How to make sugar-paste / fondant icing

I’m not a fan of sugarpaste (also known as fondant icing) so on the rare occasions when I do use it I have to confess that I usually just pop to Tesco and buy a packet, but ever since I saw Nadiya make her own sugarpaste from marshmallows on The Great British Bake Off I have been dying to try it out.

Nadiya referred to her marshmallow method as the “cheat’s” method and so I did a bit of research online to find out what the different methods were. Of course there are loads of different methods but I narrowed it down to two – the “cheat’s” method with the marshmallows and a slightly more complex method using glucose, glycerin and gelatine. I think that this method would be considered to be the more traditional method.

I decided to make a batch of each and compare them for texture and taste (well, my husband did the taste-testing!). Here’s how I got on:

Traditional Method

I used a recipe from Lindy’s cakes for the traditional sugarpaste recipe.

When I first saw the list of ingredients I was a bit intimidated and wondered if I would even be able to get hold of all of them. To my surprise I was able to get the gelatine and glucose in Tesco. I found the glycerin in Dinghams, a local cook shop in Winchester.

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I decided to half the recipe as I was making two different types and this was easily done. I found that halving the recipe gave me about 600g of sugarpaste. You need between 600-700g to cover an 8 inch cake.

Step 1 of the recipe says to mix the water and gelatine until “spongy”. I would describe the texture like runny jam.

When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, don’t panic if it seems like there won’t be enough liquid- there will be trust me! This is what mine looked like after all of the liquid was first added:

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Just keep stirring until it starts to come together and then finish it off with your hands (kind of like when making shortcrust pastry). I added a tiny bit of water to mine just to bring the final bits together.

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Then tip it onto a surface well-dusted with icing sugar and keep kneading until it becomes firm but pliable. And there you have it, homemade sugarpaste!

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The texture was perfect for covering a cake or modelling. My husband said that it was tasty but perhaps tasted slightly more like royal icing than the shop bought icing he is used to.

Marshmallow Method

This recipe is a Nigella recipe so I knew it would be easy but with good results.

The recipe calls for “shortening”. I did not know what this meant and so I had a quick look online (where would we be without Google?!) and found out that shortening is just a type of solid fat made from vegetable oils. It is called shortening because it shortens the gluten strands in wheat by adding fat. There is a good explanation of shortening at bakingbites.com. I used Trex which is available in the butter aisle in most supermarkets.

Again, I halved this recipe and it made around 500g of sugarpaste in the end.

Make sure you watch your marshmallows carefully whilst you are melting them as they do melt quickly. I found that after the second burst of 30 seconds they were pretty much there and a quick stir made sure everything was melted.

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A quick word of warning here – I bought a bag of mixed pink and white marshmallows without thinking and so ended up with pink fondant! I kneaded colour into mine when it was done so it was fine but do make sure, if you want white fondant you get white marshmallows!! Tee hee…

Another word of warning – I didn’t make my well deep enough in my icing sugar and the melted marshmallows started to escape! I managed to contain it by scooping it up ad quickly mixing it in to the icing sugar but I’m sure Nigella’s way is easier!!

When I had finished mixing in the icing sugar as stated in the recipe if found that the texture was still far too marshmallowy to roll out properly or model with. I found that the trick was to keep kneading in more icing sugar to make it firmer, however I would say that the texture still wasn’t quite as good as the traditional method.

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My husband again liked the taste of this batch and said he thought it was probably more like the shop bought flavour but perhaps a bit sweeter.

Overall, both methods worked well. I think I preferred the overall texture better of the traditional method but the marshmallow method is definitely a good compromise as it uses store cupboard ingredients.

Once my sugarpaste was done I had fun creating these little cuties:

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I hope to have a play around making some flowers soon and will upload pictures for you all to see!

Happy Baking!

Katherine xx

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Katherine Wagg

I'm Katherine and I love to bake! Cakes are my favourite but I love a challenge and trying new things. I hope you enjoy my blog. Happy Baking!

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