Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Fondants

  "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness."

     Yep, Dickens has summed up the last two months here in the 'Kitchen pretty well. And if you don't recognize the quote from A Tale of Two Cities, well, I got nothin'. The education system failed you, ask for a refund.

     Movita is having a birthday. (the best) She's hosting a contest. (still the best) I got eliminated by her sister in the last contest. (the worst) Because I suspect  a leak here at Team O.K., seriously what are the odds Movita's sister would enter The Three Little Pigs in a ginger smack down against my Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, I've had to keep my master plan under wraps. (the worst) No banter with Movita. (the absolute worst) I have no master plan. (still worst) I have two months to make a plan. (wisdom?) I consult the minions. (complete foolishness, although the Kitty Litter Cake with Happy Birthday Movita spelled out in chocolate ganache cat scat did have it's appeal) New plan.

     The competition at Movita's is fierce. I am not a cake baker. Truth be told I'm not much of a cake lover unless it's cheesecake then all bets are off. I had to up my game. I had to decorate, crap.

     The one and only cake I have ever gotten raves about was one I decorated with sugared flowers for a friend's birthday, until Tris knocked the house plant into the cake covering it with dirt, thanks Tris. Anyway, edible flowers, spring, violets. My six that have bloomed aren't going to cut it. Too early. Whole Foods? Not after the aphid fest last time. Who needs the extra protein? That leaves fondant, edible fake flowers. Off to the interweb.

     I'm just going to say this and get it out there. Fondant covered cakes are beautiful, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, it usually tastes like ass. All that work scraped off to the side and thrown away. After reading about the crap I could buy pre made, I decided to try making my own. I've got time. I like a challenge.

     First up, marshmallow. Why? It was easiest and tastes like toasted marshmallows. I love toasted marshmallows. I got the recipe here. Excellent site, hopefully she'll give me a few pointers despite the rather irreverent tone of this post.

Marshmallow Fondant
16 oz marshmallows
2-5 tablespoons water
2 pounds of icing sugar, sifted-I sifted 3 pounds and used almost all of it, just over 7 cups

Combine the water and marshmallows and melt in the microwave.
This took me far longer than her recipe, more than double the time, not sure why.
In another bowl place half your sifted icing sugar and make a well.
Pour the melted marshmallow into the well and start mixing, gradually adding the rest of the sugar.
Eventually it will be too stiff to mix. 
A couple of minutes for me.
Turn the "dough" out onto a lightly greased counter and start kneading it.
It will be sticky so grease your hands as well.
Keep adding sugar until it is not sticky, is smooth and easy to work with. 
Another couple of minutes.
Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate in a re-sealable plastic bag.
You could probably use it then but I found the texture much nicer after it had a chance to cure overnight.
You can colour a whole batch during the mixing, or separate pieces out after.
I did the pieces, kneading the colours in the next day.
It took about half an hour from start to finish

The melted marshmallow
Took a long time and about double the water?
The mess I made mixing in the sugar
The stand mixer was no help this time
The raw dough

Getting ready to add colour
Gloves so you don't stain your hands
Shortening so it doesn't stick or dry out as you knead it

Lots of gel colour
Lots of kneading
In colour
Cutting flowers
Moulds and presses
Moving along
A whole bouquet
Erica's cupcakes
Fondant trial number 1
Not too shabby
And it sparkles

Basic Rolled Fondant
recipe from here
2 pounds of icing sugar, sifted - again I sifted 3 and used most of it
1 package/tablespoon gelatin
1/2 teaspoon flavouring-I used vanilla
1/2 cup of white corn syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin
1/4 cup of warm water

In a small bowl, combine water and gelatin.
Let sit for a few minutes, 2, 3.
While you are waiting, start a double boiler, you'll be needing it for the next step.
Once the gelatin has plumped up a bit, place the bowl over not in, the boiling water.
Let the gelatin melt, then add the corn syrup, flavouring and glycerin.
Stir until well combined.
This should only take a couple of minutes.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, put half your sifted sugar and make a well.
Pour in the gelatin mixture and start mixing.
Use the dough hook on you stand mixer.
Mix until too stiff to stir with a spoon.
It will probably be sticky so it needs to be turned out onto a lightly greased surface and the remaining sugar kneaded in.
My stand mixer took it to almost completion, Woo hoo.
Continue kneading in sugar until the ball is no longer sticky but still pliable.
Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate in a re-sealable plastic bag.
You could probably use it then but I found the texture much nicer after it had a chance to cure overnight.
You can colour a whole batch during the mixing, or separate pieces out after.
I did the pieces, kneading the colours in the next day.
20 minutes from start to finish
Assembling the ingredients while the gelatin plumps up
Just starting to melt the gelatin
The whole thing in the mixer
The end result
No more pictures, I'm not givin' Hadley any ideas.

Rolling out the dough    

     I didn't have trouble with this exactly, but it wasn't trouble free either. Reading online there seems to be various schools of though on rolling it out so I varied my technique with the different batches. I didn't find much difference, however, I wasn't rolling large sheets to cover a cake I was just making decorations.

     What ultimately worked easiest for me was rolling on my lightly greased counter, dusting the rolling pin with either cornstarch or icing sugar. I also had shortening on hand to lightly grease my hands if it started getting sticky. I tried rolling on parchment paper and plastic wrap but found it a little harder to manipulate.

     To bring both to room temperature to work with, 10 sec bursts in the microwave. I used 20 secs to get it to a perfect working consistency.

    The marshmallow was harder to get thin, even sheets but it took the colour better/faster when I was dyeing it. It stayed quite elastic and I had a hard time releasing it from the cutters sometimes.

    The plain rolled really thin easily, maybe too thin. I had a problem with it keeping it's shape, then I had a problem with it sticking. It was very humid, raining all weekend so that may be a factor as well.

     A dab of water held each, gluing different bits together.

     Working with both was a lot of fun, like playing with edible Play Doh. I kept thinking how much fun kids would have making decorations for cupcakes.

     Neither dried to rock hard consistency like I thought they would. Both tasted good, sweet, really sweet but good. After reading about how awful the pre made was I'm wondering why you would bother. I didn't find it all that difficult to make, nor was it particularly time consuming. Of course it didn't look like this, this or this either so... How awesome are those cakes? Hopefully she doesn't know Movita or I'm S.O.L.

     If you have any tips or tricks, by all means pass them along in the comments or drop me an email, I could use the help. That's my tale of two fondants.


  1. you always do the most delicious posts just when I have attempted to get back into my exercise routine.

    you're the devil I tell ya! LOL

    can't wait to see the finished cake.

    1. I've been called worse, LOL
      You're preaching to the choir here. I've gone through 10 pounds of icing sugar in the last three weeks testing different stuff. Testing = Eating
      I'm pretty sure I've gained every pound back that I worked so hard to get rid of. Argh.

  2. I have never worked with fondant and to be honest I'm scared of it. But I really want to try and make some pretty flowers like you did. Maybe this mommy can get up enough nerve when it's time for middle daughters b-day in June. I have had the marshmallow fondant one time at a friends wedding and it was divine.

    1. I was surprised how easy it was, but I didn't do really complicated stuff with it either. You can try playing with the pre made stuff first. Most of the things I did are like cookie cutter cutouts so not a huge skill set needed. I loved the marshmallow one two. It was funny because reading about it people were complaining about the strong taste. Who doesn't like toasted marshmallow?
      I will say one thing, you need strong hands. Kneading it to finish is or colour it was a surprising work out.
      Give it a try, what have you got to lose? Some of the best times I've had in the kitchen were laughing about absolute disasters.


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".