Fondant is so versatile. This soft and pliable icing is used by many a cake decorator to cover entire cakes with or used to craft unique characters and figurines. Drying times may vary, depending on what you want your fondant to do. You may need your figurines to be dryer and harder than the draped cake cover itself. To achieve this, there are several methods of drying you can choose from. While airdrying is still the most reliable method that allows for a smooth-looking fondant, it may take up to 36 hours, depending on the fondant’s thickness. Faster methods such as using a food dehydrator may save you time. These machines are popular for drying fruit, seeds, herbs, and making beef jerky. Using a food dehydrator to dry fondant for smaller decorating items like leaves, flowers, and figurines is ideal, especially in more warm and humid locations.
Using a food dehydrator to dry fondant.
Drying time for fondant speeds up significantly when using a food dehydrator. Smaller flat pieces can dry in a tenth of the time it usually takes. There are however a few things to consider first when using a food dehydrator to dry fondant. Too much heat will melt fondant. The focus should therefore be on air movement and low heat. Fondant is different from gum paste since it never really hardens completely. It always remains somewhat soft, although harder on the outside when dried with a dehydrator, depending on the size and thickness of the pieces.
TIP: For drying 3D figurines, consider drying pieces separately before assembling them together with edible glue.
How to use a dehydrator to dry fondant:
- Work in a cool dry room. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to counter humidity.
- Cover your dehydrator trays with wax paper.
- Apply a thin layer of shortening unto the wax paper to discourage the fondant from sticking.
- Leave some space between each fondant piece.
- Always use a food dehydrator’s lowest heat setting. Too much heat will either melt the fondant, while overdrying may crack the fondant.
- For larger fondant pieces you may need deeper trays.
- Place fondant pieces farthest away from the heat source.
- Ideally use a good quality food dehydrator with an adjustable heat setting dial and timer. Automatic machines do not give you the control you need to dry fondant successfully.
Alternative drying methods for fondant.
Airdrying fondant is a time-consuming method, but also the safest. On average 36 hours are needed for airdrying fondant, which means careful planning and preparation is needed before serving.
CMC(Carboxymethyl cellulose) or Tylose powder can be added to fondant to speed up the drying process. This cellulose gum, found in most baking sections at craft stores, helps strengthen and harden the fondant. Usually, 1 to 2 teaspoons of powder are added to 16 ounces (450 grams) of fondant.
Oven light or table fan
An oven light gives off just the right amount of heat for the fondant to dry. Simply place your pieces on a baking sheet and switch on the oven light. You may even leave the oven door open for the air to circulate. This method offers a safe and faster alternative to simple airdrying. Other options include the use of a table lamp or table fan.
A popular way for drying smaller fondant pieces that may be on the cake already is with a blowdryer. Keep the appliance at least 6 inches away from the fondant, whilst moving it around to create a good amount of airflow. Use the lowest heat setting or simply set it to cold when drying fondant.
Last thoughts on using a food dehydrator to dry fondant
Using a food dehydrator to dry fondant can change your life, especially if you work with fondant and gum paste on a regular basis. If you are running a small cake decorating business from home, saving time makes all the difference. Choosing the right food dehydrator to dry fondant can also have an impact on drying times and business success. As mentioned earlier, working with a dehydrator that has an adjustable heat dial is ideal since it offers much lower heat settings than an automatic machine would.
Here is a list of our absolute favorite food dehydrators:
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