Time to talk about poured fondant icing for our choux pastry! Because, yes, you can actually make it at home! And no, it’s not hard at all! I always got disheartened when I saw a recipe calling for fondant, since it is not so easy to find. But guess what, I’m pretty sure you already have the ingredients to make it from scratch! Sugar and water! Yes, that’s right! Just two ingredients for silky smooth icing! And do you want some more good news?! You can actually store it in the fridge for a year!
Poured Fondant Versus Rolled Fondant
Before we start, let’s clear something up to avoid any confusion. We are not talking about rolled fondant which is like dough that can be rolled out and used to decorate birthday cakes for example. Poured fondant (also called pastry fondant) on the other hand, is gently heated and used in a liquid form to glaze choux pastry or napoleon cakes for example.
What Is Poured Fondant?
Cooked sugar syrup
In its most basic form, poured fondant is made up of two ingredients – sugar and water- that are boiled together to form a cooked sugar syrup. It is very important to pay close attention to the temperature of the syrup as it will determine the final texture of your fondant.
Temperature of the syrup
To make poured fondant1, the syrup should be taken off the heat when the temperature ranges between 113°C (235°F) to 116°C (240°F), also known as the soft-ball stage. The more you heat the syrup, the firmer the fondant will be.
You could drop a bit of syrup into a bowl of cold water and let it cool for a few seconds. If the syrup has reached the soft-ball stage, you’ll manage to form a ball with it that you can easily press between your fingers.
If you’ve made caramel before, you’ll know how dreadful crystallization can be. Your smooth caramel suddenly becomes grainy and gritty. But when making fondant, you actually have to crystallize the syrup to get that white, smooth icing. Fondant falls into the category of crystalline confections, such as fudge, where crystallization is controlled to get a smooth and creamy product.
Once the syrup is cooked, it is quickly cooled down to a certain temperature (75°C/ 167°F in our recipe) by dipping the pot in cold water. The syrup is then stirred to incorporate air and to form fine sugar crystals. If the temperatures are carefully followed, your once translucent syrup will turn into a smooth, white paste.
Stirring the hot syrup immediately without cooling it down to 75°C/ 167°F will lead to larger crystals, compromising the smooth texture and shiny appearance of the fondant.
You can replace a small portion of sugar with glucose if you want. Adding glucose will produce softer fondant that can be stored longer. You can add it to the water and sugar from the beginning but the sugar won’t melt as easily if there is glucose. The best time to add glucose is once the sugar has melted and the syrup is boiling. Since glucose is quite thick and hard to handle, you could slightly heat it before using it to make it more fluid.
How To Use Poured Fondant
Heating the fondant
To use it, all you have to do is take it out of the fridge and gently heat it in a double boiler until it becomes fluid. You can add a few drops of water if needed to get to that consistency. Okay, the correct way of doing this is to add simple syrup, not water. But you might not have any on hand and water worked quite well for me. But the most important thing to remember is that the temperature should never exceed 37°C (98.6°F). If heated beyond that temperature, the fondant will lose its shine.
Stirring the fondant
At this stage, you don’t want to introduce any air bubbles which will ruin the appearance of your fondant. Use a rubber spatula (not a whisk) and stir gently.
Testing the consistency
To determine whether your fondant has the right consistency, simply dip a spoon in and lift it over the pot. If your fondant falls back into the pot forming a ribbon, which remains a little before disappearing into the remaining fondant, it is ready. If it immediately disappears, it’s too runny. Add some cold fondant to thicken it.
Adding flavors and colors
You can be as creative as you want with fondant. You can add flavors in the form of extracts, such as vanilla or coffee. Or you can use cocoa powder like we will do when making chocolate religieuses. And you can add a few drops of food coloring for a light color or powder food coloring if you want a brighter tone. I like to add the flavors and colors once the fondant has melted a little.
Right then, time to make homemade fondant!
Making Poured Fondant
Making the syrup
- Fill a large bowl about halfway through with cold water. The bowl should be wide enough to fit your pot as you will put it inside to stop the cooking process.
- In a small pot, pour the water first and then the sugar.
- Heat the mixture on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Try to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pot. If you do, you can brush it down with a wet brush.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high and boil the mixture until a digital thermometer registers about 113°C (235°F) to 116°C (240°F).
Measuring the temperature: Make sure the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan or you will get an inaccurate result (a higher temperature). If you are making a small quantity of syrup, slightly tilt your pot to the side and measure the temperature.
- Place the pan in the bowl of cold water until the temperature reaches 75°C (167°F) (again, not the bottom of the pan which is now cooler). This will just take a few minutes. I would not recommend using ice water as the syrup cools down extremely quickly. You might need to reheat the poured fondant at one point if this happens.
Making poured fondant with a hand mixer
If you follow the amounts given in the recipe below, I would recommend mixing the syrup using a hand mixer. But I’ll also show you later how to do it with a stand mixer.
- Pour the syrup in a mixing bowl (or leave it in the pot if you aren’t worried about scratching your pot, I was!).
- Using a hand mixer fitted with the dough hooks, start mixing on low speed and then increase it to medium-high until a white paste forms. The fondant should still feel slightly lukewarm to the touch when it is done.
The fondant will start to thicken slowly and the appearance will go from translucent to white. Stop mixing when it looks just thick enough to be held. Don’t mix beyond that or it will turn hard and powdery. If this happens, place it in the microwave (in a microwavable bowl) for a few seconds until it softens again.
- Once a paste forms, gather it into a ball and work it a little using a spatula before placing it on a clean kitchen counter. Make sure it’s ready and not sticky before using your hands!
- Using the heel of your hand, press the paste down away from you a few times.
- Wrap the paste tightly in parchment paper and place it in a zip-lock bag with the date written. Refrigerate it for at least 3 days before using it and up to a year.
Making poured fondant with a stand mixer
When making the amount of fondant as stated in the recipe, I personally found it much easier and faster to use a hand mixer. But if you prefer using a stand mixer or wish to double the amounts of the recipe, this section is for you.
Tip: If you feel like your paddle isn’t reaching the bottom of the bowl, make sure you have set it correctly and lower it if needed (or raise the bowl, depending on the model used). This is especially an issue when the quantities are small.
Okay, back to the fondant!
- Pour the syrup into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed (I put it on speed 6 out of 10) until a white paste forms.
- Once the fondant is ready, work it a little using a spatula until it becomes malleable.
- Wrap it up in parchment paper (or cling film) and place it in a zip-lock bag with the date written. Refrigerate it for at least 3 days before using it and up to a year.
Well, you made homemade fondant! Tell me, aren’t you proud of yourself right now?!
If you follow the temperatures given and tips, you shouldn’t have any issues. But just in case, let’s troubleshoot poured fondant together.
Troubleshooting Poured Fondant
Let’s start with what could go wrong in the first phase: making the fondant and then we’ll see what could go wrong when you decide to glaze pastries.
The fondant won’t thicken
You’ve been mixing the syrup for a very long time and the fondant is still runny.
- The syrup never reached the soft ball stage: 113°C (235°F) to 116°C (240°F). Make sure you heat it to that temperature and do not place the thermometer on the bottom of the pot or you will get an inaccurately high measurement.
- If using a stand mixer, the quantity is too small or the paddle is too high. Make sure the syrup is being properly mixed. Solution: Continue mixing with a hand mixer fitted with a hook attachment to get to the tough areas.
The fondant is too dry
- The fondant is too cold: The fondant should still be warm when you finish mixing. If it has cooled down and has become dry and powdery, reheat it for a few seconds in the microwave (in a microwavable bowl) or in a double boiler.
- The syrup was overheated: Don’t exceed 116°C (240°F) when boiling the syrup. And place the pot immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process.
When you glaze pastries, you might find that your fondant isn’t shiny enough or is too thick. Let’s see how to solve this.
The fondant looks dull
When you need to use the fondant, gently heat it in a double boiler. Never exceed 37°C (98.6°F) or the fondant will lose its shine.
The fondant is too thick
When heating the fondant, if you find it too thick even when it’s warm, add a few drops of water (or simple syrup if you have) to get to the desired consistency.
The fondant is too thin
If you added a bit too much water to make the fondant thinner, you can add some cold fondant to firm it up.
Using The Poured Fondant
And that’s it! Not too difficult is it? Are you ready to glaze some choux pastry?! Head over to those posts.
1Suas, M. (2008). Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach (1st ed.). Delmar Cengage Learning.