After storing our coated products overnight we find that cracks form in the fondant coating How can this problem be overcome

Many faults encountered with fondant are associated with one or more of the following:

• The ERH of the components of the product.

• The degree of moisture permeability of any wrapping material.

• The glucose content of the fondant.

Fondants can remain soft or become hard depending on the formulation and process used for their manufacture. Surface problems with fondant such as white spots, streaks or stickiness also have some of their roots in the formulation and processing and others in the storage conditions and components on which they sit.

Cracks that appear on the surface of fondant are a result of the fondant drying out and hardening. A glucose syrup level below 12% total weight leads to very rapid hardening and so a level between 12 and 14% is recommended. Inclusion of 5 to 10% hard fat such as hardened palm kernel oil or a high-ratio fat containing an emulsifier can be used to prevent hardening.

The reverse of the problem with hardening is that of the fondant becoming sticky. The cause of this is the hygroscopic nature of the fondant. When stored in a humid atmosphere or surrounded with packaging film of low permeability or transpiration rate, the ERH of the fondant, being very much lower than its surrounding atmosphere, and the presence of undissolved sugar crystals cause uptake of moisture. This results in the fondant becoming sticky. Storage of fondant products in a refrigerated cabinet, which may have a relatively high humidity when filled with other goods could accentuate the problem. Thawing of frozen products in high-humidity conditions can also cause the problem.

In products where the fondant topping sits on a pastry product that is cream filled (e.g. chocolate eclair), moisture moves from the cream (with high ERH), through the pastry casing to the fondant topping (low ERH) and forms a thin film of water between the topping and the pastry case. Any jolt during transportation of the product can cause the fondant to slip off the product (the thin film of water acts as a lubricant). In this case the problem is alleviated if the ERHs within the components are brought closer together.

Further reading

CAUVAIN, S.P. and YOUNG, L.S. (2000) Bakery Food Manufacture and Quality: Water control and effects, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK.

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