Tips on how to avoid cake icing disasters

March 7, 2014

I know I don’t *seem* like the domesticated type, but one thing I really do enjoy is making, baking and icing cakes for special occasions. In fact, I once spent three days (I KNOW) making my son’s first birthday cake: it was chocolate, covered in blue icing, with little sugar craft polar bears holding a cocktail stick fishing rod, and little fish made out of fondant icing. It was absolutely brilliant, even if I do say so myself.

Flower Cake Web Resized-620x348Fondant cake icing is fantastic, because you can let your imagination run riot and experiment with different colours and you don’t need to be an expert to achieve a professional finish; but of course there’s often a lot of trial and error to avoid a Generation Game Contestant-style debacle.


Here are some top tips to help you avoid fondant icing cake decorating disasters.


1. When you’re using fondant icing to decorate a cake the most common problems are cracks and stretch marks (the icing kind) which you then have to spend ages trying to cover up. Usually this is because the icing has been either kneaded too much or too little. It can take a little bit of practice to get it right. As it warms up and becomes more pliable place it down on the work surface and begin to knead it with firm and even pressure. Eventually it’ll soften up nicely, but the trick is knowing when to stop, otherwise the icing will dry out and become prone to cracks before you begin decorating. It’s also important to keep any icing you’re not working with in an airtight package as it can dry out quickly and become unworkable.

2.    When I was on my cruise the other week we were taken on a tour of the kitchen and saw the chefs at work. My favourite part was watching them ice a cake: it was amazing, because they had a sort of motorised cake stand. Of course it’s unlikely you’ll have one of these at home (if anyone knows where to get one I’d LOVE ONE), but when it comes to rolling your fondant icing out don’t keep the icing static. Dust your work surface with some icing sugar and then roll the icing out with a rolling pin for a bit and then turn the icing a quarter turn. Continue to roll and then turn again. Keep doing this until you have the desired size of and depth of fondant icing that you need to decorate your cake, ideally between 3-5mm. By moving the icing between rolling you’ll ensure that it doesn’t stick to the work surface which can result in tears and cracks.

3.     A lot of tears or cracks can occur when trying to get the rolled out icing from your work surface onto the cake. To make sure this doesn’t happen take your rolling pin and lay it in the middle of the icing, then wrap the icing over the pin. You can then lift the icing up and simply roll it out over the cake.

4.   When you roll the fondant icing out onto your cake it’s really important to smooth it down to remove air bubbles. Any air bubbles under the surface can cause tension in the icing leading to tears, and also make the finish less than perfect. You can smooth bubbles down by hand or with a cake smoother. Be careful not to pull the bubbles as they can rip the icing.

If you’re thinking of making a special cake for Easter (or Mother’s Day) then Renshaw fondant icing is a cake maker’s dream, and by following their tips above you’ll be achieving a professional finish in no time at all – definitely something to be proud of.


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