Jan 31, 2009

What's MMF?

How do I make my own MMF? More importantly, why???
First things first, MMF (marshmallow fondant) is a soft-icing rolled dough that is used to cover cakes rendering a smooth and flawless surface (heh, on a good day). The monkey's bed above is a 13x9 cake covered with MMF, for example. Or, roll it out, cut or mold into shapes, and use it for decorations, or sometimes, to appear as the actual structure of a cake. The bamboo posts on the bed are made from MMF, allowed to dry, then hand painted with a gel food coloring. The little hat on the bed post was shaped over a plastic covered styrofoam ball, allowed to dry completely, then accented with powdered food coloring. You can also use it to cover molded cereal treats (rice krispie treats) like the monkey, blanket, and his little pillow.

You can even make flat plaques or little "do-dads" to spruce up that otherwise plain frosted cake.
This saves a whole lot of time on cake decorating day!
You can mold it, and shape it, similar to play dough (I know! fun huh?). You can achieve very different effects by applying it or shaping it while it's soft, or dry it out on a mold to hold a more "solid" shape...the possibilities are endless....well....almost. It does have it's limitations.

Fondant Daisies on Strawberry Butter cream
For instance, you can use it to mold and shape delicate flowers, with fine frilly edges, almost like the real thing, but it you put them in the fridge, or cover them (airtight) in a cake saver, or set it out in the sun on a hot, humid, summer day....well, you could very well find a melted drooping pool of sugary blob that doesn't even come close to what it was when you first completed your masterpiece. You have to know and remember that any sugary confection is a humectant, meaning, it attracts moisture and hangs on to it, and moisture + fondant = blob. That said, you'll learn that while a smoothly covered fondant cake in the fridge is ok, the fondant do-dads on top are NOT safe. (However, there will be some instances when you'll want moisture to "melt" your sugar and render it gooey for certain affects. That comes a bit later....

Ok, so by now you know you can buy tubs of ready made fondant and you're probably wondering, why in the heck is this chick working so hard making hers from scratch? Right? Well, for a couple of reasons. For one, the pre-made fondant, to put it simply, tastes gross. (ok, I'm an 80's gal, I WAS going to say, "gags me with a spoon") Ask any bride who has swooned over cakes in a magazine for months and goes for a tasting at her local bakery only to find her fiance spitting it out in, not a napkin, but her hand.

Speaking of taste, you're probably wondering what MMF tastes like. When it's covering a cake, with a layer of butter cream underneath, the fondant stays about the consistency of a soft fudge. In fact, it tastes much like fudge (you know, that marshmallow fudge that makes it's rounds every Xmas?) When the fondant is dried out and allowed to become hard, like for flowers and such, it's much like the consistency of candy corn, in fact, some recipes depending on the flavorings used, tastes like candy corn. Keep in mind when choosing a flavoring for your MMF that it will pick up some of the flavor from the icing underneath, so, you'll want to either use plain vanilla or match the two flavors.

Chocolate fondant is a bit more difficult to work with, but the end results make it worthwhile. Chocolate MMF tastes much like the tops of the Hostess chocolate cupcakes...mmmm...need I say more?
The second thing is, unless you're a pro and whipping out 3-4 cakes per day, it's well worth the time and effort cranking out your own sugary dough from scratch considering that it is a fraction of the cost of the "store bought" stuff. Pastry chefs and bakeries will use pre-made fondant because they simply do not have the time to do all the mixing, kneading, and coloring. Besides, that huge tube of preservatives in the storage room could last who knows how long. (Yikes)

Fire Chief Helmet Cake tutorial
Now I do have to emphasize, I am NOT a professional, I only do this for sheer pleasure, as well as entertainment, and as a creative outlet...literally, giving my stuff away to family and friends. I'm NOT in it for profit. I'm sure if I were a pastry chef, owned a bakery, or had a degree to pay for, I'd have a different view. That said, I normally have the ingredients in my pantry anyway, AND I have the time. So why not?
If you want to try it, and don't say I didn't warn that it's addicting, here's a good basic recipe for a quick easy MMF. Roll up your sleeves...it's gonna get messy!

For printable version click here

MMF Recipe

16 oz White mini marshmallows
3 Tbsp Water (maybe more)
2 pounds Powdered cane sugar, sifted (more or less)
1 tsp vanilla (or other flavoring)
1 tsp butter flavoring (opt)
1 tsp almond flavoring (opt)
1/2 C vegetable shortening (for the kneading step only)

In a large bowl, melt marshmallows and 2 Tbsp water in microwave for about 1 minute, stir in flavorings and return to the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is completely melted. Add about 3/4 of the amount of powdered sugar to the marshmallow and mix in. Dough will be stiff.

After fondant has cooled just a bit and is safe to handle, grease counter top with vegetable shortening, also grease your hands. Knead fondant, adding in the rest of the powdered sugar (you may not use all of it, and yet, you may need more) until a smooth elastic ball is formed. Add more powdered sugar if dough is too soft. Add more water (a tablespoon at a time) if it is too dry and tearing, add more shortening if too sticky.

For chocolate fondant; add a few squares of melted semi or bitter-sweet chocolate to the marshmallow mixture before adding the powdered sugar. Or, replace 1/3-1/2 C of the powdered sugar with powdered cocoa. For a deeper brown color, just add brown food coloring.
Storing the fondant: Prepare the fondant for storing by coating it with a good layer of shortening (this keeps it from drying out or forming a "skin"), wrap in plastic wrap, and then put it in a re-sealable or Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. You can store it for 2 weeks in the fridge, or up to 6 months in the freezer. (actually longer if you have a handy dandy food saver :D)
Once you've made your dough and you want to know how to spend it, check out my other blog entries   ;)


Spryte said...

Cool!!! I was thinking... what the heck is MMF??

Louisa said...

This is awesome, thanks for explaining so well! I really want to try making some cupcake decorations with this MMF recipe. It kind of sounds hard but if I have time I'll give it a try. Wish me luck!

DDpie said...

You're welcome Louisa, glad I could help! Have fun!

Louisa said...

I went ahead and tried the fondant! It was slow going for a while there - so sticky! But then it started to get more manageable and I'm so happy with how my little carrot cupcakes turned out. The tips on your blog were a huge help! It's nothing compared to your cakes, but check out my masterpiece: http://animalicules.blogspot.com/2009/04/carrot-cupcake.html

DDpie said...

Thank you Louisa, glad it helped! I checked out your cupcakes and you did a super-cute job!

Danielle said...

I'm thinking about doing this.....checking off the ingredients in my head....hmmm

Anonymous said...

Could you use a kitchen aid with a dough hook to knead either the MMF or the gumpaste? I am going to try out your recipes - my son decided I could bake his wedding cake - AAAAAAH!
I've done cakes before, but never used fondant - hate the taste, so yours sounds like a great alternative. Thanks for all the great instructions!

DDpie said...

I've mixed the fondant with my KA and dough hook and to tell you the truth, it's hardly worth it. It's actually easier if you mix in as much powdered sugar as you can, then dump it on the counter and knead in the rest. I use a bench scraper in one hand, while kneading with my other. HTH Good luck!

Beckie said...

How much does this make? I need to put it on an 8 inch square cake that has 2 layers. Will that be enough?

DDpie said...

Becky- yes, it would be plenty. In fact, you'd have some left over for decorations.

Manda said...

Hey;) Have you ever heard of Tylose powder? when I make my figures I use regular fondant & knead the tylose into it,it makes it harden quicker,cuts down on the wait time. Ive never tried it with MMF (which I love btw)but its worth a shot

DDpie said...

Hi Manda, you might want to check out my post on gumpaste (part 1) it explains all of the different types of powders and using them with mmf. HTH ;)

Natalie said...

your website has been SO helpful! Just curious I have only used your regular fondant recipe...is the MM fondant the same just tastes better? thanks again for all your great info and help!!!

DDpie said...

Hi Natalie,
The MMF is the only fondant I use, and it DOES taste way better than the store-bought pre-made fondant. A lot cheaper to make your own too. The only downfall is the MMF is just a bit softer, not as durable as the commercial type. So it does take some getting used to.

CJ said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge!!

Andrea said...

I have limited my use of fondant to decoration only because of the nasty taste. I am attempting my first topsy turvy cake for my daughters 7th b-day and am def. going to try your mmf recipe. Thanks for all the tips!! YOur cakes are beautiful.

DDpie said...

Thanks Andrea! Please let me know what you think and by all means contact me if you have any questions.

XYZ said...

I made MMF Fondant. Added just about 3 cups of icing sugar and it was too sweet. How to balance out that? Also, the consistency was nice for a play dough but I could actually taste crunchi-ness of something in the fondant as well. It was 1) tasting like a chewing gum. 2) After soft fondant somewher ein between I could taste the crunchiness. It felt like something hasn't been mixed well. Like I should have melted the sugar to completely mix it. But I know thats not how we do.
Why do you think that happened?
The recipe that I followed also added 1/2 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of lemon juice for the same amount of marshmallow as you mentioned.
What say? Was the recipe terrible?
(PS I have never tasted bakery made fondant so I am unaware if it should be that sweet or not).

DDpie said...

Not sure about the recipe you used, there is no reason to add lemon juice or granulated sugar to fondant...that I know of. That could be why it was too "chewy". Secondly, the little crunchy bits could be due to heating the marshmallows to hot. I heat them 1 min then 30 sec until MOST of the marshmallows are melted. (the rest will melt when you begin to stir) Or...the crunchy bits could be in your powdered sugar to begin with. I would suggest sifting the sugar prior to measuring and adding it in.
As for the overall texture, most fondant recipes that I've tried are a bit "chewy", that's just the nature of fondant. You wouldn't be able to do the things with it that you can (smoothly cover a cake, or make figures) if it weren't. You might want to try different recipes and see which you like the most. HTH

hollymick said...

I don't usually leave comments but my cake was beautiful, if I may say so. Follow directions exactly and yours will be great too! I'd add a photo but I don't know how.

Anonymous said...

Is it okay to use halal marshmallows?

Vonnie said...

I know this is an older post, but just wanted to thank you for it. I've decorated a few cakes previously using mmf but for my most recent one I followed your directions and it was the most successful and professional looking cake I've ever done - by far!
So thanks again :-)

DDpie said...

Vonnie, I'm so glad you found my blog helpful. I know I haven't been active lately, but every time I consider taking it down, I think, no, someone might stumble across something useful. So thank you for taking the time to comment! Happy baking!