RSS Feed

Icing 101

Ganache, buttercream, glace or royal – which icing do I use? These are  no doubt, familiar words uttered in kitchens throughout the world! With all the different types of icing out there, I know that it can get a little confusing. And that’s why I thought a Icing 101 guide will help allot! Together with explanations, images and recipes, I’ll go through each type of icing, one by one.

What is icing?

Icing is a sugary based mixture that is normally used to decorate cakes, pastries and cookies. Icing adds a variety of colour, decoration, flavour and sweetness to any baked item. General ingredients include, butter, food coloring, egg whites, icing or castor sugar.

What types of icing are there?

There are many different types of icing, each having their own purpose and function in baking. Listed below are some general icing types complimented with an easy to follow recipe, ranging from the most basic to the more complex.


Thick Glace Icing


Glace icing is a simple versatile icing that can be used on almost any baked item. You can change the consistency and color with the use of food coloring and water.


250g – 350g icing sugar
2-4 tablespoons water
food coloring


  1. Sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
  2. Gradually pour the water, one tablespoon at a time, into the bowl – beating continuously until you get a thick, smooth, glossy finish.
  3. Gradually add the food coloring until the desired color is achieved.


Buttercream Icing


Buttercream is a type of icing used inside cakes as a coating and as decoration. Just about any buttercream recipe may be flavored with other ingredients to change the color/texture/flavor to suit your needs. Popular additions are melted chocolate, praline paste, strong coffee and various nut pastes.

The following buttercream recipes are quick and easy, there’s no cooking time required and the preparation is effortless.


Vanilla Buttercream


175g butter
350g icing sugar
3 tablespoons boiling water
½ teaspoon vanilla essence


  1. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until soft.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  4. Use immediately.


Chocolate Buttercream


175g butter
4 level tablespoon cocoa powder
350g icing sugar
3 tbsp boiling water
½ tsp vanilla essence


  1. Place the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until soft.
  2. Place the cocoa powder in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the boiling water to the cocoa powder.
  4. Mix the cocoa and water into a paste.
  5. Add the paste to the softened butter.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  8. Use immediately.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream


This icing is similar to the basic butter cream recipe, except that some cooking is required in order to dissolve the sugar and egg white. This process makes the Swiss Meringue icing  smoother and fluffier than your normal buttercream.


4 egg whites
250g castor sugar
pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla essence


  1. Mix together the egg whites, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and double boil the mixture for 6-12 minutes until the mixture is warmed through and the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  4. Whisk until the mixture has cooled and the consistency is fluffy.
  5. Add the butter.
  6. Add the vanilla essence.
  7. Whisk well.


Cream Cheese Icing

Cream cheese frosting is a delicious complement to cheesecakes, carrot cakes and red velvet cakes. Use full fat cream cheese in the following recipe, as the lower fat cream cheese may make your icing too runny due to its softer consistency.


300g full fat cream cheese
finely grated rind and juice of a lemon, orange or lime
3-4 tbsp icing sugar


  1. Beat the cream cheese until soft.
  2. Mix in the lemon rind and juice.
  3. Beat well.
  4. Add the icing sugar, to taste.
  5. Beat well.



Ganache refers to a variety of icing, fillings for pastries and glazes. It is typically made from chocolate and cream. The rich chocolate glaze is normally poured over cakes to create a glossy, beautiful finish.


Chocolate Ganache


284ml cream
1 level tablespoon syrup
200g coarsely chopped chocolate (use dark chocolate for the best results)


  1. Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Remove the saucepan once boiled.
  3. Stir in the syrup.
  4. Place the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl.
  5. Pour the heated mixture over the chocolate.
  6. Mix until all the chocolate has melted.


Royal Icing

Royal Icing is a pure white icing that dries to a smooth, hard, matte finish. Besides its lovely finish it also colors beautifully which makes it a favorite of professionals who use it not only for frosting cakes and cookies, but also for intricate piping of decorations (flowers, borders and lettering).


2 egg whites
350g – 500g icing sugar


  1. Beat the egg whites until they have been broken down.
  2. Add the icing sugar gradually until the mixture starts to thicken.
  3. Beat the mixture with an electric beater set at the slowest speed for about 10 min – until the icing is light and fluffy.
  4. You can adjust the consistency accordingly by either adding more icing to thicken, or drops of water to thin the mixture.


Toffee Topping


This indulgent topping can be used as a cake topping as well as a hot dessert topping!


100g butter
125g condensed milk
50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.


Thanks goes to Just Easy Recipes


About The PaperCup Kitchen

Hi there everyone. I am Nelmarie, but please call me Nel. I, like so many people out there enjoy cooking and baking. Food makes me smile and it makes my heart beat faster. The only place where I know I fit just perfectly, is in the kitchen. I have also enrolled in a few cake decorating courses this year and I think I have met my true love....not mentioning my Hubby now :D. It took me 36 years to find out what I want to do with my life and I can now say the answer is rather simple...Bake and then decorating what I've baked. I have started PaperCup in 2011 whilst we were living in Moscow, Russia. Living the life of an Expat can sometimes get very lonely and the blog has not only brought the whole world into my kitchen but I have met so many gorgeous Foodie Friends. I am so happy that I have taken the plunge and started PaperCup. I am not a brilliant writer, I am not a brilliant chef, I am not a brilliant baker BUT I do invite you into my kitchen, take your shoes of, relax, have a bite to eat and let's have a chat. A little more about me: Nelmarie Rennison, married to Christopher for 6 years, together for 12. Two lovely kiddies, Nicholas 3 1/2 and Allegra just over a year. South African, lived in Russia for two years and now loving living in the UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2000 and never felt better :D I am just as grateful for dust blowing in my eyes as I am for Angels sitting on my shoulders. I love my family, my friends, my life and I am grateful for each new morning. Looking forward to get to know you better xx

One response »

  1. I just like the helpful information you provide for your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I’m slightly sure I will be informed plenty of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the next!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: