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Learn how to store fondant decorations, whether you’re in the process of decorating your cake and want to keep fondant decorations soft, or afterwards if you want to keep the dried fondant or gumpaste decorations as keepsakes.
Making fondant and gumpaste decorations or figurines is one of the best ways to get a head start on decorating a cake. These can be made anywhere between a day and many months before your cake is due.
Knowing how best to store the decorations is the key to keeping them looking as good as they did the day you made them.
Then, if the decorations aren’t eaten once the cake is cut, you may want to keep them as a keepsake.
Today, we’re going to break down all the reasons you may have for wanting to store fondant and gumpaste cake decorations, and how best to do that.
Table of contents
- How to Store Fondant and Gumpaste Decorations
How to Store Fondant and Gumpaste Decorations
How to Keep Decorations Soft
We’ll start by talking about how to store fondant decorations that need to be kept soft and malleable for attaching to the sides of a cake.
These are usually fondant cut-outs that you want to attach to the side of the cake and have them conform to the shape of the cake.
The good news is, this is quite simple.
- Place a piece of non-stick baking paper onto something flat (I usually use an acrylic ganache board, because I have lots of them on hand, but a flat plate, plastic container lid, anything flat that’ll fit will do).
- Arrange your fondant cut outs onto the paper.
- Slide the whole thing into a large resealable (ziplock) bag, and seal it up. If your cut outs are a bit sticky and the tops are sticking to the plastic bag, you can pop another piece of baking paper on top.
- Store at cool room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
Plain fondant cutouts should stay soft for at least a day or so, often longer. Gumpaste pieces, or fondant with tylose added, will usually stay soft for at least a few hours. They will dry out faster than plain fondant so keep that in mind.
When planning to store decorations like this, it’s best to use as little corn starch or icing sugar as possible when rolling out your fondant or gum paste, as they can dry the icing out. Using shortening instead will help to keep moisture in the icing.
You can also place a small damp piece of paper towel into the bag to add moisture, just make sure it’s not touching any of the pieces of fondant, otherwise, they’ll start to dissolve.
An airtight container can also be helpful for this, but the decorations will usually dry out a bit more than they will in a plastic bag because there is still air in the container.
Some people swear by covering soft fondant decorations with plastic wrap, but in my experience that doesn’t keep them as soft as a plastic bag does because plastic wrap isn’t airtight.
How to Store Dry Fondant and Gumpaste Decorations and Figurines
Let’s just quickly talk about some of the cake decorations you can store using the following method:
- Fondant figurines (with or without tylose added)
- Gumpaste figurines
- Sugar flowers and leaves
- Cut-out cake toppers/numbers
- Fondant cupcake discs
The decorations should be at least partly dry (more on that later), and if you want to give them the best chance at drying properly and preventing breakage, I suggest using a ready-made gumpaste or adding tylose powder to your fondant. Fondant on its own can be ok for some basic decorations, but adding tylose will make sure they dry properly, and make them more sturdy.
There are four important keys to storing dried fondant decorations – keeping them physically safe (so they don’t get bumped, dropped or ahem, eaten by dogs/children), keeping them dry, allowing airflow and keeping them away from direct sunlight to prevent the fading of colours.
While you might be tempted to reach for an airtight container, this is actually not the best way to store dried decorations, and it’s even worse if the decorations aren’t 100% dry, as the moisture will be trapped in the container.
Instead, you’re better off to pop em’ in a cardboard box…
Storing Decorations In a Box
This is perfect for fondant or gum paste decorations that have yet to grace a cake, or for those that have been used on a cake but that you may want to keep for another cake or to store long term.
Boxes will keep the decorations safe while also allowing airflow so they can continue to dry out and so that moisture isn’t trapped inside, which can cause the decorations to start to dissolve.
You’ll want to look for small, sturdy boxes to store your decorations. You could also use cake boxes, although those tend to be a little on the flimsy side so they’re not my first choice. I’m a bit of a box hoarder, I like to keep good boxes from products or clean shipping boxes for this purpose (yes, I have a box cupboard, and yes, I have had stacks of boxes fall on me, and that’s all I want to say about that).
The boxes in the photos below are from an online packaging store, and I have also used file boxes from a local stationery shop in the past as well.
Long story short: Pick a clean, sturdy box that will comfortably fit the decoration/s you need to store.
- Line the box with either paper towels or baking paper/parchment. I use paper towels if the decorations are already quite dry, and baking paper for decorations that are still a little soft. If they’re soft, I’ll also often put them on a small ganache board or other flat object first, so it’s easier to lift them in and out of the box.
- Then you can arrange your decorations into the box.
- For multiple figurines, give them space between each one, and if you may need to move the box around, it can be handy to place some scrunched up paper towels between the figurines for cushioning. Make sure you only do that with fully dried decorations, if they’re not fully dry yet, just leave them with lots of space for airflow.
For flat decorations (like the number 1 toppers in these pics, or a gumpaste name cake topper, for example), once they’re fully dry you can store them in layers, with pieces of baking paper or paper towel in between. If they’re not quite dry, it’s safest to store the decorations in a single layer only, as they’re more prone to breakage before they’re dry all the way through.
For long term storage, I like to spread a thin layer of dry, uncooked rice on the bottom of the box, and then put the paper towels or baking paper on top of that. Just like when you drop your phone in the… ahem… sink, and pop it in a container of rice to dry it out, rice will also help to dry out your fondant or gumpaste decorations and keep them dry during storage.
If you have foam pads like those used for flower making, they’re also a great option to place on the bottom of the box to provide cushioning and also a bit more airflow. (Excuse the cornstarch marks on these, it stops the flower-paste sticking when I’m making flowers, so I leave it there.)
Another great thing to add to your box is these: silica gel packets. Along with my collection of boxes, I also have a habit of collecting silica gel packets for this purpose.
When I collect them I store them in two separate containers: one container for food-safe packets – those that have come from food products or from probiotic/supplement containers, and one for those that have come from non-food uses, like those in electronics, bags, shoe boxes etc.
The food-safe ones I will use for decorations that have yet to be used on a cake (and also for storing foods like meringues or brandy snaps that need to be kept dry), and the others I use for decorations that aren’t going to be used on a cake again. I know those won’t be eaten or going near food again, so I’m happy to use the non-food safe packets there.
You can also buy packets of new silica gel packs online.
Once your decorations are all snuggled up in their boxes, the best place to store the boxes is in a cool, dark cupboard.
It’s a good idea to label the boxes with what’s inside, so if you’ve got multiple boxes in there and you’re looking for something in particular, you’ll be able to find them without opening all the boxes.
But what if you don’t want to hide your creations away in a box?
How to Display Fondant and Gumpaste Decorations Safely
When keeping cake decorations on display, it’s important to keep them out of reach of those people not qualified to be touching them (I’m lookin’ at you, pups and kids) and also to keep them away from dust and too much sunlight.
Storing them in a glass-doored display cabinet is a great option. I’ve had Ralph here living in a cabinet for almost ten years now.
You could also consider popping them onto a cake stand with a glass dome. I made a drum kit cake topper for my honorary grandfather about 5 years ago, and he has stored it under a glass cake dome since then. I can’t find my picture of it under the dome, but you can trust me when I say it still looks as good as the day I made it.
Adding a coat of confectioner’s glaze to your decorations can be a good way to extend their display life a bit longer, if you don’t mind them having a shiny finish.
Glaze can be bought in bottles and brushed on, but a can of glaze spray is the easier way to apply it.
You’ll need to make sure your decorations are fully dry before glazing, as the glaze will lock in any moisture.
Applying several thin coats of glaze with time to dry in between is the best approach. Make sure you test the spray on a scrap piece of gumpaste first, as some sprays can be a bit spitty/splattery to start with.
There are several glaze sprays available on the market, but this PME glaze spray is the one I have used in the past.
Make sure you have some cake decorator’s alcohol (rose spirit), isopropyl or other strong alcohol on hand for any cleanup that needs to be done, as the glaze is not water-soluble.
How Long Do Fondant Decorations Last / How Early Can You Make Fondant Decorations?
This is a multi-part answer because it depends on what you’re doing with the decorations.
Soft fondant decorations, stored in a plastic bag as I mentioned above, will generally keep for a day or two in the bag before they lose their pliability. But this does depend on the type/brand of fondant and whether you’ve added tylose powder to it, so if it’s important for them to be soft, I recommend leaving them for the shortest time possible or doing a test first with the type of fondant you plan to use, and see how long it stays soft.
For dried decorations that you plan for people to be able to eat, I tend to make them only a week or two in advance. Fondant doesn’t really “go bad” as such, because it’s mostly sugar. But it will get very hard and dry after a while. If you have used gumpaste or added tylose to the fondant (as you should when making fondant figures), then they can get rock hard after a while.
To be honest, I personally don’t think dried fondant decorations taste very nice, but when I put them on kid’s cakes I know that the kids are going to want to eat all the little bits and pieces. They don’t seem to care too much, it’s sugar and they like it.
For dried decorations that you don’t plan for people to eat, as long as you store them properly, in a box and away from extreme heat or light, you can make them months and months in advance.
Don’t believe me? The purple number 1 cake toppers in the photos above are backup toppers for a cake I made 7 years ago, and the balloons are leftover from some SPCA fundraiser cupcakes I made in 2012. They’ve all been in boxes at the top of my cake cupboard since then. They also all survived a six-hour drive when we moved cities.
So when I tell you this is the best way to store fondant decorations, I do kinda know what I’m talking about.
If you care for your decorations and put some thought into how you store them, they’ll last a long time.