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Wednesday 23 April 2014

Marshmallow fondant recipe and tips for baking, making, buttercream and icing a fondant covered LEGO minifigure head cake from start to finish Part 3!

So we've made the pineapple cake (recipe and part 1 of this series here) and we've made the butter cream (recipe and tips in part 2 of this series here) and crumb coated (optional) the cake and piled on a nice smooth layer of buttercream all over the sucker.. and the cake has either been sitting pretty in a cool spot waiting for you to now cover it in fondant, or you're super gung ho and are trying to do everything all in one day... if you fall into the one day category.. kudos, and you're freaking crazy!! So, I've typed out some tips and how to avoid some mistakes (that I made lots lol!) for making marshmallow fondant below along with the recipe.  It was surprisingly easy how to make it and its well worth the effort cuz this stuff tastes like sugary melted marshmallow... and we all know how regular fondant tastes like bleeeeeh!

You can make this fondant and store it super dooper plastic wrapped on on a cool counter away from sun for several weeks - with the caveat that no air touches it so it doesn't dry out into a rock hard sugar lump.  Since I was making it for my boyfriend's cake, I made it right after I iced the cake so I'd have some fresh stuff to work with.  Sorry I don't much pics of the actual marshmallow fondant making process.. hands and every surface area in my kitchen was either covered in vegetable shortening or a fine layer of icing sugar... I think I ended up tracking icing sugar into bed when I passed out around 4am after adding the final touches to the cake.

Tips for making marshmallow fondant
1) Lightly coat the heck out of any surface the fondant/marshmallow mix will touch with vegetable shortening.  Mixing bowls, spatulas, spoons, mixer dough hook, countertops, fondant size guide, fondant roller and you hands.  Unsalted butter or vegetable oil sprays can be used as an alternative to vegetable shortening. Marshmallow fondant is essentially melted marhsmallow and icing sugar.  You really don't want to clean up melted stuck on marshmallow. Ever. Ever ever ever. Trust me.
2) If you have a mixer with a dough hook, save yourself a heck of a lot of time and sore muscles by using it on 1 or 2 to make the marshmallow fondant. Don't got any higher speeds or you'll wreak your mixer.  I used my Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer which did really well.
3) Melt any shortening you use to rub on your hands... with your hands before you touch your fondant.  You don't want little flecks of white shortening bits in your fondant later... doesn't matter too much if you're not planning to color your fondant as it won't show up too much on white.. but it sure as heck it does if you you're coloring your fondant!
4) Place a little bowl of shortening close by so you can reapply it easily to surfaces. And reapply and reapply and reapply.
5) Do not attempt to make 2 batches of the following fondant recipe in the mixer. It doesn't fit so you'll be kneading kneading kneading for a looooong time.  Stick with one batch at a time and you'll be able to make it in 10-20min flat... instead of wasting a lot of time kneading it by hand
6) When do I tint fondant? If you're making just one color, add in the coloring in with the water and marshmallows (use a bit more coloring and color a few shades deeper as it will "fade" a bit as you knead it to add pliability) I used Wilton icing paste colors to tint my fondant.  If you're planning on tinting a bunch of different small bits of fondant, add coloring in the kneading stage - wear gloves to protect your hands from getting stained!
7) How do I know the fondant is too dry?
Grab a chunk (with well greased hands) and give it a pull with both hands.  If it snaps apart before you can pull it about about 12 inches or 30cm, its too dry.  Add a tsp of water and knead it really well to incorporate it.  If you get it too wet, add in more icing sugar and knead knead knead. If it almost gets there but snaps before reaching arm's length, you can knead in more shortening (melt it well with your hands first) and that will improve elasticity
8) How do I make the fondant more pliable? Knead, knead, knead with lots of melted shortening on your hands.  The shortening will help make it easier to handle.  Make sure you knead on a clean dry and greased up surface.  I used my fondant measuring mat since I had to grease it up anyways for when I roll out the fondant later.
9) How do I know its done?
Grab a chunk (with well greased hands) and give it a pull with both hands. If it stretches and breaks around 24 inches/50cm (arm's length), you're gold.  It'll look different too - it'll have a slight sheen or shininess to it.

Tips for storing marshmallow fondant
1) Form it into a ball and coat it lightly with shortening so it helps prevent it from drying out
2) Wrap, double, triple plastic wrap the sucker, ensuring there is no air so it doesn't dry out. You can seal it in a ziplock bag as well (after squishing out all the air if you want to be super anal about it).
3) Keep it at room temp. Do not refrigerate or freeze as the condensation that will form when you take it out of fridge/freezer will cause bits of your fondant to melt.. and destroy it.
4) If you are coloring your fondant, plastic wrap it up and let it rest at least 30min in a cool out of sunlight area before using it.  For deep or vibrant colours, do so overnight as depending on the coloring agent, colors may deepen or lighten and its much easier to tweak colors of the fondant before you slap it on the cake!! I used Wilton icing paste colors to tint my fondant!

Tips for placing fondant:
1) Do I place fondant on the cake immediately after I ice it or can it wait till the next day?
This is on preference (and how much spare time in a block you can devote to it).  I found it easier to place fondant on my cake after I iced the cake as it made it more "sticky".  Once the buttercream drys out a bit and "crusts" it doesn't adhere as well, but as its buttercream, being patient and warming up the fondant with hands as you smooth the fondant out eventually softens up and makes the buttercream underneath the fondant "sticky" again.
2) Do measure your cake: top + 2x the sides + 2inches of leeway.  I used Wilton's measuring guide both to measure and roll out the fondant on the measuring mat cuz I didn't feel like doing it on my counters (less cleanup!)
3) Give cooled/rested marshmallow fondant a good couple of kneads to soften it back up before you try to roll it out.
4) How thick do I roll out the fondant? For marshmallow fondant - roll out to 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch thick as it till thin as you stretch it when you plunk it on the cake and as you shape it to the cake.  Generally, the thicker, the less likely to tear, the thinner, the easier it is to tear.  I made it overly thick this time around as I was super fearful I'd tear it when placing on the huge cake, but the next time I'll do it properly - nice and thin.  I liked using a bigger roller... they come smaller, but its much easier with a 20 inch fondant roller especially when rolling out large pieces.  You can use measuring rings on your fondant roller, but I personally didn't find them super helpful on big fondant sheets, but great on small ones where it wouldn't put indents into the fondant as I'm rolling it out
5) Use a shortening greased up plastic mat - the fondant peels right off! to transfer the fondant to your cake. Or gently roll up the rolled out fondant on your fondant roller to transfer to your cake
6) Gently rub with your hands the top part of the fondant to "stick" it to the centre of your cake.  Smooth the sides all over with your hands.  For creases/folds - gently grab the crease/fold and stretch the fondant by pulling it away from the cake.  You're essentially "pulling" it down and away from your cake so you get it all nice and smooth.  Its hard to explain but really cool when you actually do it.  Plus fondant is heavy - it'll stretch as you drape it on your cake (thanks gravity!) so for larger cakes, you rarely have to pull down the fondant.. just press it into the cake and rub it from top to bottom and side to side to get a nice smooth look
7) Trim off the excess with a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife, cutting straight down. Cutting at an angle will give your fondant covered cake the equivalent of too short pants and socks peeking out.  Smooth out the surface further with a fondant smoother if you like.
8) Add on your fondant decorations by gluing them on with a bit of buttercream.  I made good use of a bunch of random fondant tools I had in this Wilton fondant tools set to cut out the LEGO logo and make the eyes and smiling pieces.

I also used these food safe markers to color the surface of the small amount of white marshmallow fondant I had set aside for the smile and eyes mainly cuz I was too lazy to knead in black, and red coloring  in 2 small batches... it was much easier to use markers to color and scrible on the white fondant for small details!!

9) Transferring large pieces of decorated cake layers and don't want to leave finger marks / gouges?  Use a cake lifter and it'll save your sanity... especially if you're spent a fair bit of time decorating your cake layers!
10) Store your finished cake inside a cake carrier/bakery box out of sunlight in a cool spot until its time to serve. I used this huge cake carrier and was able to put the cake (barely) inside!! You can store iced, fondant'ed cake that has no dairy products like cream in it for up to a week covered in a cool dry spot.  Do NOT put in fridge as marshmallow fondant can develop condensation spots when you take it out of fridge and those spots will melt.. leaving you with really funny spotty lumpy fondant.

And lastly.. stand back and realize its not perfect, but hey, its gonna taste fantastic and doesn't look half bad.  Then go to sleep cuz you were silly enough to start making the buttercream around 11pm at night, and now its close to 4am.  The 2+ hours of clean up of your icing sugar, melted marshmallow, shortening splattered kitchen can wait till after you get some shut eye!

This cake will feed a crazy amount of people when you get around to cutting it LOL! The next time I do this, I'll do much less layers and a much much smaller cake so we're not pawning off the 35+lb cake off to friends hahaha! The 1/4 "wedge" of cake in the picture above.. fed over 10 friends.. so yeah, they went home with a lot of leftover birthday cake... not that that's a bad thing! :d

Marshmallow Fondant recipe - use Wilton's fondant coverage chart here to figure out how much you need.  Makes about 2-2.5lbs of fondant.  It varies as the amount of powdered sugar you will need depends on how dry/humid it is where you live.
-1 package (16 ounces) white mini marshmallows
-2-6 tablespoons water (start with 2 tablespoons and only add in 1 tablespoon at a time after you have added in the suagr - and ONLY if its really dry looking
-2 pounds (6-8 cups) sifted confectioners' or powdered icing sugar
-solid vegetable shortening or oil spray
-food colouring: paste, gel or liquid (if using liquid, reduce amount of water by volume of liquid colouring you're putting in)
How to:
1) Rub vegetable shortening or oil spray generously on all counter, spoons, spatula, bowl and dough hook mixer attachment (if using) surfaces.
2) Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted (about 2- 2.5 minutes).  If making one single color of fondant, add in paste coloring now and mix.  Color 1-2 shades darker than the color you need as fondant will lighten later.
3) Follow the how to make fondant tips above in the post to tweak for too dry, too wet or not elastic enough fondant.
a) By hand method
Dump in 6 cups of sugar onto a well greased counter or mat.  Dump the melted marshmallow on top.  Knead with vegetable shortening/spray coated hands and counter and knead until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing.  If needed, add in remaining powdered sugar 1 cup at a time if the fondant is very wet.  If needed, add in remaining water 1 tablespoon at time if fondant is very crumbly and dry - knead very well after each addition regardless if its sugar or water.
b) Transfer the melted marshmallow into well greased mixing bowl, dump in 6 cups of sugar and turn on your mixer with well greased dough hook attachment at level 1 or 2.  Mix for 5 minutes. Then dump onto a well greased counter or mat and knead with well greased hands until fondant is "done". Tweak with additional water, shortening or sugar as necessary - knead very well after each addition regardless if its sugar or water.  See tips above for when to add what.
4) Portion fondant if you're making multiple colors and knead the colors in well.  Let fondant rest for a few hours or overnight so colours stablize (they tend to pale over time). Coat the fondant ball with a thin layer of melted vegetable shortening, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in resealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
5) When ready to use, warm up the fondant by kneading fondant until smooth and pliable again.

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