Whenever it calls for a celebration, there has to be a cake. The all-time favourite dessert is always the centre of attention, especially when decorated with gorgeous icing. There are so many different kinds of icings that a sweet lover is only spoilt for choice while a baker finds more reasons to unleash his creative skills. The terms 'icing' and 'frosting' are more often used interchangeably, though some point out that frosting involves the beating of fat into powdered sugar or the melting of fat and sugar together, making it last longer than simple icing. It is said that in the 16th century, it was a French chef who was the first one to create a multi-layered frosted cake, starting a trend that's popular till today.
If you are a home baker and are looking for ways to spruce up your cakes, we present a list of different kinds of icing that you can try and experiment with. While most of them are easy to whip up, there are some that need a few trials to master.
Glace icing is the simplest type of cake icing which is runny but gives a glossy sheen when it thickens. You can add in flavourings such as orange juice, lemon juice, coffee liquor and chocolate syrup among others. It is commonly used to decorate biscuits, cookies and tea cakes. You only need two ingredients to get started - icing sugar and water. The icing is made by first melting the sugar using a little boiling water, and then thinning it to desired consistency by adding a teaspoon of water or flavouring at a time while stirring the mixture.
Who doesn't like cupcakes with gorgeous buttercream frosting? It is the most favourite kind of icing because of its light and fluffy texture. Here icing sugar is beaten together with butter until creamy enough to spread onto cakes or pipe artistically. Apart from simple Buttercream Frosting, there's also Meringue Buttercream, which is said to make the frosting last even longer. It can be made using the different meringue making techniques - Swiss Meringue Buttercream (egg whites and sugar are cooked and then whipped with butter), Italian Meringue Buttercream (where hot sugar syrup is slowly poured into whipped egg whites and then beaten with butter) and French Meringue Buttercream (where uncooked egg whites are mixed with sugar and cream of tartar).
Royal icing is easy-to-make, looks great and lasts long, but is made with raw egg whites. It is often referred to as edible glue because it works wonders to stick pieces of cakes and other decorations. You need just three ingredients - egg whites, icing sugar and lemon juice. Egg whites are whisked to form soft peaks and then icing sugar and lemon juice is added, little by little, until it thickens and acquires a creamy consistency.
Fondant icing may not taste delicious, but it is a favourite among cake decorators because it can be moulded into all kinds of shapes to make theme-based cakes. As such, find fondant iced cakes in birthday parties, anniversary celebrations or theme parties is no surprise. Fondant icing is made using sugar, water and cream of tartar or liquid glucose. All the ingredients are boiled together until the syrup reaches soft ball stage. The mixture is then kneaded into a smooth dough, and various kinds of colourings or flavours can be added.
Ganache is a favourite among chocolate lovers. It is easy to make and gives a rich look to the cakes, but always ensure that you use good quality semi-sweet chocolates. To make ganache, you need to first boil cream along with a little butter and then pour it into the bowl containing the chocolate cubes. Let the chocolate melt and then mixture it well to acquire a smooth spread. You can also add in liqueur or a little espresso for added flavour.
Marzipan was a popular kind of icing during earlier times, though today it is not much in trend. Marzipan is made using a mixture of almond meal (ground almond), icing sugar and flavourings, and is thick in texture. As such, it is used just like fondant; rolled and moulded into different shapes for cake decorations.
It's hard to imagine red velvet cake or carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting on top, which makes biting into the cake such a satisfying treat. Much like buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting is popular from its rich and creamy feel, which can be slathered onto cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goodies. All you need to do is whisk cream cheese along with icing sugar, and it's ready! You can also replace cream cheese with sour cream to make Sour Cream Frosting.
Caramel is a weakness for any sweet lover with its distinctive flavour. In the recent times, every bakery seems to be crushing on salted caramel, including it in all sorts of baked treats - from chocolate tarts to cookies and more! It's not hard to make caramel at home, but it needs your undivided attention as one mistake, and it can be ruined. To make salted caramel, you need to heat sugar till it develops a deep caramel colour and immediately whisk in heavy cream and butter, stirring continuously until it becomes thick and creamy.