The Fondant Icing Debate

August 20, 2010  |  Outer Banks Wedding Cake

Almost on a daily basis, I am asked a question about fondant icing.  It seems that with the new cake shows on television increasing in popularity, the popularity of fondant icing is increasing as well.  So, what is fondant, really?  Wikipedia defines it as an icing that “includes gelatin and food grade glycerin.  It can also be made using powdered sugar and melted marshmallows.  Rolled fondant is rolled out like a pie crust and used to cover the cake.  this gives the cake a smooth appearance.”

To better describe fondant and if it is right for your cake or not, I have listed some pros and cons of fondant from a bride’s perspective:

Pros

  • There are many different types of designs that can be created with fondant that a typical buttercream could never do.  More often than not, the cakes shown on television are done with fondant icing.  If you are interested in something that has a three dimensional shape, a groom’s cake in the shape of a fish for example, it would have to have fondant icing.
  • Fondant icing can be embossed, meaning that it can have textures pressed into the icing.  This can create many extravagant designs such as quilting patterns.  Fondant can also be cut into shapes which can create the type of cakes that can be seen with damask patterns, for example.
  • If you are looking for your cake to have that highly polished, extra smooth finish, then you are most likely looking for a cake with fondant icing.

All of that sounds wonderful.  So why wouldn’t you want to use fondant?

Cons

  • The biggest concern that people have with fondant is the texture.  It has a thicker, slightly chewy texture that buttercream doesn’t.
  • Another drawback of fondant icing is the cost.  It is more expensive than a typical buttercream icing.

Many times, I am asked what icing type I prefer, fondant or buttercream.  My answer?  It depends.  For some cake designs, it just has to be fondant and there is no choice about it.  Other times, the cost of fondant is not justified.  In the end, I say, why not both?  The fondant is actually “glued” to the cake with buttercream icing so you get the fondant on the outside and the buttercream underneath.  The best of both worlds!

"Flowing Bride" cake made with fondant icing.


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