The icing on the cake: How to make great white icing

There are so many different types out there, for all tastes and occasions, but how do you perfect the art of icing? We are here to be your guide, using our combined years of experience (with much trial and error) to steer your kitchen creations toward iced perfection.

We’ll start by setting the scene… Your kids are doing the dishes (we can dream), cupcakes rest on a cooling rack filling the kitchen with the sweet scent of home baking, and preparation for the school bake sale is almost complete. Now, it’s decision time.

Cupcakes are so versatile you can ice them in any way you please, so what will it be? All of the below cover one medium cake or 12 regular cupcakes.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

The classic creamy deliciousness that can be spread, piped, dolloped and covered in sprinkles.

Ingredients:
110g Trex (softened)
280g icing sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk or almond milk
Food colouring if required (for white icing no colouring is needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Method:
Beat the Trex in a large bowl until soft.
Gradually add the icing sugar and cream until smooth.
Add the milk and beat until smooth.
Stir in the food colouring.

Top tip:
Do not be tempted to throw all the ingredients into the mix at once; it is far easier to work the mixture when adding the sugar gradually. This also ensures a smooth finish.

Cupcake decorated with icing

ROYAL ICING

Runnier royal icing is perfect for flooding cookies, or make a stiffer batch to pipe a truly magnificent cake-based masterpiece.

Ingredients: 
1 large egg white 
225g icing sugar 
½ tsp glycerine (from chemist’s and good food shops) 
Gradually add an extra egg white followed by water for a runnier icing ideal for flooding cookies

Method: 
Lightly beat the egg white before gradually beating in the sifted sugar until the icing is stiff. 
Add the glycerine and beat well until the icing is glossy and stands in peaks. This will take 5-10 minutes. 
Spread the icing over the almond paste with a palette knife, keeping the icing in the bowl covered with a damp cloth or cling film to prevent it from hardening as you work.

Top tip: 
When mixing in water for the runnier icing, air bubbles are likely to form. We tend to cover the icing and leave it to rest for half an hour or so, before stirring slowly to get rid of the bubbles.

ANGEL ICING

Fluffy, fun and marshmallow-like, angel icing really is a heavenly way to finish your cakes.

Ingredients: 
500g white caster sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tbsp liquid glucose 
2 egg whites 
25g icing sugar (sifted)

Method: 
Put 125 ml cold water into a pan. 
Add the caster sugar, vanilla extract and liquid glucose and bring to the boil. 
Boil until the sugar melts into a clear syrup and remove from the heat. 
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks while gradually pouring in the hot syrup. 
Continue to do this until the mixture is thick enough to spread and fluffy. 
Beat in the icing sugar.

Top tip: 
Be patient while making this icing as it can take a couple of minutes to reach the correct consistency, but once made work quickly to ice onto the cake.

FONDANT ICING

While it can be a tricky one to master, fondant icing is fantastic for putting on a show with an exquisitely decorated cake.

Ingredients: 
2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine 
2 tablespoons cold water 
4 tablespoons glucose syrup 
1 tablespoon glycerine 
2 ½ tablespoons Trex 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
800g icing sugar (sifted)

Method: 
Combine the gelatine with the cold water and leave to stand until thick. 
Heat the mixture in a pan until dissolved. 
Add the glucose and glycerine, keeping the mixture on a medium heat. 
Stir in the Trex and vanilla before removing from the heat. 
Allow the mixture to cool to a lukewarm temperature. 
Put half of the icing sugar in a bowl and stir in the lukewarm gelatine mixture. 
Gradually add the remaining sugar until the mixture is no longer sticky, then knead in any remaining sugar. 
Knead until the fondant is smooth and not sticky, adding more sugar if needed. 
We would recommend using jam followed by rolled out marzipan to cover your cake, creating a smooth surface for the fondant icing. 
To help the icing to stick, brush the marzipan with cold water. 
Roll out your icing to the desired thickness and curl it onto the rolling pin. 
Using the rolling pin, unroll it onto the cake, using your hands to smooth it into place.

Top tip: 
If you’re not feeling overly adventurous, ready to roll fondant icing is available in all major supermarkets (we won’t tell if you don’t).

This covers only a few of the myriad icing options, so get in touch if you’re hungry for more and we could enter the world of glaze, ganache, and even the delight that is cream cheese icing. Until next time, happy baking.

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