How to Decorate a Fondant Cake
A fondant covered cake makes a great canvas for almost any type of cake decoration. The smooth texture of the fondant means you can easily apply fondant decorations such as bows, flowers, or fringe. Use fondant glue, shortening, or water to get the decorations to stick. If you'd rather not use more fondant on top of the fondant covered cake, decorate it with buttercream, royal icing, fresh flowers, or stencils.
Part 1Making Fondant Designs and Shapes
Put on a pair of food service gloves and about 6 ounces (170 g) of fondant on your work surface. Ensure that the surface is stain-resistant since the food color can also tint it. Squeeze 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 g) of gel food color onto the fondant and use your hands to knead in the color until it's evenly distributed. If you want a brighter color, add more tint until it's as vibrant as you want.
Avoid using liquid food coloring because it will make the fondant too sticky to handle. If the fondant becomes sticky when you're kneading it, sprinkle a little powdered sugar on the work surface.
To make a simple flower, take a small ball of fondant and pinch off several coin-sized pieces. Roll 1 of the small pieces into a ball and place it on a piece of waxed paper. Use another piece of waxed paper to press down on the ball so it squishes flat. This will make 1 flower petal. Make as many petals as you like and then assemble your flower. Roll 1 small petal into a cylinder and press each petal to the base. Shape and open several of the petals to create the flower.
For larger flowers, use larger balls of fondant for the petals.
If you'd like to add subtle detail to the top of the fondant cake, lay a textured item on the fondant and roll over it gently with a small rolling pin. Remove the item to reveal the impression in the fondant. For example, lay a piece of lace or a fern leaf on the rolled fondant. Lightly roll over the lace or leaf and peel it away to reveal the impression.
If you want to make impressions on the sides of the cake, you can either roll an impression on the fondant before you cover the cake with it or impress designs on a separate piece of fondant that you attach to the side of the cake.
Roll out a rectangle of fondant until it's 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick and lay it over several dowel rods. Each dowel rod will make a fold in the fondant so use as many rods as you like. Rub the fondant between the dowel rods and press additional rods on top of the fondant in between the "folds." Remove the dowel rods and gather the fondant.
You can apply the fondant drape to the cake to create a falling drape or a swag. For a falling drape, attach the gathered end of the fondant near the top of 1 layer and let it fall down to the bottom of the layer. For a swag, attach both ends of the drape to the same level of cake so the fondant swings down a little in the center.
Roll a ball of fondant until it's 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick. Cut the fondant into strips that are as wide as you want the loops of the bow to be. Take 1 strip and fold it over so you can seal the ends together. Set aside the loop and make more loops out of the strips. Assemble the bow by squirting a little royal icing or melted chocolate onto waxed paper. Place the loops onto the icing or chocolate so they look like a bow.
You'll need to turn some of the loops on their sides to create the bow shape. Once the chocolate or icing hardens, you can peel away the waxed paper and attach the bow to the cake.
Sprinkle your tinted or plain fondant with a little powdered sugar to keep it from sticking to your work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the fondant until it's 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick. Dip cookie cutters or small fondant cutters in powdered sugar and then use them to cut shapes out of the fondant.
Popular fondant shapes include flowers, dots, stars, or leaves. You can also use letter cutters so you can make words out of the fondant.
Cut a 2 x 2-inch (5 x 5-cm) square of fondant and tint it, if you want colored fringe. Use your palm to roll the block into a cylinder. Take a rolling pin and roll the fondant into a long strip that's about 13-inches (33-cm) long. Cut the fondant into a strip that's 12-inches (30-cm) long and 1-inch (2.5-cm) wide. To make the fringe on the strip, cut slits every 1/2-inch (1-cm) across 1 side of the fondant strip.
Make as many fringed strips as you like. For example, you could wrap 4 or 5 strips of different colored fringe around the outside of your fondant cake.
Part 2Applying the Fondant Decorations
Dip a pastry brush in your adhesive and brush the fondant cake right where you'd like to place the decoration. If you're using a small or thin decoration, you'll only need 1 dab of adhesive. But if you're attaching a large decoration, dab several places on the fondant to ensure the decoration sticks well.
If you're applying a heavy decoration, consider using the fondant or tylose glue because these will give the firmest hold.
If you're still learning how to decorate fondant cakes and want the flexibility to apply and move decorations, dip a pastry brush in vegetable shortening and dab a little on the fondant cake. Stick the fondant decoration on the greased area so it adheres to the cake.
Once you've finished decorating the entire cake, you can adjust or move the fondant decorations, if you need to. Move them within a few minutes of applying them or they'll harden a little and set in place.
If you want the fondant decorations to stay firmly in place, mix together a thick fondant glue made from sugar. Melt a 1-inch (2.5-cm) ball of fondant with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of water in a microwave-safe bowl for 15 to 20 seconds. Stir the mixture and spread a little of the fondant glue on your cake and stick the decoration onto the glue. Avoid moving the decoration once the glue has set.
The glue should set within 10 minutes. If the fondant glue is too thick to spread on the fondant cake, add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of water and microwave it for about 5 seconds. Stir the glue and use it immediately.
If you have tylose glue from mixing together gumpaste, you can use it to apply the fondant decorations to the fondant cake. Put 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) of tylose into a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of warm water until the tylose is dissolved. Let the tylose glue sit overnight so it thickens and becomes clear. Dip a pastry brush in the glue and brush it on the fondant cake. Stick the fondant decorations on the glue and hold them in place until they stick.
The tylose glue should become thick and gooey as it sits overnight. Tylose glue will hold decorations firmly in place.
If you don't have the time or supplies to make an edible adhesive, you can dip a brush in water and apply moisture to the fondant cake. Set the fondant decorations on the wet fondant and hold them in place for a few seconds until they stick.
Use a very light layer of water to avoid wetting the fondant too much or water could drip down the fondant cake.
Part 3Using Buttercream, Royal Icing, and Other Embellishments
If you'd like to be able to pipe swirls, rosettes, flowers, or a basket weave onto the fondant cake, fill a piping bag with buttercream. Firmly grip both ends of the bag so you can control the pressure of the frosting as it comes out of the piping tip.
Serve the cake immediately after frosting the fondant since the moisture in the frosting can cause the fondant colors to bleed. Keep in mind that you won't be able to move or adjust the frosting once it's come into contact with the fondant.
Mix together a batch of royal icing using egg whites or meringue powder. Put the royal icing into a piping bag and pipe the design you want onto waxed paper. If you're making a really detailed design, consider drawing the image onto a piece of parchment paper and lay it under the waxed paper. This way you can follow the lines when you're piping the design. Let the royal icing harden completely and then fix it onto the fondant cake.
Royal icing is great for making delicate decorations such as snowflakes, flowers, lattice, leaves, and borders.
If you want to make a geometric design or detailed image on the fondant cake, buy a stencil or cut out your own on acetate. Lay the stencil on the top of the fondant cake or wrap it around the side of the cake. Spread royal icing over the stencil so the frosting fills in the gaps in the stencil. Slowly remove the stencil and let the royal icing air dry completely.
If you're stenciling the side of the cake, you may need to have someone hold the stencil in place for you so you can evenly spread the icing and rotate the cake stand, if necessary.
For a really simple decoration, arrange fresh flowers on your fondant cake just before serving it. Ensure that the flowers are completely dry or they will make the fondant weep.
You can also use crystallized or sugared flower petals that guests are able to eat. Ask a florist if the flowers you're buying can be eaten. The flowers you use shouldn't be sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.