Butter Cake: The American butter cake contains 6-12% solid butter. It has a soft light texture, flavorful, not overly sweet, and can accommodate a variety of frostings and fillings.
American Sponge: is light and moist enough to be eaten without a soaking syrup and therefore maintains a springy, lighter-than-air quality.
Genoise: is a European sponge-type cake which differs from American sponge in that it contains butter and much less sugar. Sugar syrup is used to add flavor and moisture to the cake. Even with the sugar syrup, a genoise is less sweet than American sponge cake.
The Frosting and Filling
Boiled Icing: a marshmallow-like flavored icing often used to frost Latin-American cakes, i.e. Dominican Cake, it has a very smooth and fluffy texture.
Buttercream: A perennial wedding favorite made from butter, cream, and eggs. Its soft texture is easy to flavor but does not lend itself well to outdoor weddings. There are several varieties of buttercream. The most popular are the following: (1) Mousseline Buttercream is made of unsalted butter, sugar, egg whites and flavoring and it's very light, smooth, soft enough to pipe borders and strong enough to pipe roses. Holds up better than most buttercreams; (2) Italian Meringue Buttercream is made from egg whites, sugar, butter, flavorings and liquer. It has a creamy texture, almost like whipped cream, and (3) Swiss Buttercream is made of eggs, butter, and flavoring. The Wilton Method of Cake Decorating buttercream is a type of crusting buttercream that is made from sifted confectioner's sugar, milk, and solid white vegetable shortening or butter.
Fondant: A highly versatile sugary dough that makes an excellent covering for cakes. It is made from unflavored gelatin, glucose, flavoring, and confectioner's sugar. Fondant is slow drying and can be used to sculpt sugar flowers, ribbons, bows, and sugar pearls as well. Fondant can be given a satin sheen and is very popular for the limitless possibilities it allows the baker when decorating the cake. Fondant can be made from scratch or purchased from cake decorating suppliers. Chocopan is a brand name product used as an alternative to regular fondant. Satin-ice, a brand of fondant, has a very tasty marshmallow flavor. Fondx is a brand of fondant I haven't tried yet. Hoever, it reportedly has a great marshmallow flavor. Both Satin-ice and Fondx are Kosher dairy products.
Massa grischuna is a brand name delish product sold by Albert Ulster Imports, and is used as an alternative to regular rolled fondant. I've tried massa white chocolate and massa dark chocolate fondants. The white chocolate colors well and when modeling roses it behaves just like chocolate plastique, sticking to itself without an aid. The white chocolate has a mild chocolate flavor and the dark chocolate tastes like a freshly made tootsie-roll. I recently received a shipment of massa neutral fondant. I haven't opened the bucket yet but I have just the special cake in mind to try it out.
Ganache: A delicious and decadent cream sauce made from butter and chocolate. It can be used as a frosting or a filling, but melts quickly in warmer temperatures.
Marzipan: Made from crushed almonds and egg; can be used as a filling or a rolled icing, although it is mainly used to make coloured shapes, fruits, and figures that are placed on the cake.
Royal Icing: This is an icing made from egg whites (or meringue powder), confectioner's sugar and water, which quickly dries to a hard icing. Royal icing is used for delicate decorations such as lace work, fine beading, elaborate overpiping called "lambeth work", block lettering, etc. English and Australian style decorated cakes are often fruit cakes covered in marzipan and coated with several coats of royal icing. I prefer the royal meringue powder icing when piping flowers, but the royal egg white icing is a must for piping stringwork and extension work.
Chocolate Clay: chocolate melted with clear corn syrup and worked into a ball the consistency of clay. Chocolate clay can be used to sculpt chocolate flowers and leaves to adorn a cake.