Buttercream, cream cheese, fondant: how to know which one best fits your cake.
There are a ton of decisions that go into making a cake – the flavor, the filling, the toppings – and most importantly: the frosting. Cake frosting not only aids in a cake’s appearance, but it’s also the first thing you taste when enjoying a slice of a cake.
Whether you’re a baker or a buyer, it’s beneficial to know the cake frosting options that are out there when deciding what cake you want to make (or eat) next. We’ve highlighted the most popular cake icing types to help you get started.
The basics: buttercream frosting
Buttercream is the most popular frosting largely because of its few ingredients and easy application. Classic buttercream requires beating butter into icing sugar until you reach a frosting consistency. It’s not possible to over beat this type of frosting, so the longer you beat fluffier it gets.
Buttercream is not as flexible as fondant, though it can be used for the same applications. Buttercream frosting is the most popular frosting for cupcakes, though it’s important to note that not all buttercream is made the same.
If you want to decorate a cake with buttercream flowers, for example, it’s best to cut your butter quantity in half and replace it with solid vegetable shortening, so the frosting is firm enough to hold the shape of the flower.
Meanwhile, if you ever see very white colored buttercream cake icing, that usually means that butter wasn’t used at all. To make the white buttercream frosting, you will need to use a mix of powdered sugar and vanilla blended with straight shortening to hold it together.
Butter gives the frosting a yellow hue, while straight shortening may leave a greasy film in your mouth. Depending on how you want to use your buttercream, what you want it to taste like, and what you want it to look like the different variations of making buttercream are endless.
Intermediate: cream cheese frosting
Cream cheese frosting comes in a range of consistencies – from thick to thin – and is often used as both a filling and an icing. This frosting is made from whisking butter, cream cheese, sugar, and flavoring, and should be refrigerated as soon as you’re done the cake icing.
An American-style buttercream, cream cheese frosting is most commonly found on carrot cakes and red velvet cakes. At We Take The cake, we like to use vanilla and chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Intermediate: cooked frostings
Cooked frosting – also known as seven-minute frosting – is made from egg whites, sugar, and flavorings on top of a double boiler while beating with a mixer. As the mixture heats, a meringue will form. Because of this heating process, the frosting is extremely delicate and should be eaten the first day or risk the frosting being absorbed into the cake.
Cooked frostings are sometimes used on red velvet cakes or cupcakes.
Expert baker: fondant
There are two main types of fondant: rolled and pourable. Rolled fondant is the most widely used when it comes to cake decorating. Made of sugar, water, gelatin, and food-grade glycerine, this dough-like texture makes it easy for a baker to mold the fondant into shapes to add some décor to your cake. Fondant can be used for decorations or to cover the entire cake.
Poured fondant, which has a glossy finish and is, unsurprisingly, of pourable consistency. This consistency makes it easy to coat a cake or cupcake.
Expert baker: royal icing
Royal icing is another option for decorating cakes. Mixing together powdered sugar, egg whites, and meringue powder or liquid provides a consistency relative to pancake batter. This makes it easy to pour into pastry bags to fulfill your decorating dreams.
Royal icing sets almost instantly so that the design holds, but so can your mistakes. The way royal cake icing hardens is especially useful for making flowers.
Leaving the decisions up to the professionals
The frosting types listed are just the tip of the icing. There are also ganache, glazes, syrups, and paste to consider topping your cake with. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but taking it one step at a time will ensure you can create a cake you are proud of.
In the case that you’d prefer to eat your cake and not make it too, we are here to help! At We Take The Cake, we take pride in creating a beautifully packaged, frosted, and crafted cakes in all shapes and sizes. We go the extra mile to make sure we exceed your expectations by delivering an experience, not just a cake. Shop our products or contact us today to learn how we can help you with your next event!