Due to their exquisite appearance and delectable taste, fondant and buttercream are among the top choices for cake decorations.
But which one should you use as a covering for your next cake? If you’re confused about this question, this “fondant vs. buttercream” guide is for you.
In this post, we’ll highlight all the differences between the two cake coverings. We’ll also provide guidance on when to choose each one and why.
Let’s dive in!
What Are the Differences?
To identify the distinctions, let’s take a look at each of the coverings and their pros and cons:
Fondant is a dough-like rollable paste that you can spread over your cake. You can think of it as an edible molding clay for cake decoration.
That way, you can use it to create shapes like fireworks or flowers or paint a famous character on your cake. It’s highly flexible, allowing you to customize it in any way you can think of.
Fondant is mainly made from sugar mixed with boiling water and other ingredients, such as glycerol, corn syrup, and gelatine.
Some cooks use marshmallows to make fondant as they contain all the previously mentioned ingredients.
You can make fondant at home and customize it by adding your desired food color.
Alternatively, you may buy pre-made fondant. It’s available in a wide range of colors and flavors.
- Perfect for highly detailed decoration as it’s easy to mold into whatever shape you might imagine
- Available in countless colors that can suit almost any type of cake
- Harder to make than buttercream and takes more time
- Often, homemade fondant dries out and crumbles, so buying ready-made options is better.
- Some don’t like the taste of fondant as it resembles a single large piece of candy.
- Its thick texture can be unpleasant for some people
Buttercream is a cloud-like, fluffy icing made of sugar, butter, and other ingredients that can vary according to the desired result.
Some cooks add shortening to buttercream recipes to achieve a dough-like, stiff texture similar to fondant.
There are multiple variations of buttercream, yet, the most common types are American and meringue-based.
American buttercream is the most commonly used type in the US. That way, it’s referred to as simply“ buttercream.” This traditional buttercream is made mainly of butter and icing sugar.
A lot of cooks also add a little milk and vanilla to improve its taste. This type is significantly sweeter than the meringue-based one.
Swiss buttercream is a glossy, white buttercream made of egg whites, sugar, and butter. It requires some cooking to prepare the raw egg whites.
This type of buttercream has a smooth texture that can easily be colored due to its white hue.
- Has a richer and creamer taste that many prefer over fondant
- Pretty easy and quick to make, even for a beginner cook
- Unlike fondant, you can easily modify the buttercream’s taste and texture after making it.
- You can use it to write on the cake through piping buttercream.
- Offers less customizability than fondant
- Because of its relatively thin texture, buttercream is more susceptible to damage on the cake compared to fondant.
Which is Better for a Wedding Cake?
Choosing between fondant and buttercream cakes for a wedding can be a highly confusing decision.
To help you pick the best option, here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting each:
- Its original vivid white color suits the classic wedding cake’s look perfectly.
- Has a chewy and soft texture
- Fondant preserves the cake’s moisture for a longer time than buttercream.
- Can be stored in the refrigerator for a longer period compared to buttercream cakes
- Considerably sweeter than buttercream cakes as fondant includes much more sugar
- Can sometimes have an artificial smell
- Relatively heavier than buttercream cakes
- Creamy and melt easily in the mouth
- Buttercream pairs perfectly with almost any cake flavor.
- Lighter than fondant cakes
- Can melt more easily than fondant cakes in hot weather. So, it’s not the best choice for a summer outdoor wedding party
- More susceptible to getting damaged as a result of improper handling and transporting
- The range of colors you can achieve with buttercream is more limited compared to fondant
When purchasing a cake, you don’t have to choose between fondant and buttercream. You can enjoy the best of both worlds when you buy a fondant cake.
This is because most fondant cakes contain layers of buttercream underneath the fondant covering.
That way, such cakes are suitable for almost all preferences. A person who enjoys fondant can eat all the cake layers.
Those who don’t like fondant can simply peel off the cake covering and enjoy the rest.
Yes, you can adhere fondant to buttercream quite easily using multiple ways.
Still, you need to use a proper method to ensure that the fondant will remain stuck to the buttercream for a long time.
Here are our two most recommended methods:
One of the most common ways to attach the fondant to buttercream is by using Tylose glue.
To prepare this edible glue, take a small amount of Tylose powder and blend it with a bit of water. Then, cover the mixture with a lid and let it rest overnight.
By the morning, you’ll have a gelatinous glue you can instantly use to attach the fondant to your buttercream cake.
To make sugar glue, you’ll need to melt a small amount of marshmallow fondant in an equal part of water. It’ll only take a few minutes, and you’ll have thick glue.
Yes, fondant decoration can melt on a buttercream cake due to the moisture in the buttercream. This is significantly more probable during hot and humid conditions.
Given that, you can prevent this from happening by following these tips::
- Add a layer of cornstarch to the fondant toppers before placing them on the buttercream cake.
- Ensure the fondant is completely dry before adding them to the buttercream. Ideally, make them a few weeks ahead.
- Make the fondant cuts thicker. Thicker cuts are less likely to melt.
- In hot weather, keep the cake in an air-conditioned room
- Avoid storing the cake in the refrigerator after applying the fondant. Instead, place it in a box, wrap the box in a plastic bag, and keep it in a cool, dry place.
- Add the fondant decoration as close to the serving time as possible.
Yes, fondant cakes are considerably more expensive than buttercream ones. They can cost up to three times the price of buttercream cakes.
The reason is that preparing fondant cakes requires significantly more time and effort. In addition, they usually incorporate costlier ingredients.
By now, choosing fondant or buttercream cakes is straightforward!
If you prefer a rich and creamy cake taste, buttercream cakes are the way to go. They also offer a more natural flavor and aroma than fondant.
However, if you’re looking for a cake with endless customization options, fondant cake is ideal. It allows you to select your preferred color and pattern and create highly detailed designs.
You can also store a fondant cake in the refrigerator relatively longer than a buttercream one.
Further, most fondant cakes offer the best of both worlds. They consist of a fondant covering and buttercream filling. That way, they can suit almost all preferences.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.