Cake decorating can be fun and fairly easy. But there’s a lot to learn if you want your cakes to look professionally frosted. We’ve got frosting tips and troubleshooting for your cake decorating problems.
What are the types of frosting?
There are 10 different types of frosting as you can see below.
- Butter-based frosting – simple all-purpose buttercream like my velvet American buttercream, Vanilla buttercream (eggless)
- Decorators buttercream frosting – often with all or some vegetable shortening to prevent the frosting from melting easily like my Bakery style frostings – Vanilla and Chocolate frosting as well as Ermine frosting also called boiled icing or flour icing. This frosting is made with butter but also has flour inside it.
- Cream Cheese based frosting– made with cream cheese often with or without butter like my classic cream cheese made with butter which adds more stability and my no-butter cream cheese frosting when you want a more luxurious dessert type frosting.
- Meringue buttercream frostings – made with the addition of whipped egg whites. Less sweet than the classic butter-based buttercream like my Swiss Meringue or Italian Meringue
- Egg-based buttercream frostings – like this French buttercream and German buttercream made with egg yolks and whipped to make a light and fluffy frosting with the addition of butter.
- Whipped Cream Frostings – the lightest of them all is, of course, simple whipped cream. I shared 5 different methods to make whipped cream at home. As well as a whipped cream buttercream frosting.
- Ganache - Most cake decorators like to frost cakes with Ganache; it gives you a nice smooth finish and of course those sharp edges. You can dark chocolate ganache, milk chocolate ganache, or white chocolate ganache. You will find all my Chocolate Ganache here. And, you can also flavor ganache in a million different ways.
- Fondant - Also known as sugar paste, sugar dough, or rolled fondant it is a very different frosting that looks like dough. You need to roll it with a rolling pin and drape it over a cake. But, that's not all. It is very popular to use in sculpted and novelty cakes too. It can be molded, shaped, and draped on anything edible. Pro cake decorators love using it because it has endless possibilities.
- Modeling chocolate - Also known as chocolate plastic, or chocolate clay, this one is usually made with just two ingredients chocolate and glucose. The right amount and right temperature can make this a dream to work with. Very popular to make chocolate roses, as well as to use in Sculpted or Novelty cakes.
- Marzipan - Often called almond paste this is made with almonds and sugar or powdered sugar. Usually used to cover cookies and fruitcakes this is a paste that can be rolled like a dough.
The frosting is a spreadable consistency similar to peanut butter. We usually use a spatula to spread it on top and around the cake. It can be made smooth with a warm bench scraper for a perfectly smooth cake.
The icing is a thinner consistency than frosting. It can be poured or spreadable similar to what we use on cinnamon rolls and loaf cakes.
A glaze is pouring consistency. The best way to use it is to pour it on a cake to achieve a smooth finish.
Not necessarily! Both ganache and fondant are different types of frosting too. Ganache can be used instead of buttercream but fondant is rolled like a dough and needs to be used in combination with buttercream or ganache.
Frostings have to be used at a spreadable consistency similar to peanut butter but fondant is like a dough and needs to be rolled with a rolling pin. Then draped over a cake for a smooth finish. It is a very impressive frosting that has endless possibilities.
All buttercream is delicious and yet it is important to pair the right cake and the right circumstances to decide on the right frosting.
- What cake flavor do I want?
- Where is the cake going to be displayed - inside vs outside? - The inside allows you to use perishable fillings while the outside depends on the weather.
- What is the weather at the time the cake is going to be displayed? Is it cold winter or hot humid summer? Hot summers need more caution with perishable frostings.
- How far does the cake have to travel? long travels in cold weather are not an issue if you pack things well. Hot summers can be a nightmare, so carry ice packs.
Most supermarkets carry white buttercream these days. The yellow in the butter is usually an added color for commercial purposes.
The simplest trick to making buttercream white is to whip the butter at the start before adding any other ingredients. This lightens the butter and makes it white.
Another tick is to add the tiniest bit of purple gel food color. This is a trick used by painters when they color our homes. The slightest bit of purple added to white will make the white whiter. (purple added to white reduces the yellow)
Well, cupcakes are easy to frost and can be topped with any and off of your favorite frosting recipes. The only time you need to be careful is if you plan to keep the frosted cupcakes on in hot or humid weather for long.
That's not true. It depends on the project you need to use it. Shortening-based buttercream is considered better only in some conditions. It has a longer shelf life and can be kept out on the counter for days if stored well. Is non-dairy, as well as parve.
No matter how hard you try, it happens to everyone - cake frosting does not turn out right. Learn how to fix frosting disasters here.