What Frosting Should You Use?

What Frosting to Use to Decorate Your Cake

Those of us, who are into cake decorating, think of the beautiful icing designs when we think of cake. Icing, or frosting, is the finishing touch on cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. There are several different types used in cake decorating. The type you choose while cake decorating, will have a great deal to do with how the decorated cake will look.

1. Buttercream Icing: Buttercream is used the most in cake decorating. This is similar to the ready-made frosting in the grocery store. It is easy to use and easy to make. It can difficult to use for a larger cake, but it can be done. The ingredients are confectioner’s sugar, and butter or shortening, and flavoring. What you use to thin it will differ with the icing texture you need to work with, to determine whether to use water or milk. Take care when thinning the frosting, remember, a little water or milk goes a long way. If you find it is too thin, you can add a bit of confectioner’s sugar to thicken it.

To assure an even finish on the surface of your cake, dip the spatula in cold water after icing the cake and then glide the spatula over the surface to make it smooth or you can spray your cake and spatula with water from a water bottle, and then smooth the surface. You will need to let the surface dry after smoothing before you do any decorating. This will give a smoother finish for writing. Buttercream is used to create flowers and other decorations made with a pastry bag. The icing needs to be the right consistency to make flower petals or writing. When you make roses out of icing, you can freeze them and add them to the cake later. This will make them easier to handle.

Buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator without getting hard. Make sure it is back to room temperature before you attempt to use it. It can also be frozen for several months if you want to make it ahead. Just be sure to whip it again before using.

2. Foam Icing: This is a meringue and is used on lemon pie or Baked Alaska. This frosting is made of egg whites beaten into stiff peaks. It is possible to add flavoring and color to the meringue. You will not be able to use this icing for intricate cake decorating, and you won't be able to use an icing bag with this icing. This icing is used when you want the cake to look fluffy, with little ornate decoration.

3. Fondant: This icing is very popular with those who decorate wedding cakes, and cakes for special occasions. The ingredients are simply powdered sugar, water, cream of tartar, or glucose. You can also buy it pre-made from many sources. Fondant is thick and doughy, with a silky, smooth, texture. Fondant will give the cake a flawless surface, and soft, rounded edges. Working with fondant is an art and will take practice to get it right. Fondant has a translucent quality, and will work best when placed on the cake over a thin layer of buttercream frosting. Adding flavoring will help the taste. Some people love fondant “as is,” but others really don’t like it at all. Those that don’t like the flavor or the texture can simply peel it off the cake and enjoy the buttercream frosting underneath!

4. Fudge Icing: Fudge icing is made from chocolate, peanut butter, almond, or mint. This icing is quite thick and contains both shortening and butter.

5. Glazes: This icing is thin and watery, and will harden into a shell after it is placed on the cake. This frosting is mostly used on pastries. Glazes help to keep the pastry moist.

6. Flat Icing: This icing is similar to a glaze, but it is a bit thicker. Flat icing is a combination of confectioner's sugar and water and is used to drizzle onto pastries.

7. Royal Icing: This is also a flat icing, and hardens after it is set. Royal icing is a wonderful choice to make flowers, sculptures, and garnishes for cake decorating.

You can use any combination of the basic seven icings listed, to create a personal masterpiece. You will need to practice before you become good at cake decorating. You will get the hang of it sooner than you think, and even the mistakes will taste great.

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