Fondant is a creamy white mixture of sugar and water, occasionally with corn syrup or cream of tartar added to control the final consistency of the fondant. Fondant creates a smooth, matte finish on cakes and is particularly popular on wedding cakes. Unlike icing, fondant is rolled out, then placed over the cake and smoothed into place. Fondant can be poured, rolled or sculpted. Learn how to use fondant and how much fondant you need to expand your cake decorating skills.
While you can purchase fondant from cake decorating suppliers, homemade fondant is tastier and allows you to customize the consistency of the fondant for your needs. Many home cake decorators opt for marshmallow fondant instead of traditional fondant recipes. Marshmallow fondant is both easier to make and tastier. Melt one bag of good quality mini marshmallows in a microwave with 2 tbsp. water. Stir every 30 seconds until melted through. Top this mixture with 3/4 cup powdered confectioner's sugar. Grease your work surface and hands thoroughly with solid vegetable shortening. Knead the fondant mixture, adding an extra 1 1/4 cups of confectioner's sugar. It should form a smooth, elastic ball. Wrap well with plastic wrap and allow to chill overnight or longer before using. Knead in food coloring before rolling your fondant out to a 1/4-inch thickness. This recipe makes just enough fondant for an 8-inch layer cake or a 9-by-13 inch sheet cake. Make more than one batch if needed and store in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.
Determining how much fondant to buy or make for a large wedding cake or other tiered cake can be quite challenging. You will need to knead and roll substantially more fondant than you need for a single layer in order to form an even and properly shaped fondant covering for your cake. When covering a tiered cake, begin with the largest layer first, then work your way up through the smaller layers. If you estimate that the cake will need 1 lb. fondant to cover, prepare 2 lbs. A 2-lb. batch of fondant will cover a standard layer cake; however, an 18-inch layer cake will require that you work 8 lbs. of fondant and take fully 6 lbs. to cover the cake.
Fondant can also be used to decorate cakes with cut-outs or sculpted shapes. Cut-outs require that you roll the fondant into a 1/4-inch-thick layer then cut as desired using a well-greased cookie cutter or a plastic template and sharp knife. These can then be applied to the fondant-covered cake using royal icing as a glue. Fondant can be tinted and then sculpted by hand into a variety of shapes and figures. One recipe or 1 lb. of fondant will be adequate to cut or shape most cake decorations.