Help! Why is my fondant sweating :(

Sticky or sweaty fondant

This is part 1 of a 2-part blog post all about fondant. Due to there being so much to cover, I decided to split it into 2 posts or else it would be way too long! Therefore, 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. One of the benefits of being able to teach all over the world is that I get to experience. fondant in every climate imaginable and have used LOTS of different brands too.

First, 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.

Why does fondant sweat?

The reason fondant sweats is because it has such a high sugar content. This is an issue because 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. For example, 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 – read more about it 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.

Humidity

Therefore, 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. At the extreme end, sometimes the colours start to bleed into each other or the moisture starts to pool and drip down the cake.

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 for using and storing fondant in humid climates:

  • One of the main ways to reduce the effect the humidity has on your fondant is to use fondant 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!). So, when you are not working on your project, try storing it in a closed cardboard box to minimise the contact with the humidity.

Be aware, 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.

Can I store my fondant cake in the fridge?

It is possible to store your fondant cake in the fridge. However, there are some preparations you need to do beforehand to ensure it does not sweat inside the fridge. The cake needs to be properly wrapped and sealed in a box to protect it from the moisture in the fridge.

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.

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

How to store a fondant cake in the fridge

Therefore, 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. As a result, 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.

how to store a fondant cake
As an example, covering and wrapping your cake like this will ensure that moisture from the fridge does not damage your fondant cake.

How to fix sticky fondant

The best way to fix sticky fondant is to knead more icing sugar into the paste until it returns to a nice working consistency. However, this might not always be possible. Therefore, depending on what stage of ‘sweating’ your fondant is at, you have a few different 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. Therefore, 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 as a result of the brand of fondant. Therefore, 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. This will 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.

With a light coloured project, try dusting a thin layer of corn flour or icing sugar over the wet areas. This will 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. Alternatively, 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

  • When deciding which fondant to use, remember that not all fondant brands are equal. Therefore, price is not an indication of how suitable the fondant will be for your climate.
  • When in doubt, ask other decorators in your local area what they use. They will be more experienced than say, someone halfway across the world. This is because they don’t work in the same climate you do. Alternatively, 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. You an also change the climate (using a fan or air conditioner) or wrap it up to try reducing the damage.
  • When 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! Continue to part 2 here.

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. The wait list is now open for the next class so sign up to get the announcement email first!

14 thoughts on “Help! Why is my fondant sweating :(

  1. 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.

    1. Thanks Sharon, I am in KL and have a shiny Christmas cake :(. I have put it in front of a fan, hope that’s going to do the trick.

  2. But my own fondant melted even after working and can’t keep the AC working all day, so what do I do to it after 24hour of working with it

    1. Hi Joyce, if you cannot run an air conditioner all day you can try the section in the blog post about keeping it in the fridge. It’s under “Ok, so instead of an air-conditioned room, can I store my fondant cake in the fridge?”. Good luck 🙂

  3. Please help! I’ve cut fondant squares to cover a minecraft square cake and left them uncovered to dry for the last 3 days. Tonight I nearly fainted when I saw them all sticky!!! Help, it’s Sunday evening and my grandsons birthday party is on Friday.. I don’t have time to redo everything and am petrified the cake will flop.

    1. Hi Michelle, I replied to your email about this before seeing your comment but will also copy the response here in case it helps anyone else.

      Is the fondant in an air conditioned room? Usually sticky fondant is due to humidity. Having it in an airtight container or a humid environment (tropical weather or a few rainy days) will cause moisture to bead on the surface.

      If you have air conditioning then turning it on should help dry it out. If you don’t, you can try putting the pieces in the oven just at the lowest setting with the light and fan on but no heat if possible. That should also help to dry it out.

      Apart from that most fixes here involve mixing the fondant again if it’s a problem that can’t be fixed another way, but hopefully that’s not necessary.

  4. Thank you so much..a question though..what causes the fondant to tear after you place it on the cake and start to smooth it down?? Im working in an upward motion (hope you know what I mean?? not pulling down and it will tear right on the edge. It doesn’t happen all the time but I started using wilton and I think they may have changed their recipe. It is really soft

    1. Hi Melanie, it’s always tough to say but if it is tearing easily that probably means it might be too soft or sticky. If it’s too soft then it will break easily and might even tear itself due to gravity after sticking on the cake. You can firm it up with Tylose/CMC powder or try another brand if yours isn’t working consistently for you. If it doesn’t always happen it could be related to the weather or humidity, you can usually tell when kneading if it will be getting too soft too quickly. You might also not have enough syrup along the top edge of the cake so it’s not sticking securely, or have too much cornflour/sugar under your fondant from rolling it out which makes it harder to stick to the cake.

  5. Hi there! Thankyou for this blog. But I want to ask you , I try to cover ganache cake with fondant and the fondant directly wet. Do you know why is this happening? Thankyou so much for your help 🙂

    1. Hi Clara, I’m not sure what you mean by the fondant being wet. Does it get sticky and soft as soon as you put it on the cake? It might happen if your room is humid and the cake is cold.

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