Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Mat - Fondant Rolling System - A Review

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I'd been eying “The Mat” by SweetWise for some time now, but I make so few fondant cakes that I couldn’t really justify the expense. What to do? What to do? But then my Wilton mat tore after years of use and abuse, so I took the plunge and bought the Professional Mat.

Oops… should have paid more attention to the size. That thing is huge!!  30 inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is almost too big to fit on my round kitchen table. Due to its size it is also a little difficult to handle (especially if you are just rolling out a small amount of fondant). Suggestion #1: If you are a hobby baker, think about the Home version instead of the Professional. The Professional is only a few dollars more than the Home version but sometimes bigger is not always better.

I didn’t have a fondant cake to make so I decided to just do some dummy testing, training and seasoning of my new Mat. But first I watched the video on the Sweet Wise web page (or on YouTube). The Mat itself does not come packaged with instructions, so you MUST watch the video to figure out how to use the dang thing.

The video has lots of tips and tricks, but one of the most important is to get the two vinyl sheets oriented correctly before you start rolling the fondant. Each sheet has a “good” side and a “bad” side. Use the printed instructions on each sheet to get them positioned properly.

The top sheet should point right...

And the bottom sheet should point left...

Next comes the rolling. Easy peasy. The video suggests rolling from the center out instead of all the way across.

Next peel off the top vinyl layer and position the bottom vinyl layer (and rolled out fondant) over the cake.

Release one edged of the fondant from the vinyl and then let the weight of the fondant and gravity pull the rest free.

My first test was with Wilton fondant, and the process worked like a charm. The Wilton fondant released from The Mat and gently rolled onto the “cake”.  Next I tried Satin Ice fondant and it work equally as well.

BUT then I tired the same process with Fondarific fondant. What a disaster.

I had trouble with the Fondarific from step one. While rolling the fondant between the vinyl sheets I noticed lots of pockmarks forming. Next when trying to remove the top sheet, pieces of the Fondarific stuck and formed even bigger pockmarks. Then, like the top sheet, the fondant would not release from the bottom sheet.

I had to pull it loose and I ended up with a huge mess.

But I gave it another try. This time I dusted The Mat with cornstarch and then re-rolled the Fondarific fondant.

It worked a little better, but it still took some effort and consequently the fondant was a little stretched. The pockmarks were also still visible even using the corn strach.

I went online and found that other people were having the same problems. It seems like the “stickier” fondants don’t work as well with The Mat. They seem to, well… stick.

Other reviewer suggested using a little Crisco on The Mat, but I rejected that idea because I didn’t want to have to clean (with soap and water) that monster again. When I first got The Mat I tried to wash it in the sink. What a mess. Water went everywhere, including down the front of my pants. That thing was just too big to wrestle into my kitchen sink.

So what is my final opinion of The Mat?

Well it is GREAT as long as you use the right fondant.

With the right fondant The Mat makes the rolling, positioning, and final placement of the fondant super easy. It keeps the fondant from drying out during the rolling process, and the size guide printed on the vinyl makes rolling out the correct size a snap.

BUT the key to The Mat’s success is using the correct fondant. The dryer fondant like Wilton, Satin Ice, Fondx, etc will work well, but the stickier fondants like Fondarific, Duff, and MMF might give you some problems.

So keep your preferred fondant in mind when considering a purchase of The SweetWise Mat.

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