The Icing on the Cake

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So what’s the difference between sugarpaste and fondant?   I was thinking about this the other day, don’t ask me why, I’d probably just been watching Cake Boss, I don’t remember.  However, the answer’s actually nothing!  What you call it just depends on where you live.  And just to be clear I’m talking about the soft roll out icing used to cover a cake, not fondant as we know it in the UK which is something totally different.

When you’re looking for a wedding cake this confusion doesn’t really help, especially when searching on the web.  You’re probably thinking it’s just icing right, what can be that complicated?  I can already see your eyes glazing over.

Anyway the whole point of writing this was just an idea to help explain the different names for the different icings so that basically you know your choices, whether or not you’re a buttercream or fondant lover or just prefer a simply naked wedding cake.

The list is by no means exhaustive but I have included a few other icings also used in cake decorating just in case any newbie cake decorators out there might also be interested.

Sugarpaste

Also known as fondant in the US and also called ready to roll icing/paste or covering paste.

A soft icing that is rolled out to cover a cake to give a beautiful smooth finish.  

Royal Icing

Made with egg whites or meringue powder and icing sugar to make a soft thick wet icing that dries hard.  Used normally for piping intricate details onto a cake.  Traditionally rich fruit wedding cakes were covered in marzipan and royal icing before being decorated.  Can also be used for decorating cookies, piping sugar flowers and stencil work.

Buttercream

Whether you’re talking about classic buttercream, Italian or Swiss meringue to name a few, this icing has a creamy texture made with the main ingredient of, yes you’ve guessed it butter.  Used as a filling or for covering your cake.  This is the usual icing used for the piped swirls on top of cupcakes.

Ganache

A deliciously rich combination of chocolate and cream that can be used as a filling or a covering for a cake.  Consistency of ganache can be either pourable or spreadable.  Most useful in wedding cakes as a foundation under your sugarpaste in order to achieve super sharp edges on your cake.  Also used to create drips down the side of cakes for the recent trend of drip cakes.

Fondant (Pouring)

Not to be confused with the American term for fondant above.  Fondant in the UK is an icing used for pouring and dipping, such as that on sweet buns or those little square cakes, Fondant Fancies, these are covered with fondant icing.

Flower Paste

Also know as gum paste in the US and also called petal paste, florist paste or floral paste.

Used for making intricate decorations and sugar flowers.  This icing can be rolled extremely thin due to its elasticity and sets hard, you would not cover a cake with this icing.  Once dried, this icing becomes brittle, hence making sugar flowers extremely delicate to handle, but also wonderfully realistic.

Modelling Paste

A soft malleable dough like icing that is primarily used for modelled characters where it needs to hold its shape and dry fairly quickly, but can remain soft enough to eat.  Made usually by adding CMC gum to sugarpaste or mixing sugarpaste with flower paste.  You would not cover a cake with this.

Marzipan

Also known as almond paste.

Made with ground almonds and sugar to make a soft dough that can be rolled out and used to cover cakes or create ornamental decorations such as fruits and modelled characters.

If you’re not an icing lover then you might like the following alternatives for your wedding cake icing or more rather the lack of it in these cases.

Naked cake

Basically a bare cake i.e. not covered with any kind of icing at all, where the layers of cake and filling are on show.  Tends to be decorated with fruit, flowers and a simple dusting of icing sugar.

Semi-naked cake

Whether you call it semi-naked or half-dressed this refers to a cake that has a very thin layer of buttercream on the outer surface, usually thin enough that the cake layers can be still be seen under the icing.

So for the icing on your cake, will you choose to go naked or cover up?  If you’ve still got questions why not ask me.

Wedding Cake Trends 2017

With the first of my planned wedding shows for this year already been and gone my thoughts were on new designs for the coming year.  What are couples looking for this year? 

Gone are the days when a wedding cake was a rich fruit cake covered with hard white icing. Today’s world is oozing with imagination and creativity, the choice is endless.  Your wedding cake shouldn’t be something that just sits in the corner of your reception venue, this is the 21st century, you can make your cake something to remember.  Cutting into your cake as a newly wedded couple is one of the most photographed and iconic moments of your wedding day, so it’s a big decision to be made, but of course like most things there are trends, whether you choose to follow these or not is up to you.

If you need help deciding have a look below at my take on this year’s top 5 trends.

Metallics

Metallics are everywhere at the moment, from your wedding stationery to fashion and decor.  We are talking anything from art-deco chic with a vintage twist or mixed with modern geometric shapes to give a fresh contemporary feel.  Metallics are a great way for couples to add a little bling to their wedding day whether it be gold and silver or the more earthy tones of bronze and copper.

Marbled or Geometric

For a contemporary, urban chic feel the distinctive swirly patterns of marble can be reproduced with sugarpaste.  Team the simple grey marble effect icing with blues, yellows, pinks or purples for an eye-catching dash of colour.  For a more uniform look try some geometric shapes such as stripes, triangles or hexagons to create patterns with a pop of colour.

 Marble wedding cake Gloucestershire

Buttercream

Although naked cakes are still very popular, I think buttercream iced cakes are going to be featuring heavily this year.  For a rustic relaxed feel, smother your cake with lashings of creamy buttercream or alternatively go for a delicious textured piped look.  Add a few simple flowers and voila!

 Buttercream wedding cake from our cake kitchen in Cheltenham

Drip & Patisserie

Gaining more focus is the trend towards using patisserie, such as macarons and meringues etc to decorate your cake.  Pair this with the bold statement of a delicious coloured drip style cake and your guests will be crying out to eat your cake before you can cut it.

Floral & Woodland

Who doesn’t love flowers, from extravagant cascades to a single large focal flower, hand painted floral cakes or gorgeous sugar flowers.  Romantic floral bridal gowns are now making their way to the UK, fabulously adorned with colour or soft pastel accents.  This year is definitely going to be all about bringing the outside in from greenery to detailed flowers or more organic design elements such as bark and wood. 

Which trend are you going to choose, or are you making the trend?