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I am wondering if theres a way to beat fondant other than just stirring by hand. I've seen some amazing equipment on savage brothers website but I'm wondering if theres anything cheaper or smaller scale 

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I guess it depends on the amount,  but I just put it in a kitchen-aid bowl with the paddle attachment.
second that
O Really?  That's good to know... Do you just pour the hot fondant from the pan into the mettle mixing bowl and let cool, then start the paddle?

I was taught a technique where you pour it hot onto a large silpat. Fold the silpat over the hot mixture and pull it apart again. Keep doing this keeping the fondant in the middle (it starts the agitation process). When cool, add to the kitchen aid.

 

I'd be interested to hear how other people do it as well

To get your smallest crystal (smoothest texture) allow your syrup to cool evenly with no agitation.  I spread on a marble slab inside framing bars to about a quarter inch thick with a thermometer in the layer.  You can get some crystals forming early on the surface but a light water misting gets them back into solution.  Once to target temperature you can beat it on the slab with scrapers, or in a hobart bowl, but watch how much is in the bowl, it gets very thick.  Once it crystallizes I put it into a plastic bag and knead it to break the crystal bridging, seal out air, and let it mature.  If you can keep the slab warm while beating it only takes 2-3 minutes, and if you add some other fondant as seed even less time.

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