As with everything else, there are many different ways to skin a cat when it comes to fondant work!
I used to make my own fondant. The marshmallow recipes were always frustratingly inconsistent, and it was a total crap shoot whether or not it would be perfect for what I needed, when I needed it. I used a different non-marshmallow-based recipe, which was great and tasted (and smelled!) much better than the fondant I had available 15 years ago, or so, but was still a hassle to make and keep enough around for exactly when I needed it. And lord help me if I didn’t sift my powdered sugar PERFECTLY, there would be a sudden hard little clump mid cake that would make me stop and start all over again.
But, fortunately, they make AWESOME fondants these days. Taste, and texture. They make’em gluten-free, vegan, and kosher-compatible, officially giving me ZERO motivation to EVER make my own batch of inconsistent labor-intensive fondant again.
Which reminds, by the way! More often than not, when people say they don’t like “the taste” of fondant, they’re not referring tot he actual taste – they’re referring to the texture. Chewing your icing isn’t what many people prefer, and that’s perfectly fine – it’s super easy to peel off, and as we’ve established before, you’re going to have such a beautiful layer of buttercream or ganache underneath that bad boy, you absolutely will never “cheat” your guests out of the texture they want. They can take or leave the fondant and still get the full effect. More reason to make sure your fondant actually tastes GOOD. (So none of that Wilton store-bought glue-tasting crap, okay?)
Keep in mind when getting your supplies together, you’ll need about 1.5-2 lbs for one 8-inch round assembled tier, and you’ll need another 1-1.5 lbs for an assembled 6-inch tier. And shades of one brand of fondant will not match up with another’s, so either pre-mix them together before using, or make sure you have enough of a single brand (the same goes even if you DO make your own fondant – chances are, your batches will NOT be the same color, so plan to have enough).
So! Depending on what you’re looking for, here are some great ready-made fondants that are easily available online, or in specialty cake stores:
- Satin Ice
This fondant is one of the most affordable, and though not the highest quality or the easiest to work with, it is a good option if you don’t want to break the bank and are willing to work quickly. It crusts (dries) more quickly than other fondant, which can lead to elephant skinning or tearing on your finished piece if you aren’t careful. And once it’s dried, there’s no repairing any flaws. But the taste is good, the price point is there, and it is one of the most easily-available brands out there. And if you paint on your cakes, like I frequently do, the crusting is actually a desirable quality. Heads up, though, if you’re buying black (I usually only buy white and tint it myself, except when I’m doing black or red – it’s just too much trouble to get a true black or red and preserve the correct texture): Satin Ice black fondant dries lighter (more gray) than some other brands.
Just say no. Seriously. NO. The taste isn’t as offensive as it used to be, but it still reminds me more of paper supplies than edible things. And the texture is overly soft. The only case in which I use Wilton fondant, EVER, is when I am modeling small details on the cake that are not meant to be eaten (though technically still edible), and will be adding tylose powder to firm it up (please don’t add tylose powder to fondant you’re planning on actually using to cover a cake!). The appeal of having Wilton readily available at your local craft store should NOT convince you this is a viable option, especially with 2-day shipping (or faster!) on Amazon being a thing. Not even going to give you a link, because a fairy loses her wings every time a cake gets covered with Wilton.
Though slightly more expensive than Satin Ice, the price point is still pretty comparable, and you get a much more pliable and elastic fondant. It doesn’t crust readily, which makes the cake more susceptible to dings in the long-run (but also makes flaws easier to fix). Still easy to paint on, though you’ll have to be a little more careful.
- Fat Daddio’s
Everything Fat Daddio’s does, they do well. this is a great, pliable fondant, whose black color stays much more true than Satin Ice. It doesn’t crust as readily, and can be a bit oily at times, but is a higher quality than Satin Ice.
Up a step from Fondarific, with a great taste and great pliability and elasticity, harder to tear than other cheaper brands. Crusts beautifully, so works perfectly for painting. this is a lovely fondant.
This stuff tastes absolutely lovely – truly. But it’s sticky and soft, and harder to work with of you’re not used to covering cakes regularly. Definitely falls into the category of fondants that works great during the winter months, not so great once it warms up … if you’re experienced and want an awesome white chocolate taste, the texture is something you can work around. Otherwise, just go with one of the other options.
This stuff is the real deal. Appropriately expensive, so you may want to save your pennies up for when you’re working on a wedding cake, for example, and not on your kindergartener’s decorate-your-own-cupcake party. But everything from the taste, to the texture, to the forgiving nature with flaws (I’ve corrected a ding that occurred just before transportation of the cake!) while still giving a wonderful painting surface, make this well worth the money, if you’re willing to give it a try,