I don't have a TV, but when I'm traveling I'll never pass up an opportunity to watch Ace of Cakes on Food Network. I become memorized watching Chef Duff and team sculpt together a towering skeleton made of cake and krispy rice treats, then transforming it into realistic/adorable pieces with rolled fondant, a sugar dough frequently used for covering and decorating cakes.
Those who follow this column with regularity may have guessed that I'm not a huge fan of the stuff, beyond its ability to create some real TV drama. Rolled fondant simply never tastes as good as butter cream, whipped cream, or glaze and I'm not one to sacrifice flavor for style. But, setting aside my own for the moment, I can definitely see the appeal, and so I'm happy to share what I do know about the stuff.
Traditional homemade fondant is made by combining a warm solution of water, gelatin, corn syrup, glycerin, and flavoring with a whole lot of confectioner's sugar and mixing until it becomes a smooth and flexible dough. Since it's not always easy to track down food-grade glycerin, many bakers purchase manufactured fondant, which is preferred by professional decorators for its consistency and predictable results.
For the purposes of this column, I tried a version of fondant made with marshmallows, confectioner's sugar, water, and vegetable shortening. The results were not quite as great as manufactured rolled fondant, but a great substitute for someone hoping to practice their skills on the cheap.
Today in the slideshow, I'll cover the topics of basic fondant handling, dying, and some basic shaping methods. Soon, I'll do a follow-up Sweet Techniques focusing on cake applications specifically. Click through the slideshow to learn more (including how to make a fondant turkey) and then check out this recipe for rolled marshmallow fondant, which was generously provided on the website for Wilton Cake.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.