Most of us love the rainy season. It brings some reprieve from the heat of the summer, which is unbearable in many parts of India. It’s also the perfect time for some chai and snacks, and it’s an overall winner for many. But bakers dread this season because of how fondant, gum paste, and other decorative ingredients hold up during this time. It’s clear that the issues arise from the humidity, and one of the biggest problems is in the fondant or gum paste drying up within time. Another equally horrific problem is when your fondant starts sweating and melting in front of your eyes. In this article, let’s look at how to work with fondant and gum paste in humid conditions.
Fondant - Tips to Avoid Issues due to humidity
Firstly, your cake is the base on which the fondant is placed, whether to completely cover it or to place figurines on. The cake should never be cold or frozen, work with it at room temperature only. This will ensure that the fondant doesn’t react to the different temperature of the cake and will avoid sweating.
While working with the fondant, such as rolling or model-making, use more corn starch or icing sugar than you would normally. This will help keep it dry and prevent it from sticking to your working surface. If you are using fondant to cover an entire cake, go for a thicker sheet during this season. It will be more sturdy and have lesser chances of absorbing moisture. Another tip which is applicable always, but more so in this scenario, is to poke out the air bubbles in your fondant. Make sure to do this carefully, because even a small air bubble can expand and make your whole cake look haywire.
If you make your own fondant, make sure to make it a little more sturdy than soft. It shouldn’t be so sturdy that it is hard to work with, but just stiff enough that it doesn’t allow for moisture absorption. And lastly, the most common issue - it takes forever for the fondant to dry in this weather! It might take double or even triple the usual number of hours, and this makes it more susceptible to sweating. The best way to handle this is by drying it in your oven with the light on. If you can’t control the lighting of your oven, turn it on at the lowest temperature possible and let your creations dry in there.
Of course, this weather can also mean some pros for working with fondant. Your fondant takes longer to dry, so you won’t be wasting clumps that dried up too fast. It also gives you a lot more time to achieve the right shape or finish that you’re after. So it really is about adjusting accordingly and working the ingredient to your advantage.
Gum paste and the Rain
Gum paste might be even harder than fondant to work with during monsoon. While making your flowers, be very careful to push the gum paste all the way down to the hook at the end of the wire. This applies only if you are using wire, and it is recommended that you do so to ensure that it doesn’t slip out of place in the humidity.
Make your flowers well ahead of time to ensure that they are sufficiently dried and they won’t melt into the cake. If you are someone who does a lot of flowers for orders, say a wedding cake baker, then you are better off having some spare pre-made flowers at all times. Even if last-minute orders are not a problem, you will always have backups in case your main creations fail. Your best bet is to make them with white gum paste and to use your airbrush to colour them as required.
Another tip that may not be applicable to everyone - get a dehydrator. This is relevant if you make a lot of gum paste and fondant decorations and you live in a place that sees a lot of rainfall. In India, a home-use dehydrator costs less than Rs. 4000. It dries your decorations in less than an hour, so if you think this is of some use to you, you should explore your options and purchase one.
How to Store your Creations
Even after the flowers are dry, what could happen is that they could absorb moisture and collapse. A sure shot way to avoid this is by coating it with some sort of sugar syrup or glaze which hardens up. It is also a way to add shine to your flowers, so it won’t look out of place at all. This will seal the gum paste and avoid moisture from creeping in.
At the final stage of decoration? Try to avoid putting the flowers on the cake till you reach the venue or till the cake is brought out. This is only if you can do it or you know that someone at the venue will be able to. To store your flowers after making them, even for days, please don’t refrigerate them. Keep them in an airtight container on the counter, and you can put silica gel packets (unused, of course) for added protection to absorb the moisture.
Hope these tips help you bake and decorate without any mishaps this monsoon!
by Akhileshwari Anand Raj
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