Buttercream and Other Delights

Choosing a creamy, delicious icing for your wedding cake goes beyond chocolate and vanilla. Taste is important, of course, but so are the embellishments that make your cake stand out. Before shopping for your wedding cake, take a look at this roundup of some of the more popular wedding cake finishes to help you make your decision.

Buttercream: This is the most traditional icing. Made with butter and sugar syrup whipped to an airy lightness, buttercream tastes and looks like vanilla. According to Lisa Raffael, owner of Delicious Desserts in Falmouth, people are beginning to add flavors such as almond and coconut to buttercream when it’s used as a filling. Expect to pay $4.50 to $6 per slice for a cake iced in buttercream.

Fondant: According to Raffael, fondant is like dough: It’s rolled out and placed onto the cake (application and texture are similar to that of a pie crust) instead of smoothed over like traditional icing. Fondant is more of a finishing technique than a flavor. “It goes over buttercream for a porcelain-smooth finish,” says Jennifer Williamson, owner of Jenny’s Wedding Cakes in Amesbury.

For brides who want a colorful cake, fondant can come in any hue. “The craziest fondant design I’ve done is tie-dye,” says Raffael. “People are trying to add more color to their wedding—they want their own personality.” Because fondant is more labor intensive and contains more ingredients, it is more expensive than buttercream. The average price starts at $6 to $8 per slice.

Marzipan: This finishing technique is not as popular as fondant or buttercream, but is still often used to make smaller decorations that are placed on top of the cake. Marzipan is made out of crushed almonds, giving it a grainy texture. It is sweet, and Williamson sometimes colors it and shapes it into miniature fruits as a cake decoration.

Chocolate Ganache: This icing is made from chocolate, cream, and sometimes butter. Because ganache has a very dark, shiny finish, it can be used instead of chocolate fondant when a glossy finish is preferred. It also can be a filling or glaze. Unlike fondant, it is naturally very flavorful, so it is rarely used with another icing.