When I was first teaching myself to work with fondant, I found one of the hardest parts was actually covering the cake and having it look smooth. I struggled with pleats around the bottom, cracking and tearing fondant and corn starch or powdered sugar spots all over the fondant.

I looked at pictures and instructions, watched youtube videos and read forums. While there is a lot of good information out there, I felt like there was a lack of good suggestion all in once place or the videos went by so quickly. I watched adept hands make quick work of covering a cake with no issues and I struggled to figure out what they were doing.

I'm going to take you through my biggest tips and pointers for getting a nice finish so you can learn to cover your cake without pleating, tearing, holes, or any other frustrating issues that have you beating your head against the counter. This is good for those new to fondant as well, however, I will say that watching videos does help immensely so combine my information with some other videos and information out there.

Tip 1: Start with the right fondant
I originally used marshmallow fondant. While it's easy to make and I've seen other people achieve professional-looking results with it, I found it sticky and hard to work with and I had issues getting it the right consistency. I started making fondant from scratch and the best recipe and the one I use all the time is Michele Foster's Fondant recipe. A half batch (what I usually make) will cover up to one 10-inch round and it's actually not all that hard to make.

One thing I found that really helped me was to buy a package of pre-made, high quality fondant to see what the consistency was like. That way I could better achieve the correct consistency when making it at home. I bought a container of Satin Ice, but I've heard good things about FondeX. Just avoid the Wilton stuff, okay? (Ick!)

Tip 2: Get your icing as smooth as possible
The icing on your cake (under the fondant) should be as smooth and hard as possible. For this reason, many people really like working with ganache under fondant. You can get it as smooth as glass and it sets up as hard as a rock. I like ganache, but it's really rich and expensive so I mostly work with meringue buttercreams under my fondant which also provide a nice smooth surface. I use metal bench scraper and an icing spatula to get my buttercream smooth before I apply my fondant.

Tip 3: Knead your fondant in pieces
I divide my fondant into several pieces to knead it. Then I zap each piece in the microwave for two 5-second increments to soften it slighty (no more than 5 seconds per zap or you'll melt it!) and then I work it on the counter. I keep the other chunks wrapped in plastic wrap so that they don't get dry and crusty while I work.

While I'm kneading each section, I add a dollop of shortening and a dollop of glycerine to soften the fondant and make it smoother and more pliable. The shortening also helps the fondant to be less sticky. That way, you can use less corn starch (or powdered sugar) when you're rolling. Corn starch and powdered sugar leave white stuff everywhere and can dry out your fondant.

Once you've gotten all the chunks kneaded individually, put them together and knead the fondant until it's warm, soft, smooth and pliable. Remember silly putty? It should be a lot like that in consistency.

Tip 4: Put away the spray bottle
I had always read that you should spray the cake with water (after frosting) before putting the fondant on. This never worked properly for me. The coverage was always uneven, with some spots too wet and some too dry, and the fondant was always slipping around and gooey. What a mess!

Then I watched someone apply piping gel with a pastry brush on youtube. Ding! I don't generally have piping gel on hand, but the pastry brush works perfectly. I generally use water with a small amount of tylose powder dissolved in it (which is what I use to adhere pieces of fondant or gumpaste together when making my figures or applying them to the cake). But water works, too. The coverage is nice and even and you can apply it pretty thinly. It also helps do some final smoothing on your cake. Win!

Tip 5: Use your corn starch or powered sugar sparingly
Less is more. My preferred anti-stick is corn starch. Really, you don't need much corn starch to keep the fondant from sticking to your counter and rolling pin. I dust just a slight amount on my slightly flattened disc of fondant, rub it around, flip and do the same on the other side. Then I sprinkle a small amount around the countertop where I'll be rolling.

As I roll, I put my hands under and all around the edges to make sure it isn't sticking to the counter. If need be, I sprinkle just a bit underneath and rotate the fondant slightly to distribute.

Tip 6: Roll it out bigger than you think it needs to be
Measure your cake across the top and sides. Got that added up? Great, add another 2 inches to the dimension. So if you measured 10 inches across the top and your cake is 3 inches tall, that's 16 inches of cake total. Roll out the fondant to at least 18 inches. I actually like a little more. More fondant along the bottom means you have more to work with when it comes to lifting and smoothing around the bottom and less opportunity for pleating and folding along the bottom.

Tip 7: Roll it up
When you're ready to put it onto the cake, roll the whole thing back onto your rolling pin. Don't try to lift it with your arms or your hands and put it onto the cake. You'll get more air bubbles if you try to do it like that. The rolling pin method allows you to roll it slowly over the top of the cake.

Tip 8: Secure the top edges first
Once you've rolled it onto the cake, secure all around the very top first. This will prevent the weight of the fondant from pulling away from the edge and tearing your fondant. The other thing that helps prevent fondant from tearing and breaking is the glycerine and shortening you added when you kneaded the fondant earlier as well as using a scant amount of corn starch (or powdered sugar).

Tip 9: Lift up and in
Now you're going to work your way down from the top, smoothing out the fondant. Work your way around the cake, smoothing a half inch to an inch at a time all the way around, then keep going around until you get to the bottom. Sounds easy, no? This is the moment of truth. The trick? As you smooth with one hand, use your other hand to lift up the excess fondant on the bottom and push in towards the cake just slightly. It sounds completely counterintuitive, but just try it. Up and in. All that excess will help you with this. Keep lifting as you smooth down.

Tip 10: Cut, smooth, cut
Once you've smoothed it all out with your hands all the way around, cut off all the excess with a pizza or pastry cutter.

Then use a fondant smoother to smooth it all down. Push in and move it up and down all around the cake. You'll end up with a little bit more along the bottom edge. Use your cutting wheel to cut it again as close as you can to the bottom edge.

Tip 11: Use a butter knife to get a clean edge
Are you always putting something around the bottom of your cake to hide that ragged edge? I take a butter knife and work my way around, using it to gently remove and/or tuck in any excess underneath and create a nice smooth edge.

If there's still a lot you didn't get, use the pizza cutter again. If it's just a tiny bit stuck to the cake board, you can scrape it off the cake board with the butter knife. If there's some that is uneven, use the butter knife to press it gently up into the cake.

That's it! Now you have a smooth cake with no folds or pleats and a nice clean edge along the bottom. Now you don't have to worry about positioning your decorations to cover up your mistakes!

18 Responses to "Perfect Fondant: Tips for Covering a Cake Flawlessly"

  1. ProudMamaOfTwo Says:

    Wow!! I just made my first fondant cake yesterday, just to get a feel for it, as I had never used it. I had the same problems you mentioned in the beginning of your article. I plan to make my daughter's first birthday cake in a week and a half and I NEED it to be PERFECT! (My husband is USAF, we live in a small town, hence...no good bakeries, except one, which is closed the last week of this month...GO FIGURE.) So, I've decided to just do it myself, rather than buying a cheap cake from Walmart. I have been watching videos, reading articles, searching tips and tricks...your article, by far, is the best advice I've read so far!! Can't wait to try it! I've bookmarked your page and intend to follow it step by step in the kitchen as I work!! Thanks a heap!! I don't feel as stressed now! Beautifully done!

  2. Gillian Says:

    I think this is the most helpful post I have read. Thank you so much for all the tips.

  3. Fira Vimartrhani Says:

    Best tutorial ever! May I ask you something? If I don't have glycerine, is it okay to use shortening alone?

  4. alison hassett Says:

    Thank you for this I love to decorate cakes and have difficulty with shop bought fondant I will try your tips. One question what kind of cake recipe can I use. I find most of them get impacted and don't look as good . Heave you any suggestion ?

  5. Wild Banks' Says:

    I can't find glycerin anywhere locally. Where did you find it?

  6. Ruky Obi Says:

    Ruky. You deserve a very big hug for this article. I have bookmarked it also. I am trying to learn proper cake making from a wonderful friend and intend to show her this beautiful piece too. Thanks again & again

  7. Yandinna Skvaridlo Says:

    Thankyou so much for this tutorial. It will help me greatly in my future attempts to use fondant, thank you again :-)

  8. Cairns Cake Lady Says:

    Thank you. Great post. I'm hoing to try the glycerin next time as I'm always hetting elephant skin on the edges.

  9. Ezzachef Says:

    If you put the cornstarch in cheesecloth you can just dab it on. That also helps to not use a lot.

  10. Brandy Marsh Says:

    I use shortening alone and it is the best thing you can use, hands down. I take a paper towel and glide it all over the surface of my mat and my rolling pin. I used to use cornstarch and/or powdered sugar but my fondant ALWAYS cracked. The shortening also gives the fondant that nice shiny look we all want. And I think it helps cut down on the sweetness too.

  11. Heather Higgins Says:

    What's shortening? I am due to make a number 7 shaped cake over the next couple of days...any tips for a difficult shape???

  12. Michelle Oliver Says:

    This is the best fondant covering I ever heard.I'm a convectioner but creating beautiful cakes is my passion.U just helped me a lot,thnk you so much

  13. angie cuthbert Says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Alma Perez Says:

    What it the piping gel for ? Will it help prevent cracks on the edges? :) and does it work to brush on buttercream?? :)

  15. Alma Perez Says:

    I always have that problem with the edges of my cakes , i hurry and smooth the top and edges to prevent from cracking but still happens :/

  16. pooja manshani Says:

    Hi could u help me wth the fondant recepi since I have the 1......however confused coz thr are 2...so if you could post it....it will be easier n helpful...plz plz thanks

  17. Angelito David Says:

    Hi. When is the best time to cover a cake with fondant, a room temp cake or chilled cake?

  18. artemis fellas Says:

    Hi great cake! I've been told I don't have to put icing underneath fondant but I'm having trouble getting a neat finish. Can you make any suggestions?

Post a Comment

  • There was an error in this gadget

    About Me