How To Make Rolled Fondant

Cake Decorated With Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

My neighbors Cynthia and Trent asked me to make a cake for their mom’s birthday party. Of course I wanted to do it, but as they described the style of cake she wanted I got downright giddy about it. “Something bright, colorful and wildly whimsical” were the words they used to describe her taste. Immediately I thought fondant! It isn’t my favorite thing in the world to eat, but it allows so much creativity with color, shapes and dimensions that you can’t always get with buttercream or other icings. Not to mention they were driving this cake about an hour away and in the heat of summer fondant is a great traveler.

There are a few things to know about fondant, but it really isn’t difficult to work with. I’m going to show you step by step how I put this cake together. You may want to start with something slightly less over-the-top, but maybe not!

What you will need:

Wilton Pure White Rolled Fondant, 24oz (Wilton is easy to work with, but you DO NOT want to eat it. I only use this if the person I’m making the cake for intends to peel off the fondant. Yes, you just peel the entire layer of fondant off and reveal some delicious icing underneath. I’m suggesting you start with Wilton’s product just because it is so easy to use.)

Food Color Soft Gel Paste (Use the gels, not the water based kind you get at the grocery store.)

Food Service Grade Disposable Latex Glove (This will protect your hands from the food coloring.)

Heavy Gauge Clear Vinyl (This is the clear sheet that I roll out the fondant on. Nothing sticks to it and you can lift it up easily and move it around. you can also use a Roll’Pat Pastry Mat, but it is much more expensive.)

Rolling Pin

Pastry Wheel (For trimming the fondant around the base of the cake.)

Wooden Dowel Rods 12 Pk (Support the cake if it is more than one layer high.)

Cardboard Rounds

Spatula

Corn Starch

Planning Fondant Cake Decorations | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This is the drawing I did as a guide for the cake. It is helpful to have a plan, even if you don’t end up sticking to it through to the end.

Chocolate Layer Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Claudia wanted a chocolate extravaganza, so I made my Devil’s Food with layers of chocolate ganache. I also trimmed the cake so that it was tapered at the bottom, just for a bit more whimsy.

Spreading Ganache on Chocolate Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I coated the outside in a thick layer of the ganache. This is what the guests will eat after the fondant is pulled away so you want to make sure there is a nice layer of it.

Chocolate Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Smooth the icing out as much as possible before covering with the fondant. Then I cut the cardboard rounds to exactly match the size fo the bottom of the cake. You don’t want cardboard showing.

Adding Food Coloring To Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Mix the fondant with the food coloring to achieve the right color. knead the fondant to distribute the color evenly.

Stretching Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Stretching and turning the dough also helps to mix in the color. I first saw this done on the Jersey shore where they were making taffy, it seems to work equally well for fondant.

How To Make Rolled Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Once it is the color you want then dust your vinyl sheet with corn starch. Keep the fondant well covered if not using right away.

Rolling Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Roll the fondant out to about 1/8-inch thick and round.

How To Make Rolled Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Pick up the fondant carefully and drape it over the cake.

Rolled Fondant On Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Carefully stretch the fondant, by gently rubbing and pulling it until it is flat up against the cake. You will now have a large skirt of excess fondant around the base.

Shaping Fondant On Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Using the pastry cutter, trim off the excess fondant until it is flush with the bottom of the cake.

How To Make Rolled Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Smooth the cake with the palms of your hands or a paddle.

How To Make Rolled Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

If you are stacking the cake you will need to cut wooden dowels that will stand up in the bottom layer and support the top layer. Cut the dowels so they are flush with the fondant, as I did in this picture.

Layer Cake With Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Stack the two layers together and now you are ready to decorate. Next I will show you how to make the flowers.

Cake Decorated With Fondant | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

87 thoughts to “How To Make Rolled Fondant”

  1. I am taking a fondant class right now. Your cake is wonderful! Thanks for the step by step pictures, that is helpful for a beginner like me.

  2. what a cool cake! the colors really catch your eye. I’ve never used fondant as most of my cakes are more rustic and not too fancy so your info is really helpful for any future endeavors I might have.

  3. What a gorgeous cake – you definitely achieved wild and whimsical – so fun to look at. Wish I would have thought of latex disposables before I put red colouring into my icing – but I must admit my fingers look .. well…unusual.

    The play by play was very interesting.

  4. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks, it is a bright and playful cake. You can do things that are much more subtle and down right sophisticated with fondant as well. It is amazing what you can do with it.

    Try it sometime and let me know what you think.

    Zoë

  5. It’s absolutely beautiful! I love the colors you chose and by the way the cake inside looks delicious. Oh and I just received your book that I orded online, can’t wait to try it.

  6. Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the kind words about the cake! Claudia was the inspiration.

    Clumbsy Cookie, I can’t wait to hear about all the bread you bake from the book.

    Thanks, Zoë

  7. Hi Hillary,

    Start with something smaller and just try covering it with the fondant. When I was in school we practiced on dummy cakes made of Styrofoam. That way we could cover it and take it off and cover it again. After a couple of tries it will feel like second nature.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  8. Amazing tutorial! I wish I would have had this when I was stumbling through trying to teach myself how to deal with fondant. And I LOVE the color of the cake. Beautiful work!

  9. Hi Alienman,

    It is an odd moment when you rip the fondant off a cake that is intensely visual. I had a bride leave the cake in tact until the end of the end of the evening before she had had enough champagne to tear into the cake.

    Just take lots of pictures and go for it. The best part is underneath!

    Thanks! Zoë

  10. Thanks for the info on decorating with fondant. I started trying to make cookie bouquets yesterday. yummyarts.com has a recipe for homemade marshmallow fondant which I did make. Found the taste to be ok. On my cookies. some of them I glazed first then put on the fondant shapes. Next I’m going to try cupcakes. I figure doing these small things I get to try lots of decorating before I go to a
    big cake.
    Can’t wait for part 2 to see how the flowers are made. pictures of the cookies are on
    my blog. Thanks

  11. Hi Patricia, Thanks!

    Laura,

    Your cookies look great and it is the perfect place to start with fondant. You will have fun with the cupcakes.

    Your bread looks awesome as well!

    Thanks, Zoë

  12. This cake looks beautiful, too good to even eat! It’s my favorite color as well. I hope someone bakes this for me for my birthday, including the pretty decorations =)

  13. I made two cookie bouquets last night for my husband to take to
    a wedding he was going to. I am having lots of fun with fondant.
    the fondant reminds me of playing with play doh. My question is have you used play
    doh toys and extruders for your
    cakes? if so, how does it come out? if not, what can you use for molds?

  14. What a FUN cake. Thanks for breaking this all down. Fondant continues to poke at me, making me wonder how much fun it would be to play with and create something as gorgeous as this. Wow!

  15. Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for the lovely notes!

    Laura,

    The fondant is a little too thick to go through a play doh extruder. There are molds and tools that you can use for doing similar things to the fondant.

    Check out http://www.fondantsource.com/fogumpato.html

    for some ideas, but shop around, not sure if this is the best price?

    Thanks, Zoë

  16. Zoe,

    Another brilliant tutorial. I am going to take inspiration from this for my sister in laws birthday cake next month (pictures will be shared). Lisa has requested purple as the base colour.

    Do you recall what weight of fondant you used for the main coverage of the cake?

  17. Hi Andrea,

    Because I knew that Claudia would peel the fondant off the cake I just used Wilton’s fondant rolled out about 1/8″ thick. If you think your sister-in-law will want to eat the fondant then I would buy or make a fondant that is tastier than Wilton’s brand.

    I’m not sure if I answered your question, so please let me know if you need more specifics. I can’t wait to see the cake you make her. Let me know when you put it up on your website.

    Thanks, Zoë

  18. I don’t have access to Wilton so I will use a local brand. I plan to leave the fondant on and let people decide to leave it on or not.
    We have a tradition of (fruit) wedding cakes covered in fondant so Australians are used to peeling it off if they don’t like it!
    Another question, is your top layer 8 inch
    and bottom 12 inch?
    I am planning having some practice on covering cupcakes (or some upside down sturdy silicone molds) and I have a month to plan. I will make the cakes early and freeze them (certainly if I am going to carve the cake in the Darwin heat). Then defrost before covering (to prevent crazy condensation).

  19. Hi Andrea,

    My husband is from the Caribbean and they too have a tradition of fruit wedding cake with fondant, soaked in so much rum it burns your tongue! I love it.

    I practiced on Styrofoam cake molds when I was learning how. It is great because you can peel the fondant off and try all over again, without ruining the fondant. You have to avoid things with sharp edges along the top or it cuts through the fondant as you are trying to smooth it out. I rounded the edges of the Styrofoam slightly by pressing it with the flat side of a knife, just to dull the edge. Does that description make sense?

    My cake was rather small, an 8″ bottom layer and 6″ top, but I cut it so it was tapered at the bottom.

    Your plan sounds excellent, and having so much time to practice will serve you well. I can’t wait to see it.

    Zoë

  20. Thanks for your speedy response. It is tricky to gauge scale from photos.
    Time to check the garage for an innocent piece of styrofoam just waiting to be carved and covered!

  21. Hi Alissa,

    I just used a serrated knife and cut away at the bottom of the cake, after I had filled it, until I had the shape I wanted. If you look at the Third picture you can see what I mean.

    Does that help?

    Thanks, Zoë

  22. Please let me know if you have used Choco-Pan and what you think of the product. I got samples and it tastes good but it is a little sticky. I have to do a 14″ tier with it and need to know what advise you might have in covering this size cake with Choco-Pan.
    Thanks in advance,
    Cathy

  23. Hi Catherine,

    I haven’t tried that brand in particular, but I’ve heard it has a nice, albeit sweet, flavor and can be rolled quite thin. This is the good news. It also has the reputation of being sensitive to heat so you want to make sure your kitchen is cool when you work with it. I have to say that using vinyl to roll it out will save you lots of headaches and requires much less, if any cornstarch.

    You can order vinyl on amazon or find it at Joann’s fabric and I think even walmart. It is cheap and really worth the effort to find it.

    If you found it sticky I would say that it may have gotten too warm. The other culprit is adding color. You want to use a paste color so that you aren’t adding too much liquid.

    Play with the Choco-pan on a smaller cake to get the feel for it before tackling the 14″ cake. Once you get used to it, I think you will end up enjoying it!

    Have fun and let me know how it comes out!

    Zoë

  24. I am so excited to try this. I volunteered to make my brother’s wedding cake so have been practicing and taking some simple decorating classes at Whole Foods and other places. When will you be teaching again?

  25. Dear Zoe,
    I finally posted my cake- inspired by yours. Thank you for the step by steps. I can see things to improve for next time and love the learning process! I also gave you an award (you can see) on my blog. Your writing style is so warm thank you for your efforts.

  26. Zoe, your site is AWESOME – thanks for all the incredible info — it helps sooooo much! You may have already answered this question, but after you have frosted the cake and you “cut the cardboard the size of the bottom of the cake so the cardboard doesn’t show,” how exactly do you cut it without the cake tipping over, etc.? NOW at least I know how to keep the cake on the cardboard before I move it to the cake plate, but cutting it ??? Thanks so much for a great site !
    Linda B

  27. Hi LBB,

    Thank you so much for visiting the site and leaving the lovely note.

    In most cases you won’t have to cut the cardboard because you will make a cake that fits it perfectly. This cake was an odd shape and tapered so it required trimming.

    If you do find yourself cutting a cake into a custom shape and therefore needing to cut the cardboard, here is what you do…

    1. balance the cake in one hand (like you would a tray of food you are passing to guests) and trim it with the other using kitchen scissors.

    or

    2. Use an x-acto knife and trim the cardboard right on the cake turntable. This way you don’t have to try to balance the cake, which is tough if you are dealing with anything larger than an 8-inch cake.

    Thanks! Zoë

  28. I am planning to make a dragon shaped cake covered in fondant with fondant scales. I am planning to put this on a 1/2 sheet as the base. Do I put the dowels in the base where the dragon will go (it will be fairly large)? And do I put cardboard under the dragon cake portion as well? Your step by step instructions are awesome, I just wasn’t clear on if the top layer also has cardboard under it. I am guessing yes or how else would it sit on the dowels? 🙂 Thanks!

  29. Hi Barbara,

    Your cake sounds incredible. I really hope you will send pictures of it!

    If your dragon is going to be thicker than one layer of cake then you will need to bury dowels in the bottom layer and put the other layer (with cardboard under it) on top of the dowels.

    You don’t have to put cardboard under the base of the cake if it is laying flat on the sheet tray. Having said this it isn’t a bad idea if you think it needs just a little more structure to support the cake. If the tray you use has any flex in it at all it can make your cake shift and not as stable.

    Be aware that you want the cake under the fondant to be very stable and rather basic in shape, otherwise you may have a difficult getting the fondant on without destroying the cake. You can put the details on the dragon with more fondant or pipe them on with royal icing!

    Have a great time!

    Zoë

  30. Thanks so much for your instructions! I am making a wedding cake and have saved your website to “my favorites”!
    I think that some of the wedding cake will be real and some styrofoam. When I am using styrofoam, will the fondant stick to it or do I need to frost the styrofoam with something first?
    Also, how long will it last? Do I need to make it they day of the wedding or can I make it a few days in advanced?
    Thanks!!

  31. Hi Marne,

    If you go to my portfolio page and look at the polka dot cake, it is nearly half Styrofoam.

    To cover it with fondant you need to rub the edge of the styrofoam so that it isn’t sharp. You can just use the back of a spoon. Just a little so that it won’t cut through the fondant as you lay it down. I’ve never covered the Styrofoam with anything first, but if you do it should be royal icing, which will dry hard.

    You can set up the Styrofoam cakes days or even weeks in advance. The layers with real cake you need to do only a day or so in advance.

    Have fun and send me pictures!

    Thanks, Zoë

  32. Thanks for the answer! We did the dragon cake on Friday, it took two of us 12 hours (plus a little help from my boyfriend who got there in the 7th hour and made a store run and cut the dowels and gave us encouragement). He came out looking more like a cross between a kitty cat, a turtle, and a lizard but he was adorable. I learned a lot from this. Next time I would use rice krispie treats for the head, legs, tail, any parts that should have been thinner and more shaped – we used ALL cake. Anyway, sending pix to your email account soon. Thanks for the help and advice! Barbara

  33. Thanks for the great info and ideas! I am anxious to try fondant. Can you make fondant decorations ahead of time or do you have to make them the day you are assembling the cake?

    Thanks again for all of the wonderful tips!

  34. Hi Robin,

    By all means you should make some of them ahead or you will have too much to do the day of the party! The fondant decorations may dry out so make sure they are the shape you want, you can’t bend of mold them once they are hard.

    Enjoy and have fun!

    Zoë

  35. I love the cake. I am learning to use fondant and wanted to ask you, how do you get the color back to vibrant after it has been rolled out and has the powdered sugar all over it? I tried spraying with water and that worked but it also left some parts pretty sticky until I blotted with a paper towel. Got any good suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Camilla

  36. What can you do to box mixes to give them more body to hold up under the weight of the fondant? Thanks so much for the cute cake and step by step instruction.

  37. i am astonished by your generosity . i’ve spent the last few hours admiring your work – the attention to detail is amazing as is the photography. thanks!!

  38. I love your beautiful cake. I was wondering if the vinyl that you are using to roll out your shapes on is the same as plexiglass? Thanks for all your grea tips. Vicki

  39. Hi Vicki,

    Vinyl is flexible which means you can use it to help you transfer the fondant onto the cake. Plexiglass is too stiff to be of use for this purpose.

    Thanks, Zoë

  40. Beautiful cake! I love the green color with the vibrant accent colors of the flowers. Very fun. I know you mentioned above that you can and should make your fondant decorations ahead of time… How far in advance is OK. I made some ghosts using fondant and put a jumbo gum drop underneath for form. It will be appox. 8 days by the time I serve the cake will the ghosts still be edible? I’ve just been storing them in my oven on a cookie sheet. Should I put them away in a closed plastic container? Thanks for your help.

  41. Hi Lisa,

    They will be just fine being stored for 8 days. If you want them to be soft, then store them in a plastic container, with layers of wax paper. If you want them stiff then leaving them out to dry is perfect.

    I can’t wait to hear all about the final cake!

    Thanks, Zoë

  42. Hi Daytona,

    How cool of you, what a great sister! There are only the two posts on the cake, but if you have any questions please let me know and I’ll try to help you through the process!

    Have fun! Zoë

  43. claudia .. thanks 4 showing us how u made that beautiful cake… pls i want to ask u if u know why our fondant is always so strong.. after covering the cake? pls let me know if there´s any clue i need to know… i love the colour and the designs of ur cake… how can i learn how to make the flowers? i´m looking forward to reading from u… cheers lynnette

  44. Hi Lynnette,

    So glad you like the cake I made for Claudia. Fondant once it is exposed to the air for any amount of time does begin to harden. If you want to keep it soft it has to be covered and/or refrigerated.

    Here is a post I did about the flowers: http://zoebakes.com/?p=614

    Thanks, Zoë

  45. Hi Zoe!
    Thanks for the fondant recipe and taking the time to share with all of us! I have a question; I have tried the recipe and was down to about 2/3 of a cup of the sugar left to incorporate and the “dough” began to feel hard and really more difficult to knead in more sugar. I stopped and finally got it into a ball and wrapped it but had about a 1/4 cup left. Should I have continued to incorporate the remainder or did I add too much. The ball is hard and seems to crack more than had I stopped earlier. Hope this makes sense and congrats on the book! I will be back on bread making soon.
    Eli

  46. hi zoe, I have watched a few of your video’s on you tube now which are great, easy to follow. you know when you put the cake in the fridge with crumb coat on and then take it out to cover in sugarpaste. Do I leave the cake stand for a while so that the sugarpaste sticks to it or will it stick straight away. hope you can help!
    thanks bev

    1. Hi Bev,

      This is such a great question. Usually the fondant sticks right away, since you are rubbing it onto the cake. This may have something to do with the recipe you use for buttercream, normally it will warm up fairly quickly. If it still feels rock hard when you are ready to go, then give it a few more minutes.

      I have found vinyl at my local fabric store and it used to be available on Amazon. This is a good alternative to vinyl if you can’t find it locally: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012XJFNW?ie=UTF8&tag=zoebakes-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0012XJFNW

      Thanks, Zoë

  47. hi zoe , ah thankyou, this is a great help. I can crack on with my christmas mountain cake now. 🙂 and I will have a look at amazon.
    thanks again bev.
    have a lovely christmas.

  48. hi zoe , bev again. I am going to do a wedding cake for my daughters friend. she wants a fruit cake for the top tier so that she can keep this for a christening. would this keep having sugarpaste as coating? can it be frozen or stored in cardboard box for a long time?
    and the other question , will it be too heavy for the bottom two tiers that are going to be madeira. hope you can help.
    thankyou bev

    1. Hi Bev,

      You can freeze the cake, but I would wrap it in plastic and then put it in the box, or it will be freezer burned.

      The fruit cake top will need to be very well supported by dowels to keep it from crushing the bottom levels.

      Have fun! Zoë

  49. hi zoe. yes my wedding cake I did was A sucess!
    although I need help. I seem to be struggling with my cakes not getting the right size.
    like today I did a madeira, recipe said for a 6 inch cake. I used a 6inch deep cake tin and my cake only came half way up. It looked like a sandwhich cake . can you advice me.

    thanks bev

  50. Isnt there a simple fondant recipe of marshmellows melted with powdered sugar? thats what i used for my daughters fonant cake last year, it was my first cake. It was good, just like eating marshmellows.

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