Fondant is an extremely fun product to work with and you can create virtually anything you set your mind to!
You can cover entire cakes, create beautiful marbled effects, or create intricate and delicate details.
However, a pesky little problem we often run into is it becoming so hard that we cannot work with it! You try and try endlessly to knead it, but it doesn’t seem to budge!
So, how do you soften fondant? A quick and easy way to soften fondant is to microwave it for 5 seconds, allow it to cool, and then knead it. However, this method does carry some risk of ruining the fondant if not done correctly. A solution with less risk is to soften the fondant using your hands and a pasta machine.
Today, we will have a look at the many ways you can soften your hard fondant, including all the pros and cons.
We will also give you some fantastic tips for how to keep fondant from drying out, how to store it, and even how to know when it is past its prime!
What Is Fondant?
There are many different food items that are referred to as fondant.
Today, we are specifically talking about decorating fondant – you know, the rolled-out sugary sheets used to cover cakes and make all those beautiful decorations!
Fondant is technically classified as a type of icing. What makes fondant unique is that it has a completely different texture to what you and I consider to be “icing”.
Unlike the fluffy pipe-able icing sugar and whipped butter mixture we usually use, fondant has a dough-like or even clay-like texture that can be shaped and molded.
It is used to create beautiful and elaborate decorations that normal buttercream icing simply cannot.
There are different forms of fondant you can buy, mainly poured or rolled fondant. Today, we will be discussing rolled fondant.
This fondant is very stiff and is what you see all those decorations being made from.
They have to be softened in order to be rolled out, shaped, and molded into different things.
What Is Fondant Made Of?
There are many different recipes for fondant depending on what you want to do with them.
A basic recipe used to create minor details includes a combination of sugar, water, and corn syrup.
For thicker fondant that is used to sculpt with, gelatin or glycerine is often added to give it an even thicker consistency.
A quick cheat-fondant can be made using marshmallows and icing sugar.
Marshmallows are basically softened versions of fondant, so by melting them and combining them with icing sugar, you can create a fake fondant if you’re in a pinch.
Whichever type you use, what is key when it comes to fondant is that it should be pliable.
It is always rolled out before being used and to get it from the rock-hard form you buy it into the soft consistency you need, can be challenging to say the least.
Luckily, we have compiled some of the best ways to soften fondant effectively and quickly!
How To Soften Fondant
There are many reasons fondant becomes hard. It can be due to ineffective storage methods used that caused it to dry out, it being very old, or it simply sitting on the counter uncovered for too long.
No matter the reason, there are many different ways in which you can soften your fondant again.
We are not usually a fan of microwaves, but to reheat and soften the hardened fondant they are actually lifesavers!
You can simply place the hard piece of fondant in a microwave-safe bowl, container, or plate, and put it inside the microwave for 5 seconds on the highest possible heat setting.
Then, remove it from the microwave, leave it to cool down for a couple of minutes, and start to knead it.
If your fondant is still not soft enough to be kneaded, simply place it back into the microwave for 5 seconds, allow it to cool, and try again.
Depending on how hard your fondant is, you may need to try this several times.
While this is a great method to try, it does have some risks to it. For one, placing it into the microwave for too long can cause it to discolor.
This is because the sugar caramelizes when heated, so especially your white fondant can easily turn brownish.
To prevent this, never put it in the microwave for longer than 5 seconds.
There is also a possibility of the fondant burning or completely changing texture. This is again because the structure of the sugar changes once heated or when heated for too long.
And please do not try to knead the fondant as soon as you remove it from the microwave. It builds up heat, especially in the center of the ball, and you will burn yourself!
The melty sugar will also stick to your hands, ultimately creating a big mess that’s virtually impossible to clean or fix.
This is an excellent, yet sometimes a painfully excruciatingly slow method to use to soften fondant.
You can simply run your hands under hot water. Then, cover it in fat like white margarine. White margarine is the best option as it will not change the color of your fondant or even the flavor.
The heat from your hands will slowly soften the fondant while you knead it.
This completely removes the risk of changing the color of the fondant, making it burn, or even giving it a toffee-like consistency.
The margarine also prevents the fondant from sticking to your hands as it heats up.
The biggest downside is that this method takes a while, especially with very hard fondant, and can start cramping up your hands, but luckily we have a solution for that too – pasta rollers!
Pasta machines are excellent ways to soften fondant by kneading it without actually having to do a ton of hard labor.
You can soften the fondant using the hands’ technique mentioned above, but for the hard labor, put the fondant through the pasta machine.
What helps a lot and makes the entire process easier and quicker, is to cut the fondant block into smaller pieces.
Then, feed each piece through the pasta machine starting on the biggest setting (the thickest pasta setting).
Each time you put it through the machine, gradually reduce the size until you have reached the desired size.
Once it has been completely softened, roll the piece into a ball and wrap it up tightly to prevent it from drying out again.
Then, when all the pieces have been softened, combine them if you need to create a larger piece and you can even put them through the machine again.
This is another alternative to hand-kneading the pieces and an alternative if you do not have a pasta machine.
You can still use your hand to help warm the fondant slightly, but then place the smaller pieces into a stand mixer and run it at the lowest speed.
The low speed helps work the fondant without changing its texture.
Do not use a blender or food processer. Hand blenders tend to have too much power and will either change the texture of the fondant or burn out the motor.
And food processors are made to change the texture of food! So please please please do not try to use it. You will end up creating a paste.
Here we are specifically talking about glycerine. This oil is used to make commercial fondants and is what helps keep it moist.
By adding a few additional drops, you can bring it back to its original consistency. Just make sure to continuously knead while incorporating the glycerine.
The oil will trap water molecules that rehydrate the fondant.
One teaspoon of glycerine per pound of fondant is a good ratio to use and work off of.
How To Correctly Store Fondant
To entirely prevent hardened fondant it is important that you correctly store it. This applies to all types of fondant, regardless of the type or age!
The key to keeping fondant soft is by reducing the amount of air it has been exposed to. Air dehydrates fondant and makes it hard.
To reduce the amount of air fondant is exposed to you can use the following tricks we have learned;
- Work in small batches and only remove what you need. Whatever you are not using, try to wrap it tightly with plastic or saran wrap to prevent further exposure to air.
- When using it on a counter, you should still try and reduce the exposure to air. You can simply cover the pieces with a towel or a sheet of plastic wrap. Once they are left completely uncovered, they dry extremely quickly.
- Keep your fondant out of the fridge! A fridge circulates cold air to help keep its contents cold. It also has an extremely high moisture content. Fondant absorbs moisture and will start to sweat inside the packaging which will create a sticky mess!
And the final point we want to touch on is expired fondant. Unfortunately, despite the extremely high sugar content, fondant can still expire.
Fondant can either become moldy if kept at room temperature for too long, or it can dry out to the point where it cannot be fixed!
Always keep your fondant tightly wrapped in a cool dry place and away from direct sunlight.