What’s a wedding without cake? Not only do wedding cakes star in their own dedicated moment of the day-of timeline, but most guests expect a slice (or two!) to appease their sweet tooth after dinner. Today, wedding cakes come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors as bakers infuse their desserts with their own creative twists.
Yet, whether you’re team vanilla or you prefer more experimental flavor combinations, one debate is left unsettled — and it’s one that every couple will need to consider as they pick their perfect wedding cake.
Buttercream or fondant?
Each provides different benefits, with buttercream frosting known for its rich taste and fondant offering a malleable texture ideal for shaping and cutting. But, in terms of wedding cakes, which is better?
Well, it turns out the right choice depends on your cake priorities! Do you dream of a towering, Insta-worthy masterpiece? Or do you want guests to sweetly reminisce about your yummy wedding cake for years?
Keep reading to learn more about each of these cake coverings and find the one that best suits your wedding day needs.
Combining butter with sugar (and any flavorings), buttercream is a popular choice for those who want to serve a delicious cake on their big day. “Nothing matches a buttercream cake’s sweet, creamy texture and taste,” assures Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events.
And since it’s little more than a sweetened whipped butter, “buttercream can also be tinted with food coloring to match any color scheme you have for your wedding,” adds Jaclyn Watson of Jaclyn Watson Events.
But be cautious, as “buttercream is made with butter, which can melt or ‘sweat’ in warm temperatures,” Watson warns. “This can be a problem for outdoor weddings or events in hot weather, as the frosting may become soft and runny.”
So if your wedding cake’s flavor is the most important attribute for you and your partner, you simply cannot go wrong with a rich and luscious buttercream.
On the other side of the debate, fondant typically lacks the noteworthy taste of buttercream. Made of sugar, water, corn syrup, and gelatin, fondant exchanges flavor for flexibility, making it the perfect choice for couples who want a clean aesthetic from their wedding cake.
“Fondant is easily adaptable to elaborate designs and patterns but has a denser and sometimes not as sweet a flavor,” O’Connell explains. “The more elaborate your cake design, the more likely it should be covered in fondant.”
Watson also notes that “fondant is more stable than buttercream, which means it can hold its shape and form for longer periods.” Since it’s not as prone to melting as buttercream, it’s “a good option for outdoor events, venues with no air conditioning, and cakes that must be transported or displayed for extended periods.”
However, an underwhelming flavor isn’t fondant’s only drawback. Watson reveals that “fondant takes a cake maker more time, thus is the more expensive cake.”
So while fondant is best for flawless-looking cakes, couples may be put off by its high price tag and a taste sometimes described as ‘artificial.’
Picking the best one for your wedding cake
So, which one will dress up your wedding day dessert? “If the taste is a top priority, buttercream is probably the better choice,” Watson notes. “It is rich, creamy, and flavorful and can be customized with a wide range of ingredients to suit any taste.”
But, Watson says, “if the cake’s appearance is important and the cost is not a factor, fondant might be the way to go. It is smooth, pliable, and can be shaped into various designs, making a visually stunning appearance.”
When in doubt, consult with an expert! Bakers can help you determine the best choice for your preferences, as well as your guests’ dietary restrictions.
“The best thing you can do is to decide on a cake designer first and then let them do their specialty and let their expertise guide you throughout the process,” promises Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl. “You can schedule a tasting with the cake designers that you’re considering. Then, you can make it a fun outing with your partner!”
And if you really can’t make up your mind, see if you can have the best of both worlds. “A good pastry chef can make great-tasting fondant and apply it over a layer of buttercream,” O’Connell says.
While your cake isn’t the headliner of your wedding day (that’s you!), it is an integral element that can tie your theme together and provide your guests with a tasty treat. So whether you pick fondant or buttercream, remember the wise words of Marie Antoinette: let them eat cake!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.