How to make the best cake frosting
Generally, when we talk about frosting we refer to a cream that is used to cover or fill cakes, and its meaning goes beyond the cream itself, as it implies how the cream is spread or used on all types of cakes (sponges, muffins, cupcakes).
In this article we are going to review how frosting works, and what different types of frosting there are, as well as the best recipes for cakes.
A frosting has two functions:
- A decorative function because they are shiny, add volume and colour contrast to the base, and can be used with a piping bag to decorate.
- A organoleptic function, by introducing texture (making it creamy or moist), as well as aroma and flavour to our cake.
Buttercreams are the classic frosting. These are, for example, the most common in traditional Spanish pastries, thanks to how easy are to use and especially to the stability they provide, which means the finished product can be kept for a certains amount of time in a glass case in the cake shop.
There are different pastry techiniques to make buttercream frostings, which means we can basically summarize in three different techiniques. What they have in common is that they use unsalted butter at room temperature and syrup or icing sugar as fine as possible (also called powdered sugar):
- With syrup + butter: This is the simplest version of buttercream. While whipping the butter, the syrup is added little by little at 30 °C until you have a shiny and stable frosting.
- Crème anglaise + butter: This version of buttercream adds the flavour of crème anglaise to the frosting, which has the same stability as the previous one but with a touch of egg. First make a crème anglaise with milk, eggs and sugar and when it cools down to 40 °C, add the butter and whip until ready.
- Meringue + butter. It is the most airy, light and fresh version of buttercream of the frostings with egg white. It can be made either with Swiss meringue (lighter) or with Italian meringue (more stable). In the latter case, on the one hand, whip the butter on its own and, on the other, prepare an Italian meringue. When it reaches 50 °C, carefully mix it with the whipped butter until you have a very stable and smooth frosting.
Adding cream cheese
In recent years, under the influence of American patisserie, cream cheese has entered the world of frosting and has become a consumer favourite.
Currently, cheese frostings, cheese buttercreams and cheese toppings are trending and one of the most common in sponge cakes and tarts, and they are even used to make a perfect cheesecake. Since buttercream cheese is used in most bakeries and patisseries, there is no dessert menu that does not include cream cheese or mascarpone cheese in its frostings.
A cream cheese frosting is perfect as a sponge cake filling and can be shaped to be used as a perfect topping when decorating cupcakes and all kinds of sweet creations. It has a smooth cheesy flavour, not too sweet, and is delicate in texture. Cheese buttercream combines perfectly with any cake flavour and in some traditional preparations it is a must. It is impossible to think of a carrot cake or a red velvet cake without visualizing its sweet filling and cheese frosting!
What are the advantages of adding cream cheese to our frosting?
The first is that it is tastier, acquiring a very pleasant lactic taste and resulting in a less heavy frosting with a lighter texture, which undoubtedly invites the consumer to repeat. And on the other hand, making a cheese frosting is simple, since we only have to replace some of the butter for cream cheese. But beyond these organoleptic and pricing advantages, there are two fundamental technical aspects that we must highlight:
- Cream cheese adds a significant percentage of protein
- that facilitates the emulsion of the ingredients and their stability, allowing a stronger structure and longer conservation in refrigeration.
- Cream cheese acts as a natural emulsifier and facilitates a stable preservation.
- By providing lactose, it traps part of the water from the preparation and turns it into a much more stable frosting that lasts longer.
Types of cheese frosting or cheese buttercream
Depending on the type of cake or cheesecake we want to make, there will be a cream cheese for each case. The most important thing we will always have to take into account is the quality of the cream cheese we use. The balance between fats and proteins must be adequate for the recipe that we want to make, as well as its stabilizer content to ensure our creation is more or less firm.
Choosing a good cream cheese will help us keep the shapes and colume of our frosting withoyt surprises, something difficult to guarantee with a normal cream cheese that has not been designed for professional confectionary.
With cream cheese we can also experiment and make different versions like these:
- Express cheese frosting
In this quick recipe, icing sugar is used directly together with cream cheese and butter. It is a less stable frosting, since cold icing sugar cannot trap the water in the emulsion. Its advantage is that it is very easy to make as you don’t have to make the syrup. When you don’t have to keep the cake in cold storage for more than 24 hours, it is a perfectly stable and a good option.
- Cheese and cream frosting
- Cheese and cream frosting
It is also fairly easy to make, and does not contain butter. It is made whipping 35% fat cream, sugar and cream cheese. The result is a more stable frosting than the previous one and also lighter than any of the butter ones, with a more lactic flavour and a more aerated texture.
- Freeze-stable frosting with a long shelf life
In this version, we heat milk together with sugar and gelatine until dissolved. Next we pour it over the cream cheese and cream, letting the mixture rest for 6 hours in the fridge. Then, the emulsion is whipped until we obtain a frosting stable enough to be frozen, with a long shelf life.
Frosting recipes with a cream cheese
Among the wide selection of cream cheeses that we produce in Quescrem for the professional kitchen, our Regular Cream Cheese, our Mascarpone 42% fat. and our Culinary Yoghurt can be the star ingredients of your next frosting, as they have the organoleptic profile and functional characteristics that create very stable emulsions. They work perfectly even in an express cheese frosting without the need for added stabilizers, helping us to combine efficiency, time savings and maximum performance.
Our cream cheeses offer a good balance between fat and proteins, ensuring the firmness of the emulsion. Other ingredients can also be added safely, since they easily emulsify with fats and liquids and combine with any ingredient. This can help us create frostings of many different flavours, such as lemon, raspberry, cocoa… and even add spirits and spices. The resulting frosting will be very stable, and can even be frozen and used in the elaboration of semi-industrial productions.
Here are some recipes made with our cream cheeses:
With a base of syrup, butter and Quescrem’s Regular Cream Cheese we achieve a creamy and delicate frosting that can be adapted simply by sprinkling freeze-dried red fruits or adding a raspberry jelly, turning it into a delicious cheesecake frosting.
This recipe uses our Organic Cream Cheese made with 100% organic fresh milk from Galicia, free from additives. It is a perfect frosting for organic confectionery, either for the hospitality industry or bakeries.
With a base of syrup, butter and Quescrem’s Culinary Yogurt we achieve a frosting with a yoghurt taste, fresh and natural, to which we can add a citrus aromatic touch by adding a little grated rind of lime or lemon or a fresh touch with mint or spearmint.
In this frosting recipe we use Quescrem’s Mascarpone 42% fat. Therefore, we won’t need to add butter, saving time and costs and achieving a creamy and very stable texture.
In this frosting recipe we use icing sugar instead of syrup. The differentiating note is the tiramisu flavour that we achieve by adding instant coffee and cocoa powder to the mascarpone.
Other cheese frostings
Using other varieties of Quescrem such as our +PRO Cream Cheese (high in protein and with 50% less fat), Kefir Cream Cheese (the first kefir spread on the market) or one of our flavoured cream cheeses, we can create innovative frostings, differentiated and adapted to the tastes and needs of your customers, either in a bakery or in a restaurant or café.
To any of the previous cheese frosting recipes you can add different flavourings, beyond the traditional vanilla, in addition to a touch of colour with food colouring. The imagination has no limits: from cocoa powder or melted chocolate, flower extracts or oils, spices, aromatic herbs, fruits or fruit purees, nuts, liqueurs, citrus peel, freeze-dried fruits, etc.
In summary, there is a wide variety of frosting recipes, not only because of the basic ingredients used, but also because of the many variants that can help us adapt them to the needs of your business, in terms of conservation, stability, processing times, etc.
In the case of frosting made with cream cheese, this range of possibilities is even wider, but it is also even more important to use ingredients of the highest quality especially created for this type of culinary development.