Fun with Fondant

For so long I have seen cakes, cupcakes and more decorated with fondant and absolutely loved the way they looked.  The smooth finish and ability to mold it into anything you want allows so many fun and creative ideas to take shape.  The gorgeous end products always looked so great that for a long time, I didn’t think it was something I was capable of doing myself.  Then I decided to make an attempt at fondant for Andrew’s birthday cake this year and it was far easier than I ever could have imagined.  So, for anyone else who has ever been as intimidated as I was, fear no longer!  I decided to create this little tutorial to help you all realize how simple fondant is to work with, and how fun it can be.  If you are capable of playing with Play-doh, you can decorate with fondant!

I’ve been wanting to do this post for quite some time, but was looking for a reason to make some fondant cupcakes.  Then my food blogging buddy Elly shared the happy news with me that she is expecting her first baby.  She mentioned she was looking for a fun way to announce the pregnancy on her blog, but didn’t have the energy to bake anything (I don’t blame her – growing a baby is tiring!)  I gladly offered to bake something for her announcement, and decided to use this as an opportunity to make this little how-to guide.  Head over to her blog to congratulate her on the new addition!

Supplies you will need:
A batch of fondant (homemade or store-bought)
Vegetable shortening (this is key – you will use it frequently throughout the process)
Gel icing colors
Buttercream in a pastry bag for extra detailing, if desired

Also, a batch of frosting to help the fondant adhere to your cupcakes.  I always use my favorite vanilla buttercream.

A mat or work surface for rolling and cutting the fondant
A fondant rolling pin
Circular cutters to cut the base rounds of fondant (I don’t have graduated circular cutters, so I just use whatever I can find around the kitchen)
A variety of other items that might be useful for cutting shapes, like small circles (pastry tips work wonderfully for me)
A small sharp knife for cutting out freehand shapes (I bought a craft knife to use solely for this purpose)

You also need – a plan!  I actually make this long before gathering all of my supplies, but didn’t want to put this picture too close to the top of the post for fear someone would glance and think I’m the pregnant one – haha!  I always find that sketching out my ideas before starting such projects really helps when it comes time to create.  I also used my sketch to trace some shape templates (the pink card stock).  These helped guide my cutting later in the process, and helped ensure that all of the little critters were the same size.

You will need a batch of cupcakes frosted in a thinner, uniform layer of buttercream.

Take a hunk of fondant and smear some of the gel coloring into the center.  Fold the edges around the gel and start kneading the fondant to evenly distribute the color.  You can use any method of kneading you would like, but I try to keep the main deposit of color in the center rather than on the outside to prevent too much of it getting on my hands.  (I think one of my fingers was dyed for two weeks after Andrew’s birthday!)

As you knead, you will start to see a marbled effect.  Just keep going until you are happy with the distribution, adding more dye if necessary to achieve your desired color.  If at any time during kneading the fondant starts to feel dry or tear, rub a very small amount of vegetable shortening on your hands and continue working.  This will help the fondant stay moist.

Repeat with remaining hunks of fondant until you have all the colors you need.  Any fondant that is not in use should be wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.

Before rolling out your fondant, use the vegetable shortening to lightly grease the work surface and the rolling pin.   This is key – it prevents everything from sticking.  Roll out your first hunk of fondant into a very thin sheet.  There are rolling pin guides available to ensure a uniform thickness but I just eyeball it.

Use a round cutter that is just slightly bigger than the circumference of the top of your cupcake to cut out a round of fondant.  I tried a few different items before I settled on Andrew’s sippy cup lid – it was the perfect size.

Lay the round of fondant on top of the cupcake and gently smooth the fondant onto the cupcake so that it adheres evenly.  I find that holding the cupcake upside down with the fondant-covered top in my cupped palm and gently turning it helps to smooth it nicely.

Repeat this process until all of your cupcakes are covered.

Now we’re ready to decorate with fondant shapes and embellishments.  I cut out all the shapes at once so that I can easily add them all together and make sure they are placed correctly in relation to each other.  This pastry bag tip was the perfect size for the owl eyeballs.

I used the little shape templates I had cut out of card stock to trace the shapes of all the birds with my sharp craft knife.  The edges of the shape may look ragged after cutting, so just gently smooth them with your fingers.

Finally, “glue” the shapes on to the top of each cupcake by dipping your finger in water or a flavored extract and brushing a light layer on the back of the fondant shape, just enough to help it stick.

That’s it!  Get ready to make some cute creations using your new medium.

40 Responses

  1. I too have always loved the look of fondant; but I’m (still) intimidated by trying to do it myself, haha. Kudos to you for trying AND mastering the decorating style!

  2. Thank you so much for this step by step tutorial on fondant! I’ve always wanted to work with it. The cupcakes are soooo cute!!!

  3. Thank you for this! I’m not artistic AT ALL so I’ve always been reluctant to try fondant (and obviously, it won’t happen for me until I’m back home) but I’m keeping this bookmarked!

  4. These are gorgeous! I really want to try fondant now.

  5. Very cute, and thanks for the well-written turorial! Question for you: How do you store fondant for later use? I saw the part about wrapping in plastic wrap and keeping in a zipped bag, but can I store it on the counter, or should it go in the fridge and then just bring in to room temp when I’m ready to use it? Do you know how long it is good for – i.e. can I make it tonight, and then build my cupckaes on Thursday night? Thanks for your insight!

    • Hi Nikki,
      Sorry, I suppose I should have mentioned that. Fondant should be stored at room temperature, wrapped and bagged as described. I am not entirely sure of how long it keeps for, but I think it is a pretty long time (considering the store-bought kind sits on the shelf for who knows how long.) I think probably a couple of weeks, so definitely a few days would be no problem. Good luck!
      🙂 Annie

  6. You make it look so easy! These are so cute…but of course you already knew I loved them. 🙂 Thanks again, Annie.

  7. I guess if i had read the whole thing I would see that it’s your friend. so congratulations to her.

  8. What a great tutorial! I might just have to give fondant a try.

  9. Wow, they look so professional. I’m really impressed and I know that I definitely couldn’t do anything like it.

  10. You’re right it doesn’t seem that daunting when broken down like that. I’ve got a box of the Wilton fondant sitting in the pantry and I’m going to give it a try! Thank you for sharing.

  11. You are so talented! I’ve tried working with fondant a few times before and never once came across the shortening tip! That will really come in handy if I ever get brave again. Thank you! 🙂

  12. I’ve always wanted to try fondant! I bookmarked some designs from flickr similar to these (great minds thing alike!) to try someday. You did an amazing job! Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. LOVE this post Annie!!

  14. This is so awesome! Thanks so much!! And these are beautiful!

  15. These look awesome! Great job!

  16. fantastic tutorial! I may have to give this a try sometime as I love cupcakes that are decorated with fondant. I’ve always been very intimidated by using it though.

  17. Lovely post! Thanks for sharing how you make and mold fondant. It was very inspiring!!

  18. I’ve stalked your blog for some time but I’m not sure I’ve ever posted. I’ve certainly made several of your recipes and bookmarked even more! Your pictures are both amazing and inspiring. These cupcakes are no exception – wow! You could totally sell those and become the next big cupcake baker! Congrats, I’m sure the recipient was more than thrilled.

  19. This is so funny that you posted this! Just yesterday I was looking at some cakes covered in fondant and was thinking ‘Wow, I wish I knew how to do that!’. Will try this very soon ^_^

  20. Wow what adorable cupcakes!

  21. lovely cupcakes! you make fondant look so easy! makes me want to try it soon!

  22. These are adorable! I’ve always wanted to be more adventurous with my baking decorations! You’ve inspired me to do so. One question: how does the fondant taste?

    • Hi Jessica,
      I mentioned it in the post about Andrew’s birthday cake, but forgot to mention it again in this one. The fondant tastes – like fondant. Still not something I would really want to eat, but the homemade is better than the store bought kind. One of my friends loves it, but then again, she actually likes fondant. I just consider it more of a decoration.
      🙂 Annie

  23. Those look spectacular!! What an adorable announcement! :O)

  24. The y are very cute! Nice tutorial.

  25. So cute! I was so nervous to use fondant but once you start it really is like playing with play dough! So much fun and endless possibilies!

  26. fabulous tutorial!! I’ll link on my edible crafts column ( Thanks for sharing!

  27. […] to operative with fondant? Fear not. This educational HERE on operative with fondant and decorating cupcakes is extensive and easy to follow, good not usually […]

  28. Those are just too cute! You’ve inspired me to try it at home!

  29. Oops! I forgot to say hopefully all will be well with Elly, on her pregnancy.
    Still love your blog.

  30. Wow those cupcakes came out incredible!! Thanks so much for posting this, I have also been wanting to try making fondant. Now I feel like I can totally do it! 🙂

    Quick question, do you think vegetable oil would work as a substitute for the shortening? I googled and it seems that vegetable oil and applesauce are the most recommended substitutes for shortening. I have dietary restrictions and cannot use shortening at all, not even for greasing. TIA 🙂

    • Hi Michi,
      Unfortunately in this context there is no great substitute for shortening. Using vegetable oil or applesauce as a sub only refers to things where the shortening is baked in (like quick breads, bar cookies, etc.) Either of those items would totally ruin the fondant since they are liquid. Sorry, I don’t know what to recommend!
      🙂 Annie

  31. Hi! I love it! You inspired me on how to do the Owl fondants for my ‘logo’ of my blog… 😀 Thanks for the details, yummm!

  32. Thanks for replying so quickly! I think I will check to see if Whole Foods has something that I can use that works as a substitute. 🙂

  33. I am a blog fan and you are a great teacher!! loved the step by step decorating tips as usual. Not a great fan of fondant but love the way the look. thanks

  34. Hi! We have featured your tutorial on our blog. We feature only the cutest cupcakes and cupcake items. These are adorable!

  35. You make this look so simple. I hope it is! Can’t wait to try the recipe, after cookie dough cupcakes of course 🙂

  36. Looking forward to trying out the fondant cupcakes….seems less overwhelming working on a smaller scale. 🙂 But, I have been taking cake decorating classes, and I am struggling with creating a “smooth” service on my cakes with buttercream frosting. Any ideas? I’ve looked on this site and I’m not sure where to look. I have all of the tools….I’ve tried applying the frosting and waiting to put wax paper on it to smooth it, I’ve tried using a warm spatula…it all helps, but it doesn’t look perfect. My instructor just says to practice, practice, but I’ve made sooo many cakes and I still can’t get it right. Do you have a special “trick”??

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