Whichever type of cake you choose is often a matter of personal taste.
Here are some points to consider when deciding between the two options:
- Super clean, smooth, matt finishes are possible.
- Certain types of textures and finishes are only possible on a fondant covered cake.
- A wide range of decorating possibilities exist with fondant.
- Usually cost more than buttercream cakes since fondant itself is expensive and there is additional work involved.
- People usually do not like the taste of fondant and peel it off before consuming the cake underneath.
- While it can be made relatively smooth, buttercream finished cakes tend to be less smooth and clean as fodant finished cakes
- Certain types of textures and finishes are only possible on a buttercream finished cake.
- Buttercream cakes are best suited for simpler or rustic designs.
- Usually slightly cheaper than fondant finished cakes though not always the case. The complexity of the design plays a part as well.
- People usually think buttercream finished cakes are less sweet and taste better than fondant cakes.
In the last few years, there has been a growing trend towards buttercream as fondant is reserved for mostly the more complicate designs or for figurines and the like.
While we are on the topic, another question I get asked a lot is if I think Fondant cakes can be considered as art.
Personally, I think we're missing the whole point of fondant. Fondant sculpting itself is an art form first and foremost. Yes, it's made out of edible materials but that's not really the point. Throughout history, artists have been creating sculpture from all sorts of materials from metals to plastics to sand to glass and countless other things. There is absolutely no reason that we must use fondant to make cake figurines... Certainly if plastic is your thing, you can buy lots of these in cake supply stores and reuse them to your heart's content. Then again, probably no one would consider you an artist if that's the case.
Certainly, I would say most fondant artists would consider themselves artists first and bakers second. Not to say that the taste and texture of a cake is secondary, but I tend to get somewhat offended when someone compares me to a normal baker and says that what I make is "just a cake" when what I do is so much more. It is like saying Michaelangelo and a bricklayer are the same because they both make stuff with stones! What an artist creates may not always be practical or useful, but art brings us a type of joy and emotion that can't be found anywhere else. That look on a child's face when they see their birthday cake decorated with edible versions of their favorite characters is simply priceless.
Sure, no one may want to eat the fondant characters, but no one wanted to eat Michaelangelo's David either... Sure, fondant doesn't last, but neither do ice carvings and sand sculptures. The shortness of their life spans, I feel adds to their appeal. It allows us to appreciate them all the more while they last...
It is fine to peel off fondant and just eat the cake underneath. Even I do that... Not so much because of the taste or anything... Fondant is basically sugar and sugar tastes sweet... I just don't want to consume so much sugar at my age. I would behorrified if someone went to a fancy dinner party and started chipping away at the ice carving to chill their drinks, or collect the melted ice to drink... Still the ice carving was not totally useless, it allowed us to joyfully appreciate its beauty while it lasted.
So as much as the trend is shifting more towards buttercream, I feel that fondant will always still have it's place on our cakes. It's just a matter of time till it becomes trendy again.