I know you guys are getting tired of my never ending parade of fondant reviews, but I've tried a new one that gets pretty high marks. Not perfect mind you, but good enough to "maybe" become my goto fondant.
If you haven't been following my Never Ending Fondant Comparison let me summarize. Over the last 5 years I have tried about 12 different fondant. Some were good, some where okay, and some were downright bad. One I considered a 5 stars fondant (Via Roma) till I got a few bad batches. Sad, Sad Days. If you want to read the other reviews you can find them here: The original 7 fondant comparison, the Via Roma review, the Cake Craft review, the Carma Massa review, the Dream review, the Fat Daddio review, and the Fantasia review.
So back to the current review. The fondant being reviewed has a lot of Pros and only one Con that I can name. The fondant is soft yet firm, stretchy yet strong, it colors well, and has a nice finish with no bubbles or elephant skin. So what, you may ask, is the name of this standout fondant - well it is called Renshaw
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Renshaw? Rennnnshawww? You've never heard of Renshaw? Well neither had I till someone mentioned it on another of my fondant reviews. It comes from the UK and the company has been around since 1898. Wow. Anyway, onto the review...
In my non-expert analysis of these various fondants, I use ten different criteria: Taste, Texture, Rolling, Coverage, Draping/Smoothing, Cutting/Trimming, Drying Time, Tinting, The Final Look, and a recently added criteria: Humidity/Refrigeration/Moisture test.
Taste - The taste of this Renshaw white fondant is what I would call understated. It has a mild sugary taste with no other noticeable flavors. The list of ingredients on the package has "Natural Flavoring" as the last item. This "Natural Flavor" doesn't taste like vanilla or almond or even white chocolate. It just tastes mildly sugary, like a not-to-sweet buttercream.
Actually the taste is a little nondescript, but in a good way. I have come to the conclusion that a fondant with a lot of flavor distracts from the taste of the cake. And hey - who are we kidding -- no one actually eats the fondant. Everyone I've watched eating a fondant covered cake just peals it off and pushes it aside.
The mouth-feel of the Renshaw is soft and velvety. It has a melt-in-your mouth quality that I like. When eaten with the frosting and cake the Renshaw fondant just kind of melts away and is indistinguishable from the frosting. It doesn't have any bold flavor of its own so all you taste (and feel in your mouth) is the cake and frosting. This is a fondant that people may actually eat!
Texture – Out of the box and foil wrapper this fondant is very soft and squishy. You can pinch off pieces with no effort. When you first take the fondant out of the package it is a little sticky and damp, but after working it for a few minutes it loses the tackiness and becomes dry and silky. It feels like soft bread dough.
The fondant is very easy to knead, roll, and shape; and like the Fat Daddio and Dream fondant I reviewed a few weeks ago, it easily picks up textures from leaf veiners, impression mats, or even paper towels.
The Renshaw fondant is also very elastic and stretchy. It almost acts like taffy. I like stretchy fondants because they doesn't rip as easily when covering the cake. Another curious thing about this taffy oops I mean fondant is that it doesn't seems to gouge as much as other super soft brands. The Via Roma fondant has this same non-gouging quality. Maybe it is the stretchiness of the fondant that keep the marks from showing?? Maybe when you dent the fondant with a fingernail it just melds itself back together?? I don't know what makes this fondant resistant to gouging, but I like it!
Rolling – Because the Renshaw fondant is so soft it is very, very easy to roll. I would call it a breeze. You definitely won't get a workout rolling out this fondant. The Renshaw also didn't produce any air bubbles when rolling. <<Happy, Happy Dance >> Not a single air bubble appeared in the fondant as I rolled it out. Some fondants are so frustrating to roll because huge bubbles form when the fondant is kneaded and conditioned. The professionals say you can pop the bubbles and they disappear, but I've never had much luck doing that. The outline of the bubbles always seem to show.
Another plus with the Renshaw is that its elasticity keeps the edges soft and smooth as it is rolled bigger and bigger. No split, cracks, or ragged edges with this fondant. Everything stays smooth and even.
Coverage – In all the fondant tests I've conducted, I use 5 ounces of fondant and roll to 1/8” thick. For the Renshaw I was able to roll the 5 oz to a little less than 10 inches round. In comparison to other fondants this is a little on the low side.
I also noticed that at 1/8" thickness, the fondant was too thin. I could actually see through it. It looked almost translucent. When placed on my dummy testing "cake" (which is actually a tiny metal tube pan) you could actually see the gray color of the metal through the fondant. The fondant also pulled a little out of shape as it was hanging on the rolling pin. Again, it doesn't do that if you roll it thicker.
So 1/8" is definitely too thin for this fondant. The instructions on the packaging also back this up. The package doesn't give a recommended rolling thickness, but it does say that the 1.5 pound package will cover an 8" round cake.
Draping/Smoothing - When placed on the cake dummy, the fondant seemed to float above the top of the cake. The fondant settled nicely along the top edge and draped into a few loose folds around the sides. I think the elasticity of the fondant keeps it from settling into more folds and drapes.
Cutting/Trimming – The fondant cuts easily with no major edge problems. Even with my dull pizza cutter it slices nice and clean. But the Renshaw does get a little sticky when you add gel food coloring to it, so the tinted fondant doesn't cut as cleanly.
Drying Time – One of the best things about this fondant is the way it dries - or doesn't dry. It is very unique. As you roll and work with the fondant, the surface seems to dry and gets firm to the touch. Fondant cutouts hold their shape without drooping and sagging. Below is a rectangle piece of fondant that is 1/4" thick. It is freshly rolled and cut, yet it still holds it shape and doesn't sag too bad when suspended over the side of the box.
After allowing the rectangle to rest and harden for 30 minutes, I got even less slumping.
But the strange and exciting thing about this fondant is that even though the outside skin of the fondant dries and allows it to hold its shape, the INSIDE of the fondant DOESN'T DRY OUT!! How cool is that???
I had a small 1/2" ball of Renshaw fondant sitting on the counter for 4 days. The outside of the fondant was dry and firm to the touch, but when I squished it between my fingers it became soft and pliable again. I was actually able to roll it into a thin disk. That is pretty amazing. Most fondants (except maybe Fondarific) would dry rock solid after sitting that long. The fact that the outside dries enough to hold a shape while the inside stays soft and squishy is truly unique. And because it stays soft even when exposed to air means you don't have to rush to roll and place the fondant, and if you make a mistake you can pull it off and re-roll without having to worry about the fondant drying out and cracking (or getting elephant skin). <<shiver>>
Tinting – No major problems with tinting. The Renshaw took both Wilton food color gels, and Americolor well. All the colors I tested looked fine, and the shades seemed true to the color indicator on the bottle. But I did encounter a few other tinting issues: 1) the fondant does get a little sticky when you add gel food coloring to it. I was trying to tint to a very dark blue and the fondant was as sticky as cookie dough, but it did settled down after a few minutes of kneading. 2) the fondant seems to bleed color onto the underlying buttercream more than other fondants I've tried.
Final Look – Overall the finished look of the Renshaw fondant was very nice. It dried to a soft matte finish that hid most of the blemishes. (Note: fondants that keep a glossy finish show more blemishes and problem areas than fondants that dry to a matte finish.)
A few hours after covering the dummy I did noticed that the 1/8" thick fondant had sunk into the nooks and crannies on the top of my metal cake dummy (see picture above), but when I re-rolled and covered the dummy with a thicker round of fondant, there was no sinking. 1/8" is just too thin for this fondant.
Humidity and Heat is a big problem in my neck of the woods so I wanted to document how the fondant react to refrigeration and humidity. The moisture test is actually to test how the fondant reacts to the underlying frosting be it buttercream or ganache.
This is a test cake covered in Renshaw fondant after it was refrigerated overnight and then taken out and set on the counter. The temperature of the room is about 72 and the humidity is like 100%. Hey it is New Orleans in the summer!!! The fondant did fine in the refrigerator. When removed and set on the counter, the fondant was a little damp and clammy, but it soon dried off.
Next I took the cake outside to see how it would react to an hour in the 90 degree heat. --It was not a pretty sight. The Renshaw fondant almost melted under the extreme conditions. The cake itself didn't fair much better. The top tier has ganache under the fondant and it held up okay, but the bottom tier, which is American Buttercream, started to collapse. Good this this was just a test cake. (PS: I also shook the cake quite a bit. I wanted to simulate a bumpy ride in a hot car.)
Once back inside the cool house, the Renshaw fondant on the ganache covered tier dried out and cut cleanly and smoothly...
So Renshaw can be refrigerated, but when exposed to heat and humidity it works better with a base of ganache than a base of high-moisture frosting like buttercream.
Some of the big pluses with this fondant include: 1) it was super easy to work with, 2) it didn't rip or tear as I worked with it on the cake, 3) it didn’t form any “elephant skin” as it dried, 3) it didn't show many marks or gouges from my fingernails, and even when I did accidentally mark the fondant, the marks were easy to smooth out because the fondant is so elastic and stretchy, 4) the ability of this fondant to dry on the outside but not on the inside is really helpful, and 5) the taste was pretty good.
The only minor nits I have with the fondant is 1) its sickness when gel color is added, and 2) the coverage. It needs to be rolled thicker than other fondants, and the same volume of Renshaw doesn't cover as large and area as other fondants.
So Renshaw, in my un-professional opinion, is one of the better fondants I've tried. I'm going to test it out on my next few cakes and see if I can crown it my "Goto fondant".