Making fondant figurines doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t require a lot of skill. But when a fondant piece is added to a cake as decoration, it really brings the finished creation to life.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A vision or reference point
Here’s what you’ll need to consider:
- Scale of the piece
- Color scheme and degree of detail
- How the piece fits into the overall design
These are the materials required:
- 10 to 12 ounces of white fondant
- A ball tool and toothpicks
- A cutting board or fondant mat and rolling pin
- An X-acto knife
- A ruler
- Various gel food colors (red, black, brown)
- Water and a paintbrush
- Vegetable shortening (a small amount of white non-flavored for kneading fondant)
A recent project of mine was a Monopoly-themed birthday cake. The central character, Mr. Monopoly (or rich Uncle Pennybags), was singled out as the decoration of preference by the recipient. The figure depicted herein came together in about 90 minutes. I might have been able to complete it in less time, but it was evening and I was multi-tasking by catching up on some of my favorite TV programs.
Given the arms and hands are the most tricky parts, I’ll describe them in detail. From there, you’ll quickly see how the rest of the figurine comes together.
Are you ready to go?
Divide the fondant into 4 sections. You’ll need a larger portion of black and skin tone than red and white (see the photo below for quantity reference). Tint three portions into the various colors: black, red and skin tone. The remaining portion is left white. Skin tone is achieved by adding a tinge of red and a tinge of brown to a small amount of white fondant; knead until the color is uniform.
Considerations when tinting fondant:
- Always use a very small dab of shortening in the palm of the hand to knead the color into the material—it helps to keep the fondant from sticking. If the fondant becomes tacky while working the color in, add another dab of shortening
- The warmth of the hands will bring the fondant to a pliable state
- Using food safe gloves helps to prevent color stains to your hands. However, if you choose to not use them the color will wash out—eventually
- Otherwise be sure to scrub the hands thoroughly between coloring each shade to prevent color transfer and streaking. Tinting lighter shades first, progressing to the darkest also helps to prevent color transfer from the hands
- Wrap each piece of colored fondant tightly in plastic until ready to use. Generally, keep all unused fondant wrapped in plastic when not working on a section piece to prevent premature drying of the material
- Start with sizeable piece of black fondant and shape a torso for the body; set aside uncovered because you want it to firm up
- Using skin tone fondant make two cigar shaped rolls about 3” in length for arms
- Roll two small flat pieces of white and black fondant each. With the razor knife cut a white strip to make a shirt cuff and affix towards one end of the cigar shape; repeat for the other arm
- With the black cut two larger rectangles to fit and cover the rest of the arms up to the white cuff; set aside
- Make 2 small grape-sized balls of skin tone fondant—these will become hands. Using the ball end of the ball tool, make an off-center depression. Now take the x-acto knife and make 4 clean slits opposite the depression. With the tip of a toothpick, carefully nudge the slits apart into fingers. You might need to re-cut the fingers if they won’t separate easily. Using your fingers in combination with the tip part of the ball tool, shape the fingers with gentle pinches, rounding them. Opposite the fingertips at the rounded base of the hand, gently pinch this end to taper the shape and create a palm
Now you may attach the hands to the arms. Dab each arm at the cuff end and at the base of the palm of the hands with water. Snap off a half piece of toothpick; insert one end half way into the cuff end of the arm. Gently push the hand onto the cuff end toothpick. On the opposite end of the arm, that which you will attach to the torso, insert another piece of toothpick as shown.
Now that you see how the appendages are done, the rest is simple. Here are a few pointers:
- The eyes, nose and buttons are simply tiny fondant balls in their appropriate color and placed accordingly
- The ears were small balls of skin tone fondant somewhat flattened and shaped with the ball tool, then affixed with a dab of water
- The mustache was cut and shaped from a very small piece of white fondant
- The mouth was made from poking the pointy end of the ball tool into the shaped head
- My visual reference for shaping the hat was a jumbo black marshmallow. It had a flat, round piece attached under it for a brim
- Every additional connection point (what we know to be anatomical joints) was fastened with water for adhesion and toothpicks for support.
- 3D elements need this important support in addition to weight balance, or gravity will have its way
Follow through with the figurine until completion. Once assembled, leave it exposed to air for several hours or overnight to firm up. Prop it up a bit by placing small wads of balled-up paper towels or a clean cloth to support the figure and/or appendages until it sets. When I say set, I mean a firmness similar to a piece of chewing gum. The piece may be made well in advance, however if more than a day or so before using, store it cushioned in an airtight container. Use a dab of water on the underside of the figurine and a toothpick to affix the body to the cake.
The process shown here is a practical application for just about any figurine you desire to make. The best route for success is to see it, believe it, do it.
Here is the figurine as it appeared on the finished cake…
By the way, the client who received this for his birthday was my son.
It’s all in the smile…this is why I do what I do.