My Journey to Fondant Enlightenment…Wilton Course 3: Gum Paste and Fondant

For four weeks straight, I feverishly and relentlessly toiled away with gum paste and fondant to construct beautiful, vibrant, and – with any luck, and a lot more practice – life-like flowers in my Wilton Course 3: Gum Paste and Fondant cake decorating class.  Yes, this four-week long class taught me to make roses, mums, calla lilies, daisies, and many other flowers.  It taught me how to mold, manipulate, and roll fondant and gum paste, and I learned how to work quickly with it before it started to dry. (I also learned tricks to help prevent it from drying when I am working a little slower.)  It all culminated last Tuesday in the grand finale – covering a cake in fondant!  I will briefly chronicle the 4-week long journey to fondant enlightenment, in “picture-book” fashion…Let us begin…

In week 1, we practiced rolling out fondant and making a bow.  I definitely have room for improvement, but a pretty solid first attempt!

In week 1, we practiced rolling out fondant and making a bow. I definitely have room for improvement, but a pretty solid first attempt, if I do say so myself.

I got a new mat for rolling out fondant or dough.  I love it.  And it lays much flatter than my current one, which makes it much better for rolling out the fondant.

Here are some of our supplies and fondant tools.  I got a new mat for rolling out fondant or dough. I love it.  And it lays much flatter than my current one, which makes it much better for rolling out fondant, or any dough really.  My other mat would be perfect if I never had to roll it up, then it would just be perpetually flat, but since it is a more rigid structure, it still rolls on the edges when I use it (grrr!).  Not this mat though!

These were some of the supplies we used.  There are many different fondant cutter shapes that aid in making beautiful flower creations.

Here are some more of the supplies we used. There are many different fondant cutter shapes that aid in making beautiful flower creations.  We used spaghetti pieces as the stems to make it easier to mold the flowers and dry them.

This is the beginning of the rose.  We put it under the plastic sheet to keep the fondant/gum paste mixture from drying out while we prepare to use it.  (Gum paste dries really fast, so we mix it with half-fondant to make it last longer, since we are amateurs!)

This is the beginning of the rose. We put it under the plastic sheet to keep the fondant/gum paste mixture from drying out while we prepare to use it. (Gum paste dries really fast, so we mix it with half-fondant to make it last longer, since we are amateurs!)  To make, you cut slits in the flowers on the left and thin out the edges on that pink foam piece on the right.

This is my rose, with a green base.  I really enjoyed making the rose.  You roll out the ends of each piece to give it shape and depth.  Very cool!

This is my rose, with a green base (called a caliph, I learned!). I really enjoyed making the rose. You roll out the ends of each piece to give it shape and depth. Very cool and quite adorable!

Fondant Tip:  Don’t buy Wilton brand.  Just don’t.  I know my class was a Wilton class, and so my instructor couldn’t reeeaaally tell us not to buy Wilton, but don’t. I love Wilton, and my Wilton classes have been great, and I love all the other Wilton products I have bought over the years, but when it comes to their fondant, just don’t do it.   It tastes like plastic and is nasty. For our final cake, I bought Satin Ice, and another woman in my class bought Duff brand, and the third girl bought Wilton, and we did a taste test.  Wilton got “yuck” faces all around.  Duff and Satin Ice tasted almost, if not, identical – both are yummy and we agreed they taste like candy corn.  (Ok, maybe we had Halloween on the brain, again, but both of them did taste quite delicious!)  My instructor went as far to say she is suspicious that Duff fondant is just Satin Ice fondant repackaged.  Upon a quick web search, I found this article, which revealed that Duff brand is actually Fondarific rebranded.

I recommend checking out the above-mentioned article on Craftsy – it gives a breakdown of fondant brands so you can choose the best one for you.  They make a good point, saying that Wilton fondant is good for molding and smaller tasks, since it is cheaper and comes in small, multi-color packs, which can be very convenient for the small-scale baker.  So, revised statement:  Don’t use Wilton to cover a cake, but you can use it for smaller details and molding and such.  I will say I loved the Satin Ice.  It was luscious.  Weird word to use, maybe, but when I pulled it out of the bag, it was just that: Luscious, and soft, and malleable, and wonderful.  Like a cloud – a sugary, moldable cloud.  And I was in heaven. 

The carnation was easy too.  You just keep adding on layers, like the mum, until you can't squish any more in!  Then, if you want to get fancy, you can brush the edges with gum paste glue and roll them in shimmer dust.  Cute :)

The carnation was easy too. You just keep adding on layers in the middle, until you can’t squish any more in there! Then, if you want to get fancy, you can brush the edges with gum paste glue and roll them in shimmer dust. Cute 🙂

To make these calla lilies, we use a large heart cutter and roll out the edges to thin and wrinkle it. For the middle, you roll a yellow piece, then brush it with gum paste glue and roll it in yellow sugar to give it texture.  Then we made a green base for it.

To make these calla lilies, we use a large heart cutter and roll out the edges to thin and wrinkle it. For the middle, you roll a yellow piece, then brush it with gum paste glue and roll it in yellow sugar to give it texture and a little *sparkle*. Then we made a green base (caliph) for it.  p.s. I love sparkle.

This is the mum, part 1 and 2.  You just keep making layers and adding them on until it looks complete.  Straightforward and simple!

This is the mum, part 1 and 2. You make a ball and then keep folding the layers over top of it.  The first layer should fully hide the ball center you made.  Then, you just keep making layers and adding them on to the outside until it looks complete. Straightforward and simple!

I made a daisy, just like MY Daisy!  We set them in those flower mold cups to give them shape.

I made a daisy, just like MY Daisy!  This one is super cute also, but I still think MY Daisy puppy is the cutest!  It was really easy to make also:  Same flower cutters as the mum, but you only need 2 layers.  We set them in these flower mold cups to give them shape.

This is the beginning of the fantasy flower.  You'll see the final version in my net post...but you have to waaaaiiit!

This is the beginning of the *fantasy flower*.  Ooooo!  You’ll see the final product on my cake…but you have to waaaaiiit!

Sidenote:  I went to a cake and decorating specialty store called Cake and Wedding Cottage for the first time to buy GOOD fondant for my Course 3 final class, and I was in heaven.  I walked around for I don’t know how long, just in awe, drooling over the plethora of baking supplies, baffled by tools and techniques for things I didn’t even know existed.  There were pans in all shapes, fondants in all colors, pre-made fillings and icings and sugar sheets and props and millions of cupcake tins and cookie cutters in every shape under the sun!  After moseying around for quite some time, and wiping the drool off my chin, I finally settled on purchasing JUST the fondant.  Yes, it took extreme self-control to walk out of that magical cottage with nothing more than 2 tubs of Satin Ice fondant, but I did it.  Now, don’t get me wrong – those 2 tubs (7lbs total) cost me $67!  So, it’s not like I didn’t burn a small hole in my pocket just with that!  (Granted, I did buy about 5x what I needed for the cake I was making for class, but I have no doubt in my mind that it will get used in the future!)  In conclusion, I love this store.  There is another cake specialty store near me as well, and I plan to check that one out too!  Here is a peak at the awesomeness at Cake and Wedding Cottage:  There was a wall of sprinkles.

SPRINKLES!!!  SO MANY COLORS AND SIZES!  IN LOVE!!!

SPRINKLES!!! SO MANY COLORS AND SIZES! IN LOVE!!!

And thus concludes my journey to fondant enlightenment…oh wait!  I forgot about the cake!  DUH!  …I think I’ll make you guys wait for the next post to see my masterpiece pumpkin cake…(Don’t you love cliffhangers?)  😉

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