Buttercream Cake - Should I?
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
When you embark on the daunting journey of designing and booking your wedding cake – yes, THAT cake, the cake you’ve dreamt about since you were 10 years old (no pressure!) – in my opinion, one of the most important questions you should ask of yourself and your cake designer is “Am I looking for a fondant or a buttercream cake, and what even is the difference!?”
Of course, there are other options, but within this article I will be concentrating on these two as they are the most popular with my clients.
To start off, most people don't actually know the difference between the two, let alone which one would be best for your dream wedding cake. I must stress that there is no right or wrong answer here as both can look as beautiful as each other. In my eyes they both have unique qualities and it boils down to your personal preference and what would work best for your cake!
I must note that this article is based on my experience alone - some bakers may disagree with me as each baker will have different ways of working and preferences. I am going to run through a few questions that may be buzzing through your mind – if I miss anything or if you wish to have a more in-depth chat about all things fondant and buttercream, please feel free to get in touch.
What can they both achieve design-wise?
Buttercream has, in the past, been associated with the rustic/boho styled weddings. As a baker who specialising in buttercream, I believe it can achieve so much more than this. Techniques have progressed significantly, meaning that many cake designers can now create pieces of art from buttercream. Cakes can now be textured, stencilled, marbled and layered within the medium of buttercream.
On the other hand, very skilled cake decorators working with fondant can create flawlessly smooth cakes with no wrinkles or cracks. Note that this skill is not easy to perfect, and only very highly skilled cake decorators can manipulate fondant in such a way.
A baker can be extremely talented when it comes to buttercream but simply can’t get to grips with fondant - or vice versa! One skill is no more impressive when mastered, they can simply achieve very different end results.
Now, what’s the difference in flavour?
Fondant is extremely sweet has a soft/gummy texture - some people find fondant may over power the flavour of the cake, due to its sweetness. Buttercream, on the other hand, can be flavoured to complement the sponge and has a much lighter consistency. I can see the pros and cons in both but it all boils down to your personal taste.
Next up, I am going address some long held assumptions about buttercream:
"Will the buttercream melt if it's too hot?"
Now, buttercream is made up of a combination of butter and sugar - so yes, if the cake is placed in very hot, direct sunlight it could in theory melt. However, let me stress - this is only in extreme heat! If you take care to book your cake with an experienced cake decorator, I can guarantee that through their experience they will know how stop this happening and push any related worry out of your mind. As a baker that specialises in buttercream I can stand by my word and say that, to this day (touch wood), I have never had a cake melt - even in the height of summer in a scorching marquee.
"Will the finished article look neat?"
Yes! Of course, it will! Again, if you find a buttercream specialist you would be astonished by the amount of different styles they can achieve using this extremely versatile icing, and how beautifully unique they can be!
Many articles will frustratingly claim that you cannot achieve a smooth finish on buttercream cakes. I could argue with this point until the cows came home, but pictures speak 1,000 words, so click here to see what is possible!
"A buttercream cake won't be as white as fondant cake, will it?"
It will, I promise! This skill has taken me a few years to master but I can confidently say that you can have a brilliant white finish with buttercream - don't let the word "butter" scare you away!
“Will I be limited with colours if I opt for buttercream?”
Fondant icing has always been dyed with soft and rich colours... but now, due to many new wonderful baking products, so can buttercream. You only have to look at what many cake decorators over the world are achieving with buttercream to see the colours that can be achieved.
You need to remember that not all bakers/cake decorators can work with both styles of cake – it is natural to have a speciality! This is the first thing you should thinking about when choosing your cake designer.
So whether you go for buttercream or fondant on your wedding cake, it really comes down to your vision of the perfect cake and which would work best to achieve this. And, of course, you must consider your preference in terms of flavour and texture.
That’s the joy of getting married these days, you have a huge variety of things to choose from - the sky is your limit when it comes to cake design!