Thursday, December 17, 2009

Q&A - tips on frosting

A reader asks: 'what other things can you use on your cupcakes for soft frosting apart from buttercream, if that is not your favourite?'

You can use whipped cream. You can add some vanilla, sugar, or melted chocolate (this is called 'ganache').

Then there are also meringue based toppings made with beaten egg whites and sugar.

A final suggestion would be some sort of cream cheese frosting (with icing sugar).

Whipped cream goes especially well with chocolate cakes (as does ganache). It is also good if you want to decorate with fresh fruit.

The disadvantage with whipped cream is that it shouldn't be left out of the refrigerator for long periods. So, either have the cream whipped and decorate your cupcakes right before you serve them (keep the cream already whipped in a cold glass bowl in the fridge so you don't have to leave your guests long), or decorate your cakes in advance and then remove them from the refrigerator at least half an hour before serving to allow them to come up to room temperature.

Meringue topping goes very nicely on lemon cake. A nice suggestion would be to make your cakes and then spread on a little lemon curd (you can find ready-made lemon curd at shops like AB in Greece) or make a small hole in the cake and fill them with curd and then add your meringue on top. These are delicious at the end of a heavy meal. Light and refreshing. meringue topping just keeps improving when left at room temperature. Cupcakes made with can be made well in advance.

I love cream cheese and personally think it goes with just about any flavour cake.

The reader mentions that she can 'feel' the sugar in the buttercream. So here are a couple of tips for making smooth buttercream.

Have the butter at room temperature. Beat very well before adding any sugar.

Sift the icing sugar carefully. Do it twice if necessary.

Add the icing sugar in small quantities to make sure it doesn't get lumps, then, when it is all added, continue beating for a couple more minutes. A properly made buttercream should not be grainy.

Only refrigerate your buttercream if you have made it too soft, and even then it only needs a minute or so to harden up enough to decorate.

Hope these tips are helpful.



  1. wonderful ideas, liz
    and merry christmas!

  2. liz, could you recommend a basic cupcake recipe? i've been looking at online ones but i don't have any idea how to choose among them!

  3. Hi M, You could try the one I posted here

    It really is very simple and you can make so many variations.

  4. that was quick - thanks very much
    i want the kids to try decorating them during their holidays