To fondant or to fon-don’t. That is indeed the question.
I was originally going to call this post Fon-do or Fon-don’t: The Truth about Fondant, but then all I could think about was dipping various things in chocolate…or cheese. Or both. So I switched it. I think it’s much more socially acceptable this way.
Fondant. By its very definition it means “candy made of thick, creamy, sugary paste”. This is a completely confusing definition because when you see or taste fondant…it in no way resembles candy. Truthfully, fondant is many things to many different people. Today I am going to get all Behind the Actor’s Studio on fondant and break it apart, and talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of fondant. Perhaps I will make it cry. I can only dream.
Once a bride has made a decision between cake and cupcake and has settled on cake, she then is faced with another toughie: fondant or buttercream? Or you could be like me and throw caution to the wind, and go with ganache (but that is another blog for another day…tentatively titled “Oh My Ganache!”) This decision is where it can get confusing because in many ways fondant and buttercream are so much alike and in many ways they are completely different. When I hear about a bride choosing fondant, it is typically because she wants that smooth and clean look that only a fondant cake can give. Fondant is typically made and rolled out into 1/8″ thin sheets, and is then used to cover the cake. This style gives bakers a clean slate to work their magic - to paint, stamp, etch, or add more fondant designs like stripes, polka dots, and bows. I have been blogging about wedding cakes 5 days a week for seven months, and in my humble opinion, some of the most gorgeous cakes we have featured have been fondant cakes, such as this Black and Green Damask Cake or this Silhouette Cake. These cakes have a totally different vibe, ranging from regal and traditional, to fun and funky, proving you can pretty much do anything with fondant. According to bakers, fondant is actually recommended for summer outdoor weddings. It doesn’t melt and keeps cakes much cooler.
However, you must remember I said we’d be talking about the good, the bad, AND the ugly of fondant. We’ve pretty much covered the good. Now onto the bad and the ugly. Fondant…well. It’s gross 99.9% of the time. It certainly looks the part, but if you’ve ever popped a piece of fondant into your mouth, then you know that it tastes more like gummy glue than any sugary candy I’ve ever tasted. Apparently, there IS good fondant out there. Some people swear that they have tasted sweet and creamy fondant before. I’m just saying this girl has never had such a thing. There is an upside to this though…most people understand that fondant is just for show, and on most cakes, the fondant peels right off without taking any of the delicious cake with it.
Now let’s talk about Team Buttercream.
Fun fact of the day, did you know that “Team Whoever” all started when Brad Pitt left Jenn Aniston for Angelina Jolie? You surely remember if you were Team Jenn or Team Angie right? (I mean, if you cared.) Now, thanks to their break up, it seems that everything is “Team This” or “Team That.” Thanks Angelina…another reason I am Team Jenn.
Sidetracked. Anyway, buttercream icing is exactly what it sounds like. A whipped icing made primarily of butter and sugar, buttercream can add a little more culinary creativity. As you know, out of the two cake girls, Brooke is all the one with the culinary experience and I just have…well eating experience. So I had to turn to Brooke so she could school me on the ways of buttercream. Here is what she says, “You can stick with the simple version: butter, powdered sugar, and a little milk. Or, if you’d like to get all fancy and luxurious, you can go for a French buttercream, with the richness of egg yolks; or Italian or Swiss buttercream, which use meringue to give the fluffy stuff structure. Both are positively scrumptious. (And no, we are not even going to discuss shortening here.) Another big plus that buttercream has over fondant is that you can flavor it. Sure, sugar + butter = delicious. But how about adding some, oh, liqueur, like Grand Marnier? Or a fruit puree or extract, like raspberry? I’ve yet to see flavored fondants, but buttercream, well, it’s only limited by your imagination, and your palate. It’s light and fluffy and always, always delicious.” She is some sort of culinary goddess…yes? If fondant and buttercream where in a taste test, buttercream would win. Hands down. You can argue with me if you disagree but I would still think you were wrong. Take a look at some of the gorgeous buttercream cakes we have featured here like this Chocolate Scroll Work Wedding Cake or this Grand Peony Cake. Both of these cakes are slathered in buttercream. They both look so smooth and clean that from far away you might not know if is fondant or buttercream. Also, you don’t need to only go smooth with buttercream. The picture above shows a traditional cake that was frosted with a smooth buttercream; the cake artist then used different shades of pink buttercream and a petal tip to create the fan shapes. Oh Martha, you are a goddess.
I know what you must be thinking. So far I have told you buttercream tastes better and can look just as good, but fondant lends the baker a little more creativity with the smooth surface. Luckily, there is one more option. You can have both. In fact, from what I have been reading, many bakers prefer to use both. How can this be? Well I am glad you asked. Most fondant cakes actually consist of cake, filling, AND a thin layer of buttercream just beneath the surface of the fondant. The buttercream, in this case, acts as glue, helping the fondant to adhere to the cake. The baker rolls out the fondant, like dough, and covers the cake with it. So your cake will have the delicious, moist cake and the yummy buttercream icing, as well as the gorgeousness of fondant. Everybody wins.
So which do you prefer…fondant or buttercream? Do you think one looks better than the other? Or do you throw caution to the wind and choose both? Most importantly, which kind of fondue do you like better..cheese or chocolate? Are you Team Jenn or Team Angie?