Icing that Takes the Cake

Icing that Takes the Cake

Icing basics: how to make it and how best to decorate with it

a delicious recipe

Whether topped with colourful candles or adorned with sugar sprinkles, there’s nothing else quite like an icing-topped cake or tray of frosted cupcakes to evoke smiles and delight. For birthdays, anniversaries, weeknights and any other occasion, it’s the go-to dessert that says “celebration” like no other sweet treat can.

Icing takes many forms, but a simple buttercream really takes the cake for maximum crowd-pleasing simplicity and spread-ability (or pipe-ability, if you so choose). It also requires just a handful of ingredients to make.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

In a large bowl with electric beaters, or bowl of stand mixer, slowly mix ½ cup (125 mL) softened butter, 2 tbsp (30 mL) milk and 2 tsp (10 mL) Club House Pure Vanilla Extract with 3 cups (750 mL) icing sugar until smooth and fluffy. If a bit too thick, add up to 2 tbsp (30 mL) more milk until spreadable.

This quick, all-butter buttercream makes just enough to ice layers and sides of an 8- or 9-inch (20 or 23 cm) two-layer cake, pipe on about 18 cupcakes or spread on one 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) cake. If thicker layers or any decorative piping is planned, double the recipe.

    Buttercream Icing Tips  

  • It’s best to use freshly made icing right away. Otherwise, keep at room temperature and cover with plastic wrap laid directly on surface of icing until ready to spread.
  • An all-butter buttercream will be softer than one made with shortening. If cake or cupcakes are to be in a warm locale such as outdoors in the sun on a summer’s day, consider replacing some or all of butter with vegetable shortening. Another tip is to beat 1 tbsp (15 mL) meringue powder into icing.
  • To add another flavour element to your layer cake, or if a bit short on icing, spread fruit jam or chocolate hazelnut spread between cake layers, saving buttercream for the top and sides.
  • Any extra icing can be stored in an airtight container or sealed bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Let come to room temperature before using. If it looks a little less than creamy, use electric mixer to briefly beat icing again.

    Flavour and Colour Tips

  • Just a dash of colour can go a long way: Beat in a drop at a time of Club House Food Colour until your perfect tint is achieved. Or mix and match to create your own custom colour.
  • Buttercream icing is delicious but you can also change up the flavour with just a drizzle of extract either in combination with vanilla or replacing it. To your base buttercream, add lively citrus notes with a dash of Club House Pure Orange Extract or Club House Pure Lemon Extract. Making a carrot cake? Stir in Club House Pure Cinnamon Extract or Club House Imitation Maple Extract. Banana cupcakes? Try Club House Imitation Rum Extract or Club House Imitation Coconut Extract – and enhance those muffins with a touch of Club House Imitation Banana Extract right in the batter. Dark chocolate pairs well with a splash of Club House Pure Mint & Peppermint Extract, while apple cake topped with buttercream flavoured with Club House Star Anise Extract is divine. The icing flavour possibilities are positively endless.
  • For snow white icing with a lovely almond flavour, replace butter with shortening and substitute Club House Pure Almond Extract (use half as much) for vanilla.

    Decorating Tips

  • A firm icing consistency is best for piping flowers and other detailed decorations. To make stiffer, replace half or all the butter with vegetable shortening.
  • Speaking of piping, if no piping bag available, spoon icing into a resealable plastic bag; seal, then snip off a corner. Voilà – instant piping bag!
  • When ready to ice, slide strips of waxed paper between cake and plate to keep icing on cake and not on serving plate.
  • Cake crumbs getting caught in your icing while spreading? This can be avoided by “masking” your cake. To do so, spread assembled cake all over with just a thin layer of icing then refrigerate until firm. Now you’re ready to spread with a proper layer of icing without any crummy interference!
  • A large offset palette knife makes easy work of icing a cake.
  • Better still, place cake and serving plate on spinning “lazy Susan”-style tray, then rotate the tray rather than the knife to smoothly ice cake sides.
  • Don’t forget the sides of cake: To beautify the sides of a freshly iced layer cake, place enough desired edible garnish in your hand (made into a cup shape) then quickly press into sides of cake, letting excess fall onto those waxed paper strips still in place between cake and plate. These edible garnishes can run the gamut from crushed cookies to shaved chocolate, chopped nuts to chopped dried fruit and toasted coconut to coloured sprinkles. Cake Mate has an extensive line-up of toppers and more to make decorating cakes and cupcakes a breeze. Once cake is iced, simply top with coloured sprinkles, nonpareils, glitter or pearls.

Pretty in pink (or another colour of your choosing) and perfect for any occasion, Layered Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Icing shows just how easy it is to make a cake that really takes the cake.

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