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Sep 29, 2008 07:09 PM

Fondant Novice Needs Help Please

Dear Baking Experts,

I've (foolishly) taken on the responsibility of making a traditional English wedding cake for my parents' 40th anniversary. For those who don't know, this means a brandy soaked fruitcake, coated in apricot jam, covered in marzipan, and then iced. It's good because its low calorie!

The cake is ready to go; I've been giving it refills on brandy for many weeks now. I'm not worried about applying the jam or the marzipan, but I've decided not to make royal icing because, well, I'm just not all that good at icing stuff. So, I'm going to try fondant. I'm reasonably comfortable on getting the fondant on the thing. I've done a lot of research and will have back-up fondant when I inevitably toss the first batch across the room.

What I can't figure out is what I should do with the cake after it's finally covered. I know the fondant needs time to set (24 hours?), but do I do that on my kitchen table or in my fridge? Most importantly, how far in advance (i.e. how many days) can I apply the fondant and how should I store it in the interim?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I almost don't want to presume to answer as surely you'll hear from professional pastry chefs about this---but, just for fun, I do have the identical recipe you describe (fruitcake, apricot jam, marzipan, and royal icing) in "Cooking the British Way" by Joan Clibbon (Spring Books, London, 1963). I will quote: "Cool cake in the tin and leave paper on until ready to cover with marzipan and icing. Brush top and sides of cake with apricot jam. Cover neatly with marzipan then wrap in aluminium [sic] foil or put into an airtight tin. Leave 2 to 3 days for the paste to set firmly. Now cover cake with royal icing. Quickly smooth sides and rough up top with the tip of a knife. Pipe small blobs of icing round base of cake or finish edge with a double circle of silver cachous and decorate as wished.....Royal Icing: 3 egg whites, 1 1/2 lb icing sugar [in US this is powdered or confectioner's sugar], 2-3 drops glycerine. Lightly whisk egg whites then gradually add sufficient icing sugar to form a fairly stiff icing. Stir in glycerine (this prevents icing from becoming too hard and difficult to cut) then beat thoroughly till smooth and pure white. Also, I have the English "Encyclopedia of Cookery" which has a detailed recipe for Fondant Icing---please tell me if you need it. As for afterwards, all it says is to pour the fondant over the cake and add any decorations before the fondant dries. I know there is also something called rolled fondant but you will need someone wiser than I to discuss it. Good luck with this lovely project. The cake sounds delicious. Marzipan is 'way under-appreciated in the States, I think.

    1. Are you using Rolled Fondant?- if so that should be stored room temperature and you certainly do not want to refrigerate, it will sweat.

      4 Replies
      1. re: poached

        Thanks. The firdge things is good to know. I'm using rolled fondant. So, my question is what if I apply the fondant one week in advance? I know it needs to set for 24 hours, but what if it sits for a week? Will it go all weird/ugly/nasty?

        1. re: jasmurph

          It won't, but it will get harder/chewier and has a greater chance of having the finish ruined because of moisture/condensation. I made my own wedding cake using rolled fondant, and I think I covered the cake with fondant on Thursday for a Saturday wedding.

          1. re: Amuse Bouches

            I agree with Amuse. Bakerys often use rolled fondant on their display dummy cakes and it will last almost indefinetly, but as the mostuired evaporates the sugar crystalizes it becomes a rock hard coating. I reccomend covering 1 -2 day in advance.But you could get away with 3
            Other advice is to get a fondant smoother- it is a small plastic rounded rectangle with a perpindicular handle. They are pretty readily available- this tool will eliminate any finger pokes or slips in the covering process as well as insures that the fondant is really adhearing to the sides of the cake.
            + side of fondant is that once it is on it really helps lock in the moisture in the cake.

            1. re: poached

              This is why I love Chowhound (it sure ain't for the changing interfaces)!

              Thanks so much, Amuse Bouches and poached.