Working with fondant can be a frustrating experience for the beginning cake decorator, but there are easy fixes in order to troubleshoot fondant problems. Here are some of the most common problems that you will encounter when using fondant to cover your cakes, as well as how to fix them:
Air bubbles and bulges. That can only mean one thing: there is trapped air in between the cake and fondant. If the cake is freshly iced, you can prick the air bubble over the bulge with a scriber needle, and then press the fondant gently to flatten. If the fondant has already hardened before you saw the bulge, you can camouflage it by placing a decoration. You can prevent this problem in the first place by making sure your ball of fondant is perfectly smooth and free from any blemishes before placing it on your cake. Before covering, make sure to pop out any air bubbles and even out any lumps and bumps from the surface by using a fondant smoother. Note that any areas that are not well adhered to the cake can be a way for the air to come in. During the process of covering the cake, smoothen out the top center of the cake outwards, then smooth over the sides while using a fondant smoother to push out air bubbles and keep the fondant as flat as possible. Work your way down the sides, smoothing an inch at a time until you reach the bottom.
Tearing and cracking. Why does fondant tear up? That’s because it has dried out. You need to work fast when working with fondant. The longer it takes for you to roll out and cover that cake, the more the fondant dries out. Once fondant has been rolled out, place it right away over the cake. While kneading, if you feel that the fondant feels dry to the touch, you can prevent it from drying out by using vegetable shortening instead of cornstarch. Another reason for the cracking is if the fondant has been rolled too thick or too thick. You can still repair tears and cracks even if the fondant has been placed on the cake by filling these out with fresh fondant. Like water and oil, water and fondant do not mix well, so don’t use water during this process as it will only serve to break down the fondant further. If the flaw is still visible, you can pipe or put a design element over it to hide it from sight. If the tear or crack is too unsightly, and is too damaged to be repaired, it’s best to use a new batch of fondant instead. Also take note of the weight of the fondant. If the fondant is too heavy and you drape it over the top of the cake, the weight will pull down the fondant, which could create a tear or a crack near the top edge of the cake. Prevent this by bringing the outer sides towards the cake.
Elephant skin. Those wrinkles you see appearing at the edges near the top of the cake is called elephant skin, and it usually happens when the fondant has dried out. Using vegetable shortening, instead of cornstarch, will help you troubleshoot fondant. Rub some of the vegetable shortening on the wrinkles of the cake to help reduce their appearance.
Sweaty fondant. When working with fondant, having a humid weather can work against you, resulting to a sticky and sweaty fondant. Control the temperature and humidity of your kitchen by turning on your A/C and dehumidifier in order to maintain a cool and dry environment.
Sticky or hard fondant. If the fondant is too soft or too sticky, you may have kneaded it too much. Add confectioner’s sugar to it, then knead again. If the fondant is hard, add some vegetable shortening to the paste. If it gets way too hard, you can pop it in the microwave for a couple of seconds to make it pliable again.
Remember that practice makes perfect. No one would get it right their first time, and it might even take several tries before you can make or cover cakes with fondant perfectly. But by knowing how to troubleshoot fondant, and by knowing the causes and issues as to why your fondant cracked or teared up, you would be able to repair or prevent them from happening again. For more information about working with fondants, please click here for more useful tips.