A frequently asked question that I get from brides-to-be, is whether or not to use fondant for their wedding cake. Trends come and go and recently Fondant has developed a negative stigma. I feel the main reason for this comes from a combination of first-time-users mixed with an inferior product from craft stores. Of course, poor quality product in the wrong hands could be a disaster for any cake. Now, of course I have no issue when an aunt makes a cake at home for her niece and wants to experiment with fondant. It’s wonderful when someone tries something new to make something fun for their family. It’s when inexperience enters the professional cake world and we end up being served an expensive, bad piece of wedding cake covered in a thick, crusty layer of fondant. And don’t even get me started on the fondant abuse that happens on reality TV shows. It’s no wonder people are turned off by it. I would like to offer my point of view and share my experience with fondant.
My first attempts at using fondant were definitely not my finest work, you don’t pick it up and magically become a fondant genius. Like anything it’s takes a lot of practice and understanding of the product. I believe that trial and error is necessary for an artist to grow and get better at something. After working with it for about 12 years, I feel really confident in our abilities. I’ve learned that not overworking it and rolling it thinner is better. Being aware of the taste is also very important. Local craft and grocery store fondants are fine for beginners, but I find them to have an unpleasant plastic-like aromatic and taste. I have made homemade fondant, that has a much better flavor but it really doesn’t decorate as smoothly. The sole purpose for fondant is for aesthetics, so it really has to have the right texture. I found a really nice product from a Swiss company that makes a very smooth, pleasant tasting, professional-grade fondant. It tastes a little bit like vanilla marshmallows with the texture of marzipan.
Do you need fondant on your cake? Certainly not. We use a Swiss meringue -style buttercream to decorate most of our cakes, it is very smooth and looks beautiful. You need fondant when the design starts getting more artistic with airbrushing, hand painting, sugar flowers, edible ribbon and different shapes. For example.........
The cake above has a quilting indentation and is airbrushed with a pearl shimmer-luster. This is a perfect example of when art dictates the necessity of fondant. I remember when I was planning this cake with the bride, and she really wanted this look, but was really worried that the cake wouldn’t taste as good with fondant. As I said before, we have a nice tasting product, and it’s very important to remember that the fondant is just on the outside of the cake. A lot of people don’t eat the rind of Brie, but that doesn’t stop them from eating the delicious cheese. ( btw, I eat the rind, it’s awesome)
When the cake is decorated with fondant, there is always a layer of buttercream on the outside of the cake before a thin layer of fondant is applied. The inside is still our delicious, moist cake, so the fondant doesn’t really get in the way of your guests enjoying your cake. I don’t think that you should have to choose between flavor and look, BOTH should be amazing. On a side note, you’d be surprised how many people really like fondant, my brother-in-law loves it. He eats everyone else’s fondant off their cake at the table, so to each his own.
Marbled fondant and edible ribbon is another example of something that frosting just can’t do. I really love it, because there are so many fun colors and shapes that you can create.
Of course fondant can always be a applied in different ways, like completely covering your cake in ombré rosettes. This cake was just shorter than me , about 5 feet tall and took Phay & I about 70 hours to make all those flowers. Was it over the top? maybe, but that’s your freedom with wedding cakes, do what you want. It was beautiful and unique... I really loved making this cake.
So... to fondant....or not to fondant, that is the question. It’s really up to you and what your design choice is. But don’t feel that you can’t get fondant because a friend told you that they know someone who said it was terrible one time. We use it responsibly and after working with probably thousands of pounds of the stuff, we can tell you that’s it’s not the worst thing to happen to your wedding cake. It gives you so many more options to make your dream cake. So, please don’t limit yourself and have fun with the whole experience.....let them eat fondant covered cake.
- Kate Repko co-owner Sugar Bake Shoppe