Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

Our oldest daughter is a Pokemon fanatic, so we’ve been planning a Pokemon birthday party for weeks. Originally, we talked about making a six layer cake, similar to the rainbow cake from two years ago, and then shaping it and icing it to make a Pikachu Pokemon cake. It’s still a great idea, but for this party, we decided to try our hand at fondant cake decorating.

My knowledge of fondant cake decorating, prior to making this Pokemon cake, comes directly from watching “Cake Boss” and various cake challenges on Food Network. In other words, I had no real idea of what I was doing, but I’ve seen amazing creations made from fondant. We figured “we’re creative, we can do this” — and we were right! It took a little trial and error, and I am happy to pass on our fondant cake decorating tips and hints. We’ll definitely be decorating fondant cakes for future special events! 

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners

1. Don’t be afraid to try! I have avoided fondant cake decorating for a long time because I {mistakenly} thought it was out of my league. Once I took the leap and gave it a try, I had so much fun — and my husband and I brainstormed a dozen more cool cake ideas while we were working. Take a deep breath and go for it… if worse comes to worst, you can just re-roll the fondant and start over!

2. Use plenty of cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands, the table, the rolling pin, your work surface… in short, everything. If you get the fondant a little too dry and it starts to crack, add a tiny bit of vegetable shortening to soften it back up again.

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

3. No cornstarch on hand? You can use powdered confectioner’s sugar too! It works the same way as cornstarch, keeping the fondant from sticking to everything, plus it has the bonus of adding a little more sweetness to the flavor.

4. If you use pre-packaged fondant from Wilton, take a few minutes to knead the fondant before you attempt to roll it out. It’s much easier to roll out and work with fondant when it’s been warmed up a little. Cover the rest of the fondant in a sealed Tupperware container or zip-lock bag to keep it from drying out.

5. Cover your work surface with wax paper, because the cornstarch and confectioner’s sugar is going to get everywhere. Clean up is much faster when you can just swap out the wax paper covering your surface!

6. When rolling out your fondant, remember to keep turning it — roll, give it a quarter turn, roll some more, turn it again! Otherwise, you’re going to be so proud of your perfectly smooth rolled-out fondant, and so disappointed when you try to move it and it sticks to your work surface. Even when using cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar, you have to keep turning fondant when rolling it out!

7. If you decide to roll out a darker color of fondant first, and then decide to roll out your white fondant next, take the time to change the wax paper covering your surface first! If not, you may realize {too late} that you have tiny flecks of red in your perfectly smooth white fondant. Ask me how I know!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

8. Don’t roll your fondant too thin or it will stretch and/or rip easily. You want to aim for between 1/4 and 1/8 inches thick — about as thick as a wooden popsicle stick.

9. When it comes time to place the fondant on the cake, more hands are better! I had trouble lifting the large red piece that would cover half of our Pokemon cake without stretching or ripping it, so I was very grateful to have my husband there to help me lift and set the large pieces in place.

10. If you do accidentally rip the fondant, you can repair it by scooping a little vegetable shortening onto your finger and then rubbing it gently. You’re basically going to slowly ease the edges of the hole together, applying pressure so the pieces will meld together. We had a rather large rip on one side of our Pokemon cake and after trying this trick… you couldn’t even tell where the hole had been. Awesome!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

11. If you’re assembling small fondant pieces to go on top of your cake and you have to stop in the middle of the construction, refrigerate the pieces in a Tupperware container to keep them moist and easy to work with.

12. Once you’ve finished assembling smaller fondant pieces into a large decoration for your cake, do not place it on your cake until just before the party/event or the moist icing will soften the fondant and the color may bleed. Allow the finished fondant piece to dry out in a safe place where the guest of honor won’t see it!

13. I let my husband take the helm when it came to cutting out the numbers for our daughter’s Pokemon cake. He used a new blade in an X-Acto knife and held it as though he was drawing with it. He “drew” each number and then went back to refine the edges and remove the fondant from around the numbers. He lifted each number with the X-Acto blade and placed it carefully on the cake, then used the end of the handle to help move them around until they were in the right position. Wilton sells a variety of tools specifically for fondant cake decorating, but we made do with what we had on hand, and I think we did just fine!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

14. Go slow, be patient, and don’t give up! Take the time to make sure each piece of fondant is exactly where you want it before you allow it to dry, because it will be a lot more difficult to move and reshape pieces once they’ve dried in place

15. Enjoy the happy exclamations of your birthday guest of honor! Our daughter flipped when she saw her bright “Pokeball” Pokemon cake (and two dozen Pikachu cupcakes) and it made every minute of cake decorating worthwhile!

Fondant Cake Decorating Tips & Hints for Beginners | The Destiny Manifest

Pokemon "Pokeball" Fondant Cake & Pikachu Cupcakes

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I'm Heather, a married mama of two teen girls, a stillborn baby girl (7/1/12), and a sweet rainbow baby girl (4/2/14). I've been blogging at The Destiny Manifest since 2001. I like to write about appreciating all of the beautiful little things that surround us, particularly in the face of grief, infant loss and mental health issues. Every day is an adventure!

Latest posts by Heather O. (see all)

  • Thnk you so much for sharing this and must say, I have stayed away from Fondant for the exact reasons you listed here. I have totally pinned your article to go back to if and when I get brave enough to indeed try. Loved the Pokemon Cake and cupcakes, too. Great job!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Janine! I was so stinkin’ proud of us when the cake was finished! πŸ™‚

  • Most awesome! My hubby always loved decorating my girls cakes! lol I will try your tips soon. I gave you a PIn! xoxo susieQTpies

  • These are great tips. I wouldn’t have even known how to begin using fondant.

    The cake turned out awesome.

  • Kasey Attianese

    Looks amazing! Great advice and tips!!

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  • Thanks
    for linking up with the Friday Flash Blog. I hope you checked out the
    highlighted posts as well as everyone’s terrific entries. Have a fabulous
    weekend!

    Jennifer

  • Jerika Baldwin

    If you cover cake with fondant then do fondant decorations do you still need to worry about the color bleeding? Also I’ve seen to use piping gel to cover cake with fondant, is this what you would use for applying decorations? Or buttercream icing? I’m making my son a two tier toy story cake for his first birthday, I’ve never used fondant so I’m freaking out a little. If you could email me with advice I’d really appreciate it! Pupsmama105@gmail.com thanks so much!

  • jody

    Thank you for these tips. I’m just starting, well getting ready to. I have the items I need, I just keep putting it off. lol Now I think I’m going to go ahead and make some cookies with it. So thanks!

  • Jessibeth Vicenty

    Great Tips! Thanks!

  • Amy VerHoef Johnston

    Couple of suggestions from experience! Never use Wil**n fondant. It tastes terrible. I use FondX. It doesn’t dry out as easily and it actually tastes GOOD! Also, since wax paper slides around so easily and doesn’t take tape well, I use removable contact/shelf paper. That has the added benefit of preventing any wrinkles from the wax paper or texture from the table from being pressed into your fondant. Even better, get yourself a big Silpat!

    • Diana Hickey

      Nice to know, thanks for your knowledge.

  • Fleur Portellas

    Your story is the same as mine was 27 years ago, when i started iceing. You get a non stick mat that works the best when rolling out fondant and helps when lifting as well. I always work with a fan in my kitchen when decorating as to help with the setting of the iceing. Fondant sweats in heat. In the summer i keep a fan on my cakes until it has to be delivered. When transporting a cake, get a large piece of foam (not covered – raw) about 5cm or thicker and place it in the boot of your car. With careful driveing the cake should arrive safely and the foam absorbes the shockes of the road. Buying varies decorators books helped me to learn. Happy iceing

  • Iram Moazzam

    Thanks for the helpful tips.

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