Wedding Cake Decorations: Pros and Cons

Thursday, September 10, 2015

It used to be that most wedding cakes were simple affairs with buttercream frosting. As decorations got more elaborate, bakers turned to fondant to give the cake a smooth finish. Now there are plenty of options for your wedding cake, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. As you plan the dessert that will be the highlight of your reception, here’s a guide to help you pick your cake.


Fondant is the go-to choice for many bakers. It’s basically a mix of sugar and water to make dough, which is then rolled thin and draped over the cake.
·         Pros: Because it’s applied as a single piece, fondant gives a smooth, flawless finish that gives the cake a crisp, clean look. It holds its shape over time as well, so your cake will look as good when you serve it as it did when it was made.
·         Cons: Fondant is technically edible--but we don’t know many people who are lining up to eat it. Its gummy texture puts most people off, which might mean you’ll have guests who “skin” your cake before they eat.


While fondant is mostly sugar and water, buttercream is a mixture of dairy (the titular butter and cream) and sugar. The dairy and sweetener are whipped together to make icing that can be piped onto the cake or spread with a knife.
·         Pros: Buttercream is a better-tasting, lighter alternative to fondant. It’s intended to be eaten, and it can be flavored to make it even more delectable.
·         Cons: Only a very skilled cake decorator can get a perfectly smooth finish with fondant, and any slight nudge will mar it. If you go for buttercream, it’s best to go for a textured effect that will hide any imperfections.


For an even richer alternative, ganache is a decadent blend of chocolate and cream, whipped together into a dark, delectable topping.
·         Pros: Ganache is so rich, you can get away with a smaller cake and your guests will still come away satisfied. And did we mention it’s absolutely delicious?
·         Cons: As far as options go, ganache is pretty one-note. You pretty much only get one color and one flavor, and that might not match your reception plans.


The latest big thing in decorating a cake is to not decorate the cake at all. Let your cake breathe free with an unfrosted, “naked” cake. Naked cakes usually have some kind of filling between the layers, usually fresh fruit that’s both delicious and aesthetically appealing.
·         Pros: It’s simple, elegant, and chic. A baker has to be really confident in the flavor of their cake to do a naked cake, so it’ll be something really special. It also makes the perfect platform for using wedding sparklers like birthday cake candles since there’s no frosting to ruin.
·         Cons: There are those--I’m not saying me, but some people--who think the icing is the best part of the cake, and that without the icing the cake is severely limited in how good it can be. I mean, there’s a reason you call something that’s good “the icing on the cake,” right?
In the end, what you put on your cake--whether it’s fondant, buttercream, ganache, or nothing at all--is up to you and your partner. If you go for the option you find most tantalizing, odds are your guests will dig it, too.

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