So I've been decorating cakes for just over a year now, and I've been using MMF exclusively. Up until a couple months ago, everything was going great, but then I started having major issues with my MMF. 5 out of the last 8 batches I've made have been extremely quick to tear, kinda translucent looking, and get the worst elephant skin. I'll try to see if I can upload pictures.
I can't seem to figure out what I've been doing differently that could've caused some batches to fail and some not.
Initially, I made my MMF using butter instead of shortening, as it just wasn't available here. I used either a European brand, Lurpak, or a local brand which was a little bit more yellow in colour, but was otherwise exactly the same to use. I use Beacon marshmallows, which are made in South Africa. This is the only brand I've ever used, and it's been just fine. For the powdered sugar, I sometimes use pure powdered sugar, and sometimes powdered sugar + corn starch. They're both made by the same brand, and I just buy whatever is available in the shop that day. This is also the same brand I've always used. I started out using 2 tablespoons of water to 1 pound of marshmallows, then increased to 3 in the winter.
At the start of this year, I found some locally made shortening in my high - end grocery store. Since it was whiter and cheaper than butter, and also what the original recipe called for, I decided to try it out. It worked great, and there was no noticeable difference in the final product.
Finally, about 2 months ago, I was making 2 cakes on 2 consecutive days which called for 2 separate batches of fondant. I made it as always, coloured it and let it rest for a day. When I was rolling out the fondant for the first cake, it seemed a little more fragile than usual, but it didn't matter much since I was covering the cake with small panels of fondant instead of draping.
I usually roll my fondant out on shortening instead of corn starch. Even small panels of fondant, 4" by 6", were tearing under their own weight as I lifted them off the table, but I managed without much difficulty.
The next cake was the real disaster. I had a 6" tier, and the fondant would just keep tearing every time I'd had it smoothed down half way. I gave up on the fondant after 8 tries, made a new batch with my original recipe of butter and 2 tablespoons of water and everything worked like a charm. 9th time lucky!
So I figured there was something wrong with my local shortening. Maybe it couldn't handle the heat of summer, I don't know. I started using butter then, and the next couple of batches were fine, but then I started having the same problem again, even though I'm using butter and 2 tablespoons water. It's happened to the last 2 batches I've made. The 3rd last batch made a day before that was fine, and a batch made a week before that was awful.
So I'm totally confused, and I don't know what to do. I can't identify what I could be doing differently between one day and the next that causes one batch to fail and the next to work. It's gotten so that I'm scared of taking orders for fondant cakes since I have no idea how the fondant will work out!
These are the ingredients in my shortening, if that has anything to do with anything:
Pure corn oil, partially hydrogenated palm oil, mono and di glyceride of fatty acids (rapeseed and palm oil based), antioxidant (monopropylene glycol, tertiary butyl hydroquinone, citric acid).
My MMF recipe:
450 g (1 lb) marshmallows
900 g - 1 kg (2 - 2.2 lbs) powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter/ shortening
2 tablespoons water
I prepare it and rest it at least overnight before using.
Any ideas what I could be doing wrong? These are pictures of the fondant after I've rolled it out and lifted it. It tears under it's own weight in seconds. That never happens with a good batch of MMF. I managed to get the fondant on the cake after rolling it thicker than usual and being super careful. IT was impossible to smooth with the smoother once it was on. I used loads and loads of gunge and strategically placed accents and the clients never noticed, but still. This is unacceptable. Help, please![postimage id="5174" thumb="900"][postimage id="5175" thumb="900"]
google Lizzo Mareks fondant and watch her video. It works really well and it's low cost MMF.
Could the weather be affecting it like raining on days when it does not work correctly? I am just guessing and really do not know what could cause this issue. Perhaps you should try MBalaska's suggestion and try Lizzo Mareks fondant. Hope everything works out for you. I am sure it is frustrating when this problem keeps happening!! Good luck to you!!
Definitely try Liz's LMF that stuff works great! Very cheap to make, colors beautifully, and stores well. I made this cake for my daughter using her recipe. Sorry I can't spin it.[postimage id="5177" thumb="900"]
Thanks for the feedback everyone!
@MBalaska I've heard great stuff about LMF, but I've never tried it before. I haven't got Wilton fondant available here, just Satin Ice and an Asian brand. Satin Ice would increase my cost, but the Asian brand would cost the same. Do you think it would work? Or does it have to be Wilton/ Satin Ice?
Plus should I be using my cheapo local shortening to make it or butter?
@remnant3333 I live in a desert so no rain or even humidity except once or twice a year. But the temperature is regularly in the 100's even inside the kitchen, but that's true of all the days I make fondant, not just the fail-days 8(
@ypierce82 that is a gorgeous cake! I've been meaning to try the paint splatter look, and you've just remotivated me! Did you colour your fondant black the same way Liz does it in her video? Or did you use cocoa powder to give it a head start?
I'd still love it if someone could help me out with my original issue of the mysterious failures, since I have to drive into the next city to buy premade fondant, and that is such a drag, lol!
It is really hard to know what is "wrong" with your MMF, it may need more sugar, it may need less, you might be using too much shortening, which, in my experience weakens it. Weather outside greatly affects your indoor climate, so I can't really answer you, sorry!
Thank you! This was my second time working with covering a cake in fondant, and I will always use her recipe after this. I colored it the same way, 2tbsp of black, but I also added 1tbsp of yellow because it will take on a purplish tint. I made it 2 days before I needed it to give it time to rest, and it was perfect. Sorry I can't be more help.
It's interesting to read that as I was going through fondant hell today too. I made 2 huge batches of rolled fondant...usual recipe and they looked almost like yours. I was buffled as to what went wrong. Read the recipe again to the dot although I know it by heart as I use it since long. After lots of thinking and investing (I used a new brand of icing sugar cause the other one was out of stock) I FINALLY figured that my gelatine had expired!!! Didn't even know that's possible... Anyway...long story short, had a similar encounter the other day with shortening. It felt somehow watery or more oily. First I thought it's off and opened a new pack but that looked the same. Then I thought they might have changed their formula. I used butter instead that time as I only needed a small amount anyway but a week or so later I bought some new shortening and boom - there is the good stuff again.
I have to say though that I'm surprised that a little shortening can effect a whole batch of mmf in your case. I only use a spoon or so of shortening when I do mmf (which I hardly do anymore but that's another story). Looking at the picture it seems more that the marshmallows might have been not the best. I know the brand you use (and I prefer harbour over them). Since you live in a similar climate what could have happened is that the marshmallows were stored wrong. Sometimes they stay in boiling hot containers until they are released from customs and although they are sealed air tight they look a bit wrinkly and are very dry. So what I'm trying to say is that this might comprise their ability to "stretch".
watch the tutorial
I agree, Liz Marek's recipe is great. Make sure to watch all her fondant making videos (she has several on making her fondant in different colors). You will learn something in each video.
I agree a recipe change may be in order, but since you've been doing this for only one year this is your first summer? Temperature and humidity can make a radical difference with certain ingredients, especially butter. You may need separate recipes for cold and hot months. Half a cup of shortening is quite a lot compared to my recipe in which shortening is only used on the counter and my hands to prevent sticking. I add maybe a teaspoon to the MMF itself to help it be more more moisture resistant.
Like other's said Go try Liz Marek fondant recipe " http://artisancakecompany.com/recipe/the-best-marshmallow-fondant-recipe-ever/" you will never go back or search for anything else. cheap/taste better/colors perfect. I had love-hate relationship with fondant but not it's just the love. Good luck.
I use MMF exclusively and occasionally have similar issues. The marks do make me think the recipe is a bit too wet. I have a couple of suggestions for you to try:
1. Make sure you are not overheating the marshmallows when you melt them.
2. Try adding a tablespoon of corn syrup
3. Try adding a teaspoon or two of glycerin
4. Microwave the fondant your are about to work with for a few seconds (5-8 seconds is plenty for a small amount, 15-20 seconds for enough to cover an 8" cake) and then knead it for a bit. Add a bit of cornstarch/powdered sugar as you knead if it's feeling sticky, or add a bit more shortening if it's looking a bit crumbly. When microwaving be very careful because the center can get very hot & it will stick to you and burn!
Wow thanks for all the help you guys!
Oh you totally have me convinced to try out the Liz Marek fondant! Gonna try it out later today in fact. It looks absolutely amazing in all her videos! God the way she just tosses it around like Pizza dough! Fondant goals, I tell ya! Lol!
Yes this is in fact, my first summer with fondant. I guess that is a huge factor since I know fondant is so easily affected by the weather.
The Marshmallows being dry actually makes a lot of sense to me. I have noticed that some bags are a little bit drier than others. I'll keep an eye out when I'm buying from now on! Thanks!
@FrostedMoon it could be that my recipe is too wet! My butter gets very very soft when I leave it out for 2 hours, and since butter has a higher water content than shortening, it could be yielding a much more wet fondant than it should be.
@Jinkies yup I've watched and rewatched her videos and I'm excited to get started!
I don't know if that helps...but also watch out how you put the fondant on the cake. I like to roll it up over a pin and unroll it directly onto the top. Quick smooth to get any air out and then as soon as possible attach the top edge as that's where the weight of the fondant pulls the most and looking at your picture that seems to be a problem area.
Yup that's exactly how I do it. Unroll directly on top of the cake, secure the top and edges immediately, then work on the sides.
That's the strange part. These weird pock marks appeared right away, as soon as I unrolled it over the cake. Literally in the time it took me to put down my rolling pin. Like the fondant didn't even have enough elasticity in it to curve over the edge of the cake, forget about stretching down the sides. I actually worked mush faster than usual on this cake so the fondant wouldn't have time to tear irreparably. Just these weird little holes.
This is a cake I made the day before, with a batch of fondant I'd made the day before and it turned out fine. Nice and smooth, except for where I made a tiny dent in it with my thumb while sticking the accents on lol![postimage id="5184" thumb="900"]
Wow! That's beautiful. Did you use the same fondant? ??
You could also try paneling. It works like a charm especially for extended tiers.
And it's great because you hardly need to strech the fondant. ..
Have you tried putting mmf in the microwave before working with it? I always have to. I've recently switched to confectioners choice fondant. The price is comparable but I'm able to roll it much thinner and it's so much easier to work with. Tastes pretty good too!
@Jinkies Yes I did a double barrel cake the other day and had to panel it, and it looked really good! Such sharp edges! My seams weren't invisible like most people get in the tutorials, but I just covered them up with a little bit of gunge and you could barely tell! That's definitely a technique I'm gonna try to perfect.
Thanks @julia1812 ! Yes it's the same recipe of fondant as the fail pictured above, but made a day before.
@ElizabethsCakeCreations I do microwave it if it's too hard for me to knead, but this past summer it's mostly been soft enough that I could manage with a little bit of muscle and small portions at a time. But I always have to microwave it if it's leftover fondant that I'm reusing later.
@Minileo wow that is just adorable! It's so cute and your colours are so vibrant! The tiny details you were able to get on your cutouts just take it to a whole new level! I wasn't able to get much more than a nose on my couple cuz it was just so small lol!
Maybe try microwaving it anyways
I'll try that, thanks! 8)
Worth a shot right?
Definitely! Cuz I didn't have these problems in winter, and I was definitely microwaving my fondant every time then. Problems started in summer, when I wasn't microwaving. So that could be a factor too.
I second the microwaving thing. If you notice in her videos Liz Marek usually microwaves hers as well. I've noticed that marshmallow fondant is not as sticky and has a better consistency when it's slightly microwaved. It also tends to harden faster, so be aware of that too.
Hi guys! So I tried out the LMF a couple of days ago, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed!
Like @julia1812 suggested, I took a look at the marshmallows I was using, and there was a significant difference in texture from one bag to the next. So I threw 'em all out and bought a bag of Campfire marshmallows.
The LMF was super easy to make, and the texture was just beautiful! I used it right away, and it's a little softer than I'm used to, but nothing I can't handle. I might use a little less water next time and see how that goes. I'm also gonna let the leftover LMF rest for a day or 2 and try using it again, to see if it's dried out any.
The only disadvantage I could find was that I now have to actually do an arm workout, instead of wrestling with an unresponsive lump of fondant for an hour, lol! 8P
@ElizabethsCakeCreations I went ahead and tried a small batch of my old recipe too since I needed a little for modelling, and I tried microwaving it like you suggested, and it was really nice and pliable too! So I'm gonna have to experiment a little more with that as well. I'd love to have 2 good recipes so I have something to fall back on in case one fails.
Thanks so much for all of your help guys! I feel like I can slowly regain my confidence over the next few cakes!
Here's how the cake looked like. Still a few divots due to my ham hands, but I'm working on that lol!
[postimage id="5289" thumb="900"]
Congratulations on your Lizzo Marek Fondant recipe success.