So I have just recently started using fondant and I think I have gotten the general feel of it. However, I am still a little stumped on the whole reasoning behind working fondant through cornstarch or powdered sugar.
I am very familiar with Gum Paste and use it on the majority of my cakes. I would never dream of using cornstarch or powdered sugar to soften that material. I use shortening, that is the recommended softening agent. So, in that respect I use shortening to soften fondant.
The benefits of using shortening instead of cornstarch and powdered sugar? No white powder to dust off when your done. I have found that using shortening is a lot more effective than the recommended softening agents.
If I had to pick out a negative, just for argument sake, I would have to say that it leaves behind that grease feeling on your hands. Much like it does with gum paste. Of course, all you have to do is wash your hands.
In my personal opinion I just don’t understand why cornstarch and powdered sugar are used. I would think that those two agents would try the fondant out faster and make it harder to work with. Then you are right back to step one and have just wasted valuable production time.