How-To Cover a Cake in Rolled Fondant

Rolled fondant gives a cake a clean, smooth surface on which to decorate. Refer to post, All About Rolled Fondant. Rolled fondant is a thick, dough-like icing that is slightly less sweet than buttercream icing. Applying rolled fondant to a cake requires some patience and even more so, practice.

There are many products available to aid in working with and covering a cake in rolled fondant. While you may be able to work with fondant without the specific tools, they will definitely make this icing easier and more enjoyable to work with. Some of the most basic tools are:

  • Fondant rolling pins- heavy, durable rolling pins with a smooth, plastic surface that won’t leave impressions like wooden pins
  • Fondant smoothers- help to smooth and shape fondant without leaving impressions from fingers and palms, works best with 2
  • Fondant mats- thin mats marked with round and square cake sizes that help to map out how large the fondant will need to be rolled out

Finding the amount of fondant needed to cover the cake and the size it needs to be when it’s rolled out is quite important. You don’t want to start a project with too little fondant or lift rolled fondant onto the cake only to find that it is too small to cover the entire cake. You never want to try to stretch the amount of fondant by rolling it too thin because it could easily tear. Use the guide below when purchasing fondant or making it from scratch. It is better to over-estimate than to under-estimate. To figure up the size for fondant to be rolled out to, add up the diameter (round) or width (square), the sides, and an inch or two for extra. For example, to figure for a 8″ cake that is 4″ tall, add 8 + 4 + 4 + 1 = 17. So you would need a piece of fondant that is 17″ large. The chart below gives estimations on the amount of fondant needed to cover a cake. The amount will vary depending on the thickness that is rolled out. These amounts are taken from Autumn Carpenter’s book, The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating.

Step 1: Follow the steps in Cake Preparation Part 1, 2, and 3. It is important that the cake is placed on a cake board the same size as the cake. This will help when the cake needs to be lifted and moved. After the icing has formed a crust, brush the entire cake with piping gel so that the fondant will stick to the cake.

Step 2: Figure out the amount of fondant needed for the size of cake you are covering. (See chart) Make sure that your work surface is smooth and clean. Any bumps or debris may get stuck to the fondant and/or leave impressions in the fondant once it has been rolled out. Dust the surface with cornstarch. Knead the fondant so that it is softer and easier to work with.

Step 3: Begin to roll out the fondant. After a couple of rolls, lift the fondant and turn about a quarter of a turn. If the fondant is sticking to the surface, dust it with more cornstarch.

Step 4: Set the fondant back down and continue to roll out, turning every couple of rolls, until the fondant is the size that is needed and approximately 1/8″ thick. If the fondant is too thick, it may weigh down the icing, causing it to sag or ripple towards the bottom. If the fondant is too thin, it may tear when being placed on the cake.

Step 5: Roll the fondant up onto a long rolling pin. Starting at the base of the cake, begin to unroll the fondant onto the cake.

Step 6: Carefully lift and maneuver the sides to remove the creases. Use the palms of your hands to press the fondant onto the sides of the cake.

Step 7: Use a pastry wheel to cut around the cake, removing the excess fondant.

Step 8: Place the cake onto a bucket or bowl that is slightly smaller than the cake so that it is away from the surface of the table. Use a pair of fondant smoothers, one on top bracing the cake and the other smoothing the side of the cake.

Step 9: Use a knife to trim off the last of the extra fondant, trimming below the cardboard.

Step 10: Pipe a small amount of buttercream onto a larger, sturdy cake board.

Step 11: With a cake lifter, lift the cake and carefully place it onto the cake board. Continue smoothing the sides and top of the cake if necessary. A small border can be piped around the base of the cake to hide the seam.

When covering cakes in rolled fondant it is important that you work quickly. If too much time is taken, the fondant can become dry and wrinkled and crack when draped onto the cake.

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