Fondant is magical stuff if you’re a cake decorator, but there’s a catch: It needs time to dry. So you’re definitely going to need a few tricks for speeding things up when you’re in a hurry, especially if you live in a warm, humid climate.
1. Pick the right surface
Clean, flat surfaces are essential. Remember that silicone mats or textured paper towels can leave patterns you don’t want.
2. Know your fondant
This will help you choose the best method for drying it. For instance, fondants that contain chocolate in the mix will harden more quickly if kept cool; drying shortcuts that use heat may do more harm than good.
Image via Craftsy instructor Lesly Wright from her class My Best Cake Yet! Essential Decorating Techniques
3. Keep it thin
The thinner you roll fondant, the faster it will dry. Thicker pieces will remain soft in the center even when the outside appears firm, so handle sculpted fondant figures carefully until you’re confident they’re dry all the way through.
4. Use an oven light or table lamp
Miraculously, the heat emitted from your oven light is just right for drying fondant pieces without melting or burning them. Simply place the fondant piece on a lined cookie sheet, pop it in the oven, close the door and turn the oven light on. Easy! Larger pieces can take a few hours to dry, while smaller ones may be done within the hour.
A desk lamp can do the job too. Just be mindful that the bright light may cause darker colors (like red, black and purple) to fade if left for too long.
When drying very thick, sculpted pieces like figures or animals, remember that the outside of the piece may dry faster than the center, and this can cause the surface to crack. If you need to dry a figurine in a flash, I recommend drying the pieces separately, then putting them together with edible glue.
Image via Craftsy instructor Lynlee Beckett from her class Birthday Cupcakes in a Snap
5. Try a fan or blow dryer
Moving air around fondant gets the drying process going. Place fondant pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper, then set the sheet in front of a stationary fan. It’ll still take a few hours (up to overnight) to dry your fondant pieces, but the overall time will be shorter.
A blow dryer is especially good for smaller pieces or for those that are already on a cake. Use its cold or low-heat setting and hold it at least six inches away from your fondant, moving it around as you would if you were blow-drying your hair.
6. Break out your food dehydrator
Back when I owned my bakery, getting a food dehydrator was a huge deal. If you make fondant-decorated cakes or gum-paste flowers on a regular basis, this device is a game-changer. Fondant decorations placed in a dehydrator on low dry in a tenth of the time it takes at room temperature, depending on the size and thickness of your piece.
7. Add a drying agent
If you know in advance that you’ll need your fondant decoration to dry in a hurry, you’ve got some options.
CMC or Tylose can be found at most cake-decorating stores, some craft stores and online. Follow the package’s instructions for use, but typically just knead a small amount into the fondant before shaping.
Combine 50 percent gum paste and 50 percent fondant for a sculpting medium that dries quickly and holds firm. Keep dusting your work surface, hands, tools and fondant with cornstarch or powdered sugar to keep the fondant dry as you go.