Frostings and Fondants
When choosing a wedding cake, we think that the most important factor is flavor. Of course you want a cake that looks good and fits with the look of your wedding, but you and your guests will remember if the cake tasted good or not. And, when you thaw that piece out in a year to eat on your anniversary, you’ll want something delicious. So, when it comes to the cake flavor and the frosting, there are some good ways to pick a winning combo. There are some popular, classic flavors (see our article on cake flavors), but you can also mix and match.
When mixing and matching cakes and frostings, we recommend starting with a plain cake flavor and then using frosting as a flavorful accent. You don’t want two strong flavors of cake and frosting that clash, so take it slow with a plain white, yellow, or chocolate cake. Another idea is to have multiple different combinations to make sure that your guests find something to love. This is most easily achieved with cupcakes.
Here are some of our favorite frosting flavors to try and our recommendations of how to pair them with cakes.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups -Usually made of a peanut butter base frosting with bits of Reese’s mixed in, we recommend this frosting with a chocolate cake to give the feel of the real candy. This frosting (and many of the following, unless noted otherwise) are made from buttercream, which is a combination of butter and powdered sugar with flavoring.
Irish Cream -This frosting is most commonly made with Bailey’s and goes well with coffee, yellow, or white cake. You may even be able to find a bakery that will infuse the actual cake with Bailey’s as well.
Cinnamon -You’ll want to pair cinnamon frosting with a cinnamon-spiced cake or plain vanilla white or yellow.
Cream Cheese -Most commonly seen on Red Velvet, this frosting often is less sweet than buttercreams, as it is made with cream cheese and only a little sugar. Because of the cream cheese, this frosting has a little tang to it that complements well with citrus cake flavors.
Cheesecake -One of the up and coming flavors for frosting is cheesecake. This is different from cream cheese frosting in that it is sweeter, and frequently includes a fruit flavor, like blueberry or strawberry. This is best paired with a white or yellow cake as to not overshadow the cheesecake flavor.
Oreo -Oreo buttercream frosting is usually a vanilla base with bits of Oreo cookie mixed in. We suggest pairing this with a white or yellow cake, as chocolate may be a little overwhelming.
Cookie Butter -Based on the wildly popularly Speculoos cookie butter, this frosting has almost a gingerbread-like flavor. It will want to be paired with something mildly flavorful, like a yellow cake, or cinnamon.
Pumpkin -Perfect for fall weddings, pumpkin frosting is a little more exciting than other flavors. Despite being delicious, not everyone is a fan of pumpkin, so we firstly suggest that this is used for cupcakes. And as far as cake flavors, stick to fall flavors, like pumpkin, spice cake, or cinnamon.
Peppermint -When winter weddings roll around, roll out the peppermint. This frosting can be achieved either with peppermint extract or with crushed peppermints (like candy canes). Because of it’s light, refreshing flavor, you’ll want a light cake that won’t overwhelm, like white, angel food, or white chocolate.
Funfetti -Usually funfetti buttercream frosting is a plain vanilla with sprinkles mixed in. You can go with almost any kind of cake -white, yellow, chocolate, funfetti (with sprinkles in the batter too), etc.
Maple Bacon -For those who like salty and sweet, maple bacon frosting has come on the scene. Best on cupcakes for the picky or vegetarian guests, the frosting is usually maple flavored, with bacon bits sprinkled on top. Since this is such a unique flavor, pair it with something simple like white, yellow, or chocolate (if you’re feeling adventurous).
Caramel -Caramel frosting can come salted or plain and is best with a yellow or chocolate cake to balance out the weight of the flavors.
Strawberry Whipped Cream -Instead of a buttercream or cream cheese, you can frost with whipped cream (which is just whipping cream and sugar). A popular variation is to add strawberries to the whipped cream. To keep this frosting light, match it with a white or angel food cake. It’ll be like strawberry shortcake.
Coffee -Finally, one for the modern age. If you are having a tiramisu, chocolate, white, yellow, or really any sort of cake, try a coffee buttercream. Who doesn’t love coffee? Well, actually some people and especially kids, so try it in a cupcake form.
We have one last question, though, when talking about frosting and cake decorations...what is fondant?
The most common flavor is vanilla, but you can also find almond (kind of like marzipan). You’ll want to ask your bakery about the decorations that you want and if you want or need fondant to achieve the look you are planning. Some places use a lot of fondant, some a little, and some not at all -they do all of their decorations with frosting and a piping bag.
It’s just personal preference on what you want the cake to look like and taste like, so make sure to have lots and lots and lots of tastings!
Happy cake tasting!