Monday, June 13, 2011

Cake Trends: Back to Buttercream?

As a cake decorator, I love to see elaborate cakes decorated with fondant, gum paste, royal icing stringwork, and sculpted adornments. But as a baker, I have to say that there is something lost when one puts all their energy into making a visual piece of art - it often tastes more like art than food. I always used to take it as a compliment when someone would say my cookies were "too pretty to eat," but now I'm not so sure. When I see elaborate cakes on shows like "Cake Boss" and "Ace of Cakes" I am stunned by their appearance, but more often than not, I wouldn't want to eat them. The simple fact is that in order to build a cake that looks like a sculpture, you have to sacrifice some of the elements that make it tasty. The cake is heavy and dense; there is a lot of non-edible support inside; some of the decorations are often made from rice krispy treats (edible, yes, but let's face it - it's not cake). Finally, the cake is covered with fondant. Personally, I think fondant tastes fine when it is homemade. But more and more, I am hearing people say that they love the look but hate the taste of fondant. I often see it scraped off slices of cake and left sitting on the plate while the rest is eaten. Some people are asking for cakes decorated with buttercream instead. Is this the beginning of a new cake trend - forsaking fondant and getting back to buttercream? I don't know, but I guess I'd better brush up my piping skills!

Wedding Cake with Buttercream
(Birds, twigs etc are non-edible craft items)

Birthday cake covered with fondant
(Mushrooms are rice krispies covered in fondant)