To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question.
Years ago, when I began learning fondant, I scoured the internet for information regarding whether or not to refrigerate fondant. Not finding any satisfactory information, I decided to just experiment. Having made fondant cakes trying a variety of methods, I have discovered that the single most helpful thing I learned was to refrigerate fondant. Cakes bulge, sag and change shape. It can be a terrifying prospect for a cake decorator (see article Battle of the Bulge on preventing Bulging). But chilling a cake can avoid almost all of these issues.
There are some rules and guidelines to refrigerating, though.
1. Certain types of fondant respond better than others. Some don't do well all at all. Wilton is an example of a fondant that does not do well with refrigeration, while Satin Ice does very well. The best way to find out about your fondant is to experiment.
2. Bakeries use low humidity commercial fridges that run at the right temps. This is not to say that you cannot just use your fridge at home… but you will want to test out your fridge before you do any huge creations. If your fridge is too cold, it might freeze spots of the fondant which creates dark splotches. Keep your tiers or cakes clear of anything that could touch/drip on it or of any inside fridge vents. They'll need a little space.
3. Immediately after you lay your fondant, get it in the fridge! This will solidify it in its intial shape and prevent cake bulging. If you need to decorate it, do so after it has chilled and then return it to the fridge.
4. Most fondant types will "sweat" after being removed from the fridge. Do not panic. This is normal. It will dry and be back to normal, usually 15-20 minutes after being removed. Bringing it out into an air-conditioned room with circulating air can help the process along. The main thing to remember is NOT TO TOUCH IT. While it is in this sticky state, anything touching it will smudge it permanently. On the other hand, its a perfect time to add decorations that you want to stick to the fondant, but be careful… once you put a decoration on you cannot pull it off or move it.
5. Remember to give your cake time to sweat and dry before it needs to be at an event. I usually give it 1/2 an hour before delivery or "unveiling".
*Putting your tiers in a cake box before chilling them is very helpful (thanks for the reminder Alisa!)
If you have any questions feel free to email me (email is in the right side bar under 'Contact Me'). Happy decorating!