Fondant 101

Let’s start from the beginning… The title of this post “Fondant 101” implies that this will be a post that will teach you the basics of fondant, and that is true.  But the title may also imply that I am an expert on the topic of fondant, and I’m not so sure that’s true.

When I first threw myself into decorative baking (about 4 years ago) I had a fear of fondant… all I knew about it was that some people don’t care for the taste, and that (some) bakers can do amazing things with it.  I had never tasted fondant or attempted to work with it.  I enrolled in a one night course through our local parks and recreation department on “Gourmet Cookie Decorating” and that night, I learned how to cover cookies with fondant.  I also discovered that night, that fondant is not so scary after all.  I’m hoping that after you spend some time reading this post you may feel the same way.

Fondant 101 ~

Fondant (also known as rolled fondant) could be described as a sugary play-dough.  Pre-made fondant is made mostly from sugar, gelatin, and glycerin.  Fondant can also be made at home using powdered sugar and melted marshmallows (this is called Marshmallow Fondant- recipe link at the end of this post).  Pre-made fondant is sold at craft stores, cake supply stores and on-line.  The brand of fondant I prefer to use is called Satin Ice.  This is also the brand most often used by cake professionals.  The brand most commonly available at craft stores, Wilton, has a reputation for having a pretty poor taste, and I would avoid using it if possible (sorry Wilton, just my opinion!)

Fondant can be used for decorative baking in a number of different way.  Cakes, cupcakes and even cookies can be covered with layer of fondant.  Fondant can also be used to add decorative accents onto frosted cakes, cupcakes and cookies.  Fondant can be shaped using special fondant molds and cutters, or hand molded into any shape or design imaginable.

Here are a few examples of the ways I’ve used fondant…

~Fondant covered cupcakes ~

~ Fondant covered cookies ~

~ Fondant covered cakes ~

Over the next few months (and beyond) I will come back and add links to this post as I go into more detail on specific fondant projects.

Fondant Graduation Caps (as cupcake toppers)

How to make Fondant Ladybugs

How to make Fondant Ribbon Roses

How to make Fondant Butterflies

For today, in keeping with the “Fondant 101” theme of this post, I’ll show you the very basics for handling and preparing fondant for any project.

As with any craft project, preparing an organized work station with the proper supplies will help you work efficiently and allow you to enjoy your project with limited interruptions (children not included!).

Above is a photo of the way I set up my work station (a.k.a. my dinning table).  You don’t have to set up your work area exactly like mine, but I think this will give you an idea of the basic supplies needed.

1.  A paper plate to set fondant pieces on to dry.

2.  Fondant cutters (these could be small cookie cutters, or cutters designed for fondant- see my source list at the end of this post)

3.  A small bowl of vegetable shortening (Crisco).  This will be worked into your fondant (in a small amount) to help keep it pliable, and applied to your hands (or gloves) to prevent sticking.

4.  A small pouch of corn starch (I made mine with a paper towel and poked a few holes in the bottom of the pouch with a pin).  This can be used to prevent sticking- it may be used on your work surface, cutters or added to the fondant if it gets too sticky.

5.  Food coloring (I use Americolor gels).

6.  Plastic bag for fondant (keep your fondant in a sealed bag at all times or it will dry out and become unusable).

7.  Plastic gloves (this will prevent your hands from becoming stained from the coloring, and helps keep your fondant as clean as possible).

8.  A non-stick rolling pin (available in small and large sizes from most craft supply stores).

9.  A clean, smooth work mat.

10.  A lint-free dish towel (just handy to have around).

Directions ~

1.  Remove a small ball of fondant from the plastic bag (only take out of the bag the fondant your are working on right then- fondant will dry out quickly in the air and become stiff and unworkable).  Knead the ball of fondant until pliable.   Rub a bit of Crisco onto your hands (or gloves), to prevent the fondant from sticking to your hands.
2.  Add a drop of food coloring (this could be gel or paste- not liquid).  I use Americolor brand most often.
3.  Knead the coloring into the fondant.  If the fondant is sticking to your gloves (or hands), add a tiny bit more Crisco onto your gloves (or hands).
4.  Continue to knead until the color is fully incorporated.  You may add additional color to reach the desired shade.

5.- 6.  Continue to knead as necessary to incorporate all of the color.

7.  Roll out the fondant using a non-stick rolling pin.

8.  Roll to desired thickness.

(Note- If you plan to hand mold the fondant into a 3-D shape there is no need to roll it out.)

That’s it… your fondant is now ready to cut into shapes and be used as decorations on cakes, cupcakes and cookies.  If you are planning to cover a cake with fondant, the coloring and rolling process is the same, only you’ll need a larger ball of fondant and a larger rolling pin.

Now you have plenty of information to get you started, if you have little or no experience with fondant.   Don’t be intimidated to give it a try.  Fondant can be a fun medium to work with and with a bit of practice can yield impressive results.

Helpful links and resources ~

You-Tube is a great source for videos on working with fondant.  Here are links to several that I have found helpful…

How to make Marshmallow Fondant (includes recipe)

How to cover a cake with fondant

How to cover a square cake with fondant

Sources for fondant supplies ~

Michael’s

Hobby Lobby

JoAnn’s

Country Kitchen SweetArt (a great selection of fondant and baking supplies)

Global Sugar Art

Jester’s Discount Cake Supply (a great source for fondant, and many fondant and baking supplies)

The Little Fox Factory (a great source for mini sized cookie cutters, perfect for simple fondant accents)

59 comments

  1. what a beautiful fondant cake here! i love grace's birthday cake the most. its look stunning!

  2. Wow I really needed this. thanks for the info. Now if I could only get it right! lol

  3. As you may now if you read my posts, I just started "working" with fondant. Like you, I was scared of it! But it does give such effective results don't you think! I love the work you've done with it! So these tips will be really helpful. I'm very excited to read some more..

  4. I agree the marshmallow stuff is more delightful than other kinds.
    And YES gloves when dying fondant!

  5. THANKS! I have yet to use fondant, so this is very helpful in getting started.

  6. thanks for the awesome tutorial!!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this, I haven't used fondant yet because I've so intimidated by it. I can't wait to read more, and to give fondant a try. You rock!

  8. Such beautiful work, Glory….love the colors!

  9. these are so cute!!! and I swear I see cuttlebug folders in there!!!! hugs, Katrina

  10. Thank for the lesson Glory, I've been wanting to try fondant, now you made it look no so scary!!

  11. I love playing with fondant. That cake is very pretty!

  12. OMGosh! I love those yellow floral cupcakes!

  13. Thanks for a wonderful introductory tutorial to fondant. I love that you include 'wearing gloves' into your tutorial. Often, I'm turned off the idea of eating fondant cakes because of the fact that the cake and figures have been rolling around in somebody's palms for hours or across several days.

    I think your way is definitely more food safe and hygienic.

    If doctors can do life-saving surgery in gloves then I think cake decorators should be able to achieve beautiful and hygienic designs in fondant using glove-covered hands.

    Hope this doesn't offend anyone. I guess I'm just weird about my food.

  14. oh my god, that's so sweet ! I love all the sugar paste creations, they look so yumm ;D

  15. I was terrified of working with fondant! Thank you! I am less scared now!

  16. Great post! I've been wanting to work with fondant more….you've inspired me to get to it!

  17. I agree with you, that Wilton fondant tastes terrible. With that said, it is the most forgiving when learning how to model figures that aren't intended to be eaten. I buy professional fondant to cover my cakes with, but I still tend to prefer Wilton for complex figures. :)

  18. Dried fondant can be restored easily, not unusable at all.
    Also, you have misspelled knead several times.

  19. Glorybee, wonderful wonderful post. I have lime ten questions. The first one being what thickness is best for each application?

    I see a few creations I had missed before.

  20. Thanks for all the sweet comments! Fondant can be really fun to work with, I'm glad I've given you a litle push to give it a try.

    Anonymous- Thanks for the spelling correction… I always worry about that, but they're bound to happen from time to time! I think I fixed them.

    Do you have a secret for restoring dried fondant? Just working in some Crisco?

  21. Thank you for posting such an informative tutorial! Just the thing I was looking for — thank you, thank you!! I can't wait to try it out!

  22. Great treats! Definitely use the info. Thanks

    :)
    ~Tabitha

  23. The best tip I've read (at cakecentral.com) is to microwave it a little.

    It really does work!

  24. Anonymous- Wow, that sounds like a great tip! I've never thought of it, but it makes sense! Thanks!

  25. Such a great tutorial! Thanks for posting!

  26. I'm still impressed seeing your work for the 1000th time!

  27. ha ha… like Kyle would post anything on a blog. Oops. I guess I should not post from Kyle's computer. :)

  28. We have just started our Cupcake Challenge Blog: http://create4fun-cupcakechallenge.blogspot.com/

    It is in Dutch, but I think you will understand anyway….! 😉

    We always give a new theme on the 1st of the month. For April this will be strawberries.

    Hope you want to join our challenge!

    Jolanda

  29. Oh my goodness!!! These are amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  30. I love this post! Thanks for sharing all your tips! How long do these fondant decorations last? How long do they have to "dry" for before putting on a cupcake as a topper? And how do we store a cupcake with a fondant topper?

  31. Jeanette- Lots of great questions! Looks like I need to get going with another post!
    Fondant decorations usually take 1-2 days to dry. Once dry, the fondant pices will last quite a while (store in a closed container away from light). For best taste I would try to use them within a few weeks, but they will last even longer. Once you put a fondant decoration on a frosted cupcake, the cupcakes should be served within 1/2 day. The moisture from the frosting will cause the fondant to become soft and start to sort of "melt" over time.

  32. thank you for answering all those questions!!! :) those questions were the reason why i didnt want to work with fondant. there's so much info about fondant everywhere on the web, but no one ever tells us how to store it, for how long, etc etc etc. now that my questions were finally answered by someone who has GREAT experience, i can't wait to work with fondant now! thank you so much!

  33. Microwaving fondant for 3-5 seconds works like a charm! I always start out by microwaving it. Makes things so much easier.

  34. Hey this is awesome information. I was looking for a place from where I could start learning about making fondant and this is perfect.
    I have a question though,can we use butter instead of shortening? Where I live,shortening is not available!
    Do let me know! Thanks.

  35. I have a question about dried out fondant decorations… if it is all dried out and nobody ate it can you keep it like say somebody made a 3D object like a penguin or teddy bear or something can you take off the and keep it for decoration to put in your bedroom or something on a self?

    • Hi Cillia,
      Yes, potentially a dried fondant decoration could last quite a while (maybe a year). Depending on the brand of coloring you use, the color will fade over time. Also, the decoration should be kept out of direct sunlight for avoid fading as well.

  36. Pingback: Glorious Treats » How to Make Fondant Flowers

  37. I am new to baking and working with fondant but love it. i found your site to be very helpful with clear explanations and great sources. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Pingback: Glorious Treats » Sweet Baby Cupcakes (with easy fondant toppers)

  39. Hi great website, we don’t have some of the things you have mentioned in England, but I am sure there are substitutes I can find. My biggest problem is making fondant decorations, but then they start to flop when I put them on the frosting, am I not drying them enough ?

  40. This is going to be a new “tradition” in our house, we are going to bake and decorate our own cakes any way we like, the kids love the idea ofmaking their own figurines and later eat them, they say” this is better than playdough, “fun to play and to eat”

  41. Pingback: Try Out These Cupcake Decorations!

  42. Hi I am new with fondant . I like to make my son a fondant cover cake and some 3D animal fondant… His birthday is on Sunday.. .. I just an advise should I make the cake Including fondant cover on Friday and store them in box till Saturday?
    I know the cake will still be ok but never use fondant before,, I am afraid it is going to be dry out

    • Yes, allowing the cake to sit out with fondant on it for one day should be fine. The final texture of the fondant will depend on the brand (or recipe) you use. The 3D animals can be make a week or more in advance, since you will likely not eat them.

  43. Love the cupcakes, can you please tell me where you got the pattern ( the impression mat ) from the yellow cupcakes with the flowers?

    Lovely work!
    Thank you!

  44. Pingback: Graduation Cupcakes {and How To Make Fondant Graduation Caps} » Glorious Treats

  45. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

  46. I have a box of Wilton pure white rolled fondant, with the silver packages unopened….. For the life of me, I can not remember when I bought it. Guessing at least 2 years ago. Should I assume it’s not ok to use, or is this stuff sorta like Twinkies? Lasts longer than we’ll ever know? I need it to make a wedding cake and I just hate throwing stuff out if I can help it…. But, also don’t want to take chances.

    • Hi Shannon,
      First of all… I would likely never chose to use Wilton brand fondant on a wedding cake. In general, Wilton is the least tasty fondant option. Unless you were just planning to use it for accent pieces (such a small flowers and such). In general I think the life of fondant is 6 months – 1 year, although I don’t know that it really ever “goes bad” it will likely just get very hard and dry and be difficult to work with. I have been able to use older fondant in a pinch by microwaving it for a few seconds until warm enough to soften a bit. Also, you may need to work some shortening into it. Those are just my thoughts =)

  47. From your previous answers, I understand that fondant decorations or shaped cutouts take 1-2 days to dry. And best to use within few weeks. Does this mean that I can put them on cake (covered with fondant) within few weeks (say within 1 or 2 weeks) is fine as well?
    Once I covered the cake with fondant, can I store it in fridge? Serving is on next day afternoon.
    Thanks for your response. Kindly cc my email on your reply. Thank you!

    • In general I would not suggest to put fondant decorations in the fridge. The moisture in the fridge can cause the decorations to loose their shape, and become soft. I would always prefer to cover the cake and add any final decorations on the day it will be eaten. For an important event it might be worth a test run (maybe with a smaller version).

  48. Hi, I’m a beginner to cake decorating and would like to know whether there is any additional benefit beyond saving time to making fondant decorations days prior? Do I have to make them ahead and allow them to dry? I ask because it seems like it is easier to adhere non-dried fondant to cake (e.g., with water/alcohol, etc.) than it is to apply dried fondant, which seems to require royal icing. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.

    • Hi Vanessa, It depends on the design you are working on. If you are adding a shape such as a polka dot to the side of a fondant covered cake, then cutting the circles with fresh fondant and adding it to the cake while still soft is fine. If you are decorating a cake with a shape such as 3D flower, or a butterfly, they need to dry several days to keep hold their shape.

  49. Hi Glory,

    Thank you for your response. I made blossom flowers and tried giving them a little shape but it didn’t work very well. I left them overnight and some stayed up. Part of the problem was my fondant. I made the Michelle Foster recipe but I must not have put enough powdered sugar because the fondant was way too soft.

    Vanessa

  50. Thanks for a great and informative post. Can you tell me why I can’t use regular food coloring to color the fondant?? I haven’t tried it yet just wondering if it’s because the color is not saturated enough or because it’s too liquidy? Thanks!!

    • Hi Cindy, Yes, liquid food coloring would add too much liquid to the fondant and make it too moist and gummy to work with.

  51. Hi, where do you purchase your equpiment for the fondant flowers?

  52. Wow a great tutorial. I need to know please if i should add something to the sugar paste so when my decorations are ready lets say flowers they tend to become sticky after 1 or 2 days. I think the fondant decorations are not sticky after 2 days. By the way i come from Malta and our weather is mostly humid.This may be the cause. I wish i could do a graduation cake to perfection without the sugarpaste decorations getting sticky. Thanks a lot for your help.

  53. Thank you so much for this information.  I’m trying to make some graduation caps, and this is my first time using fondant.  Your information has really helped and inspired me.
    I just opened a cupcake business a little over a month.

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