Creating homemade frosting for your cakes can elevate your baking game to the next level. Not only does it taste fresher and richer than store-bought, but it also allows for a wonderful opportunity to personalise the sweetness, flavour, and colour to your taste. What a combination; homemade frosting for homemade cakes!
Why Homemade Frosting?
Before we delve into the 'how', let's examine the 'why'. Packaged frosting can indeed be convenient, but it often lacks the creamy texture and unique taste of homemade frosting. Making your own frosting also allows you to control the ingredients, reducing preservatives and artificial flavours. Plus, there's a certain pride in saying, "I made it myself".
There are numerous types of frostings, each with its unique ingredients and preparation methods. However, two popular types of frosting - buttercream and cream cheese frosting - require simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
For a basic buttercream frosting, you'll need butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. If you prefer cream cheese frosting, swap out the butter for cream cheese.
Making the Frosting
1. Classic Buttercream Frosting
Begin by placing 225 grams of unsalted butter (room temperature) in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it becomes pale and fluffy. This process takes about 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add 450 grams of powdered sugar to the bowl, continuing to beat at a low speed. This slow addition prevents the sugar from flying out of the bowl and ensures a smooth, lump-free frosting.
Once the sugar is fully incorporated, add 2-3 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract to the mixture. Beat on high until the frosting becomes light and fluffy, approximately 3-5 minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more milk.
2. Cream Cheese Frosting
This frosting follows a similar method. Start with 225 grams of cream cheese (room temperature) and beat it until smooth.
Like with the buttercream, slowly add 450 grams of powdered sugar and beat until fully combined. Then, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and continue beating until the frosting is light and creamy.
Customising Your Frosting
The beauty of homemade frosting lies in its versatility. Want a chocolate frosting? Add some melted chocolate or cocoa powder. Fancy a berry twist? Mix in some fresh or frozen berries. Need a citrusy zing? Lemon or orange zest could do the trick. The possibilities are endless!
Frosting the Cake
Ensure your cake is completely cooled before you frost it to avoid a melted mess. Spread a layer of frosting on top of one layer, then stack the next layer on top. Continue until all layers are frosted and stacked. Then, apply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake. This "crumb coat" will catch any loose crumbs. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes, then add your final layer of frosting.
Homemade frosting, with its creamy texture and customisable flavours, truly takes your cakes to the next level. So, next time you're baking, try whipping up your own frosting. You might just find that it's the icing on the cake!
Which Frosting is Best for Beginners?
As an aspiring home baker, it can be difficult to decide which frosting to start with. The world of frostings is vast and varied, spanning from the classic buttercream to intricate Swiss meringue. However, don't let this overwhelm you; there are indeed some frostings more suited to beginners. Let's unravel which one might be your perfect match.
The Straightforward Buttercream
Starting your frosting journey with the uncomplicated buttercream is a splendid choice. As previously discussed, buttercream requires basic ingredients and straightforward steps. Its simplicity does not compromise its taste, delivering a rich, creamy texture and sweet flavour that complements most cakes.
Moreover, buttercream frosting is highly versatile. Once you master the basic recipe, you can easily adapt it to create a myriad of different flavours. Whether it's adding a dash of melted chocolate for a luscious chocolate buttercream or a handful of crushed Oreos for a fun cookies-and-cream twist, the possibilities are nearly endless.
The Indulgent Cream Cheese Frosting
If you're a fan of tangy-sweet flavours, then cream cheese frosting might be your best bet. It's just as simple as buttercream, swapping out butter for cream cheese. This frosting pairs perfectly with classic cakes like red velvet and carrot cake, but don't limit yourself - its unique tangy note can add an interesting contrast to chocolate, pumpkin, or banana cakes too.
Again, cream cheese frosting lends itself well to flavour adaptations. Fancy a bit of zing? Add in some lemon juice and zest. Want a fruitier frosting? Mix in some strawberry purée. The creative power is in your hands.
The Simple Glaze
An icing glaze is another beginner-friendly option that requires minimal ingredients - often just powdered sugar and a liquid like milk or juice. This glossy, sweet glaze can be drizzled over cakes, cupcakes, and pastries for a light yet satisfying sweetness. It's not as rich as buttercream or cream cheese frosting, making it a perfect choice for those who prefer less heavy desserts.
Like the aforementioned frostings, a glaze can be easily flavoured with extracts, zests, spices, or cocoa. As an additional tip, try replacing the liquid with a complementary flavour, like orange juice in a citrus cake or coffee in a mocha cake.
The Whipped Cream
For a lighter, fluffier alternative, whipped cream frosting might be your go-to. All you need is heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. The process is straightforward - simply whip the cream until soft peaks form, add the sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
Whipped cream frosting's light texture and mild sweetness make it an excellent choice for rich, heavy cakes, as it adds a touch of freshness without overwhelming the cake's flavour. Just remember that cakes frosted with whipped cream must be stored in the refrigerator, as it is less stable than other frostings.
Which One to Choose?
Each of these frostings offers its unique taste, texture, and charm. As a beginner, you might want to try making each one to understand which suits your baking style and palate best.
Remember, baking is as much about the journey as the result. So, don't fret about mastering every frosting type right away. Start simple, learn the basics, and gradually work your way up to more complex frostings as you gain confidence and skill.
Ultimately, the best frosting for you is the one you enjoy making and eating the most. Happy frosting!
What is the Difference Between Icing and Frosting?
When it comes to cake decorating, two terms are frequently used interchangeably: icing and frosting. Despite their shared role in sweetening and beautifying cakes, there are key differences between them that are worth understanding. From texture to usage, let's delve into what sets them apart.
Frosting is a thick, fluffy mixture used to coat the outside of cakes and other baked goods. Its composition typically includes butter, sugar, milk, and flavourings like vanilla, cocoa, or fruit purees. As we've explored in earlier sections, there are numerous types of frosting - buttercream, cream cheese, and whipped cream to name a few.
Frosting can be easily coloured and flavoured, allowing a great deal of creativity. Moreover, it's robust enough to hold up under weight, making it ideal for layered cakes and intricate designs. It adds a creamy texture and rich flavour to baked goods, enhancing their overall appeal.
Breaking Down Icing
Icing, on the other hand, is generally thinner and glossier. The basic type of icing, often referred to as glace icing or icing glaze, is made by mixing powdered sugar with a small amount of liquid, such as milk or lemon juice. The result is a smooth, pourable mixture that sets to a hard, shiny finish.
Icing is typically used to drizzle over pastries or to coat cookies and doughnuts. It can also be used to add decorative accents on cakes, like piping words or creating intricate designs. When it comes to flavour, icing usually has a lighter, more delicate sweetness compared to the bold richness of frosting.
Royal Icing: A Special Mention
Among the different types of icing, royal icing deserves special mention. Made with egg whites (or meringue powder), powdered sugar, and sometimes lemon juice, this icing has a unique property: it dries hard and matte.
This makes royal icing the go-to choice for detailed decorations, like intricate piped flowers or the bindings of gingerbread houses. It's also often used to create beautifully decorated sugar cookies. However, due to its hard texture, royal icing isn't typically used to cover entire cakes like frosting.
Icing vs. Frosting: The Key Differences
The essential differences between icing and frosting boil down to three key aspects: texture, application, and taste.
Texture: Frosting is thick and creamy, ideal for spreading with a knife or spatula. Icing, particularly glace icing, is thinner and sets to a glossy or matte finish.
Application: Frosting is typically used to cover entire cakes or cupcakes, while icing is often drizzled over pastries or used for detailed piping work.
Taste: While both are sweet, the frosting has a richer, more robust flavour due to its butter or cream content. Icing, being primarily sugar and liquid, offers a lighter, more subtle sweetness.
Which One Should You Use?
Choosing between icing and frosting largely depends on what you're making and your personal preferences. The frosting is your best bet for covering cakes or when you desire a rich, creamy addition to your baked goods. Icing, particularly glace icing, is perfect for a sweet, light glaze over pastries, while royal icing is fantastic for detailed decorating work.
Understanding the differences between icing and frosting can help you choose the right tool for your baking needs, enhancing not only the look but also the taste of your creations. Remember, baking is an art, and like any artist, knowing your materials is the first step towards creating masterpieces. Happy baking!