What is better, buttercream or fondant on cake?
These cakes are enjoyed for many occasions, for example they are commonly purchased for wedding cakes, baby showers, anniversaries or, most commonly, as a birthday cake. When choosing a type of cake for these events, you first need to decide, do you want buttercream cake or fondant cake? What would you prefer and what would your guests prefer. There are different benefits to both.
If you are confused at this point, then let me explain some of the key difference between the two different types. Frosting is also known as icing, it is a type of cake finish that covers the entire cake in a layer of thick and often coloured sheet of ‘fondant’ which has its own unique almondy flavour, some people love it, some people do not. Its benefit is that it looks smooth and offers the cake a strong structure that can be of assistance when trying to hold together the weight of a multiple layered cake that is often wanted and required for weddings.
Buttercream however is a totally different game. It is often used on naked cakes and it does not cover the whole cake. Buttercream is made by blending together butter and sugar, it is whipped using a stand mixer, this is compared to fondant which is a combination of water, glycerine and powdered sugar, which is rolled out thinly to create the layer which will be placed over the entire cake.
Gone are the times when royal icing (another name for fondant) are the only options, fondant was used by the royal families of france and england to celebrate their weddings and birthdays. They would be beautiful and hold their shape, and it means that elaborate decorations could be put on display for guests, but the flavour was often lacking in these cakes and it has started to become less popular. The cake trend these days, which is being confronted by cake shops like Passiontree Velvet in Australia, which offers a range of occasion cakes available at all times from many shops. The trend these days is moving towards more naked style and buttercream style cakes, and often they have flowers and floral displays on them. Buttercream has the added benefit that it can hold many different colours and flavours to compliment the actual cake, and often the flavours are going to be popular common ones like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and passionfruit.
Saying all this, there are benefits to using both. The benefits of using fondant is that is has a smoother and glossier finish, it is easier to control the thickness with the correct rolling technique. The texture is chewy, which to some is a benefit and adds to the experience of eating cake. Fondant is the only type of cake finish which can give you the shiny and pearly white finish which is classic on wedding cakes and lends itself well to being in photographs at those weddings. The fondant is excellent at holding its structure when you are building it up to greater heights and it also puts a seal around the cake to keep in the moisture and allow it to maintain its texture.
Compared to Buttercream, the benefits of using buttercream are that it is less sweet which allows for the flavour details to come through more if it's not just plain vanilla flavour. Al;so the smell is not as artificial and to some people it can be off putting. The buttercream is not as heavy so it does not require as dense cake to hold it up. Buttercream cakes can have light and fluffy sponge which is more enjoyable for the people eating it. It can be flavoured with almost anything and it will greatly benefit the cake.