Tips On Achieving Crisp Edges with Fondant?

Hi, All! So hoping to get some advice on this :) I’ve been doing cakes for almost two years now and am pretty happy with my overall fondant covering skills – I can achieve a nice, overall clean look – HOWEVER – my cakes lack that extreme sharp, crisp edge that I see and LONG for!! Any hints, tips? Thanks so very much!!

Becky, North Carolina, http://www.cakesbybecky.blogspot.com

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metria ...

what do you typically use under your fondant? lots of people have success when using ganache (not the poured, but whipped for example). or perhaps roll your fondant thinner … i dunno, your cakes look fab to me!

Becky Pendergraft ...

Thanks so much for the compliment, metria! :) I either use Swiss meringue buttercream or just your basic “american” buttercream. I’m not completely displeased with my fondant coverings…just would really like to step it up to the “next level” ;)

Miriam ...

Inspired By Michelle has some great you-tube tutorials on making ganache, ganaching a cake and getting sharp edges with fondant.
I don’t see why there’s any reason why you still couldn’t use buttercream and still use Michelles technique for sharp edges.

tortacouture ...

Well I don’t know about anyone else but I am overly anal about sharp edges on fondant and have spent a good few months perfecting it and I can now get sharp edges on ganache and buttercream. The buttercream is a bit more fiddly but certainly still doable.

Here is a cake I did recently using ganache:

Here is a cake I did recently using buttercream:

Firstly, the best method is to use ganache, hands down it’s the best medium and for this you want just a straight ganache, not a pouring ganache and not a whipped ganache. Here are the specifics:
Your chocolate ideally should be the best you can find and the cream is specific to the country. So far I know for a fact that if you live in the UK (like me) use Whipping Cream ONLY. In the USA using Heavy or Heavy Whipping Cream and in Australia use Pure Cream. Whatever you use it has to have a fat content of 35%. So the ratios are as follows:
Dark Chocolate Ganache: 2 parts dark chocoalte to 1 parts cream
Milk Chocolate & White Chocolate Ganache: 3 parts chocolate to 1 part cream

If you are using ganache, I cover my cake with it (using the upside down method – I use a mixture of two techniques – if you want to know how I do this, I’ll explain), then I put it in the fridge to get really solid. When I am ready to cover it, I bring it out of the fridge and give it a light brushing with a pastry brush that has been sitting in boiling water – you don’t want too much water, just enough to make it stick. Once you’ve done that, leave it out of the fridge while you roll out your fondant. The trick is to get it really very thin. I roll mines to about 2/3mm thick – no thicker!! Now, because I spend ages perfecting my ganache like below, when I cover it with my fondant, it is pretty much straight away really very sharp:

Now, once covered, I do a rough smoothing, just to make sure there are no air bubbles etc – I put my cake back in the fridge. Now the fridge isn’t essential, but I prefer it because I like working with firm fondant for the next step. The next step is to take two pieces of thick acetate (I use 500 micron that took me ages to find and was really expensive! but that’s because I warned you of my super anal’ness lol) – you want to use your acetate to go round the top edge of the cake and with one piece of acetate on the side of the cake and one piece on top, go round the cake and slide the acentate together to sharpen the edges. As I say this is much easier when the fondant has firmed up in the fridge, because otherwise it’s easy for the acetate to dig into the fondant and rip it, especially if you are like me and have hands like a panel beater lol.

Now with buttercream, you MUST use an all butter, buttercream – I only use Swiss Meringue Buttercream – the reason for using only butter (never shortening) is that the butter sets up solid in the fridge and shortening does not. So follow the same procedure for the ganache, but for me, I find the fridge step after covering with fondant, essential, because when you are smoothing the fondant, the buttercream starts to melt really easily and really quickly. So when I take it out of the fridge to smooth with the acetate, I sometimes have to smooth a bit and put it back in the fridge to firm up again and keep repeating this until the cake is as I like it.

Now with all fondant covered cakes, putting them in the fridge can result in sweating. If you work VERY quickly once you take it out of the fridge, you should be able to get the edges sharp, while the fondant is still dry – but if you don’t, just put it straight back in the fridge to dry again.

Once you have finished your smoothing etc, bring your cake out of the fridge and let the sweat evaporate before you start decorating etc, or you’ll get paw prints all over it! If you leave the cake alone, it will dry out.

Anyway, I think I’ve covered everything, but the start find for me was the acetate, because I went from this level of sharpness only using fondant smoothers (which I thought was pretty good at the time):

to this level of sharpness using acetate:

I’m sure you’ll agree the acetate just makes it so much better!

Anyway, that was a long post – feel free to fire me questions and I hope this helped. :)

metria ...

holy cow! what a great tutorial! thanks so much for the tips and for the photos.

Becky Pendergraft ...

Aaah! Thanks so MUCH for the help!! Knew there had to be some way to achieve those razor sharp edges!! You’re my hero, Tortacouture! ;)

tortacouture ...

awww cheers guys – I’m glad this helped you out. There is nothing worse than searching for information on a subject and no one is willing to share, or even more frustrating are the people who share snippets and leave you to figure out the rest, so hopefully I’ll have saved someone the 6 months I’ve spent getting this down pat :)

Benni Rienzo Radic ...

That is just amazing! Thanks so much for sharing all that information. I want to try the ganache method on one of my next practice cakes. Can you share where you were able to find the acetate? I wonder if they have it at the local craft stores here?

Rene' ...

This is awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing! Your cakes are gorgeous! I hope that one day I too am able to achieve those gorgeous straight edges!!

Monique Kleine ...

Fantastic! I don’t get too many cake orders these days but it’s very handy to have this knowledge! Those corners look like they could cut you ;)

Tammy ...

thank you so much!!! i was wondering how that was done. you talked about the “up side down method.” what is that? ok, and two more questions! one: how do you get the buttercream edges “sharp?” and two: i am doing a tiffany box wedding cake and was wondering if you had a certain technique for the fondant that you wouldn’t mind sharing? Thank you so much for your time!

Tammy
https://www.facebook.com/cakes.cookies.andmore.insavannah

Tammy ...

oh, and what is acetate and where can i find it? i live in the States. Thanks again!

Tammy

Sarah F ...

For buttercream, if you use all butterand no shortening to get it to firm up in the fridge won’t it melt when out of the fridge even if covered in fondant? I haven’t tried the ganache and would love to soon but I use buttercream all the time. I find that even if my frosting has hardened or crusted, once I put the fondant on it just shifts all underneath and doesn’t stay put!

Becky Pendergraft ...

WhiskMeAway – I’ve been using an all butter-buttercream recipe for awhile now and it holds up quite well! (it’s a traditional American buttercream made with powdered sugar) However, I think she’s referring more to either a Swiss Meringue or Italian Meringue buttercream.

sasha ...

Torta – YOU ROCK!!!!! I’d love to know more about the upside down method too…..I’m also going to try with the acetate…….Sasha