Cake Decorating Tips: Working With Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream frostings are soft, creamy, tasty icings that can be spread, piped, and textured very easily. Made of butter and/or shortening, confectioner’s sugar, and a dash of milk, white butter cream frosting presents a wonderful palette for exciting colors. Here are some cakes decorating tips for working with buttercream.

Making and Storing Buttercream Frosting

Of course you can make your frosting from scratch, but if time is limited, try a good quality mix or ready-to-use icing. You can also purchase small tubes of pre-colored frosting for part or all of your cake decorating. There will be ample opportunities to create a home-made feel with your choices of colors, textures, and designs.

Special tip—Keep frosting in the refrigerator when you are not using it. Store it for up to two weeks in an airtight container. Remember to rewhip it before starting to decorate.

Choosing the Right Consistency for Your Project

You can adjust the consistency of frosting to suit your intended use. For a thinner icing add water, milk, or light corn syrup. For a stiffer consistency use more sugar. As you practice you will notice that getting the right consistency depends on temperature and humidity, as well as ingredients.

Following are applications for different icing consistencies:

  • Stiff frosting—for flowers such as roses and carnations with petals that stand up, figure piping, and string work. For string work add light corn syrup to the frosting to give it greater elasticity.
  • Medium frosting— for covering the cake, flowers with flat petals, borders, and stars.
  • Thin frosting—for vines, leaves, and writing or printing.

How to Color Buttercream Frosting

Use a food coloring gel or paste —a liquid product will thin or dilute your icing. Gels and pastes come in a wide variety of colors. The best place to shop for colors is at a craft or cake decorating supply store.

Add color in tiny amounts and mix. You can always darken the color, but it is much harder to make it lighter! For quantity control, try using a toothpick to dip into the color— then shake the color into the icing.

Stop adding color when you have achieved a shade that is a bit lighter than your target shade—over time, the shade will deepen. If you are aiming for a deeper color, plan for this—it takes about 2 to 3 hours for color to deepen.

Special cake decorating tip—Experiment with color accents by brushing a small amount of gel at the bottom of the piping bag before adding colored icing. As you pipe, the icing will be streaked with the gel accent.

You can also experiment with two shades of frosting in the same piping bag. For example, at the bottom of the bag place a few dabs of dark orange icing using an angled spatula and then fill the bag with a lighter peach tone. Now you can have two-tone borders and flowers.

Planning Cake Design

There are many possible sources of inspiration for your cake’s colors and theme. Draw inspiration from the occasion you are celebrating, nature, the personalities and interests of the guest of honor, magazines, or a favorite piece of art. Vibrant colors are quite popular, as are marble effects.

Looking For More Cake Decorating Tips?

If you are looking for more cake decorating tips you may want to attend a cake decorating class in the community or online. Also, explore your local bookstore. There are many wonderful illustrated cake decorating books to choose from.

Looking for Online Cake Decorating Classes?

With hundreds of cake and cookie decorating videos & articles, photo galleries, members only forums and new content constantly being added, take a look at Cake Decorating Classes at Yummy Arts

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Image sources: Flickr, Flickr