour it into a squeeze bottle.

Done! Being fondant, it will firm up considerably as it cools. If you need it more pourable/squeezable, just add a little more water. But be sure to add only a little at a time…maybe 1/4 teaspoon at a go. Being made of sugar, fondant thins very quickly and once it’s thinned it can’t be un-thinned without adding more fondant.

Filed under:  Chocolate Poured Fondant, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Ze Rolled Fondant

This is ever-so-much quicker and easier than poured fondant. My only suggestion before you start is that you not wear any kind of dark-colored shirt or sweater, since lint has a way of finding its way into a pristine batch of fondant (there’s a reason pastry makers wear white, you know).

Starting with this recipe:

1 1/4-ounce package unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup glucose syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin
2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
8 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Begin by sprinkling your powdered gelatin onto your water…

…let it sit for five minutes then heat it to melting over a double boiler (I just use a microwave…two shots of 15 or so seconds on high). Pour that into your glucose/glycerine mixture…

…add the shortening and stir until it’s melted. Give it an extra shot in the microwave if needed (only, you know, not in a metal bowl).

Pour that into a bowl that contains the powdered sugar and fold to combine. This will only take you so far of course.

To make your sugar “dough” you’ll need to get in there and knead it (you may oil your hands lightly if you wish). Keep kneading until all the sugar in the bowl has been incorporated. If the fondant isn’t taking it up add a little water drop by drop until it’s gone (conversely if the fondant is too loose add more sugar).

Then turn it out onto a board dusted with powdered sugar and knead it until it’s smooth and uniform.

This is the point that you can add coloring to it if you’d like (some people do this in the mixing stage, me I like to knead it in since it gives you more control). Here I’m adding a little pink…

Then all you do is knead the fondant until the color starts to spread (you’ll get a little on your hands).

And in a few minutes it’s done. A batch of pink rolled fondant (my preferred shade, not my daughter’s) the perfect size for a 9-inch two-layer Easter cake.

Easy, wasn’t it? I suggest using it right away, though it technically can be stored for a few hours, wrapped very tightly in plastic. I recommend against it since even a little drying can create “scales” that are impossible to knead out.

Applying Ze Rolled Fondant

So we’ve got some rolled fondant and we’ve got a cake. Now all we need to do is put the two together. First thing is to roll the fondant out to the proper size. To determine that, add the width of the cake to the height of both sides put together. In this case that’s about seventeen inches, which will be what my circle of fondant will need to measure side-to-side.

Dust your rolling surface liberally with powdered sugar (a formica or corian countertop is probably ideal) and apply your rolling pin like so:

It’s important that you roll slowly and steadily, and that you constantly check to make sure your fondant circle isn’t sticking. You do that by jostling the fondant a bit to make sure it’s still capable of sliding back and forth. It gets harder the bigger the sheets gets, but it’s still important. Nothing is more frustrating that rolling out a perfectly smooth sheet of fondant, only to have it tear in half when you go to lift it. Of course if that happens it’s not the end of the world. You just sprinkle on a few drops of water (to compensate for any that may have evaporated), knead it back into a ball and try again.

So then, once your sheet is the size you need, it’s time to employ the rolled fondant cake maker’s secret weapon: a can of tomatoes. Put it down on your work surface like so:

…then apply your cake, fresh from the refrigerator, right on top. Boom.

Then — gently — drape your sheet of fondant over everything.

How this sheet of pink fondant came to look purple in this picture I don’t know. That’s natural light for you! Anyway, once the fondant is on start to smooth it down around the contours of the cake with your palms. Tug a little here, stretch a little there but be very careful not to tear it (since you’re past the point of no return now). Below you can see I’ve got the fondant mostly smooth on this side, but for a small crease where I had to fold the fondant over onto itself:

These are unavoidable and part of every rolled fondant cake. All you can really do about them is to do your best to limit their size and length (again a little tugging and stretching) and then decorate over whatever is left (you’d be surprised at how easy that is). Once the fondant is on as smoothly as you can reasonably get it, get out the kitchen shears and trim off the excess, keeping the cardboard cake circle covered.

If it’s a little rough that’s OK, the bottom edge is going to get covered by royal icing anyway. The last step is to go over the cake to smooth out any last bumps and any creases. You can buy specially-made plastic smoothers to do this job. Me, I find the back of a spoon works just dandy.

So then, now you decorate, only I didn’t have any time! My Easter Sunday was such that by the time my fondant was on, I had literally ten minutes to put on any final touches before company arrived. The below result is what you’d expect from that scenario…my royal icing “dots” became spikes and were uneven to boot. Jackie Kennedy meets the Dead Kennedys (plus this photo came out dark….grrr!). Oh well, that’s a holiday.

However I must say the rolled fondant I made tasted much, much better than I remembered. I still didn’t eat very much of it, but what I did eat was very pleasant indeed.

Filed under:  Pastry Components, Rolled Fondant | 12 Comments

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.

Filed under:  Pastry Components, Poured Fondant, Standard Poured Fondant | 34 Comments