So, I thought I'd do a little product review on "The Mat." If you follow the forum topics over at Cake Central, then you probably have seen topic after topic about the raves and/or complaints about The Mat. Here is my opinion and experience with the product.
The Mat is a tool available from Sweetwise. For the relatively low price of $18 (a great bargain by "cake decorating tools" standards), you get 2 sheets of 30"x30" highly polished, food safe vinyl. Patent pending by Sweetwise, The Mat is a tool designed to help you roll out and apply fondant to a cake. The large size can potentially help you handle a fairly large piece of fondant, that may otherwise be difficult to pick up and lay on a cake without ripping or otherwise damaging the fondant. If you want to check out their video on how to use The Mat check it out on their youtube channel.
I initially bought The Mat at the end of the summer after hearing about it over at Cake Central and watching the demo video on YouTube. What really sold me was the claim that you could roll out fondant "dust free" meaning NO powdered sugar or cornstarch mess to clean up afterward! I HATED cleaning up, the sugar would make my table sticky and it would take forever to get it clean. By the end of it all the table, floor and I would all be covered with sugar. And I hate mess! So, I thought, THIS is the product for me, I MUST have it!
Shortly after I place my order (shipping was very quick!) I received my Mat! Yay! I was so excited and I had 2 cakes to do, so I could try it out right away... My first impression was disappointment :( Up until very recently I was an exclusive Marshmallow Fondant user. It was cheap, fairly tasty and I could make as much as I needed. When I tried out my Mat, I ended up with lots of pock marks on the surface of the fondant and it stuck horribly! I was so sad that it wasn't working for me. I looked up reviews and it seemed fairly evenly split, there were people who loved The Mat immediately, and people (like me) who were having trouble with sticking and pock marks...
Not one to give up, I did some experimenting with it a few weeks later. They claim that it was a dust free solution to rolling fondant, but what if I peeled back The Mat and added just a bit of powdered sugar? It worked! But I had to do this to both sides... and when I was rolling and The Mat was "sticking" to itself, I peeled it back, like the video instructed, and it ended up trapping air and I was STILL getting pock marks! Then I discovered that I didn't necessarily have to lift the vinyl all the way, just to the edge of my fondant. I posted my tips for other people having the same trouble I was (and I was tickled when I saw Sweetwise post a video with my tips!!). But it was still so troublesome to work with... I tried different variations of my fondant recipe (convinced it was the Marshmallow Fondant) but to no avail, it was more trouble than it was worth. And so, The Mat sat in storage for months...
Then, I saw some more discussion about The Mat... and I got to thinking that I wanted to MAKE it work, I hate wasted money! This happened around the time of a big sale on fondant that a popular online cake decorating supplier was having. I had always thought that "commercial, pre-made fondant is gross," my only previous experience having been with Wilton brand fondant. I did some research and discovered that no-one likes the taste of the Wilton fondant... So, I thought, I'll try one of the "good" brands... after more research I settled on Satin Ice as my brand- it actually tastes good! (you can order sample kits of Satin Ice and Fondarific here)
As soon as I had a cake to do, I pulled out my Satin Ice and my Mat... from the first push of the rolling pin I fell in love! It rolled so smoothly! I thought, surely though, it won't come off of The Mat like in the video... but it DID! It peeled right off like a dream, I finally figured out what everyone was raving about! When I was done, I just rolled up The Mat and put it away... NO MESS to clean up! I am now in love with my Mat, it is one of my favorite cake decorating tools. It makes life so much easier! If you have The Mat (or plan on purchasing it) and are having trouble using it with your Marshmallow Fondant I would highly recommend to try out some Satin Ice, or other pre-made fondant (I also found I prefer the convenience of just pulling fondant out of a bucket). I have found that the combination of these two products have made a world of difference in cake decorating and have made my job so much faster and easier!
So, in short, The Mat is a WIN, at least in my book!!
Happy Caking :)