by Sharon Wee

This is part 1 of a 2-part blog post all about fondant. There is just so much to cover that I decided to split it into 2 posts or else it would be way too long! This post deals with humidity and how that affects fondant, while part two will deal with the opposite – what happens when fondant is too dry.

I get asked many questions on a daily basis but the one that most people always want to know is why their fondant is “sweating” or gets sticky. I’ve been lucky enough to teach all over the world and because of that I have experienced fondant in every climate imaginable and have used LOTS of different brands too.

Let me start right at the beginning. Not sure how to cover a cake in fondant or how to use fondant? Check my YouTube channel for videos like the below where I show how to cover a round cake with fondant.

What is fondant? What is fondant made from?

Fondant (or “ready to roll” icing) is a sugar-based dough used in cake decorating. The biggest single ingredient in fondant is sugar which helps it set firmly and seals in the cake underneath.

So why does fondant sweat?

Sugar’s biggest enemy is water or in our case humidity. The air that surrounds us has a varying degree of humidity depending on where in the world we are located. The higher above ground you are (hello Denver, Colorado) and the further you are from the equator, the drier the air tends to be. Dry climates can be good for working with fondant but climates that are too dry can also work against you. This causes the fondant to dry out too quickly which cases cracks and elephant skin – more about that in part 2!

The closer you are to the equator and the closer you are to sea level, the more moisture is present in the air. Sometimes you might be able to really feel it (hello Singapore) other times, not so much. But there is always some level of moisture in the air.

The more humid the climate is the more likely the sugars in your fondant will start to melt. The first stage of fondant melting starts with it getting soft and sticky, then it builds a shine (you notice your fondant gets really shiny, almost like someone sprayed a layer of oil on it) and sometimes this can happen just from you over-handling your fondant. If you continue to expose it to humidity, the shine turns into sweat, where it appears like the fondant is actually perspiring. Sometimes the colours start to bleed into each other or the moisture starts to pool and drip down the cake.

Gosh I didn’t know fondant is so sensitive! How do I use and store fondant?

Unless you live in a humid country you have no idea how annoying and frustrating fondant can be to work with. For those of you who are lucky to live in a decent climate, be thankful – very thankful. Especially for your energy bills!

So here are some options:

  • One of the main ways to reduce the effect the humidity has on your fondant is to work in a climate controlled (aka air conditioned room). This helps immensely BUT it also means the air conditioner needs to be running 24/7. You can’t turn off the air conditioner and go to bed, then wake up the next morning expecting that your fondant has survived the humidity overnight.
  • Another option is to work in front of a fan and have a dehumidifier running. This option will only really work if there is a small amount of humidity in the air. Not for places with high humidity (Singapore I am looking at you!). When you are not working on your project, try storing it in a closed cardboard box to minimise the contact with the humidity.

Do not store your fondant project in an air tight container. While you may think that this is the best option, it really is not. This gives the moisture nowhere to go and will cause your fondant to start sweating.

You can also try a few different brands of fondant to find the one that suits your climate best and even add a bit of CMC/Tylose to firm up the fondant.

Ok, so instead of an air-conditioned room, can I put my fondant cake in the fridge?

Yes and no. Common sense says that cakes should go in the fridge to stay fresh but fondant cakes are not your average cake. You might not be aware but your fridge is actually very humid (unless you have a humidity controlled fridge) and fondant does not like humidity remember? So sometimes depending on how humid your fridge is, your fondant cake can even start ‘sweating’ when it’s cold. It’s the same reason why you find condensation on your bottles of sauce or water in the fridge.

Not to mention that when you take your cake out from the fridge into the room, the change in temperature will also cause the fondant to start sweating like crazy.

So the best way to get around that is to place your cake in a covered box or wrap your cake entirely in a big plastic bag (a bin bag works great) and then place it in the fridge. This will help with protecting the cake against the humidity in the fridge. Then when you take the cake out, try and take it out into a cool (air conditioned) room so the fondant can slowly ‘warm up’ and adjust to the room temperature. This will minimise any ‘sweating’. Don’t unwrap or touch the fondant cake for about an hour – give it time to acclimatise.

Ruffles are one cake decoration where humidity makes a big difference – no one likes droopy ruffles!

Help my fondant is sweating – how do I fix it?

Depending on what stage of ‘sweating’ your fondant is at, you have a few options. All of which I have detailed for you below.

If fondant is not used yet If fondant is already applied
Stage 1

Fondant is soft and sticky

Try adding some sifted icing sugar and kneading it into the fondant to bring it back to working consistency.

This might also be due to the brand of fondant. You can try a different brand of fondant in the future.

Try moving the project into a cooler room and avoid touching the fondant or you may end up leaving finger prints on it.

Place the project in front of a fan or air conditioner to dry it out.

Stage 2

Fondant is really soft and shiny

Try adding some sifted icing sugar and CMC/tylose and kneading it into the fondant to bring it back to working consistency.

The fondant might be over worked (you may have hot hands). Wrap the fondant and put it away to ‘rest’ and try to use it again in about half an hour.

This might also be due to the brand of fondant. You can try a different brand of fondant in the future.

Try moving the project into a cooler room and avoid touching the fondant or you may end up leaving finger prints on it.

Place the project in front of a fan or air conditioner to dry it out.

If it’s a light coloured project, try dusting a thin layer of corn flour or icing sugar over the shiny areas to soak up some of the moisture.

Stage 3

Fondant feels wet to touch

Try adding quite a bit of sifted icing sugar and CMC/tylose and kneading it into the fondant to bring it back to working consistency.

This might also be due to the brand of fondant or the climate you are working in. Ensure you are working in an air-conditioned environment.

Place the project in front of a fan or air conditioner to dry it out.

If it’s a light coloured project, try dusting a thin layer of corn flour or icing sugar over the wet areas to soak up some of the moisture.

Place it in a closed box or wrap it in a bag and place it into the fridge.

Stage 4

Fondant has water dripping along the cake or is melting

Try adding a lot of sifted icing sugar and CMC/tylose and kneading it into the fondant to bring it back to working consistency.

This is a very big indication that the fondant is not suitable for your environment. Ensure you are working in an air-conditioned environment or with a suitable brand of fondant.

Try and use paper towels to blot away any excess moisture so it does not do any more damage.

If it’s a light coloured project, try dusting a thin layer of corn flour or icing sugar over the wet areas to soak up some of the moisture.

Place the project in front of a fan or air conditioner to dry it out.

Place it in a closed box or wrap it in a bag and place it into the fridge.

If the damage is serious, your only option might be to hide the area with some other decorations or remove the moisture damaged portion and redo it.

These tips don’t just apply to cakes, it matters for figurines and flowers too

Some additional tips when working with fondant

  • Not all fondant brands are equal and price is not an indication of how suitable the fondant will be for your climate.
  • If you are unsure, ask other decorators in your local area what they use, they will be more experienced than say, someone halfway across the world who does not work in the same climate you do. Sometimes local cake decorating stores will have samples they might be willing to share with you.
  • A good brand of fondant will be firm, still pliable and have a degree of stretch to it. It should not be crumbly or fall apart when you stretch it.
  • When your fondant is starting to sweat, don’t panic. Just work out where the humidity is coming from (Is it raining outside? Are you in a humid city? Is it from the fridge?) then try and fix that by moving it into a different area, changing the climate (using a fan or air conditioner) or wrapping it up and reducing the damage.
  • If you are using a new brand of fondant for the first time, just roll out a small piece and let it sit out on the table for about half an hour. Observe and see if it starts sweating.

I hope you have found that useful! Stay tuned for part 2 shortly.

If you want more tips on working with fondant for 3D structural cakes, and personal assistance from Sharon, be sure to check out her course Introduction to Cake Carving and Structure which is a comprehensive interactive course to learn cake decorating online. Enrollment closes soon – click here for details!

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2 Comments on Help! Why is my fondant is sweating :(

  1. Gemma Trinder
    August 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm (2 months ago)

    Thanks Sharon, your blogs are amazingly helpful and practical. Thank you for helping me hone my skills with all your helpful tips and tricks of the trade.

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      August 9, 2018 at 5:06 pm (2 months ago)

      Thanks Gemma, I’m glad you find them helpful!

      Reply

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