Cake decorating offers so many possibilities when it comes to recipes. If we talk about frosting recipes, there are many types that are very versatile. There is a whole world of icing in which you can just get lost enjoying the different textures, flavors, and colors.
If you really want to learn how to decorate a cake with frosting, you need to get familiar and read all the information you have available about frosting. Let me contribute a little bit and share 6 different types of frosting to help you make mind blowing decorations.
I guess in the beginning these elements were called “frosting” or “icing” because of the effect of the creamy and shiny consistency that makes it look as if the cake has a frost layer on it. The thing is, we need to thank the genius who created the first frosting recipe, because it adds not only an awesome appearance to the cakes, but also boosts the flavors; combined with the filling and the cake itself, it makes for a fantastic mix.
Being creative in pastry is very important. Everyday, more and more people feel encouraged to bake desserts and use different frostings and creams to decorate in original ways. You have to be creative to stand out.
To cover your cakes and create decorations you are going to need frosting (icing is more common in the UK). Frosting can be used to decorate cupcakes, cakes, cookies, etc.
Meringue icing is one of the most traditional types of frosting used to decorate cakes, pies, cupcakes, etc. It’s made with egg whites, caster sugar and water. There is something very important to keep in mind when you prepare meringue- you need to clean very well all your utensils from any trace of grease or water. When you want to get the egg whites to a consistency where you can form peaks, any trace of water or grease will ruin your recipe in this very first stage.
What I do before working with meringue is to clean my utensils with a water solution made out of mixing water with lemon or vinegar, and then I dry my tool very well using paper towels. This way I can assure there isn’t any trace of grease.
#1 Italian Meringue
One thing you need to know when you’re doing a meringue recipe is that eggs come in different sizes; that means you can’t get the same quantity of egg whites from each egg. This is why you have to make sure to measure them by weight or volume to ensure you’re working with the same sugar to egg whites ratio you need for your meringue to get really fluffy.
Making meringue is very simple; however, it’s important to consider the technique to get it up properly so that it becomes a great element to decorate your cakes, or even your small desserts.
Don’t use the eggs straight out from the fridge; take them out of the refrigerator prior, so that they are at room temperature when you start making your recipe.
- 150g granulated sugar
- 60ml water
- 60g of egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)
- Candy thermometer
- In a saucepan, place the sugar and water, making sure the water covers the sugar completely. Take it to low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- When you notice the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat to medium-high.
- While you wait for the mix of water and sugar to boil, pour the egg whites into a large bowl, because after you beat them they will increase very much in size.
- Whisk egg whites in the bowl with an electric mixer, until they become stiff enough to form peaks.
- When the water with the sugar has boiled, use the candy thermometer to check the temperature. Cook until the syrup reaches 240°F; then take it off the heat.
- Now, carefully and slowly, drizzle the syrup into the egg whites while mixing to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
- Once the syrup is mixed in, continue beating until you feel the bowl reaches body temperature.
- You can use the Italian meringue immediately or store it in the fridge (first covering it with plastic wrap).
#2 Swiss Meringue
We can say this is one of the most stable meringues. From the types of frosting you can find, this one can also be mixed with buttercream to become a very interesting duo for cake decorations.
Swiss meringue is the one you can burn with a torch and get a beautiful finish. This looks great not only on pies but also in certain cakes; it becomes the perfect accent for its decoration.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Candy thermometer
- In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and the sugar.
- Using the double boiler method, add to the bowl the egg whites and sugar. Whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F; you will see the sugar has melted at this point.
- Remove the bowl from the heat.
- Take the mixture to your stand mixer and beat at high speed until the temperature lowers.
- Continue beating for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the meringue forms stiff peaks and looks glossy.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream cheese frosting is similar to buttercream in texture, but with a less sweet taste. You can find several recipes- here is a classic basic one, and you can add any flavors you want, if they harmonize with the cream cheese of course.
#3 Basic Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a bowl add the cream cheese and butter. Beat with an electric mixer until it gets a creamy consistency. This will take 2-3 minutes.
- Slow the speed and add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time.
- Add the vanilla essence and keep beating until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mix is smooth and homogeneous.
You can use the cream cheese frosting immediately or you can store it in the fridge for at least 3 days in a plastic container, well covered. If you do store it in the fridge, when you use it leave it outside the fridge prior to the cake decoration time. When it gets to room temperature, beat it again with the electric mixer, at low speed until it gets creamy and smooth again.
This one is more consistent, because egg whites are added to the sugar, and a little bit of lemon. You can use the royal icing not only for cake decoration, but also for cookies and cupcakes. Tint it the way you want and get the best color palette to help you get inspired, and boost your creativity.
There are interesting cake decorating ideas for the royal icing- you can use a pipping bag to create beautiful designs in your cakes, to write messages, or you can even make the popular rainbow dripping effect.
#4 Royal Icing
- 1 egg white
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- In a bowl add your egg whites and the lemon juice. Beat with an electric mixer.
- Add the powdered sugar gradually. Beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated.
- When the mix is shiny, beat on high speed until the icing forms peaks.
- If you want to color the icing, this is the moment- add your food coloring and mix until the mix is homogeneous.
- You can use it immediately or you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
This is perhaps the most popular of all the types of frosting. The base for this frosting is the butter, and the basic buttercream just takes powdered sugar, a little milk or cream, and vanilla extract. You can add almost any flavor you like; also you can add the color you want. Buttercream can also be used to fill your cakes.
#5 Classic Vanilla Buttercream
- 225g butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 225g powdered sugar
- 50 ml milk
- In a bowl beat the butter at a low speed until it starts to get a creamy consistency.
- Add the powdered sugar. When it combines with the butter, increase to a high speed and beat it for at least 3 minutes.
- Add the milk and vanilla extract and continue to beat on a medium-high speed until you get the right consistency for a buttercream, probably 1-2 minutes.
#6 Marshmallow Buttercream
One good thing about buttercream is that you can mix it with other ingredients, like the Swiss meringue. In this recipe we mix it with marshmallows and we get one very light and fluffy frosting. You can also color it as you want to, like the one you see in the picture below.
- 2 cups butter
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 14 oz jar of marshmallow (creme or fluff)
- In a large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer until it gets light and creamy; then add the almond extract.
- Add the powdered sugar, about ½ cup at a time.
- Fold in the marshmallow creme; keep beating until it combines and the buttercream is smooth.
- If you are going to color it, this is the time to do it. Add the desired food coloring and mix until the buttercream is homogeneous.
This marshmallow buttercream can be used immediately, or you can keep it in the refrigerator inside a plastic container for 2 to 3 days. When you use it, remember to leave it outside until it gets to room temperature, then beat it again until it gets light and fluffy.
There are so many other many types of frosting that I had to limit myself to this selection. We still have plenty of time to keep revisiting recipes and sharing some more information and tips. I think it’s a good idea to keep building our cake decorating recipe book at a good pace, to allow us to assimilate and practice every new recipe we add to it. Don’t you think? 🙂
One thing I’m sure of is that with these 6 types of frosting you are going to achieve incredible results and make the most mind blowing cake decorations. I hope you find the time to share your creations with us here in the comments, or you can also visit our page on Facebook and let everybody enjoy your beautiful creations.
I hope you enjoy this post and the recipes come in handy. What type of frosting is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.