June 4, 2013 by Shweta D'souza
Buttercream is made by creaming butter until pale with icing sugar, vanilla and milk. This soft, buttery icing can be spread over a cake or piped into patterns. It can also be flavoured with colour or chocolate and is perfect for small cakes, like cupcakes. Buttercream hardens on refrigeration, and does not keep for more than a few days. Remember to keep this icing cool as it icing melts easily.
Buttercream 125 g unsalted butter, softened 1½ cups (240 g) icing sugar, sifted 2 tablespoons milk
Beat butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible. Gradually beat in half the icing sugar, milk, then remaining icing sugar. Flavour and colour as desired.
This stiff and shiny icing can be kneaded and rolled out to cover fruit or chocolate mud cakes, often over a layer of marzipan. Since its firmness helps keep cakes fresh, it is often used for big cakes, wedding cakes and cakes that require traveling.
Fondant can be made at home although it’s usually purchased in a block ready to be rolled and draped over a cake or cut into designs and shapes. It comes in white and ivory shades, but can be tinted to any colour.
Covering a cake with fondant Brush the cake lightly and evenly with jam. Roll fondant to desired thickness, then lift onto cake using a rolling pin. Smooth the surface with hands dusted with icing sugar, ease paste or fondant around side and base of cake. Trim excess fondant with a sharp knife.
Tip: to get a perfectly smooth surface you need a perfect cake. Use a softer icing, like ganache, as a putty to fill in all the holes in the cake and create an even surface.
This typically American-style frosting is made from egg whites, caster sugar and water. It is whipped and then spread with a palette knife onto the cake to create an edible looking icing that looks particularly striking when decorated with fresh flowers. Be warned though, you must act quickly when icing your cake as it sets within moments of coming off the heat.
If the cake is transported it needs to be carefully packed as its soft texture can be easily damaged. Meringue does not hold up well in humidity.
American-style meringue frosting 2 egg whites 425 g caster sugar 100 mL water
Using a hand-held electric beater, whisk egg whites in the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until very stiff. In a separate pan, dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for 5-10 minutes until the liquid is thick and syrupy and has reached the ‘thread’ stage – when the last few drops that fall from a metal spoon come off in one long syrupy thread.
Pour the syrup over the egg whites, whisking all the time. Return the bowl to above the saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk for 10-15 minutes or until the icing is white, very thick and meringue-like.
This rich chocolate icing is made from either white of dark chocolate and cream. Ganache can look shiny or matte and is also used as a filling or piped into decorations. White chocolate ganache can be tinted. Avoid pairing ganache with a light cake such as a delicate sponge as this thick icing needs a cake that it won’t overpower, such as a mud cake or an almond bundt cake.
Ganache 300 mL cream 600 g chocolate
Boil cream, then remove from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until the ganache is smooth. Allow the icing to cool completely before using, and if it’s too hard gently heat in the microwave to return to a spreadable consistency.
Cream cheese icing
The combination of cream cheese, butter and icing sugar makes a delicious fluffy, cream-coloured icing. Cream cheese icing traditionally decorates carrot cakes and cupcakes. It can be smoothed to a relatively even finish, or fluffed up for a more casual cake.
Cream cheese icing 30 g butter, softened 80 g cream cheese, softened 1½ cups (240 g) icing sugar, sifted
Beat butter and cheese in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and airy. Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until the icing is fluffy.
Often confused with fondant, royal icing is a white meringue-like mixture made from egg whites, acetic acid and icing sugar. Royal icing is easily made at home, and has multiple uses. Becoming rock-hard once set, it is ideal for attaching decorations to cakes and is a popular icing for piping.
Royal icing 1½ cups pure icing sugar, sifted 1 egg white 4 drops acetic acid
Lightly beat egg white in a small bowl. Add icing sugar one tablespoonful at a time, beating well after each addition. When icing reaches the desired consistency, add acetic acid and beat well.