A good frosting is smooth and lustrous and can hold a swirl. It’s soft enough to spread on the cake without running down the sides. If a creamy frosting is too thick, it can pull and tear the cake surface as you frost, leaving you with crumbs in your frosting. To make thick frosting thinner, add a few drops of water or milk.
When testing these recipes, we found that frostings turned out best when we used butter or stick margarine. We don’t recommend using vegetable oil spreads or tub margarine or tub or whipped butter because they contain more water and/or air and less fat, so frosting made with them turns out too soft (see Fats). Also, ingredients such as chocolate don’t always melt or mix well with them.
When making frosting, the recipe may list a range for the amount of ingredients, for instance 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. For better control over the consistency, start with the smallest amount, then add more if necessary.
For step-by-step directions for using frostings, see How to Frost a Two-Layer Cake.
How much frosting should you use? It’s your call. Some like to lay it on thick, others prefer just a thin coating. See the Note for Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipes for making extra frosting.
When frosting cakes, the best and easiest tool to use is a flexible metal spatula, which allows you to spread the frosting in a larger area. Use a light touch when frosting to help prevent layers from sliding and from squishing out the filling from between layers.
Fluffy frostings, such as White Mountain Frosting, aren’t as stable as creamy frostings, so you may not want to make them in humid or rainy weather. Because of moisture in the air, you’ll need to beat the frosting longer or slightly decrease the amount of water. Unfortunately, there’s no rule for how much to decrease it you’ll have to experiment. Frost and serve a cake with fluffy frosting the same day.
To drizzle a glaze with no muss or fuss, pour it into a plastic food-storage bag. Snip off a tiny corner and squeeze gently, moving the bag back and forth over the top of the cake. Make the hole bigger if you want a thicker flow of glaze.
Easy Decorating Ideas for Frosted Cakes Cookie Cutter Designs
Outlined Designs: Press cookie cutters into frosted cake outline markings with small candies. Or, dip cookie cutters in liquid food color lightly press cutters into frosted cake.
Filled-in Designs: Place cookie cutters on frosted cake, sprinkle inside cutter with colored sugar, small candy sprinkles or small candies. Gently press into frosting remove cookie cutters.
Chocolate Web Design: Drizzle round frosted or glazed cake with melted chocolate, beginning with small circle in center and encircling with larger circle 1/2 inch outside the other. Immediately draw a knife from center outward 8 times, equally spaced.
Patchwork Design: Mark servings in the frosting of a square or rectangular cake with a knife or toothpick. Fill the squares with chopped nuts miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces confetti candy bits crushed candies colored sugars fruit-shaped candies tinted coconut chopped dried fruits or small, shaped cookies, crackers or cereals to look like a patchwork quilt.
From "Betty Crocker's Complete Cookbook, Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 9th Edition." Text Copyright 2000 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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