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Cake Frosting Recipes For Cake Decorating

Updated on July 9, 2011
Cupcakes frosted with plain vanilla buttercream / Photo by E. A. Wright
Cupcakes frosted with plain vanilla buttercream / Photo by E. A. Wright

Homemade Cake Frosting

A good cake is fine on its own, but a good cake with good frosting is even better.

Frosting should be more than a colorful-yet-mediocre-tasting squirt of adornment on a cake. Frosting should be sweet and flavorful — not overpowered by bitter food coloring. Frosting should be smooth and creamy — as a contrasting texture to cake's crumb.

Frosting will never be good for you, but it should always be a treat to eat. Try making your own homemade frosting, and you'll have that last part covered. Below is a basic cake frosting that will allow you to start experimenting with home cake decorating. Then try the variations.

Go have some frosting fun.


Powdered sugar and butter are the main ingredients in frosting / Photo by E. A. Wright
Powdered sugar and butter are the main ingredients in frosting / Photo by E. A. Wright
The frosting ingredients are creamed together / Photo by E. A. Wright
The frosting ingredients are creamed together / Photo by E. A. Wright
A layer cake decorated with basic vanilla buttercream frosting / Photo by E. A Wright
A layer cake decorated with basic vanilla buttercream frosting / Photo by E. A Wright

Basic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream frosting is a classic cake topping for a reason: it's amazingly simple to prepare and very versatile. It works well as a simple, uniform spread on the tops of cupcakes. It works equally well when prepared in varying shades of pink and piped into rosettes.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Liquid food coloring (optional)

Kitchen Supplies

  • At least one small bowl and a fork
  • A butter knife for spreading the frosting
  • A spatula or other straight-edged
  • Cake decorating bag and cake decorating tips.

What To Do

  1. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cream the chilled butter with the powdered sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Divide the frosting into small bowls and add different mixes of food coloring to each.
  4. TIP: If the frosting becomes too watery, add a bit more powdered sugar. If the frosting becomes too stiff, add a drop or two of milk.
  5. Keep the frosting slightly chilled until you are ready to use it. Do not let it melt. The frosting may have to spend frequent, brief stints in the refrigerator in hot and humid weather.
  6. Do not start applying buttercream frosting to a cake until the cake has completely cooled. If you do, the frosting will melt right into the surface of the cake.

Cake Decorating With Basic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


  • This recipe makes enough frosting for covering and lightly decorating a 2-layer cake. Double the recipe for larger or more intricate, multi-colored cakes.
  • The frosting will spread smoothly over the top and sides of a cooled cake. Smear it on with a butter knife, then smooth it with a long metal spatula. TIP: Use a thick layer of frosting, and you are less likely to accidentally drag cake crumbs into the frosting mix.
  • The surface layer of buttercream frosting will harden into a thin shell when chilled, while the rest of the frosting will remain moist.
  • Buttercream frosting works very well when used with a cake decorating kit to apply flowers, leaves, piping and lettering to a layer cake or to cupcakes. The trick is to keep the frosting slightly chilled, even as you work with it.

Decorative pink rosettes made from basic vanilla buttercream frosting and food coloring / Photo by E. A. Wright
Decorative pink rosettes made from basic vanilla buttercream frosting and food coloring / Photo by E. A. Wright

Variations

  • Ditch plain vanilla extract: Try using 1 teaspoon of almond extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Experiment with other extracts to find a mix of flavors that you love.
  • Add some spice: A sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg gives the frosting a slightly speckled appearance. The spiced frosting complements a pumpkin or apple cake.
  • Make it fruity: Add a small bits of orange zest to the frosting. Or replace the liquid in the vanilla extract with juice squeezed from raspberries or cranberries. This works as a natural food coloring, turning the frosting a very pale pink.


Do you make your own cake frosting?

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This basic frosting works well with home cake decorating kits / Photo by E. A. Wright
This basic frosting works well with home cake decorating kits / Photo by E. A. Wright

Comments

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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      4 years ago from Germany

      Great hub! Thanks for the information and tips. I´ll be trying this soon. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2014.

    • fillyourheart profile image

      Fill Your Heart Edible Memories 

      4 years ago from USA

      Great ideas and instructions!

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