Here's what I don't like about frosting nowadays: It's too thick and gooey. I feel like I'm sticking my fork into a stick of butter (or margarine or crisco) with a bit of sugar mixed in. Although I do like the flavor of butter, the idea of biting into a stick of it and eating it the way I might do with cheese disgusts me. And I prefer to leave any butter flavor in the cake itself. To me that flavor just doesn't belong in the frosting.
I can't decide whether I prefer fondant to vegetable shortening based frostings (is there a name for those?), but neither is the frosting I remember. That frosting would sort of crust over in less than a day in the refrigerator, especially uncovered. There would be a hard sugary crust almost like a candy coating and the frosting itself would have a very high content of what I remember to be almost granular sugar. Whatever it was made of it seemed to be mostly sugar. The surface would get crumbly after a while.
I'm thinking that I must be remembering some version of boiled frosting or royal icing. I remember that the decorations on the cake, the little flowers or whatever, would harden more quickly and be even more sugary than the main frosting. I assume that the decorations at least were some form of royal icing.
The old frosting I remember was more like eating cotton candy than nibbling on a sweet stick of butter. The frosting experience was much more candy-like. Does anyone else know what I am talking about? Was boiled frosting more popular in the 70s or early 80s? When did buttercream and fondant become the standard? When did boiled frosting fall from grace? Was there ever a time when it was the primary method of icing a cake? I'd love to know more about the history of cake frosting.
[Note: By 'fondant' I mean [i:f45057ddc0]rolled[/i:f45057ddc0] fondant, not poured fondant which is basically just a variation of boiled frosting. In the case of rolled fondant it's basically the gelatin that I object to.]