Notice my contact info to the right, if you want to contact me with any questions. I would also like to say that I do attempt to give credit where credit is due. I do not make any claims to cakes in my blog except the ones in my slideshow. If I show a cake I will try to post some type of identifer with it, however, if I don't know who posted the cake it is impossible for me to do that. I am only using the cake to illustrate a specific technique.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

To starch, or not to starch.

There has been some debate on whether it is safe to use cornstarch when rolling out fondant or not.

I have done a little research on the internet regarding this topic and will share the information that I have found thus far.

Most of the sources would indicate that it is not generally a good idea to use cornstarch, especially if the cake will not be eaten promptly. But cornstarch should absolutely never be used on fondant that will be placed on top of marzipan.

The reason for this being, when the cornstarch is trapped between the fondant and the wet surface of the cake, the cornstarch will begin to ferment. When the fermentation begins, it causes the cake to have a bitter flavor.

I have heard discussions that sway both ways, and I know some people that have used cornstarch for many years. I haven't had enough personal experience with cornstarch to give a personal view, so here are some of the comments I have found that say not to use cornstarch to roll out fondant.

Never roll marzipan out onto cornstarch as it can cause the paste to ferment which can spoil your beautiful work of art. – TWIS

Stop causing fermentation from corn starch – Sweetwise (“The Mat” use of the mat)

Dust your hands and working surface with icing sugar or corn starch (icing sugar MUST be used if the fondant will be laid over marzipan as corn starch will cause fermentation). – Korean Top News

No one is saying that CS is BAD for you..............
The "reaction" that Norm couldn't recall is FERMENTATION.
When CS gets wet and is then sealed in a plastic bag with the fondant, it can ferment using the sugars in the fondant. It degrades the fondant--it goes wet & gooey if it goes on for a long time. Over the short period, it can create a bitter taste (think beer).
Using simple logic, you can see that with a moist cake + CS on the underside of the fondant, you could have the perfect envrionment for anything from large bubbles (fermentation creates carbon dioxide gas) in the fondant over the short period to a disgusting mess over the long period (think cake stored on the counter for a few days).
I know, I know, it's never happened to you.............but fact is, it can.
The real $$ concern is putting fondant rolled out on CS back into fresh fondant and contaminating that. You think you have 5lbs. of good fondant and go back to find 5lbs. of a hot mess.
It's not a myth or urban legend or some evil plot to ruin the CS processor of the world............It's just based on food science and it's info that should be considered by any conscientious baker.
And 3% of CS is a WHOLE LOT different than 100% CS. You'd have to expect a MUCH larger reaction when using 100%..............Blakescakes on

As Blakescakes eluded to...there is also cornstarch in powdered sugar, but only 3%. So, powdered sugar is a lot less likely to ferment than pure cornstarch. Some sources say not to use either, to only use pure icing sugar (which is, if I'm correct, the same as powdered sugar without the cornstarch, and you can correct me if I'm wrong).

I guess in the end it is a matter of personal preference, I always use a small amount of shortening and a vinyl mat. I didn't like the white powdery look on my fondant when I used a 50/50 mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar, so I switched to the method I use now. If you do use cornstarch, you may (or may not) want to look into an alternative method for rolling out your fondant.

Happy Caking!

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