Sunday, 16 June 2013

Buttercream Icing

Here's one for those with a sweet tooth. You really only need icing sugar and butter to make a good smooth icing, but it will be massively improved by adding different flavourings. My go-to additions are vanilla essence and golden syrup, possibly with a sprinkle of cinnamon (for covering a carrot cake, for example). But you can experiment with flavours, add whatever you have to hand - think about separating a little spoonful of icing into a small bowl and testing out a flavour, if you're not sure whether or not it'll work.

Makes enough icing for 12 cupcakes (roughly)

Gather your equipment
Essential equipment:  big fork, mixing bowl, sieve
Optional equipment: weighing scales, measuring spoons, electric whisk, piping set
  • Scales are optional for this recipe because you can pretty much estimate the amounts of sugar/butter you use, according to taste.
  • A sieve is essential as icing sugar tends to form clumps very easily. If you don't have a sieve, your icing may be lumpy or take a bit more work to bring together (but it will still taste great).
Gather your ingredients
For this recipe you'll need: 120g icing sugar and 60g butter/margarine
Optional: Various colourings and/or flavourings eg. Vanilla essence, golden syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutella, lemon juice, coffee essence etc.
  • If you're using butter, leave it at room temperature to soften for a few hours
Beat the butter, then add the icing sugar
Using your fork (or electric whisk, if you have one) beat the butter together until it becomes creamy. Sift in the icing sugar a little at a time and mix well after each addition. (If using an electric whisk it's worth mixing with a fork first for a few minutes, unless you want a faceful of icing sugar... which does taste nice to be fair). Once it's done it should look pale and smooth. Go on, have a taste. And a bit more.
Add flavourings and colourings
You could just use the icing as it is, but if you do have any interesting flavourings/colourings on hand, experiment! You can keep it simple with vanilla essence or cocoa powder, or add any of the suggested flavourings above. Adding a couple of spoonfuls of golden syrup will give a thicker consistency, and you could use it in addition to cocoa powder/nutella/vanilla essence/coffee essence and so on.
  • If the icing is not yet at a spreadable consistency, you can add a splash of milk to thin it slightly
Here I'll talk about decorating cupcakes specifically, rather than larger cakes. You can use a piping bag or just a knife, or the back of a teaspoon, to spread the icing onto each cake. I will post at a later date about piping/spreading/icing techniques, but for now, keep those cupcakes looking messy and it doesn't matter, because you can just cover it all up with...
Sprinkles... so many sprinkles. If you don't have a completely mental sprinkle-collecting habit like I do (and serious congratulations to you if you don't) then you can still use pretty much any confectionery to decorate cakes with. Maltesers/rolos/smarties/m&ms etc. - all these work well! And you can eat any leftovers. Win win. 

Here's the end result...

And here are some I made earlier...

Buttercream icing - enough for 12 cupcakes
60g softened butter/margarine
120g icing sugar
Optional: flavourings/colourings

  1. Beat the butter until creamy
  2. Add the icing sugar in small amounts, beating after each addition until the icing comes together with no lumps
  3. Add flavourings and/or colourings, and if necessary a splash of milk to make the icing more 'spreadable'

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