One of the biggest decorating struggles that people always share with me is their quest for a clean and smooth looking cake. They always want to know how my cakes always look flawless and clean and the truth is that there is no big secret. It’s a combination of practice but also the following 3 things.
1. Start with a good base – Ensure your buttercream or ganache is neat and even. Do not cover the fondant directly on a cake. Not only will you not be able to get a smooth even finish, but it is super boring to have cake without any filling and just fondant (with the exception of fruit cakes of course).
Update: If you want to know more about the ganache I use, you can visit this blog post that is dedicated entirely to ganache.
I also have free videos showing how I achieve a neat and even ganache finish here.
2. Use a good quality fondant – Price is not always an indicator. If you are unsure, ask around in your local cake groups (your local friends will have a better idea than your international ones because they have used those brands in your climate. Sometimes what works beautifully in one country works like rubbish in another).
If you don’t have anyone to ask, try for yourself. Purchase some smaller packets and test how the fondant reacts to being kneaded, rolled out and draped over items. It should be pliable (not too sticky, not too dry) when kneaded and when you pull it, it should have a nice decent stretch (it should not be cracking or just pulling apart). When you lift it to drape it over the cake, it should not be so soft that your fingers dig right through it. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different brands to find one that suits you. You might even find that you end up using different brands depending on the season.
Update: For those who want to know brand of fondant I use, I use Bakels Pettinice.
3. Work quickly and smooth, smooth, smooth – The reasons for cracks and tears are mainly because the fondant starts to dry out and therefore loses its ability to stretch and/or blend back together. If the fondant is still fresh when mistakes happen, chances are that you’ll be able to smooth and blend it back together. Which leads straight into the last part – smooth, smooth, smooth. Use your smoother and acetate. Buff and smooth the entire surface of the cake with a nice firm pressure. This helps to even out any slight bumps and shows you where all the air bubbles are so you can prick them out.
If you would like to learn more about the basics behind setting up, ganaching and covering a round and square cake (plus recipes!), check out my books or my online tutorial The Basics Bible. If you purchase the book, you won’t need the online tutorial as it covers the same content.
You can also view and purchase all the tools I use for my tutorials in my online store.