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Mayhaw Man

Why Use fondant?

128 posts in this topic

I agree with Mayhaw Man. Fondant is an abomination. HOWEVER...I think I have a solution.

The trophy cake, coated in fondant, perfectly decorated, should be a trompe l'oeil - a "dummy" cake coated and decorated (not for consumption), which is rolled out of the banquet hall (or wherever) at the appropriate time, under the pretext of being cut for serving. The caterers then deliver plated cake that has been "swapped" for the "dummy".

This has more than one advantage:

The decorator can use any material desired for the decoration;

The "dummy" could be made several days ahead, properly stored;

The cake that is served doesn't have to be elabarately decorated, which saves last-minute work - it can be made in layered sheet form (or whatever);

The catering staff doesn't have to break their necks toget the cake cut in a hurry for dessert;

The "dummy" cake would be easier to deliver, with much less stress.

Voila!

Oh, yes - I just thought of one more advantage - the bride can have her cake and eat it, too!!! :laugh::biggrin::rolleyes::smile:


Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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I am speaking here strictly as an amateur who loves baking but does not do icing. I am puzzled. Perhaps one of the professionals posting here can de-confuse me.

Leaving aside the apparent possibility that there are individuals who LIKE the flavour and/or texture of fondant, the arguments FOR it seem to be, that it looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, and keeps good (and keeps the cake good) - my question is:

There are some incredibly clever and imaginative pastry artists out there - Surely it is possible for professional bakers to come up with something that looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, keeps good (and keeps the cake good) AND tastes good as well?

Can someone please explain why this is so difficult?


Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

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"As a side, James McNair's powdered sugar frosting (all butter) at least altered the process to include beating the frosting over a double boiler setup, so at least the frosting would be smooth and creamy."

I am very intrigued by this. I still have family that insist they do not like true buttercreams. Would someone be able to post this? I would love to see it.


-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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There's only one problem with your suggestion etalanian.... I didn't spend years learning to be a pastry chef and expert decorator to decorate a hunk of styrofoam.

Oh and there's a second problem.... if it takes me a week just to make the decorations for a cake, I expect to be paid more than $75 or whatever it is people rent dummy cakes for. And then I'd also need to be paid for the next several days repairing all the damage to the dummy. :huh:

There are some incredibly clever and imaginative pastry artists out there - Surely it is possible for professional bakers to come up with something that looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, keeps good (and keeps the cake good) AND tastes good as well? 

Can someone please explain why this is so difficult?

It wasn't difficult for me.... patent pending. I'm a businesswoman after all. :biggrin:

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Brooks. Babe. Relax.

Try thinking about fondant the way you'd think of a lady's face. Fondant is a sweet sticky pancake makeup that preserves the sweet cake therein. And I've actually tasted good fondant.

Not that I make fondant -- I'm a buttercream/cream cheese frosting kinda woman. But that flawless layer over petit fours or a wedding cake is like a mid-nineteeth century sketch of a stage set for "Swan Lake." And it's still better than frosting from a can.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I am speaking here strictly as an amateur who loves baking but does not do icing. I am puzzled. Perhaps one of the professionals posting here can de-confuse me.

Leaving aside the apparent possibility that there are individuals who LIKE the flavour and/or texture of fondant, the arguments FOR it seem to be, that it looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, and keeps good (and keeps the cake good) - my question is:

There are some incredibly clever and imaginative pastry artists out there - Surely it is possible for professional bakers to come up with something that looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, keeps good (and keeps the cake good) AND tastes good as well? 

Can someone please explain why this is so difficult?

Ok the biggie here is the mouth feel for Americans. When we think cake, we think creamy and sweet and meltiliscious. Fondant needs chewing. So that keeps our mouths at odds with fondant. It doesn't matter how it tastes, we just don't chew icing. And it's a big deal.

As far as pure taste goes, fondant is candy. It's sweet, it can be a canvas for flavors. As rose petals and shamrocks & little diddles on cakes it's great. As a covering for cake, it does not melt in our mouth and that is the unpardonable sin. Add to that the incredible disservice that Wilton is doing with that pure horsesh*t they produce and call fondant. That puts the last prolific nail in the fondant coffin.

Decorators cannot talk people into fondant for the looks. Brides already have to want it. We do buttercream in faux fondant looks. Umm, we can add white chocolate and candy clay to fondant and that helps it a bit.

But that whole gelatin in the icing thing goes too much against our grain. Now fondant can be applied very thinly to a cake and it can meld into the buttercream and that can work. But the best baker and decorator cannot change our perceptions to that extent if we have made up our minds.

And once the populace has tried Wilton fondant that they bought at Hobby Lobby or Michael's nobody is gonna wanna try it. I just had a friend say nobody would even eat the (fondant covered) cake.

I have another friend who cannot sell her family on eating beans, white beans. Nope no way. If she puts it in a bowl and calls it bean soup they can't get enough. You say potahto and I say potayto.


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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There's only one problem with your suggestion etalanian.... I didn't spend years learning to be a pastry chef and expert decorator to decorate a hunk of styrofoam.

Oh and there's a second problem.... if it takes me a week just to make the decorations for a cake, I expect to be paid more than $75 or whatever it is people rent dummy cakes for. And then I'd also need to be paid for the next several days repairing all the damage to the dummy. :huh:

Oh, oh, oh...no offense intended, Sugarella... :sad:

It was more or less a joke. But I guess, if I were serious about it, the idea would be that both cakes would be made by the same person, not two different sources. And the cake wouldn't be returned to the cake maker, it would go to the bride's parent' home for the after-wedding party. I didn't know that people rent dummy cakes, but for the level of art you are talking about, I would think you could charge a bundle, not $75 bucks, and not for rental.

Before I started my wholesale/mail order bakery (which I sold a few years ago) I made many wedding cakes. I understand how much work goes into them, and, really, really, really, no offense was intended. :blush:

Eileen


Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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It's actually not uncommon for couples with a large wedding to get a smallish decorated wedding cake and a secondary sheet cake that stays in the back until plating. Helps with service, cost, etc. as you say. But generally flavors and components stay the same. Pity the poor person who has to lay fondant on a helpless sheet cake that will never be seen in its entirety!


The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Oh goodness no, no offence taken Eileen. :smile::smile::smile:

....Just making a few points on the "con" side. I suppose the rented dummy idea could work if you had a handful of standards and just rented the same ones over and over. In fact there are some places that do just that. But for custom work it wouldn't fly.

And you know what, when Elizabeth married Prince Philip her wedding cake was a dummy, technically. It was a decorated box shaped to look like cake tiers, with cut and wrapped cake pieces inside, ready to be served quickly.

So there you go..... :wink:

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Therefore, I set off to find and develop recipes that that I could master. It took a lot of experimentation, but I finally have a collection of scratch cake recipes that serve me well for my baking purposes. I'm still experimenting to a few elusive recipes that I haven't perfected yet (e.g. white cake). But until such time that I get them under my belt, I just don't offer them for sale to my customers.

Kris, I could have written what you said, lol. It appears we are on the same path. I too have my very own "Cake Everything" book in which I painstakingly created, the most inclusive cake recipe/manual that can not be purchased anywhere. I even, after blood, sweat and tears, created my own dark chocolate cake recipe because I could not find one I preferred. Everyone that tastes it, I swear, responds with "Wow!"

If you are looking for a good light, textured, fluffy but with a good tooth white cake, then try the Cook's Illustrated white layer cake. I also have a slightly altered version out it from the James McNair's Cake book that makes it denser, if that is your ticket, just let me know.

That light, dissolve on the tongue texture you described from mixes is due to all the sugar in them. Sugar is a tenderizer and turns the structure into cotton candy in the mouth. It is like biting into air, lol.

Experimenting with recipes and flavors is the best part for me, although decorating is fun as well. I like cakes best that are simply decorated, fine lines and very little adornment. Honestly, I hope it does not revert back to frilly swags and spaced tiers. Let’s keep the Rococo period in the past, lol.

Best...

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That light, dissolve on the tongue texture you described from mixes is due to all the sugar in them. Sugar is a tenderizer and turns the structure into cotton candy in the mouth.  It is like biting into air, lol. 

Experimenting with recipes and flavors is the best part for me, although decorating is fun as well.  I like cakes best that are simply decorated, fine lines and very little adornment.  Honestly, I hope it does not revert back to frilly swags and spaced tiers.  Let’s keep the Rococo period in the past, lol.

Best...

Well yeah it's the sugar but it's also those 'plastic' fats they use too.

Simply decorated cakes require a greater degree of expertise and so are much more difficult to produce because you have to be uber exact and without the Rococo to slather all over & cover it all up--you gotta be real dang good at icing stuff

...or...use...f-o-n-d-a-n-t.

I like spaced tiers. I like stacked too.

I had a bride the other day look at a five tier cake with a symetrical fondant drape all the way down (page 246 in the 2006 Grace Ormond book, the green & white) with scrolls & blablabla and she says, "Oh that would be easy." I took a leveled look at her & said,

"A cupcake is easy." :rolleyes:

But truth to tell, the cupcake wedding cakes are so labor intensive they cost just as much as tier cake, or should cost just as much. Custom made stand, come on.

Less decor is much more expertise unless you stay rustic. Rustic meaning broad strokes and no fine lines, rough iced--which I like that too. But if you're after the smooth & sleek--it ain't easy, folks. Fine lines take expertise out the wazoo, roll out the fondant* or wield a wicked spatula.

*shhh, don't tell the Mayhaw Man :laugh:


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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...If you are looking for a good light, textured, fluffy but with a good tooth white cake, then try the Cook's Illustrated white layer cake.  I also have a slightly altered version out it from the James McNair's Cake book that makes it denser, if that is your ticket, just let me know.

That light, dissolve on the tongue texture you described from mixes is due to all the sugar in them. Sugar is a tenderizer and turns the structure into cotton candy in the mouth.  It is like biting into air, lol. 

Experimenting with recipes and flavors is the best part for me, although decorating is fun as well.  I like cakes best that are simply decorated, fine lines and very little adornment.  Honestly, I hope it does not revert back to frilly swags and spaced tiers.  Let’s keep the Rococo period in the past, lol.

Best...

RodneyCk, I tried the Cook's Illustrated cake. I tried several white cake recipes from the Ultimate White cake thread on this very board. At first they tasted okay -just after being removed from the oven, while they were warm. But as they cooled, I found the texture to get crumbly/powdery and sort of dry. Maybe it's just my palate, maybe it's my technique. I brought in slices of these various white cakes to my co-workers/friends (my guinea pigs) and they all agreed that the white cake was inferior to the yellow/butter cake that I usually make.

Overall I prefer richer and denser textured cakes made with whole eggs vs. egg whites. For that same reason I don't like (nor make) angel food cake. It just has a crumbly and powdery texture that I don't care for.

I have a cake book by James McNair (I wonder if it's the same one you're talking about), but I haven't tried his white cake recipe. I will try this one next.

My main interest in starting out was learning how to decorate a cake. I'm no Colette Peters or Sylvia Weinstock, but I can get by with producing a decent looking cake. Now I'm focusing a lot more on the actual cake itself - the taste, the the texture, the right combination of ingredients & technique to produce great scratch cakes that are consistently good each time.

I'm with you - I hope that cake decorating doesn't revert back to that "rococco style" that you described. :laugh: It seems dated and over-the-top now. But funny enough, I've read where some decorators wistfully long for those days since they were able to put their piping & lambeth skills to good use.

With the popularity of fondant in America has come a stripped down, modern looking type of stacked cake with minimal piping (except for some lacy/embroidered techniques) and lots of gumpaste flowers. I don't see this trend going away soon.

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Wow, what a debate! Who knew that the pros and cons of fondant could inspire such passions? Well, obviously Mayhaw Man did! :biggrin: Almost as passionate as a discussion of whether one loves or hates okra--the QUEEN of vegetables. :wub:

The Old Foodie put it best when she asked:

I am speaking here strictly as an amateur who loves baking but does not do icing. I am puzzled. Perhaps one of the professionals posting here can de-confuse me.

Leaving aside the apparent possibility that there are individuals who LIKE the flavour and/or texture of fondant, the arguments FOR it seem to be, that it looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, and keeps good (and keeps the cake good) - my question is:

There are some incredibly clever and imaginative pastry artists out there - Surely it is possible for professional bakers to come up with something that looks good, provides a good platform for decoration, keeps good (and keeps the cake good) AND tastes good as well?

And Sugarella answered the challenge with:

I do use fondant, but I make my own and there are ways to make it taste less like a mouthful of straight sugar and there are ways to make it less chewy. And there are ways to apply it thin enough that it blends into the buttercream underneath and can't really be detected, but most cake makers I think stick to the prepackaged stuff.

If a cake design allows for it, I'm glad to omit it and just use buttercream. Or ganache. Or marzipan. Or anything.

Sounds like she's found the happy medium, so to speak, which satisfies the desire for a gorgeous cake that also tastes delicious. So Sugarella any chance you could post a pic or two of cakes you've made using your thin fondant over buttercream technique? I sincerely hope that you do patent it and make million$, laughing all the way to the bank. :wink:


Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Overall I prefer richer and denser textured cakes made with whole eggs vs. egg whites.  For that same reason I don't like (nor make) angel food cake.  It just has a crumbly and powdery texture that I don't care for.

With the popularity of fondant in America has come a stripped down, modern looking type of stacked cake with minimal piping (except for some lacy/embroidered techniques) and lots of gumpaste flowers.  I don't see this trend going away soon.

I just recently switched over to Sylvia Weinstock's butter cake, but I've used a certain butter cake forever. I call it 'golden cake'. To get around the 'white flavor' that Sugarella mentioned didn't exist. I just use part whole eggs and part whites--comes out pale golden. Appeals to brides :biggrin: gets me off the hook.

Umm, but how do you get a crumbly powdery angel food cake? They are so moist they would wad up well and make more ammo in the fondant fight fad mentioned upthread. But I do understand the powdery kinda flavor, is that what you meant? But crumbly??

But as far as trends and decor goes. The brides drive that. What they see is what they want. If they grew up wanting a lighted pink fountain cake with bulbous swags and shells and rainbow colored satelites all perched on gangly dangly white columns with staircases a plenty so be it. To quote RLBerenbaum's Cake Bible page 211, "...One of those hulking white Baroque numbers, adorned with plastic Grecian columns and insipid cupids."

Where the rub is there, is that some of today's decorators don't how to do that stuff. All that pipey sh*t is another learning curve. They/we do strings out of fondant now--what a great idea though--those buggers are murder to pipe--but once you got it you got it. If you can just squirt fondant out of a clay gun & attach 'em--guys, fondant ain't going nowhere. :raz:


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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--those buggers are murder to pipe--but once you got it you got it. If you can just squirt fondant out of a clay gun & attach 'em--guys, fondant ain't going nowhere.  :raz:

That is another point I was going to make. My instructor is suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome from being in the business so long as a cake decorator. After each class, I can see why she suffers. Piping takes just about every muscle in the hand, placing it in constant tension for long periods of time, sometimes all day. I am a massage therapist by practice, so I know what happens when muscles are overworked and stressed. So, if someone was ever looking for an argument for fondant, that would be one, lol.

In regards to the Cook's Illustrated white cake, yes, it is a very light, tender crumb. I would say you are looking for something close to the true "buttercake". Pass on the James McNair cake, because he literally took the CI cake and changed the leavening and flour ratio and just made it a bit dense, although still maintaining that angel food cake quality. The Joy of Baking, on their website, they have a white buttercake, separating the eggs to give the cake a light appearance, not true white, but yet maintains the buttercake qualities. I have not made it yet, but it sounds like it the direction you are headed.

Back to decorating... I agree that making a fine-lined cake is even more difficult than a pipe bomb. I am perfecting my smoothing techniques, wielding several spatulas of varying sizes like machetes, perfect leveled tops and a lot of dipping paintbrushes in water to correct the borders, lol. There are faster and easier ways to coat, to even make them smooth like fondant, but it requires a crusting American type powdered sugar frostings (the "cake ladies" are all over this technique), which is actually like a homemade fondant really, but I refuse to compromise taste and blood sugar levels.

“It puts the buttercream in the bucket…It takes off the buttercream from the cake…”

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I agree that fondant is a nasty thing to put on a perfectly good cake. I agree it holds up well.

But, fondant in the confectionary? Indespensible. Consider your latest chocolate covered cherry.

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I agree that fondant is a nasty thing to put on a perfectly good cake. I agree it holds up well.

But, fondant in the confectionary? Indespensible. Consider your latest chocolate covered cherry.

I agree. Fondant does have its place in confectionery. But candy is candy, and cake is cake.

K8Memphis is right - it's a texture thing in addition to the lack of flavor. Who wants a moist, tender, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cake and buttercream experience to be foiled by a chewy, plastic-like texture?

I went to a wedding last summer where the cake was actually made up of many small, tiered, simply but elegantly decorated, cakes - each about 4-inches in height - set up to resemble the basic form of a large tiered wedding cake. It was designed and executed by Bob Bennet of Miel Patisserie, quite the esteemed pastry chef in Philadelphia and environs. Each guest received an individual tiered cake as dessert, and there were containers to take the little cakes home if desired. The cakes were made with true buttercream, and were exquisite. Simple in their decoration, but striking in the overall appearance. A nice way to make a non-Rococo statement without the chewy flavorless stuff.

Eileen

edited by et for typo


Edited by etalanian (log)

Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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That's what you get for liking cake more than pie, my friend.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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That's what you get for liking cake more than pie, my friend.

I'm not sure who your comment was intended for, but if it was for me, I would respond that, given the choice between cake and pie, I would choose a piece of both! As long as they were made with butter.

Eileen


Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

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That's what you get for liking cake more than pie, my friend.

I'm not sure who your comment was intended for, but if it was for me, I would respond that, given the choice between cake and pie, I would choose a piece of both! As long as they were made with butter.

Eileen

All diets aside, if I get to choose, I'll take my heavily cinnamon-ed apple pie made with lard and saigon cinnamon. And for cake, I'll take a crusty rum cake encrusted with all manner of finely chopped coconut and pecans & brown sugar (just a tid tad of flour so it adheres to the cake & relases from the sides of the pan. 86 the fondant! :raz:

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don't forget the vanilla ice-cream with that apple pie! :biggrin: and i agree about using lard, i get mine fresh from a little deli down the street. makes the best crust.

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So, after reading page after page:

Cake or Pie?

That just isn't a fair question, is it?

The rest of my life? Please, if I can produce one, I can produce another.

:laugh:

ETA: I meant to say:

"An Other"


Edited by annecros (log)

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Read the OP's signature. And check out this thread.

I like cake. I like cake more than pie. Questions?

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Back to decorating...  I agree that making a fine-lined cake is even more difficult than a pipe bomb.  I am perfecting my smoothing techniques, wielding several spatulas of varying sizes like machetes, perfect leveled tops and a lot of dipping paintbrushes in water to correct the borders, lol.  There are faster and easier ways to coat, to even make them smooth like fondant, but it requires a crusting American type powdered sugar frostings (the "cake ladies" are all over this technique), which is actually like a homemade fondant really, but I refuse to compromise taste and blood sugar levels. 

“It puts the buttercream in the bucket…It takes off the buttercream from the cake…”

:laugh: Silence of the Wedding Cake

but there is another way...you can glaze with italian meringue buttercream. perfectly shmoove surface, rounded edges...tastes great (but i won't say less filling).

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I agree that fondant is a nasty thing to put on a perfectly good cake. I agree it holds up well.

But, fondant in the confectionary? Indespensible. Consider your latest chocolate covered cherry.

again, a different creature.

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