Covering a cake with Fondant or Sugarpaste Icing
To cover a sponge cake with fondant, you need to apply a thin layer of buttercream that acts as a glue and also smooths out the cake.
A fruit cake is usually coated with apricot jam before being covered by marzipan, then a layer of fondant. As I don’t like marzipan, I usually just cover it with a layer of fondant over the jam.
You might notice that my measurements here are a mix of Imperial and Metric, I’ll tell you why. I grew up using the metric system and the UK is now using it too. However, my cake pans still come in inches! What is a woman to do?! As much as I can, I try and give both, to the nearest estimate. If in doubt, just do an online search!
Using rolled fondant/sugarpaste - always knead it, adding a little white vegetable fat, for a couple of minutes before each use to warm it and make it pliable. This will get rid of any “tightness” and ensure that your icing doesn’t crack as you lift it and cover the cake. The adding of the fat is, in my opinion, essential if you want to prevent cracks. If you’re not sure on thickness, use spacers, 4 or 5 mm (about 1 eighth of an inch) is perfect. I know we all like less fondant on our cakes but a too thin fondant has a greater tendency to stretch as you lift and drape, resulting in tearing. I find that coating the surface with a very thin layer of white fat is better that icing sugar when rolling out the fondant. Use a smoother and your hands to smooth out the paste but make sure that your hands are clean and dry to prevent marks on the paste. To fit the fondant, lift and place over the cake, not stretch which will result in tearing.
How much fondant do I need?
Round (about 3 in/7.5 cm high)
6″ – 4oo g (14 oz)
8″ – 500 g (18 oz)
10″ – 700 g (24 oz)
12″ – 1 kg (36 oz)
Square (about 3 in/7.5 cm high)
6″ – 600 g (22 oz)
8″ – 850 g (30 oz)
10″ – 1 kg (36 oz)
12″ – 1.4 kg (50 oz)
1 portion of buttercream is enough for 2 coats on an 8″ cake and some left over for piping top and bottom of cake. This is approximate as a lot depends on the consistency of the buttercream.
a large, smooth plastic rolling pin
small sharp knife
a little white vegetable fat (solid)
1. Dilute the buttercream with about half-one tsp of milk/water and mix well. A lighter buttercream spreads better.
2. Using your spatula, cover the cake completely with the buttercream. As this is the undercoat, we don’t have to worry about making it pretty.
3. Knead and roll out the fondant, to about 4mm thick. Remember to grease the surface with a little white vegetable fat before rolling out.
4. Make sure your cake is very close by. Using your rolling pin,( i.e., roll about a quarter of the fondant onto the pin) lift the fondant and drape it gently onto your cake.
5. Using your hands, fit the fondant on the cake, lifting and draping, not pulling. Using the the side of your hands, tuck the fondant at the base of the cake.
6. Smooth the top with a smoother and press down around the base of the cake to mark a cutting line.
7. Using a small knife, cut the excess fondant off.