Chemical Reaction Between Fondant And Cornstarch?? What?

Decorating By The_Sugar_Fairy Updated 5 Dec 2010 , 8:25pm by Bonnie151

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 22 May 2010 , 5:35pm
post #1 of 43

I was just watching a video on monkeysee.com by Norm from The Sweet Life (he's been on Ultimate Cake Off) - it was about covering a cake in fondant. He says to NEVER use cornstarch when working with fondant - only to use powdered sugar. Okay now I know a lot of us are using corn starch, myself included. Does anyone know what he is talking about? What this chemical reation is?

42 replies
mamawrobin Posted 22 May 2010 , 5:39pm
post #2 of 43

I don't know and I've never heard that before icon_eek.gif . I have to say that I use cornstarch and I love my results. I ran out yesterday and had a heck of a time using fondat without it. I'll keep using it anyway because it's what works for me and my fondant. icon_lol.gif

dalis4joe Posted 22 May 2010 , 5:40pm
post #3 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Sugar_Fairy

I was just watching a video on monkeysee.com by Norm from The Sweet Life (he's been on Ultimate Cake Off) - it was about covering a cake in fondant. He says to NEVER use cornstarch when working with fondant - only to use powdered sugar. Okay now I know a lot of us are using corn starch, myself included. Does anyone know what he is talking about? What this chemical reation is?




I saw the same one and I told that here but no one seemed to care.... so I contacted Norm and he said... he couldn't remember the chemical reaction's name... but he said... take some fondant... add cornstarch... save it for 1 week or so... then taste it... you will know why he says what he says....

I trust what he says... he's been in the bus. (successfully I might add ) for years.... so I never use cornstarch since I saw that video....

icon_smile.gif

mamawrobin Posted 22 May 2010 , 6:04pm
post #4 of 43

I use it to roll out my fondant so in a week it doesn't really matter since the cake never last that long. I could try powdered sugar but I do love the results I get with cornstarch. Why then do some professionals you see on tv use cornstarch??

foxymomma521 Posted 22 May 2010 , 6:05pm
post #5 of 43

Isn't most powdered sugar made with 3% cornstarch?

Joyfull4444 Posted 22 May 2010 , 6:42pm
post #6 of 43

I bake with cornstarch, have for 50 odd years, as has my mother and grandmother. I use it in cookies, puds, fillings, bread glazes and some cakes.
I learned in my fondant classes to use cornstarch not powdered sugar as it works better of the two, and it certainly does for me. I've never been ill from my fondant, anyone thats eaten my fondant that might have a bit of cornstarch on it has never become ill either. I've never had a reaction to eating a cake that has a trace of cornstarch on the fondant ever.
To me this is a case of one persons thinking and its being spread around like wildfire getting others all in a tither that they might be making people ill because they're using small traces of cornstarch. A product thats been around forever, and thats been used for pretty well anything you can think of not just baking or cooking.

If there was a problem with cornstarch, if cornstarch caused people to be ill, if cornstarch was not a food safe product, we would have heard about it long long ago.

And really.. Why would anyone eat a chuck of fondant thats been mixed with cornstarch to find this out anyway? Of course its going to taste a bit different, its not fresh, its not or kept in the fridge or freezer as it should be.

What amount of cornstarch is considered bad? What amount will cause this "reaction"? A dusting? a teaspoonful? a tablespoon? more?

I'll stick with my good old cornstarch thanks. Its a great product thats done me very well.

karateka Posted 22 May 2010 , 6:48pm
post #7 of 43

I was taking classes with James Rosselle, and he doesn't use corn starch either. He likes powdered sugar, because it gives him fewer bubbles under his fondant than cornstarch.

BlakesCakes Posted 22 May 2010 , 6:57pm
post #8 of 43

No one is saying that CS is BAD for you..............

The "reaction" that Norm couldn't recall is FERMENTATION.

When CS gets wet and is then sealed in a plastic bag with the fondant, it can ferment using the sugars in the fondant. It degrades the fondant--it goes wet & gooey if it goes on for a long time. Over the short period, it can create a bitter taste (think beer).

Using simple logic, you can see that with a moist cake + CS on the underside of the fondant, you could have the perfect envrionment for anything from large bubbles (fermentation creates carbon dioxide gas) in the fondant over the short period to a disgusting mess over the long period (think cake stored on the counter for a few days).

I know, I know, it's never happened to you.............but fact is, it can.

The real $$ concern is putting fondant rolled out on CS back into fresh fondant and contaminating that. You think you have 5lbs. of good fondant and go back to find 5lbs. of a hot mess.


It's not a myth or urban legend or some evil plot to ruin the CS processor of the world............It's just based on food science and it's info that should be considered by any conscientious baker.

And 3% of CS is a WHOLE LOT different than 100% CS. You'd have to expect a MUCH larger reaction when using 100%..............


HTH
Rae

mightydragon663 Posted 22 May 2010 , 9:58pm
post #9 of 43

Blakescakes, thanks for the explanation. icon_smile.gif It makes a lot of sense, and I was thinking the same thing about the PS containing cornstarch. I've never used it to roll out fondant, but I for sure won't now.

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:16am
post #10 of 43

Thank you SO much BlakesCakes for the answer. And I wasn't concerned about cornstarch making people "ill". I just wanted to know what this chemical reaction was about. I was wondering if perhaps it's what causes bubbles under fondant and it sounds like it could. I've always used cs. I'll try powder sugar and if it works just as well, I'll stay with it. If it doesn't, I'll go back to cornstarch. No a big deal! I just wanted to understand what that meant.

BlakesCakes Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:26am
post #11 of 43

Glad the info helped.

I roll on a smear of crisco on a vinyl or silicone mat. Eliminates the issue of "powders" altogether--no mess at all that way.

Norm rolls his Satin Ice on criso, too.

Rae

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:31am
post #12 of 43

Question though BlakesCakes.. when you only use shortening and a mat, how do you smooth the fondant after it's on the cake (with the fondant smoothers) because the smoothers kind of stick to the cake?

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:34am
post #13 of 43

Another question (sorry)... it's okay to use cs with gumpaste though right (like when making flowers and such), because it dries hard?

HowCoolGomo1 Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:40am
post #14 of 43

Thank you BlakesCakes for your answer, I always thought my mother and grandmother made their own PS in the blender because it was less expensive. Considering they both started with refrigeration as an ice box, (the ice delivered to keep everything cool), maybe they knew about the fermentation problem.

Never thought to ask.

BlakesCakes Posted 23 May 2010 , 12:46am
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Sugar_Fairy

Question though BlakesCakes.. when you only use shortening and a mat, how do you smooth the fondant after it's on the cake (with the fondant smoothers) because the smoothers kind of stick to the cake?




I was taught to NEVER turn my fondant over to the mat-side.

I roll it out, pick it up on my rolling pin, and place it rolled-side up on the cake. Because rolling creates friction and "melts" the sugar on the surface of the fondant, this leaves a nice smooth, dry surface on which to use fondant smoothers.

This also leaves the "sticky" side of the fondant to bond with the buttercream underneath ( I also mist the cake with water because my buttercream crusts lightly.

I often use 2 large smoothers to work the fondant once on the cake, evening out pressure. They don't stick at all.

I can say, knock on wood, that I rarely get anything other than small bubble, and only once in awhile. I attribute them to places where the fondant and buttercream don't meet perfectly.

I have no problem using CS with gum paste--although that can ferment, too as it's just fondant ingredients with gums added icon_wink.gif I roll my gum paste on crisco, unless, for some reason, the cutter requires the gum paste to be able to move around on the board, as with Tappits cutters.

Rae

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 23 May 2010 , 1:00am
post #16 of 43

Oh you are awesome Rae! Thank you so much for all the information!

tracey1970 Posted 23 May 2010 , 1:12am
post #17 of 43

Rae,

I have a "handling" question since I too roll out my Satin Ice (well, any fondant really) on shortening. However, I usually put mine on the cake with the side that was facing the mat, facing up on the cake. While it is harder to smooth that way, I find patting it with the duster thingy works to allow the fondant smoothers to do their job (and the white "dust" usually just blends itself into the fondant with the smoothing). However, this isn't a great method with really dark fondant as not all the white dust gets absorbed, or if it does, it dulls the colour of the fondant.

My one question is do you put anything on your rolling pin to keep the fondant from sticking to it? I usually rub the pin lightly with some shortening to avoid sticking, but then I end up with shortening on both sides of the fondant. That makes smoothing tough no matter what side of the fondant faces up.

My other question is (and maybe I'm just not picturing what you mean) when you roll out on shortening and then lightly roll the fondant onto your rolling pin to then lay it on the cake - with the side facing the mat on the bottom side touching the cake - how do you avoid shortening from the mat side getting onto the side that you used the rolling pin on when you roll the fondant around the pin? I am trying to picture how you are doing this so that even some shortening doesn't end up on both sides of the fondant? Does that make sense?

Thanks!

saffronica Posted 23 May 2010 , 2:24am
post #18 of 43

If you have a second mat, you can use it to flip the fondant onto, then flip it back onto the cake. Shortening side stays down, and you don't have to worry about it getting shortening on the top.

Wendl Posted 23 May 2010 , 2:49am
post #19 of 43

I have only noticed that when I've used CS to roll out fondant - the fondant dried out VERY fast (and in humid Houston at that!)...which made for a frantic patch job on-site -but I got it done (see the bellydance school cake in my gallery - that's all edible but the veil cracked all to heck, I had to use my spare fondant to make additional folds).

Typically I use organic shortening to roll out my fondant (Satin Ice) - the fondant stays a little more pliable.

Cheers and good to know about the CS issue. My cakes don't hang around near that long - so I haven't had to experience such an issue directly. That would be dreadful. Maybe, depending upon temperature/humidity - that may explain some of the exploding cakes seen on here? (Elmo comes to mind)

Marianna46 Posted 23 May 2010 , 2:58am
post #20 of 43

I saw the same monkeysee video and I started using PS and shortening to roll out my fondant. Actually, I now prepare all my fondant (usually FondX or Satin Ice) with 1/4 tsp. of CMC, a couple of tablespoons of PS and about a tsp. of shortening per pound. It gives me exactly the right consistency for the super-humid climate I live in. I can roll it out with no additional PS, CS or shortening at all, and it never sticks to the mat or the rolling pin and it never tears, either. Great discovery, though I don't know if it would work everywhere!

Cakepro Posted 23 May 2010 , 3:07am
post #21 of 43

Meh - I've rolled fondant out on cornstarch for years with no problems.

BlakesCakes Posted 23 May 2010 , 3:25am
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracey1970


My one question is do you put anything on your rolling pin to keep the fondant from sticking to it?

- how do you avoid shortening from the mat side getting onto the side that you used the rolling pin on when you roll the fondant around the pin?
Thanks!




No, I don't really put shortening on my pin. I use the Wilton long white vinyl pin. I wipe it with a paper towel before each use and then put an invisible dab of crisco on my clean hands, rub the pin from top to bottom, and then wipe it off with a paper towel--again. I doubt that any crisco is left at that point--and I don't find it on the surface of my fondant.

When I pick up fondant on my pin, I don't "roll" it onto the pin so that the back touches the front. I get the fondant started started and then sort of roll the pin--but not the fondant--until the pin is at least 1/3 up into the piece of paste. I then pick it all up and get the pin to the halfway point. This leaves the fondant hanging in half on the pin, front sides together, mat-side up. I hold the pin gingerly at both ends, line up the fondant, and drape it over.

I hope that makes some sort of sense.

Rae

mkolmar Posted 23 May 2010 , 4:04am
post #23 of 43

late to the party but I use cornstarch. Norm may not use it but Colette and Nick Lodge sure do.

cheatize Posted 23 May 2010 , 5:49am
post #24 of 43

If your fondant is too sticky to smooth with a fondant smoother, place a piece of Viva paper towel between the cake and the smoother.

dalis4joe Posted 23 May 2010 , 7:30am
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

No one is saying that CS is BAD for you..............

The "reaction" that Norm couldn't recall is FERMENTATION.

When CS gets wet and is then sealed in a plastic bag with the fondant, it can ferment using the sugars in the fondant. It degrades the fondant--it goes wet & gooey if it goes on for a long time. Over the short period, it can create a bitter taste (think beer).

Using simple logic, you can see that with a moist cake + CS on the underside of the fondant, you could have the perfect envrionment for anything from large bubbles (fermentation creates carbon dioxide gas) in the fondant over the short period to a disgusting mess over the long period (think cake stored on the counter for a few days).

I know, I know, it's never happened to you.............but fact is, it can.

The real $$ concern is putting fondant rolled out on CS back into fresh fondant and contaminating that. You think you have 5lbs. of good fondant and go back to find 5lbs. of a hot mess.


It's not a myth or urban legend or some evil plot to ruin the CS processor of the world............It's just based on food science and it's info that should be considered by any conscientious baker.

And 3% of CS is a WHOLE LOT different than 100% CS. You'd have to expect a MUCH larger reaction when using 100%..............


HTH
Rae




Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I knew someone was going to know what Norm was talking about!!! thanks so so so so much.....

Norm has been making cakes for many years and I don't think he would have said that unless he knew that it was a fact.... the fact that he couldn't recall the name of the reaction doesn't mean that he is spreading old wife's tales.... I'm glad that this has been clarified....

saving this thread.....

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Briarview Posted 23 May 2010 , 8:33am
post #26 of 43

I use spray oil to roll out my fondant and I find fondant does not dry out so much. I always use it with Chocolate fondant and get a great result, no white patches or cocoa patches. If I do have to use something dry I always use potato flour and this works really well. Also seems to give the fondant a sparkly look.

Texas_Rose Posted 23 May 2010 , 8:50am
post #27 of 43

I had read that fermentation was only an issue if you were putting the fondant over marzipan, which has less sugar than American buttercreams. If you're putting the fondant over a layer of marzipan, then you can't use cornstarch. Most of us aren't doing that, maybe that's why we've never had problems with using cornstarch.

I don't know how much cornstarch other people use when rolling out their fondant, but I use a very light dusting and almost all of it is absorbed while I'm rolling it. I pick the fondant up and flip it several times while I'm rolling it, so I know there aren't blobs of cornstarch on the underside. There are not any areas that are 100% cornstarch.

Any time you leave fondant out for a week or two, it gets a weird smell...not just when it has cornstarch mixed with it. If you need to store it for a while, freeze it. I save all of my fondant scraps in a bag in the freezer and use them when I need to make a dark-colored fondant covered board.

I think most blowouts are caused by not letting the cake settle long enough after baking.

tracey1970 Posted 24 May 2010 , 1:09am
post #28 of 43

Thanks, Rae!

Peridot Posted 24 May 2010 , 1:25am
post #29 of 43

This is all very, very interesting. I have still not found a satisfactory way of rolling out my fondant and I have tried most of the ones mentioned above. Since I am a hobby baker I blame it on not enough practice.

Jeep_girl816 Posted 24 May 2010 , 2:02am
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peridot

This is all very, very interesting. I have still not found a satisfactory way of rolling out my fondant and I have tried most of the ones mentioned above. Since I am a hobby baker I blame it on not enough practice.


I'm a hobby baker too and a technique I sometimes use if I have to cover a big cake (12" for me is a big cake) is using a cardboard cake circle to lift the fondant. I roll it out on my mat then carefully slide a 14" cake circle under it, carry to the cake, position as needed, slide the board out and smooth as usual. Works great! I also use the rolling pin method of transferring it too, especially on smaller 8" cakes, it just depends on how stressed out I am and if the fondant's been giving me issues, I like the safety of not having to roll or stretch the fondant. I use both cornstarch and powdered sugar and sometimes just crisco, just depends on what I have and what wants to work at that particular moment icon_lol.gif

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