by Julie Bashore
Roll the fondant very thin on a silicone mat. Use the mat to gently place the fondant over the cake.
Press a rolling pin over an embossing mat until the fondant peeks through the holes. Airbrush color over the fondant while the mat is still in place.
Gently lay embossed fondant over the cake tiers. Use a soft, dry sponge to form the fondant around the cake.
Drape a folded piece of fondant down the side of the top tier. Begin the second drape of fondant where the first tier's drape ends.
Create marbled fondant by using 2/3 white and 1/3 chocolate fondant. Divide and layer the fondant several times to achieve the marbled effect.
To create a swag, combine equal parts fondant and gum paste. Roll the top edge over, and fold like a fan, keeping the folds puffy.
Wedding cake trends come and go, so it is beneficial to pick up current trends early to offer customers the cakes they want. Today's wedding cake designs lean towards simplicity and elegance, the "less is more" mantra. The designs often feature stacked tiers, either step-stacked or center-stacked. Many customers prefer floating tiers or acrylic stands for cakes with separated tiers.
The mainstay colors of white and ivory remain the most popular colors, and champagne, navy, purple, burgundy and sage are proving popular accent colors this year. Black and white trim never seems to go out of style.
For cake toppers, more customers are choosing gum paste flower bouquets colored to match the wedding theme. Other popular non-traditional designs include gift box cakes in bright colors or cakes with unlevel and crooked tiers.
Brides today can choose from a wide array of icing varieties as well. Rolled fondant cakes are among the top choices for wedding cakes. A quick browse through bridal magazines demonstrates the popularity of this medium; almost all cake designs use rolled fondant. It has been popular for special occasion cakes in England, Australia and Southern Africa for more than 50 years. However, many American bakeries do not offer this type of finish, due to customercomplaints about flavor.
After questioning my customers, I discovered that they disliked the texture, not the flavor, of rolled fondant. American consumers are accustomed to melt-in-the-mouth icing, not the chewier rolled fondant. The problem seemed to be in the technique of applying fondant.
To appeal more to American tastes, I developed a new method for decorating rolled fondant cakes. Instead of crumb coating the cakes, base-ice the cake with buttercream. Then, roll the fondant paper-thin on a silicone mat. The key to success is the thinness of the fondant. Also, avoid using confectioners' sugar and cornstarch because they dry and harden the fondant. Use the silicone mat to flip the fondant onto a cold and firm cake. Peel the mat away, and gently mould the fondant around the cake.
Keep cakes cool
After decorating the cake, return it to the refrigerator. Do not worry if slight condensation forms on the fondant when the cake is removed from the refrigerator. The condensation evaporates within a few minutes. Fondant actually seals the cake, which increases shelf life.
Decorating with rolled fondant can be less time consuming than some buttercream techniques. Drapes and swags are created quickly and easily. Cornelli lace and basket weave designs, which are time consuming when hand piped, are achieved in half the time with rolled fondant by using rolling pins and embossing mats. Rolled fondant also can be moulded with candy moulds to prepare decorations in advance. Stencils create embroidery that gives the impression of labor intensive piping, but is achieved in minutes.
To help you get started, I've included some instructions on how to create some of the most popular fondant effects. To emboss fondant, roll the fondant to about 1/16 of an inch thick. Gently spread a thin coat of shortening on top of the fondant to prevent the embossing mat from slipping. Position the embossing mat on top of the fondant. Press a rolling pin over the embossing mat, applying even, heavy pressure. The fondant should peek through the patterned holes of the mat.
Airbrush color, or spray chocolate glaze over the fondant before removing the mat. Peel away the embossing mat, and place another silicone mat on top of the fondant. Flip the mats over, so the airbrushed side is against the second mat. Gently place the fondant onto the cake. Use a soft, dry sponge to shape the fondant around the cake. Trim the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake using a pizza wheel. Finish the design by piping a bottom border.
Fondant draping down the sides of a cake is another popular decorating method. Because fondant is too soft to maintain the draped shape, knead an equal amount of gum paste into the fondant. Roll out the mixture very thinly on a silicone mat. Lightly dust the top of the fondant with cornstarch, and flip the fondant over. Spread a thin coat of shortening on the fondant. Place a plastic doily with the detailed side down on top of the fondant, and roll firmly and evenly with a rolling pin. At this stage, you can airbrush color onto the fondant or dust it with luster. Peel off the doily.
Trim the fondant lace into rectangles. Turn the fondant over so the plain side faces up. Gently fold the top edge backwards and forwards like a fan, from left to right. Be careful to keep all folds rounded. Lightly dampen the back of folds with water, but make sure no water gets between the folds. Carefully place the folded fondant on the cake.
Drape the fondant down over the side of the cake. Spread out the folds in the center, keeping the outer folds of the drapes pressed together. Work each tier in opposite directions. For example, if the drape on the top tier hangs to the left, the drape on the second tier should begin at the base of the first tier drape and hang to the right. Open the folds farther apart on each successive tier, so the bottom drape is opened and lightly folded at the base. Place flower bouquets at the top of each drape to finish the design.
To create fondant swags, roll out equal amounts of rolled fondant and gum paste until it is very thin. The length of the desired swag should be longer than its width. Add luster to the fondant if desired. Flip the fondant over, and lightly dust the back with cornstarch. Roll the top edge over, and fold gently like a fan, keeping the folds puffy. Dampen the ends, and gently press each end closed. Gently shape the fondant into swags, and attach the swags to the cake with the folds draping down. Neaten the edges, and add bows or flowers to cover the ends.
Create a marble effect
For a marbled effect, use two parts white fondant and one part chocolate fondant. Place the chocolate fondant on top of the white. Press the two together, and separate it into two halves. Place one half on top of the other. Repeat this twice. Then, twist the fondant twice. Divide the fondant, and layer it two more times. Pat the fondant flat with your hands, and roll in the opposite direction of the marbleized lines. Roll the fondant until it is very thin. Check to see which is the most attractive side. If the top is more attractive, use another silicone mat to flip it over. Place the fondant on top of the cake. Use a dry, soft sponge to mould the fondant to the sides of the cake.
Experiment with these techniques to create your own unique rolled fondant designs. Remember, the secret to fondant is to roll it very thin. This technique will ensure cakes with elegant appearances and pleasing textures.
Julie Bashore, Master Confectioner, has worked in the United States for the last 15 years, promoting rolled fondant techniques and confectionery arts. Bashore's retail bakery, House of Clarendon, in Lancaster, Pa., specializes in European desserts and rolled fondant cakes. She teaches courses and also is a traveling instructor.
For further details, visit her web site, www.houseofclarendon.com.