Cake decorators today are looking to create more elaborate, over-the-top designs, says Chef Mark Seaman, specialty applications chef for Barry Callebaut. Because of that, icing and fondants have had to evolve to better fit these larger, time-consuming cakes.

“From a functionality perspective, decorators have been looking for ways to increase working time of fondant before the dreaded elephant skin appears,” Seaman says. “With the continuing trend of novelty shaped cakes, more time is needed to get the fondant over the cake.”

To address those needs, Barry Callebaut’s Mona Lisa fondant was created with a unique blend of fats and starch-free sugar to provide a longer working time with no cracking or tearing, even on shaped cakes, Seaman says. That helps both newer and seasoned decorators alike, he says, because it reduces the stress of covering the cakes in a timely manner and increases the ability to cover even more extreme designs.

Elena Taylor, director of wet ingredients for Dawn Foods, says bakers need icings that are easy to use. Very firm icings make it difficult to base a cake or pipe easily, and very soft icing doesn’t hold shapes. “It’s important that icing is designed to be soft and pliable to allow for decoration while still being firm enough to hold designs,” Taylor says.

Dawn continues to see a trend of bakers being interested in limited time offers, including seasonal and holiday flavored buttercreme. “We’ve also seen growing requests for buttercreme style icings that have more butter notes and less sweetness,” Taylor says. “This demand is being driven by consumers’ desire for baked goods with more whipped style toppings that aren’t overly sweet.”