The Mystery of Fondant

Posted on Wed, 01/27/2016 - 10:14am

Zingerman's Bakehouse Make Fondant

Many of our guests wonder and worry about fondant.

What is it? Doesn’t it taste bad? Why is it used?

Fondant is a confection made primarily with sugar and sometimes a flavoring. Often it has guar gum in it, which gives it the elasticity it needs to be rolled out and placed over a cake. If you read the packages of some candies like After Eight Mints® you’ll even see that fondant is named as a component. It’s the white minty filling. 

One of the biggest concerns our guests have is that fondant tastes bad. Many fondants do, but since we make our own and don’t use any chemicals or preservatives the flavor is primarily sweet with a touch of vanilla. (I will dare to say that it tastes like the inside of an Oreo® cookie. Even the longest standing foodies among us will still probably remember what that tastes like.) The other mistake often made with fondant is that cake decorators use too much of it. It should be a very thin layer covering a thin layer of great tasting buttercream. Essentially the fondant shouldn’t really be noticed when we eat the cake. 

Zingerman's Bakehouse make fondant

Why do decorators use fondant?

The first reason is that it allows us to use specific decorating techniques not possible with other mediums and it has a particular very smooth even look that many people like. Fondant also stands up very well to travel, keeps cake fresh longer and stands up well in hot and humid environments. If you’re having an outdoor party or wedding in August it’s a safer choice than buttercream.

Come on by the bakery and ask for a taste of fondant.

We always have some on hand in our cake department. Wonder over to our cake showroom room to see it in use!

by Amy Emberling, Zingerman's Bakehouse co-owner and baker

--Take our fondant making class
--View celebration cake photo gallery

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Sourcing our ingredients locally has many benefits, not least of which is literal field trips to visit our future ingredients as they grow. To this end, one June morning a contingent of the bakehouse grain commission headed west to Living Earth Farm in Sawyer, Michigan where rye is being grown for us this season. I think rye is delicious and I know our customers agree, many using our rye breads as staples in their diet each week and famously enjoying it on sandwiches at Zingerman’s Delicatessen. However, this ancient grain took a major back seat to wheat in the 1900’s when very fluffy and sweet breads became more popular. Now, though relatively easy to grow, particularly good for the soil, and hearty under a variety of weather conditions, rye is used primarily as a cover crop to improve the soil in between main crop seasons and is typically not harvested for food in the United States. Because it is no longer widespread in our state, it is necessary to work directly with farmers to access these grains whole, fresh, and from Michigan. The rye growing at Living Earth Farm is a special departure from today’s typical baking and farming and I’ve been looking forward to seeing its progress for months.

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