Frosting. The term has entered into common use through American English and it simply refers to a “topping”. Still confused? Whether it’s a topping, frosting or icing, all of these terms refer to good old-fashioned garnitures for our favourite baked goods. Regardless of how you call it, a frosting is that sugary icing, fine glaze or fluffy cream used to coat, cover and decorate cakes, muffins and other baked goods.
Buttercream is a popular variety of frosting. Others include: Sugar glazes, chocolate glazes and coatings and ganache. And there are many more. Why do we add toppings to cakes anyway? Because they taste extremely good and make a greater visual impact. Sometimes they are also used as a glue to stick fondant and other decorations onto the cake. This means that each cake or cupcake with a frosting takes on an additional dimension of taste and texture and the frosting literally becomes the icing on the cake.
Everyone has heard of icing. It is made from two simple but poignant ingredients: icing sugar and water. It can be combined with a little lemon juice to make a glaze for lemon cakes, which are rather popular here. If you swap out the water with fruit juice, you can create a fruity glaze for sponge cakes. Glazes made from sugar and water are also called “icings”. They are not as thick and creamy in texture as a frosting made from cream cheese but they are good for making thin decorations on tray-bakes and muffins.
Royal icing is a sugar-based topping, similar to icing. Unlike normal icing, however, royal icing uses egg white instead of water. It has a snow-white colour and is good for decorating biscuits.
Chocolate glazes or coatings are made from...wait for it...chocolate. From milk to dark or even white chocolate, most kids will probably have worked with a chocolate coating before. Whether for dipping cookies or pouring over cakes, coatings can do a lot to improve taste.
It’s only a small step from chocolate to the far richer ganache. Ganache is made from two parts coating to one part cream. Ganache can be flavoured very easily. You can use vanilla, coffee or even alcohol, such as brandy, cherry liqueur or rum.
Sticking with the richer and creamier toppings, we now come to milk-based and butter-based frostings: Buttercream, cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting. Whether butter, cream cheese, whipped cream or all three at once, these frostings are among the most popular toppings due to their relative ease to make and the wide range of possibilities to personalise them. When made with butter, they form the perfect base for fondants.
Your taste knows no limits. Buttercreams, ganache and icings can all be refined with a range of different flavours. You can use fruits, fruit purees or juices, alcohol such as rum, liqueur or brandy, coffee, custard powder, coatings, lemon curd, chocolate, ground nuts, crumbled cookies and much, much more.
The beauty of using ground nuts, desiccated coconut or crumbled cookies is that these give the cream an interesting structure. As the crumbs can be seen in the cream, this also makes muffins, cupcakes and other cakes look more appetising. The same effect can be achieved using pieces of fruit or jam-based icings.
Not only can you add a little colour to your toppings using juice, you can also use a wide range of food colourings. The range of colours and your creativity know no limits.
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