I've heard horror stories about fondant and how it tastes like cardboard, so I thought it might be best to try to make my own instead of using the canned stuff. It takes a lot of time but I think it's worth it in the end if you plan on eating (or simply tasting!) any of your decorations.
There are many types of fondant but I think marshmallow fondant is the best tasting. Fondant is definitely something that is easier to work with as you practice more and more. This was my first time making or using fondant so I'll try to feature it again when my work will be more aesthetically pleasing :)
I don't have any pictures of me actually making the fondant, but have instead included pictures of how I made the bow and pictures of the final product.
Place butter in shallow bowl and set aside. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute to begin melting marshmallows. Carefully stir water and vanilla extract into hot marshmallows. Stir until mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in confectioners sugar, one cup at a time, until the dough is sticky. Reserve 1 cup confectioners sugar for kneading. The dough should be very stiff.
Rub hands thoroughly with butter (or you can spray them with Pam). Begin kneading the dough until it becomes more pliable. Turn dough onto a working surface dusted with confectioners sugar and continue kneading until fondant is smooth (5-10 minutes).
Form fondant into ball, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow fondant to come to room temperature and roll out on flat surface dusted with confectioners sugar.
The bow can be a bit intimidating at first, but it's not anywhere near as hard as it looks. I don't have too many detailed pictures of this process, so I'm going to recommend using this site if you are looking for a step by step tutorial. This tutorial will walk you through the entire process and has tons of pictures to reference.
You basically cut the fondant into even strips of the same length to form individual loops. Make sure you use just enough water to seal the loops, but not enough to make the fondant slippery and soggy. Then you let the loops dry overnight (leave them uncovered). They will stiffen up by the next day.
Loops laid out to dry overnight
To assemble the bow, alternate the direction of the loops in a bottom circle. Then continue this same pattern until you have formed the full bow. Use melted candy melts to hold the bow together. I like to use these because they come in a variety of colors. Again, I don't have step by step pictures, so make sure to check out that tutorial I linked to earlier.
The bow in all its glory
To apply fondant covering to the cake, first cover the cake with a thin layer of regular frosting (buttercream, cream cheese frosting, etc). This will help the fondant adhere to the cake and will also keep your cake tasting delicious!
I cheated and used canned frosting for this step to save time...don't tell!
Roll fondant into a thin layer (not too thin or it will tear). The hardest part for me was getting the fondant from the work surface to the cake. It kept tearing and I kept getting frustrated. For me, rolling the fondant around a rolling pin and then carrying it over to the cake seemed to do the trick. Once you've laid the fondant onto the cake, use a smoothing tool (you can get one here) to smooth the fondant to the sides of the cake. Then cut the excess from around the base of the cake. A pizza cutter will work just fine. My cake didn't get as smooth as I would like, but it wasn't too terrible for my first time. I also knew I could cover the bottom with some decorations.
You're almost done! Then simply use melted candy discs to adhere all of your decorations.
Then take the bow back off to eat :)
I used pearl dust to cover all of my decorations, but they would be just fine as is. I was also very surprised by just how yummy the fondant was...nothing at all like what I was expecting. It had that smooth look, but was soft when you bit into it. I'll definitely be trying my hand at it again when I have time.
How about you? Do you prefer fondant or buttercream? And have you ever tried working with fondant?