18 Types of Icing for Cakes

There are innumerable ways of decorating a cake. One can choose any of the many toppings available like icing, sprinkles, sugar art, fondant decoration, fruits, chocolate, waffles, yogurt... the possibilities are endless. These add-ons can practically make or break a delicious cake. Here's an article dedicated to types of cake frosting, different cake icing flavors, and lots more.
Tastessence Staff
Tip
Apply a coat of Crumb coat on your cake before icing or decorating, this will seal in any stray cake crumbs. Also do not forget to freeze the cake once you have given it a crumb coating.
No cake is complete without an icing. In fact, a cake looks quite raw and unfinished without that creamy, soft, sweet, delicious, and not to mention beautiful decoration.

Call it icing or frosting... whether it is applied with a spatula, or piped on into frills and designs, trickled onto a cake, rolled on into sheets or simply pasted - regardless of the form and design, the fact still remains that icing is quintessential. It not just beautifies the cake but also gives you that little freedom to express yourself and make it a piece of art, and not to mention enhances and complements its taste. Try not to get carried away and infuse too many flavors of icing. A little color and flavor goes a really long way. Besides you want to complement the cake and not overpower it with the icing.
Types of Cake Frosting
Cake with Buttercream Icing
Cake with Buttercream Icing
Boiled Frosting
This fluffy white icing is the pride and joy of anyone who has baked a beautiful cake. Its snow white, soft and fluffy appearance is simply to die for. This icing goes well with chocolate cake or yellow cake. This icing is fun and easy to color due to its white and glossy base.

Making

Making this icing is not as difficult as it sounds. Simply whisk in sugar syrup, egg whites, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla extract/flavor. Be sure to not introduce fats to this cake mix, as it will instantly deflate if mixed with chocolate or whipped cream.

Storage

You should consider using this icing as soon as you make it since it will collapse after 24 hours. However, if you must store it, you will need to keep it at room temperature.
Buttercream
Buttercream icing is also known as America buttercream/confectioners' sugar icing/butter cream/butter icing/mock cream. This icing can be used to fill in between two layers or, piped onto the cakes in the form of coating, designs, flowers, and writing. The decorations will hold their shape and yet will be soft enough to cut through with a knife. But this icing will weep in warm and humid weather. To prevent this, you can use shortening instead of butter.

Making

This icing is one of the easiest forms of icing, made by combining butter/shortening/margarine/lard, with confectioners' sugar, flavors and chocolate. You cannot go wrong with this icing as you can use this in any consistency. All you need to do is whisk these ingredients to a soft, smooth, and fluffy peak.

Storage

Can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks. However, you need to remember that the food colors will darken over time. Keep in mind that refrigerating this icing will increase its weeping process.
Italian Buttercream
Italian buttercream is an excellent frosting to work with. Once done right, it will have medium consistency and a fluffy but buttery texture. It is an excellent filling as well as frosting for a cake. Make a filling dam or an outer circle and then fill in the cake layer with the icing. This will prevent the filling from weeping out when the second layer is added. Its silky color best complements pastel shades as compared to dark colors.

Making

Combine egg whites and salt to a stiff peak. Carefully mix in hot syrup to egg mixture. Mix till the mixture reaches room temperature. Once cooled, whisk in butter and vanilla extract until smooth. And voila! You have your Italian buttercream icing ready.

Storage

This icing will need refrigeration, but will hold its shape in warm weather.
French Buttercream
French buttercream is made in the same way as Italian buttercream, with a slight amendment to the ingredients.

Making

Whip egg whites until foamy. Slowly add in the sugar and whip until the mixture is shiny and stiff. Add in the butter and whisk until it's combined well.

Storage

The egg yolks in this form of buttercream makes it easily perishable and needs to be refrigerated.
Swiss Buttercream
Swiss buttercream can be made by further amending the icing ingredients.

Making

Egg whites and sugar are whisked together over a water bath or a double boiler method (this is done by placing the bowl of ingredients in another larger bowl of hot water). The mixture is carefully whisked till it is light and fluff. Butter and flavor are added only after it is cooled. Flavors viz. vanilla, chocolate, coffee, lemon curd, caramel, jam, and nuts go exceptionally well with this frosting.

Storage

This frosting will deflate faster, and cannot withstand heat or warm temperatures. it thus needs refrigeration.
Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is a sweet and tarty icing with a thick custard-like consistency. It works better as a filling rather that icing, but it can be used as an icing as well.

Making

Ingredients viz. lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, eggs and sugar are whisked together over a water bath. Whisk in some whipped cream to enrich its texture and taste.

Storage

Because of the ingredients this type of icing will require refrigeration.
Cream Cheese
Cream cheese icing is a thick, sweet but tarty icing which comes in a range of thick-to-thin consistencies. Due to its pale custard-like color it looks great in pastel shades and can be used as both filling as well as icing. Its soft and delicate texture needs refrigeration as soon as you are done with icing. Before serving, however, allow it to cool down to room temperature.

Making
This delicious icing is made by whisking butter, cream cheese, sugar, and flavors/extract.

Storage
Due to its ingredients it will require refrigeration.
Ganache
Ganache is the epitome of sinfully good chocolate. Need I say more? This rich, dark decadent is simply too good to be true. This dark sensation has just one rule, the better the chocolate the better the taste. Obviously, you cannot color frosting as it is 80% chocolate, and therefore has just one gorgeous-brown color.

You can choose to replace dark chocolate with white, and add in food colors as per your liking. The method will remain the same. Due to the amount of chocolate present in the ganache, it will hold up in a warm climates, but will begin to melt in too much heat.

Making

Chocolate and cream are the only two ingredients needed to make ganache as good as it looks.

Storage

This icing is very durable. It will survive, up to 6 months, around 2 week in the refrigerator, and around 4 days at room temperature, and 2 seconds if you can't control yourself.
Royal Icing
This is probably the most popular form of icing. Royal icing can be used to coat the cake, fill in between two layers, and to decorate. The decoration can be by itself as well as on top of a rolled icing. The consistency may vary as per its usage. However, it will soften when used on another form of cream, butter or fat-based frosting. Its pale white color can be infused with an array of colors, but it best suits pastel shades rather than dark hues.

Making

This icing is made by whisking egg whites along with confectioners' sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.

Storage

Royal icing does not need any refrigeration, it can be stored in an airtight container and will last for weeks.
Whipped Cream
This is another widely popular form of icing used to decorate the simplest of cakes to transform them into edible masterpieces. This icing goes really well with fresh fruits and jam toppings. It easily deflates as it does not contain any preservatives. Refrigerate the cake once it is iced. The icing will retain its soft and smooth texture.

Making

Fresh cream and sugar is whisked together to make a light as air icing, at times infused with food color and flavor. Some choose to add in gelatin to increase its life.

Storage

Due to the fresh ingredients used in making this icing it has a very short shelf life and needs to be consumed immediately.
Glaze Icing
Cake with Glaze Icing
Glaze
Glaze, like its name will leave behind a light shiny, smooth, and glazed look. It is often used on cakes, tortes, cookies, and bars. This form of icing has many a recipe to its name, and is made in a variety of consistencies.

Making

Whisk sugar with a paddle attachment. Slowly add in corn syrup, water, and vanilla extract. Whisk until it's smooth and glossy.

Storage

The glaze can be stored for around 10-15 days in a refrigerator.
Poured Fondant
Poured fondant is usually used as an icing and not as a filling. This type of fondant is made exactly like its rolled sibling with a few minor changes in the recipe, which will give make it a little runny. It is very easy to color and flavor this icing. It will dry leaving behind a satiny, smooth, and iced coating. Due to its ingredients it will dry to a semi-hard state and will become sticky under warm temperature.

Making

Unlike its rolled half brother, this one is made from confectioners' sugar, water, corn syrup, flavoring, and food/icing color.

Storage

Highly durable, but will need to be re-heated before use.
Cake with  Pastillage Icing
Cake with Fondant and Pastillage Icing
Candy Clay
Candy clay is another fondant-like icing which can be used not only to coat the cake but also to make beautiful decorations viz. roses, cartoon characters, and figurines. The dough might be hard to work with initially, but you can ease your efforts by dividing them into smaller balls, which will allow you to use it better. Remember to use white candy melts if you wish to use colors in it.

Making

Candy clay is made by melting candy melts and amalgamating corn syrup in it. Once well dissolved, roll it out onto a wax paper and allow it to cool. Colors are added and the dough is once again kneaded to distribute the colors evenly.

Storage

This icing will last for several weeks.
Rolled Fondant
This doughy icing is not just fun to make but it is also beautiful to look at. It has a rich, sweet taste with a smooth, matte texture. Due to its play-doh consistency, it can be rolled and given any shape or form. And it looks great with or without any color. The beauty of this icing is that other icings can be used on it. It works amazingly as a canvas if you are planning on painting or using other icing forms on it.

Making

Combine the sugar and water until sugar is well dissolved. Slowly mix in corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook this mixture till it is slightly doughy. Remove it from the heat and pour the mixture onto a dampened marble slab. Allow it to cool and scrape it off. Pour this into an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. Whist until it becomes thick and creamy. Knead well and add in the desired flavor and colors.

Storage

This baby has quite a shelf life and can be stored up to 2 months in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.
Gum paste
Gum paste is also known as petal paste or flower paste, and is used just like rolled fondant icing. Though this icing is easy to make and lasts for a very long time, it dries out easily and requires easy handling. This sweet doughy delight is used to mold little figurines and as a canvas for other icings to be piped onto it. Due to its play-doh consistency many bakers use cookie cutters to transform sheet of this icing into edible art work. They can be molded to make very lively-looking flowers and figurines, and can be painted over with edible food color.

Making

To make this icing you will need to knead in powdered sugar, meringue powder, tylose or cmc, shortening, glucose, glycerin, flavor, gelatin with water. This will give you a white gum paste icing. You can always choose to either add color to portions of dough or spray paint it to give it more realistic hues and shading.

Storage

Highly durable. The excess gum paste can stay for up to 2 months in an airtight container in a refrigerator.
Marzipan
Marzipan icing is also called almond paste. It is used just like rolled fondant and gum paste icing. Unlike its other two counterparts, this rolled icing has an almondy undertone to it.

It is used as an icing rather than filling. Due to its doughy consistency, marzipan too is used as a decoration and often seen as edible flowers and figurines. It is also used as a smooth canvas and can be decorated with other icings. The ingredients in it help it to hold up in warm weather. It is usually seen as white but can be dyed with any edible food color and can be painted upon.

Making

Almond paste is kneaded in with confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, other flavorings, and colors.

Storage

The icing needs to be refrigerated or it can develop a foul smell due to the oil content present in the almonds.
Rolled Buttercream
Though rolled buttercream is a form of buttercream, it is closely related to fondant as it has a dough-like consistency. This icing might be soft and dough-like in the beginning, but it will harden later.

Making

Whisk almond paste and sugar until it looks like coarse breadcrumb. Pour in the corn syrup and combine well. Knead until it gets a smooth consistency.

Storage

Can be refrigerated, but needs to be kept in a plastic wrap and then placed in an airtight container.
Pastillage
Pastillage is closely related to fondant, however, unlike fondant's consistency, pastillage dries bone-hard. This icing works really well with gum paste and other sugar arts, and is most often used as an edible cake stand, or to make figurines. You will need to work really fast with pastillage. As molding or using it as a fondant or gum paste alternative will leave you with very hard disfigured pieces.

It can handle warmth very well, but can get a little soft in humid weather.

Making

This icing is made by kneading sugar, gelatin, glucose, lemon juice with water.

Storage

As said before the icing will harden even at room temperature.
Now you know the different types of icings. You can decorate an ordinary cake with any of the above mentioned types of cake frosting or simply serve with some fruit or whipped cream or ganache. One thing you need to know is that not all icing or frosting can be used in between two layers. And before you begin filling the layers with icing, do not forget to lightly drizzle the lower layer with sugar syrup. This will keep the cake nice and moist.
Gelatin Cake In Drop Shape
Miniature Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Delicious Cake
Purple Cupcake
Christmas Cupcake
Delicious Cake
Decorated Cake
Birthday Cake
Hungarian Dobos Torte Cake
Fancy Cake
Easter Cupcakes
Blackberry Cake
Vegetable Cake Mushroom Clearing
Valentine Cake
Sponge Cake
Fruits Cake
Delicious Cake
Birthday Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Gourmet Cake
Delicious Carrot Cake Cupcake
Cake With Fruit
Gluten Free Nectarines Clafoutis
Luxury Wedding Cake
Delicious Biscuit Cake With Mango
Dry Fruit Cake
Pasta Cake
Spanish Cuisine Easter Cake
Cake
Jelly Cake