Next stop on the fondant tour (which I guess has only two stops) is rolled fondant. Rolled fondant has become incredibly popular over the last twenty years or so. It first rose to prominence in the wedding cake industry, draped over large cakes to give them a perfectly smooth appearance. Now of course you see it being employed for all sorts of wild and crazy stuff. Rolled fondant is basically a dough made of powdered sugar, one that’s very easy to roll, color and cut. The only tricky part about making it is that it calls for two or three ingredients you won’t typically find in a pantry, namely glucose syrup and glycerine, the purposes of which I’ll discuss later. Here’s a good recipe should you be interested in trying it.
Rolled fondant should not be confused with gumpaste, a close relative that gets its name from the gum tragacanth (and/or tylose) that’s added to it to give it stretchability. Gumpaste is typically what all the kooky decorations on creative cakes are made from, since gumpaste is not only more extensible, it can be rolled thinner and worked into more delicate shapes. Rolled fondant, though it’s often used to create ribbon effects, is typically the foundation.
The big drawback to rolled fondant is that while it looks fabulous it doesn’t taste all that great, for reasons I’ll get into shortly. The best tasting rolled fondant is of course home-made, though the vast majority of bakers who use rolled fondant buy it in huge pre-made blocks.