A DETAILED LOOK AT FONDANT, WHERE IT CAME FROM, AND WHERE ITS GOING
The Mona Lisa isn’t the only great thing to come out of the Renaissance period. A lesser known gift is fondant. Yes, it actually dates that far back (possibly even longer, depending on how loosely you define fondant). If you have ever been to a wedding and noticed that the cake looked impossibly smooth, the reason is fondant and not the previously more popular buttercream. With the advent of shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, the popularity of fondant has exploded here in the U.S., and its about time.
So how do you pronounce fondant? I’ve heard some pretty strange versions of the word. But basically its pronounced “fawn-dint” or “fawn-dawn-t” if you’re french… but most of us aren’t so don’t try to get away with it.
In the Renaissance it more closely resembled what we called marzipan, a sugar and almond paste. It transformed over the years into what we now recognize as a play-dough that you are allowed to eat. Its base components are water and sugar with a few added agents that give it this play-dough elasticity. It is rolled out flat and placed on top of a cake that has a thin layer of buttercream. Its counterpart is a pourable fondant (think of the filling of a Cadbury Egg) and acts very differently from the rolled fondant.
There is a price to pay for its beauty. Its tricky to work with. It tears easily and can begin drying out before you’re done applying it to the cake. The issue of taking a flat two-dimensional object and molding it to a three-dimensional cake can be a strange concept for some. But its texture can amazingly transform and make that possible. Trying it yourself is the best way to understand how to do it. The saying “Practice makes perfect” definitely applies here.
Buttercream served us faithfully for many years, but fondant’s elegance brings it into the forefront. The age of flowery cakes, reminiscent of Steel Magnolias, is over and the age of sleek, clean, and creative has begun.