Tag Archives: fondant

The epic battle…. Buttercream vs. Fondant

I like cake. I suppose I should, since I bake it. All. The. Time. I like pie and brownies even better… but I digress. I kind of like icing, but I could live without it. I could eat cake all day with no icing, just plain; warm out the oven….mmm… I’m going to my happy place in my mind 🙂

Funny enough though, most of you out there want cake and icing together. That’s fine I get it. Makes my job easier. It would be harder to decorate a cake without icing. Yup. Infinitely harder. What’s hard for you is that you’ve got choices to make – buttercream or fondant to make your cake dreams reality, but it seems that not everyone knows exactly what each of those are and what they can do, no matter how many reality cake shows are out there. Welcome to Icing 101!

What is buttercream?
Buttercream is a whipped icing that is made with hot sugar syrup, egg whites or whole eggs, and butter. That’s it. This is not to be confused with that “buttercreme” stuff they sell in those refrigerated cases, that are made of shortening and confectioners’ sugar. If you’ve never had the real stuff you have been missing out!

It’s got a silky texture and can be flavored with everything from vanilla to lemon, and can be used both as a filling, especially when blended with fruits or liqueurs, and as decoration. It can be piped into flowers, textures, and designs. It tends to be the most popular icing choice for wedding and special occasion cakes.

What is fondant?
Fondant is a pliable sugar dough. It is made of confectioners’ sugar and a sugar syrup. It too can be flavored. It is used only for decoration and not filling. Fondant can be sculpted into flowers, bows, or ribbons, and forms to what shape cake you place it around. Fondant is gaining in popularity because it gives a very clean or realistic finish depending on the cake.

Buttercream vs. Fondant
– Buttercream is very sensitive to temperature. It doesn’t like warm environments, so buttercream is not a good idea for an outdoor summer wedding reception.
– Fondant holds up better to changes in temperature and because it goes on top of a layer of buttercream, helps to keep your cake moist.
– People love the way buttercream tastes. It’s super yummy. Because fondant is a dough, it’s chewy, and folks aren’t used to chewing their icing, so a lot of people don’t like it.
– People love the way fondant looks. When executed well, it is immaculate, with a porcelain finish. You get very true colors with fondant, and it works exceptionally well for 3D and sculpted cakes.

You can get the best of both worlds with a combination of both buttercream and fondant.

No matter what you choose, be sure your cake lady (or man), is skilled at executing in that medium. Buttercream can be made ultra smooth, or fondant could be lumpy and bumpy depending on how experienced your baker is!

Here are some of my most favorite buttercream and fondant decorated cakes!

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Buttercream with silk ribbons and flowers

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Fondant with fondant draping

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Buttercream with fondant label, cap, and cigar

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Buttercream with fondant banner

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Buttercream with fondant letters and top

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Filed under tips for brides

Cake vs. Cake

I’ve gotten a lot of requests lately for really fantastic cakes _ wedding cakes and groom’s cakes and it got me thinking about old movies, but one in particular. Kramer vs. Kramer, where a husband and wife face off in court as opposing sides on the same case. It made me think about competition because in weddings where I’ve done both, the groom’s cake has been more intricate than the wedding cake. To me it takes away from the wedding cake being a centerpiece. What do you think?

Should the wedding cake take the spotlight, or should it share prominence with the groom’s cake?

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Filed under miscellaneous musings

design, design, design!

if you watch any of the reality cake shows ( i watch all of them – even the ones i can’t stand… more about that in another post), you’ll see the bride & groom sitting with the esteemed cake decorator, and then they say something like…”i’m having a luau, spa, winter, outdoor, polka dot wedding, and i want you to make a fantastic cake! oh and we really love our dog, roscoe!”. and then buddy, or duff, or someone on cake challenge makes a 4ft tall dog wearing a lei and a parka, skiing down a mountain with polka dot boots, and the bride & groom fall in love the minute they see it (it’s perfect! it’s better than we could have imagined! it looks just like roscoe if he were skiing in hawaii!) at their wedding reception with cameras rolling, and then said cake decorator gets showered with gratitude.

yeah…that’s not how it works. brides and grooms come in with a general idea of what they want – something round, or square, traditional or whimsical, (well the grooms come in to taste cake – they’re not that interested in the pretty cakes). then i show them enough pictures to confuse them and make them change their mind. this is key to the process, because what i really want to know is how you decorate your house, and what colors you love. whether you’d wear stripes or polka dots or plaid. what country you’d love to travel to. this is where the design comes from, and it can’t be accomplished in a 30 second segment. it takes a little time; we have to date a bit so that i can get to know you, and you can get to trust me!

i had a wedding cake this weekend that i absolutely love. i think it is my favorite (for now). it’s because it was very different than what i normally do in terms of wedding cake. it was fun because the bride and groom let me do what i wanted! which was what they wanted even though they didn’t know it initially. they came in wanting a simple, elegant 3 tier white cake. boring… they however, were not boring people, so why get a boring cake? they were interesting, and quirky, and from the middle east. the reception was at a lebanese restaurant.  plain, white cake? yeah right.

so we looked through some books, and they fell in love with an offset cake (inside i did a little jig, and then a booty shake), but not the design on that cake.

bride: “could you do something that has a byzantine feel/pattern?”

me: “sure!” (running to computer to google “byzantine design”)

this is what i found (found some other stuff too, but this was the most exciting, and secretly i was hoping they’d love this too…)

this is the byzantine door interpreted in cake, and their black, white and ivory color scheme.

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grandma just loves her crosswords!

so yesterday was my dad’s 75th birthday. i called to wish him a happy happy and asked him how it felt to be 75 years old. his reply… ” it feels great!”, and then he goes on to tell me that he was lying in bed and told himself that he’d better get up and go walking so he can stay healthy. i must add that the man gets up every morning at 6 and goes walking for MILES almost every day, hence why he’s 75 and fit as a fiddle.

thinking about my dad reaching 75 reminded me of this cake i did last fall for betty who was turning 90! betty apparently is quite the spitfire who does daily crosswords and sudoku. the colors for the party were red and yellow (apparently betty’s a fan of those colors). the red and yellow theme was carried into the inside of the cake with red velvet cake with lemon cream cheese filling, and vanilla cake with a mixed berry buttercream (see the berries in the bowl? get it? good!)

i hope to be in as good mental and physical shape as betty and my dear old dad… now if i could just put down the brownies… sigh.

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Filed under inspiration musings

stomping at the savoy

every now and then i get an opportunity to run free and wild. last week back in october (see how long ago i started this post. smh. i’ve got to write more often!) i had the great pleasure of creating a display cake for the pi alpha omega chapter of alpha kappa alpha. they were having their annual fundraising dinner and dance benefiting their ivy and roses scholarship fund. last year the theme was motown…

this year the theme was the harlem renaissance. there’s SO much from that era, but i was totally inspired by the glamour, the glitz and the bling ( i swear this year i am going to retire that word!), as well as the art deco architecture and design. i kept thinking about the cotton club and the savoy ballroom, so this is what i came up with

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Filed under adventures, inspiration musings

recovering

i understand the concept of a weekend. time off after a busy week. believe me; i get it. but why are all celebrations on the weekend? i challenge you to throw off the chains of tradition, and have your birthday cake on a tuesday. baptize on a wednesday. get married on a thursday! i say this because last weekend was very crazy. 25th birthday cupcakes (waiting on pics from the b-day girl), a fashion show/tea party for two sisters, teenage mutant ninja turtle cupcakes, and a very pretty 80th birthday cake. all for friday, saturday and sunday. i’m still tired and it’s a week later! 

spot of tea  lipstick  ninja turtle  ninja turtles  maisie's 80th b-day

lest you think i’m complaining, let me assure you, i am not. i just think we should spread the cake love around. don’t you think the other days of the week feel lonely and underappreciated and underutilized? i do.

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Filed under how does she do it? musings

piece of cake redux!

i am a glutton for punishment, a sadomasochist. that is why 2 weeks after sending steve and shonika’s cake to ny, i agreed to send yet another cake to ny for my friend’s mom’s retirement party. first by plane, now by car!
so thursday evening rob came by to pick up the cake to drive from atlanta to ny….i think this one had me more panicked than the wedding cake. well i think all went well since i didn’t get any phone calls from a freaked-out rob…

so here’s the story behind the cake. rob’s mom has been an educator for over 30 years, so the theme of the party was connected to a quote from nelson mandela – “education is the most powerful weapon we have to change the world”, you have provided that weapon for years, now the world is yours! rob and his bro gave mom 2 round trip tickets to go anywhere she wants. how cool is that! she’s also really involved in her church sorority and family, so i incorporated words that reflected her interests and relationships. i think it came out really well. i don’t often do dainty pretty cakes; so much of what i do is very graphic and bright, so this was a welcome change.

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Filed under 1, how does she do it? musings