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Covering with Icing or Fondant

Once you've baked and prepared your cake, covering it ready for decoration is the next step. Using the right icing or fondant with a desirable consistency, colour and smoothness is paramount to the success of your finished design – but how do you achieve this? First, let’s take a look at the characteristics of each edible material.

Icing can either have a smooth, glaze-like consistency or stiffer, fuller properties. It's often made from icing sugar mixed with a liquid, such as water or cream, then enriched with other flavoursome ingredients. Fondant, on the other hand, has a dough-like consistency that remains smooth and soft when covering a cake. It typically contains either gelatine or agar and food-grade glycerine.

Firstly, you need to decide which type of icing is best for your project. We've devised an Icing Comparison Chart below to walk you through each type and their individual properties.

View Icing Comparison Chart (Click to expand)

How to Perfect your Icing Consistency

Have you ever applied icing to a cake, then watch it slowly slide off or dry to a blotchy, patchy finish? This generally indicates that your consistency is too watery – so you'll need to bulk it out a little with a little more powdered sugar. Alternatively, if your icing feels a little hard that means you've probably got too much sugar in there – slowly and carefully add individual drops of water into the mixture, stirring between each, until you've thinned to your desired consistency. To cover a cake, you should be looking for a spreadable medium-to-thin consistency, applying smoothly and evenly – the perfect base for decoration! Stiffer icing, however, is best suited to piping or creating flower decorations. Finding the perfect consistency can be a lengthy process of trial and error, but if you add liquid in slowly and surely, you'll soon enough reach your desired outcome.

How to Customise your Icing Colour

It's best to add colour to white icing – choose a gel food colouring so that it doesn't affect the consistency of your icing. When mixing colours, there's a basic rule to remember: the deeper you want the colour, the more food colouring you add. Furthermore, if you want a very pale, pastel colour, drop the colouring in bit-by-bit or add with a toothpick and blend with a spatula until you've reached your perfect shade.

Mixing colour in fondant is arguably a lot trickier, however Wilton have kindly joined us to create two video tutorials, showing you exactly how to mix colour into both icing and fondant.

How to Flawlessly Cover Cakes with Fondant

Have you ever wondered how cake decorators cover their cakes with fondant so smoothly and wrinkle-free? Well wonder no more! You too can cover your cakes like a professional – the secret is in the preparation. The way in which you roll out your fondant determines its final appearance so if you follow these simple steps, you can't go wrong!
  1. Dust your workspace and rolling pin with a light amount of powdered sugar or cornflower.
  2. Take your fondant and place it onto your workspace in a rounded ball shape.
  3. Roll the fondant with a silicone rolling pin from the middle, moving outwards.
  4. Apply an even pressure, turning the fondant at a quarter turn to prevent cracking and stretching.
  5. Roll it to a generous, even size until it's a little bigger than the combined size of the top and sides of your cake, ensuring that it'll entirely cover it.

Once your fondant is ready, gently lift it over your rolling pin and position it over the cake. Smooth and shape the fondant around the cake, removing any air bubbles and creases as you go, either by hand or with a fondant smoother. Finally, trim the excess fondant along the base of your cake using a knife or cutting wheel.

Still perplexed? Wilton have kindly teamed up with us to produce a video tutorial showing you step-by-step how to flawlessly cover your cakes with fondant.

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