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So my first attempt at fondant seemed to go fine, but a couple questions:

1) One of the recipes I saw said to NOT stir after boil starts and it's heating. Why?

2) Mine came out what seemed about right, but from one of the trays especially it breaks more easily than I thought. I'm sure the bees will eat 10 chunks as easily as they'll eat one big one, but for when I scale this recipe up is there something that controls how much it "hangs together" just for convenience?

My recipe:
24 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 tsp vinegar

Brought to a boil and heated to 235, then let cool to 200 before whisking and pouring into lightly greased molds. The cooling syrup had a hard skin on top when I went to whisk it, but that seemed normal.

It'll work fine, but like I said it would be nice to have nice blocks to take out to colonies. Thoughts?
 

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1) You must stir constantly while boiling or the sugar can burn. You must not stir at all while it is cooling (it can cause too much crystallization). Also if there are any undissolved sugar crystals stuck on the sides of the vessel above the syrup, wipe them out with a damp paper towel before you start beating (they can catalyze crystallization if they get stirred into the hot syrup). Not sure why some recipes would recommend not to stir after boil starts.

2) Heat it up a little more (243 degrees) and let it cool a little more before beating. My recipe says to let it cool to 113 degrees, it hardens quickly when you start beating requiring a little more elbow grease, so you may want to experiment a little with the cooling temp but I think 200 degrees is still too hot. I usually let mine cool to around 125 degrees and it does not harden quite as quickly which makes it a little easier to turn out into the molds. I like to mix a little thymol into mine as a mold/mildew retardant, but it requires beating and kneading it until it cools below 100 degrees before adding the thymol as it will vaporize almost immediately if the fondant is too warm. Temperature should be measured at 1 inch depth.

PS: Your recipe measures sugar in cups, mine uses 2-1/3 cups of water for every 4 lbs of sugar. You can also use bottled lemon juice in place of vinegar to invert the sugar, the bees seem to like it a little better.
 

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Gene's explanation is dead on. It is very close to exactly the way a candy maker would make old fashioned fudge. One trick of the trade (used to be a candy maker in another life) is to put a lid on it for just a little bit. The steam will disolve any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan. Sugar crystals are your enemy here for exactly the reason Gene described. If it is easy to stir after it cools down, it probably is not cool enough. 125 degress or so should be the ticket however.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What's wrong with it crystallizing? Isn't it going to crystallize in the molds anyways?

So it can be made harder by increasing the temp to which it is raised? And 'cuz I always need to know the "why", is that due to more water being boiled out of solution?
 

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What's wrong with it crystallizing? Isn't it going to crystallize in the molds anyways?

So it can be made harder by increasing the temp to which it is raised? And 'cuz I always need to know the "why", is that due to more water being boiled out of solution?
If made properly it does not crystallize in the molds, it should be firm but not rock hard. Crystallizing makes it get hard like rock candy very quickly (like almost instantly) which makes it very difficult to work with, also it kind of defeats the purpose of fondant, you might as well feed them granular sugar (which does work quite well by the way for winter feeding). Increasing the temperature does take a little more moisture out and gets the candy well into the hard ball stage.
 

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Think of hardening as one big monolithic crystal. Also, while making the candy, watch your thermometer. You can actually watch the temp "hold" just a little bit as the different stages are reached......soft ball, medium ball, hard ball, etc. The different "hold points" will change slightly given different weather conditions. Although this is probably not important, it is kind of a cool observation. Also, by definition, when the thermometer rises above 212 (water boiling point at sea level), there is no "moisture" left in the candy. From 212 up you are changing the structure of the sugar /glucose mixture.

Sorry, told you how to build a watch....

Tom
 

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...... Also, by definition, when the thermometer rises above 212 (water boiling point at sea level), there is no "moisture" left in the candy. ......
I hate to be contrary, but being educated as a Chemist, I can say this is not true. Adding the sugar to the water elevates the boiling point and lowers the freezing point (just like adding ethylene glycol or anti-freeze to water does the same) so there is still moisture in there, its just bonded more tightly with the sugar molecules and requires a higher temperature to drive it out. As long as there is steam coming off, there is moisture coming out of it. If you don't believe me, put a glass lid on it after the temp is higher than 212 and see how much water condenses on the lid. At the 243 degree temperature the candy is approximately 87% sugar, so there is still 13% moisture in it. The hard-crack stage of candy (99% sugar) is close to being moisture free, but because sugar is highly hygroscopic (absorbs water from the atmosphere) it is difficult to completely get all the moisture out of it. Making candy is a chemical process that involves heat, humidity and ratio of sugars. It is actually quite complex (anyone who has studied Physical Chemistry would have a good idea of just how complex it is). Fudges and fondants are crystalline candies where you control the crystallization so that the crystals are extremely fine. Adding other agents that interfere with the crystallization process together with cooking to higher temperatures produce hard amorphous (non crystalline) candies.

Here is a link to a great candy chart that shows the different stages and their characteristics:
http://www.baking911.com/candy/chart.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hunh, that's sort of what I figured. Interesting stuff, thanks for the great info! I think more heat and more attention to detail are the ticket for next time.
 

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Never studied the chemistry but probably should have. I will yield to the chemist. I just have practical observations while making thousands of pounds of brittles and hard candies. However, Ben is right regarding closer observations. Baking and Candy making use "formulas" and should be adhered to closley. Any change in the formula from batch to batch will cause different reactions and outcomes. This is why I always weigh ingredients when candy making. Even then, weather and humidity (for the reasons outlined by Gene), will sometimes make it interesting. Some days, usually for weather related reasons, it is nearly impossible to get it right.

Tom
 

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Never studied the chemistry but probably should have. I will yield to the chemist. I just have practical observations while making thousands of pounds of brittles and hard candies. However, Ben is right regarding closer observations. Baking and Candy making use "formulas" and should be adhered to closley. Any change in the formula from batch to batch will cause different reactions and outcomes. This is why I always weigh ingredients when candy making. Even then, weather and humidity (for the reasons outlined by Gene), will sometimes make it interesting. Some days, usually for weather related reasons, it is nearly impossible to get it right.

Tom
Tom, it was not my intent to be "anal retentive" on this, I hope it did not come across that way. Chemistry was my first love, somehow I ended up with a career in IT, but I still pretty much look at many things in life through a Chemist's lens. I find it extremely fascinating and can't resist attempting to instill some of that fascination in others.
 

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I have a question for the fondant experts since this is my first time to try it. The sugar sludge at the bottom of my High Fructose Corn Syrup bucket seems fondant-ish. If fed to the bees, they quickly remove the liquid before working on this pasty remain. After a while, it will be dry enough that I can invert the bowl over the cluster as a mini-candy board.

With another 5 gallon bucket, is there an easier way to make Fandant from HFCS?
Thanks
 

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Gene, no offense taken. While observations of something working are good, the key is the understanding of why they work.

Wayacayote, I would think the "sludge" at the bottom of you bucket is the early signs of crytals forming. You could heat this and "turn it back". As for making fondant.....I don't think so. HFCS reacts very differently in formulas. My experience is that is burns a lot quicker and I hardly ever used it. Only glucose (White Karo is about the only thing you can find in a supermarket, but even that is a mixture of Glucose and HFCS).

Michibee, don't think we were in disagreement about the formula, just commenting on the results and the methods.

Tom
 

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Thanks, Tom.

I just put containers of crystalizing HFCS in the top of the hives. By now the bees have cleaned up any liquid, so I inverted the containers. The crystals were "sludge" was firm enough to not run down into the hive. They are feeding on it nicely. I have another quart of it in a jar. Since it hasn't formed to a suitable container, i think I'll spread the sludge on newspaper and put that on the top bars.
 

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Incidentally, Here is the recipe that is passing around in Kentucky:

Whole batch (Partial batch)
20 pounds Granulated sugar (5 lbs) (Fits in a stew pot)
1 pound powdered sugar (1/4 lb) (Fills a cake pan)
46 oz of water (11 oz) (Good for nuc-size)
2 oz your honey (1/2 oz)
3/4 oz lemon juice (1/8 oz)

Heat water to about 200F. Add granulated sugar; stir to mix. Heat to 210F. Cool. Add powdered sugar, honey, and lemon juice and incorporate. When mix has cooled to 200, begin stirring. Put into cold water bath and continue stirring. As soon as mix "clouds up" and thickens, pour.

I messed up royally while making it (cold water bath??) and put the powdered sugar in too soon-- I suppose this is to cause it to form smaller crystals. It never got "uncloudy" Mine was as hard as a brick and brittle as (I can't think of anything). The bees are feeding on it nicely.
 

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This is a recipe used in uk for soft fondant,some of the other recipe's are for what is known as candy,which is much harder. I only feed fondant and have for five years now,no syrup at all. but for this i buy the type used bybakery supplies, and by the ton.The recipe is for small ammount,just multiply for more.

Bakers Fondant

2lbs sugar
1/2 pint or less water
1 tablespoon liquid glucose

Heat water, sugar and glucose together until sugar has dissolved, bring to boil, boil to 240f. Put the pan into a sink of cold water and start stirring with a flat wooden spatula. It is important to keep the mixture moving, when it gets harder to stir and has cooled sufficiently to work with hands pour out onto a clen worktop splashed with water, knead the mixture like bread until cool. Wrap in cling film. The glucose keeps it supple.
 

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My recipe:
24 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 tsp vinegar

Brought to a boil and heated to 235, then let cool to 200 before whisking and pouring into lightly greased molds. The cooling syrup had a hard skin on top when I went to whisk it, but that seemed normal.
I'm using this recipe and for anyone looking to avoid measuring out 24 cups of sugar it comes out to almost exactly 10 lbs of sugar.....
 

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Here it is 2014 and you folks recipes still work and makes great Fondant! Thanks :applause:
 

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This is the recipe I use to make fondant, it always achieves a soft ball texture with no lumps or bumps
1 Kg of granulated sugar
300 ml of water
25 g of glucose syrup

method;
heat the water and syrup in a pan until the syrup dissolves into the water
Add the sugar and continue stirring until the mixture has started to boil
reduce heat to a medium level
continue to boil until temperature reaches 117 degrees Celsius
Cool quickly by placing pan in a container of cold water
Keep stirring until the mixture becomes a soft ball consistency
Empty fondant onto a cool surface until it is cool enough to handle
Place fondant into an air tight container.
Sorry about the metric measurements and temperature.
Hope this helps
 
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