Differences In Frosting, Icing, Fondant and Gumpaste

by Kelcey Schlines
(Laurel, NE USA)

Buttercream Frosting, Fondant, and Gumpaste

Buttercream Frosting, Fondant, and Gumpaste

Whats the difference between frosting's, icings, fondants, and gum pastes, and what environments and temperatures are best for each?


Hi Kelcey Great question. The terms frosting and icing are sometimes used interchangeably as I do on this website. In general icings are thinner and sometimes even poured over the cake. Frosting's are thicker and are spread onto the cake with a spatula. The environment should be cool. If it is too hot and humid you will have problems spreading the frosting. If it is too cold you will also have issues.

You can control this by either warming up the bowl and mixing or cooling down the bowl with an ice bath if the Buttercream frostinggets too hard or soft to spread.

Buttercreams and icings can be stored in airtight containers or well covered with plastic wrap and kept in a cool place for a few days. Refrigeration or freezing is necessary if you will be storing them for longer periods.

Rolled Fondant also known as sugar paste is a soft malleable, sweet, dough like mixture that is rolled out, placed over your cakes, then draped and fitted around the cakes. It has a smooth matte finish sort of like porcelain. It can also be used to make flowers, figurines and trimming's.

A cool dry environment is ideal for working with and storing fondant. If refrigerated on the cake uncovered the fondant will start to build up condensation and become sticky and shiny. Store your cakes well covered and in boxes if you do need to refrigerate.

The pre made fondant is easier to work with in general and I recommend a brand called Satin Ice.

Gum Paste also known as Pastillage is like sugar paste but contains an ingredient called gum tracaganth which causes the paste to dry harder. It is ideal for making very detailed and realistic flowers and other decorations for cakes. You can purchase premade gumpaste that contains softening agents like glycerin or glucose and this makes it easier to work with.

You finished decorations can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

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