Sticky fondant is impossible to work with, and there are several reasons it can happen. Some shop-bought fondant brands are worse than others for handling, and sometimes it’s in which environment you are working.
If you make your own fondant, it may be due to the recipe you are following. On the other hand, it may be the brand of confectioners/icing sugar you are using.
Whatever is causing your sticky fondant, there are ways to fix it, so don’t despair; just read on and find out what to do.
One of the reasons your fondant is too sticky maybe because the kitchen you are working in is too warm. You may live where the climate is hot, so an air conditioner would be a good investment if you plan to decorate many cakes.
You may live where the climate is hot and humid, so besides the air conditioner, using a dehumidifier may be the answer. It will maintain a cool and dry environment that will make your fondant easier to handle.
If you cannot use air conditioning or a dehumidifier, don’t despair because there are other ways of coping with sticky fondant.
Fondant too sticky, then make sure everything is cool.
Sticky fondant is not only difficult to work with: it is also most unpleasant to feel it sticking to your hands. The most frustrating thing is that you can’t do anything with it.
The best ways to combat sticky fondant are…
- First of all, you need to make sure your kitchen or workroom is as cool as possible. That means not working with fondant while ovens are used for baking.
- If it’s cooler in the evening than in the daytime, do your fondant work then. It may be humid in the evening outside, so don’t be tempted to open the windows, or you will bring the humid atmosphere into your workplace.
- On the other side of your kitchen, set an electric fan going on its lowest setting so it doesn’t blow the sugar all over the place. That will keep you cool while you work on the fondant.
- Cool your hands under running cold water, so you are not transferring any heat from them to the fondant, do this often while you are working if your hands get hot but remember to dry them thoroughly each time before touching the fondant.
Still not fixed your sticky fondant?
Try kneading a little more confectioners/icing sugar into the fondant, a teaspoonful at a time, but not too much because it is liable to become too dry. If, by mistake, you add too much, then try warming it before you knead the fondant again and see if that helps.
After adding more confectioners/ icing sugar, you find that the fondant is still sticking to the board; try sprinkling some cornstarch/cornflour onto the fondant and on the board and rolling pin as well.
Confectioners/icing sugar has a little cornstarch/cornflour added to it when produced to stop it clumping together but not enough to prevent sticky fondant. Don’t use too much, or you will find it will go the other way and be too dry, the same as if you added too many confectioners/ icing sugar.
I have been using this recipe for rolling fondant for many years, and I always have success with it. I live where it gets hot in the summer, but I only occasionally have humidity problems, so I don’t work with fondant on those days. If you have no choice but to work with it, follow the tips I have already given you.
Some brands of confectioners/icing sugar work better than others, so you may have to experiment with the different brands until you find one that works well for you.
Using the wrong coloring will make your fondant sticky.
If you’ve used liquid food color, that may be the reason you have ended up with a sticky fondant mess.
The colors you must use with fondant are Gel Food Colors. These have been specially developed, so they don’t alter the fondant’s consistency.
I have written an article on how to color gum paste, but it also applies to the fondant.
There are plenty of gel color brands on the market, and some are better than others. I have always used SugarFlair, but there are lots to choose from, so if you want to get an idea of how good or bad they are, then read the reviews on them on websites such as Amazon written by people who have used them and then you can choose.
If you want a very dark colored fondant, you may need to add a large amount of coloring gel to get the depth of color you require. If you do, your fondant will still be liable to become sticky.
If you require a dark fondant for a one-off project, it may be a good idea to buy it from a cake supplier. The fondant will have been colored professionally by the producer and not sticky. It will be much better than trying to start with white fondant and color it yourself.
How do you harden rolling fondant flowers?
Your three-dimensional fondant flowers, petals, and leaves may not be firm enough to keep their shape when they are dry. Try kneading in some gum tragacanth or CMC into the fondant, especially if you live where it is hot and humid.
If you don’t want the flowers to be too hard, then add one teaspoon of either gum tragacanth or CMC/Tylose to 500g fondant. It will be ideal for simple 2D or 3D flowers that you want to keep their shape but will be cut and eaten with the cake.
If you want to make more elaborate flowers, e.g., wired, then two teaspoons of gum tragacanth or CMC/Tylose to 500g fondant.
Remember, if you add gum tragacanth to the fondant, it needs to be left for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before using it. If you add CMC, you can use it straight away.
With the addition of gum to your fondant, flowers will set quite hard, especially if you add a more substantial amount, and should set hard enough to make wired flowers.
However, be wary of using fondant with gum added to make flowers if they are being transported to a venue as the vehicle’s vibration may break them.
If you feel it is safe to transport the cake, check beforehand that the venue has air conditioning. If it has a humid atmosphere, your flowers may break easily, and in extreme cases, flowers have been known to melt.
Rolling fondant is for covering a cake and has ingredients added to it that allow the fondant to set but always to stay soft enough to be cut easily.
Even if you add gum to rolling fondant to make elaborate wired flowers, they will never set as hard as flowers made with gum paste.
If your fondant is sticky because you live where it’s hot and humid, you may like to read an article I’ve written that covers those types of situations. It’s called “Tips for Extreme Weather Cake Decorators: Rolling Fondant.”
Have I solved your sticky fondant problems?
Most of the time, fixes I have covered in this article work well, but there are always exceptions.
There have been occasions when I have been unable to understand why nothing will put the fondant right, and I’ve to throw it away and started again.
Fortunately for me, those times have been few and far between, and it’s always been with fondant I bought from a cake supplier, not with my homemade fondant.
Each time I suspect there was something wrong with that particular batch, so perhaps it was a good thing I couldn’t fix it.
I hope I have covered enough fixes to solve your sticky fondant problems. If I haven’t and you still have a fondant problem that I haven’t covered, leave a message in the comments below, and I will try my best to find a solution for you.
If you have any other fixes you use, please share them with us in the comments below.