Different Cakes and Frostings

A Guide to Different Types of Frostings

Unlike my general posts, this post of mine is not pertaining to a recipe but probably provides you a brief guide about different types of frostings for cakes and cupcakes. It will surely make you much well versed with cake decorating and icing and give you an idea about using different kinds of frostings and experimenting with them.
The words frosting and icing can be used interchangeably. But icing is usually thinner and glossier, hardening once dried. Whereas frosting is usually lighter, fluffier and creamier and holds shape while piping.
A few readers asked me about frostings, like what’s the difference between them, when to use each, etc. So, to answer those questions I’ve put together a little guide to frosting. It’s certainly not a comprehensive list, but it’s a guide to those I use most often, and the ones you’ll come across

Different Cakes and Frostings
Different Cakes and Frostings

1.Whipped Cream Frosting:

Pineapple Cream Cake
Pineapple Cream Cake

Whipped cream frosting is very light and airy in texture, while rich and creamy in flavour. Whipped cream frostings are usually made by whipping heavy cream till stiff peaks and it has doubled in volume. Then sugar and flavourings can be added. Non-dairy whipped cream using coconut cream is also popular nowadays owing to vegan diets. Mixing some whipped cream with cream cheese would make cream cheese frosting for red velvet cake.
It is preferable to be used for chilled desserts as it deflates after some time. However, for making it last longer, it can be stabilized using gelatin or agar agar. It can be used for filling as well as frosting and can be piped to form soft decorations. Whipped cream frostings are to be used immediately and iced cakes are to be refrigerated, to prevent it from spoiling.

2. Buttercream Frosting:

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Buttercream is the most popular type of frosting, easily to spread and pipe on cakes, making decorating a done deal. It’s sweet and buttery in flavour, while soft and fluffy in texture. Buttercream frosting is made by creaming 1 part room temperature butter/ margarine with 2 parts icing sugar/powdered sugar and adding a dash of milk and flavourings. In the photo above i’ve used strawberry puree and pink food coloring in the buttercream.
It is best used for cupcakes and layer cakes for filling as well as frosting, and it holds shape when piped. Icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 weeks or frozen. Iced cake has to be stored in the refrigerator. It doesn’t hold well in warm temperatures unless you use shortening/ margarine in place of butter.

3. Meringue Buttercream:

Mint Meringue Buttercream
Mint Meringue Buttercream

Meringue Buttercream is a variant of simple butter cream, very fluffy,rich and buttery but not too sweet. It is made in 2 variations- Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Italian Meringue Buttercream. Both of them are made by beating room temperature butter in stiff peaks meringue. The difference in both is the meringue. The Swiss version is made by beating egg whites and sugar on heat and then cooling, before adding butter. The Italian version is made by beating egg whites till stiff peaks and adding hot sugar syrup, before adding butter.
It can be used on all cakes, macaroons and muffins as filling as well as frosting, adding any flavour preferred. Meringue buttercream has excellent pipeabiliy and can hold swirls, flowers and ruffles very well. Though time consuming, but it is fairly simple to make. Iced cake should be stored in the refrigerator and icing can be frozen for a month and refrigerated for a week. It is one of the most stable frostings and holds well even in warm temperatures.

4. Ganache:

Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream Filling & Ganache
Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream Filling & Ganache
Eggless Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
Eggless Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Ganache (https://tarunvegdelights.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/eggless-red-velvet-cake-with-white-chocolate-ganache/)

While Dark Chocolate Ganache is very rich, decadent and chocolaty; White Chocolate Ganache is very rich and velvety. White Chocolate Ganache is made adding 1 part boiled heavy cream to 3 parts white chocolate. Dark Chocolate ganache can be made using dark chocolate and heavy cream in the ratio 2:1 (thick), 1:1 (normal), 1:2 (thin, pourable). It can also be whipped up to peaks after cooling, to make whipped ganache.
Ganache has numerous uses like truffles, filling and frosting for cakes and cupcakes, coating fruits and cookies, macaroons, etc. It is very easy to make. It thickens once chilled and gets pourable after it is reheated. It can be stable in warm temperatures but not high. Iced cake should be refrigerated and the Ganache can be refrigerated for 2 weeks and frozen for 4-5 months.

5. Fondant:

Rolled Fondant
Rolled Fondant

Rolled Fondant is increasingly getting popular for its special look on wedding, birthday and party cakes. It is rich and sweet flavor while covers a cake with a perfectly smooth, matte and satiny finish. It is made using icing sugar, corn syrup, oil, flavourings, glycerin and some other binding ingredients. Any preferred colour or flavour can be added to it. It can be made from scratch but is best to be bought from shop.
Fondant can be rolled and used to cover buttercream cakes. It can also be used to decorate cakes and cupcakes with flowers, bows, designs and all imaginable things made from fondant. It does not dry as hard as royal icing and stays semi-soft. It is the best choice for outdoor events as it holds up well in warm temperatures but sweats in heat and humidity. Fondant cake can be refrigerated but should be kept in an air conditioned room at least. Fondant can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container for around 2 months at room temperature.

6. Royal Icing:

Royal Icing
Royal Icing

Royal icing and is very popular for wedding cakes in the west. It is very glossy, sweet and dries to a hard finish. It can be made by beating egg white, sugar and vinegar until desired consistency and colour and flavourings can be added.
It is used for general piping, delicate decorations, decorating cookies and gingerbread houses. It can also be used as a glue for adhering sugar decorations to cakes, cookies, gingerbread houses, etc. Its thickness can be altered by adding water. It is also time consuming to make but easy. Thick royal icing pipes beautifully and is used on wedding and fancy cakes. Royal icing can be stored in refrigerator for 2 days and at room temperature for 1 day while cake can be stored at room temperature.

7. Glaze:

Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze

A glaze icing is a thin, sweet, glossy and the most simple icing which stiffens when it dries. It is made by simply making thick syrup, using confectioners sugar, some milk and little butter. It can be flavored with lemon, orange, chocolate (milk, white or mint), etc.
It works well on sweet breads, coffee cakes, rum cakes, Bundt cakes and cinnamon rolls. The glaze is drizzled and spread or brushed over the cake or bread and the iced cake can be stored at room temperature.


6 thoughts on “A Guide to Different Types of Frostings

  1. Tarun,u said that fondant can be used to cover buttercream cake,
    I m slightly confused here,
    Buttercream cake means filling the cake with buttercream and on top, cover the cake with fondant or along with filling, Frosting with buttercream and another layer of fondant .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it can be done any which way. But It is always necessary to apply very little buttercream or whipped cream over the cake, before covering it with rolled fondant, so that it sticks well.


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