Alright ladies and gentlemen...it's time for me to speak (or at least type) THREE truths about fondant. The things that every baker knows, but is too afraid to say. I'm going to be perfectly honest about fondant...and sometimes, the truth hurts. For those who feel a kinship with fondant, my apologies in advance.
Truth #1: Fondant tastes bad!
There is a range of bad taste when it comes to fondant. At it's best, fondant is made with melted marshmallows and a ton of icing sugar, as if marshmallows weren't sweet enough. At it's worst, it's sugar, wheat syrup, palm oil, glycerin, gum tragacanth, tapioca starch, sodium carbomethyl, cellulose, sodium acetate, etc...doesn't that just make your mouth water? Why would anybody want to eat that?
There is then the argument that we're not really supposed to eat it. You peel the fondant off before you eat the cake. Its meant to make the cake pretty, not delicious. Awesome! Let's explore that shall we.
Truth # 2: Buttercream is beautiful!
Buttercream looks as good as it tastes, and it tastes pretty darn good. Thankfully, it's been having a bit of a renaissance lately. Rustic swirls, romantic rosettes, girly ruffles and, believe it or not, perfectly smooth finishes! That's right. Buttercream can give you that clean, elegant look that people tend to think is only available with fondant. See that cake over there to your left. That's buttercream. Perfectly smooth buttercream. No edits, no filter, no trim hiding the flaws. That right there is a perfect canvas for cake masterpiece.
And sure, buttercream has some limits. 1) You can't sculpt with buttercream, but modelling chocolate does a great job with that, and still tastes better than fondant. 2) Buttercream doesn't like heat. No worries, there are simple modifications that can be made to make it more temperature stable. 3) Umm...uhh....I'm out. I guess the numbers weren't really needed!
If you see it with fondant, there's a way to do it using buttercream.
Metallic finish? Check!
Hand painting? Check!
Brushed embroidery? Check!
If you come up with anything not on this list, bring it on! I'm always up for a challenge.
WARNING! PROCEED WITH CAUTION!
THIS LAST TRUTH IS THE MOST PAINFUL.
IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR, DON'T GIVE UP ONCE YOU SEE THE TITLE.
GIVE ME A CHANCE TO FULLY EXPLAIN. IT'LL ONLY TAKE A MINUTE. I PROMISE!
HERE GOES NOTHING!
HEAVEN HELP ME!
Truth #3: Fondant isn't that difficult!
I know, I know! Right now you're jumping up and down waving your rolling pin at me, calling me every name in the book, so let me first set something straight. The title should be "Not All Fondant is Difficult."
Does that help? No? Let me clarify. It takes amazing skill to create custom characters and 3-D feats of engineering. Paper thin ruffles and tiny, sculpted, woodland animals make me swoon. But covering a cake in rolled fondant and then covering it in some cookie cutter fondant shapes is not a specialized skill.
Don't get me wrong. I love it when a parent uses those "cookie cutter fondant shapes" and makes a birthday cake that their child will never forget. Or when a grandmother gets a beautiful mother's day cake, made with love by her grandchildren. And for that, thank goodness for the simplicity of some fondant methods.
Conclusion: Buttercream or Bust!
So I guess the moral of the story is that buttercream is best. Fondant is a fonDONT.
And in parting, I will leave you with two gifs clearly demonstrating the 2 options. Which would you rather have on your cake?
This doesn't seem like a difficult decision to me.