What's Your Secret?

Decorating By luv2cake Updated 16 Aug 2005 , 10:58am by llj68

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luv2cake Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 5:30am
post #1 of 52

Hello friends!
It is now 12:21 am and I am headed for bed after making 9 batches of icing for the last 2 hours. It always takes me so long to do!

Anyway, here's my question-
I have read about so many different little tricks and secret ingredients that some of you add to make your favorite icing. Soooo, what's your secret? How do you make that perfect icing that people just "oooh" and "ahhh" about?

My secret is that I add LorAnn's Bavarian Cream flavored oil to each batch of icing, especially chocolate buttercream. I use this either instead of or in addition to the vanilla extract. I love it especially in the buttercream recipe that uses half butter, half Crisco.

Okay, I had better get in bed. I've been on here too long, but what can I say, I may be a "Junior Member," but I am a forum addict! icon_lol.gif


51 replies
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JennT Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 5:56am
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I use just a little heavy cream and a pinch of salt in my bc every time. People tell me that they love my bc because it's not soooo sugary sweet and it doesn't overpower the flavor of the cake. Funny - professional chefs and the like say that a pinch of salt makes sweet things taste sweeter - but IMO it balances the sweetness with the actual flavor of whatever you add it to....for example: if you've used butavan or hazlenut flavoring or whatever - you can taste the flavoring, the butter and the sugar all seperately - but it's all balanced more evenly.

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luv2cake Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 12:32pm
post #3 of 52

I'm with you, I always add a pinch of salt to help balance the flavor.

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bubblezmom Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 12:47pm
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I added flour to the batch of practice frosting I made yesterday. I really dislike crisco/pwd sugar buttercream and the flour at least masked the sicky-sweet taste. icon_razz.gif

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mommymarilyn Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 3:14pm
post #5 of 52

I usually add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of almond extract - I get so many compliments on the flavor - I've had some people tell me they don't usually like buttercream but it's not so sweet - I guess it helps!

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LemonLyme Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 3:24pm
post #6 of 52

Wow ..secrets they're so many.
As for myself I use a little heavy cream in my Buttercream recipe.I don't use crisco I prefer usuing the unsalted sweet cream butter with a mixed flavored extract.
It's just a recipe I use and every one likes it, I don't mess with it.
I once used just half (4oz) of cream cheese in a buttercream recipe with heavy cream and just a 1/2 teaspoon of a flavored liquer in a recipe once..Now that got plenty of good reviews.
But it's up to each individual.

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edcjenv Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 3:34pm
post #7 of 52

I usually add 1 tsp of butter flavoring and almond flavoring....I'm excited to try the salt technique....Anyway....people seem to love it (except my sis who doesn't like almonds)

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Chefgirl Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 4:24pm
post #8 of 52

I also just use butter, not shortening, a little heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Oh, and vanilla. People always tell me they like it!

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bubblezmom Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 4:37pm
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I just learned how to make real buttercream and love it. However, I found it too soft except for the most basic of decorations. How do you decorate with the real buttercream? Do you keep your buttercream in an icebath?

I will still make "practice" frosting out of crisco and pwd sugar just for convience sake. And yes, I add vanilla and almond to the crisco based frosting. It still tastes icky. The flour really helped with the taste. It now has a neutral flavor.

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Mchelle Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 4:40pm
post #10 of 52

I would have to say it's my mexican vanilla and corn syrup add to the buttercream.

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Niki027 Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 4:40pm
post #11 of 52

How much flour do you add?

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edencakes Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 4:48pm
post #12 of 52

I always make my icing with just crisco, mostly because everyone seems to want "pure white" icing. I use vanilla, almond and butter extract, and ALWAYS add salt. It really does make a huge difference.

I know crisco icing isn't "as good", but I've never had a complaint!

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bubblezmom Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 5:03pm
post #13 of 52

I added about 2tbls to a 2lb bag of pwd sugar. I just kept adding a little until the sugar taste no longer set my teeth on edge. I also added a splash of Smirnoff Appletini just cause I like experimenting.

I don't think people would complain about the crisco based frosting because people are used to grocery store cakes. Our grocery store bakeries here vary widely in the taste of their frostings. Kroger has the absolutely worst frosting and people just scrape off some of the frosting. We're conditioned to it so no one makes a big deal about it. Little kids fight over the piece of cake with the most frosting, not adults. My 5yr old really doesn't care how mommy makes the frosting as long as it gets made!


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Chefgirl Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 6:29pm
post #14 of 52

Didn't mean to upset anyone with the butter vs. crisco comment. It's just what you, and your customers, prefer.
Bubblezmom, I also love the real buttercream. I don't know that I would use an icebath, you don't want it that cold. It is hard decorating with it sometimes, especially when your hands heat up the bag. Maybe have a couple bags filled and swap out. Put one in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it off. And make sure you keep the bowl in a cool place. I haven't done much more with it than basic decorations, so I guess I'm not much help there.

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jjandascog Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 6:36pm
post #15 of 52

I live in Houston and it is Hot Hot Hot. Seems most cakes I make are for outdoor parties so I've only made real buttercream once. I stick to Crisco so it won't melt off the cake!

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famousamous Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 6:46pm
post #16 of 52

I use the all Crisco recipe with a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp almond extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla and about 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream. The almond extract keeps everyone guessing.

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SweetCreations Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 6:50pm
post #17 of 52

Hey Ya'll,
I think the thing with the Almond flavoring is the Smell, not the flavor. I use the butter and vanilla, 3/4 teaspoon Vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon Butter. I also use 3/4 teaspoon of salt. but once in a while I add a few drops of Creme Bouquet flavoring . you can either add it to your cake mix or to the icing. but Not both.
I dont think anyone would/should get offended about the butter/crisco issue, its all a matter of prefrence. but then and again, I might be surprised huh? icon_wink.gif

~Sweet~ =0)

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JennT Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 7:00pm
post #18 of 52

I, too, live in one of the hottest place in creation - south Alabama!! lol I would love to be able to use all butter bc, but it's impossible here....unless the cake will only be indoors & even then it would need to be refrigerated while it's not being served. I occasionaly have made it for personal cakes, but never for a cake that's going outdoors or in a car for transport. I usually use 1/2 butter, 1/2 crisco and add some meringue powder to help stabilize.

All of you are such good girls with your measuring!!! lol Other than the butter & crisco, I have to admit that I don't measure my ingredients... extracts/flavorings, pwd sugar, cream or salt!!! icon_redface.gif I guess I just tend to go more by the texture and the taste....I just mix it all in with the creamed butter/crisco mixture until it looks right and then taste it for flavor...add more if I need to. It's always come out great so far...but does anyone know of any pitfalls I may be setting myself up for by doing it this way?? I'd love to know if you do....especially those of you more experienced than me!

And what exactly is creme bouquet? I've seen it referenced here a few times, but had never heard of it before.


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Bubbles Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 7:08pm
post #19 of 52

I use Creme bouquet as a flavor enhancer. I add it when I add vanilla. I love it frosting, and most cakes. Not to fond of it in chocolate. It almost has a citrusy sent to it. So it sorta throws me off. Someone earlier mentioned Bavarian cream, I might have to try that in chocolate. That sounds like it would be rather yummy

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bubblezmom Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 7:13pm
post #20 of 52

I only measure because I am experimenting with different recipes. I can't say I don't like a certain bc if I didn't follow the directions. KWIM? After I've followed the directions, I freely add whatever and just guessimate the measurements. My grandmother was the best baker and never measured a thing.

It is very hot here in Indiana. I have never, ever seen a wedding cake placed outdoors. I just recently attended my neices wedding in Philly and it was soooo humid. The baker made it clear that the cake was not to be brought outside until it was time to cut. It was a white chocolate buttercream and it was pure heaven. There was a huge line to get cake and there was not one tiny piece leftover. Tasting that buttercream was what inspired me to learn something other than pwd sugar buttercream.

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melissablack Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 7:16pm
post #21 of 52

I live in south louisiana, and I can't use butter in my recipes either. I have on a few occasions and it is literally melting in the decorating bags while I am working with it, we're talking liquid! Two of the cakes in my photos, the spiderman and racetrack cakes, were made with the 1/2 & 1/2 wilton recipe, and i couldn't get it to smooth at all. Now I use the dream whip recipe and it tastes really good and it's good for smoothing & decorating, and it's pure white. icon_smile.gif


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llj68 Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 7:18pm
post #22 of 52

What has made all the difference in my bc has been the high-ratio shortening. Dawn was right--once I tried it I never went back to Crisco. The difference is AMAZING!!! Very, very creamy.

I'm going to have to try the bav cream flavoring--I'm sort of afraid to try all the flavorings--but need to become more brave, I guess!


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JennT Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 8:41pm
post #23 of 52
Originally Posted by bubblezmom

Tasting that buttercream was what inspired me to learn something other than pwd sugar buttercream.

There's a buttercream that doesn't use pwd sugar?? Please clue me in!!! icon_lol.gif


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Chefgirl Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 8:49pm
post #24 of 52

Yes! They are a little more time consuming to make, but they are so velvety and creamy smooth. Because they are all butter, they don't hold up in the heat very well. There are different recipes, Italian Buttercream, French Buttercream, etc. For the Italian, basically, you beat egg whites to stiff peaks with a little sugar. Make a sugar syrup and cook to 250. Beat it into the egg whites slowly. Beat until cool. Add room temp butter a little at a time. And then flavor. The French is similar, except with yolks. I haven't made that one in awhile, I like the Italian. I know I don't have all that exactly right either, I'm at work (working hard, ha!) and can't reference The Cake Bible.

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JennT Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 8:54pm
post #25 of 52

Ohhhhh....Of course I've heard of the Italian & French Buttercreams, but never really paid close attention to a recipe before to notice they don't use Pwd sugar!!! lol They do sound time consuming...but I'm sure they're good. What sweetens them if there's no pwd sugar in them? Just the sugar syrup & sugar you beat in with the whites?? hmmm...at least you know it won't be sickly sweet, huh?



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Chefgirl Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 8:57pm
post #26 of 52

It's definitely not sicky sweet. Yes, just the sugar syrup and sugar are enough sweetening. It just tastes creamy and buttery. And I do love butter!

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Ironbaker Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 10:13pm
post #27 of 52

I gave away my "secret" in another thread and it's been mentioned already. I also use Creme Bouquet. I've been wanting to try butavan also, I keep reading about that one.

I just ordered quite a few Lorann Oils and can't wait to try some of them in my icings/cakes. Particularly the champagne and cheesecake. I'll have to get the bavarian cream next time.

I also use butter and almond flavorings as well as salt. It keeps them guessing and I always get comments on the icing.

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luv2cake Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 10:21pm
post #28 of 52

I knew that you guys would have some great ideas! I can't wait to try some out some of these.

I do have one question.....I have read about Creme Bouquet before, but I am clueless as to what it is. Please someone fill me in.

THanks so much!

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pinknlee Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 10:30pm
post #29 of 52

I use butter flavored crisco in butter when I am going to just dye the frosting. It gives it a slight yellow, but it doesn't seem to bother the coloring! usaribbon.gif

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 12 Aug 2005 , 10:43pm
post #30 of 52

Heehee, the butter versus Crisco and the high-ratio shortening versus Crisco and the Italian, Swiss or French Meringue recipes versus American buttercreams, always cause controversy on all of the sites.
If you are going to use butter, you want a room temperature where you are working with it, about 70F - 75F maximum. Anything warmer and it is difficult to work with, whether it is all butter or part butter. If it is exposed to temperatures of more than 83F, you will get meltdown. If your all shortening icing is exposed to temperatures of more than 89-99F you will get meltdown too. Fondant is no better at handling temperatures in this range.
I usually use salted butter and use half butter, half shortening. I use 5 cups powdered sugar instead of 4 to 1 cup of fat as my ratio, mainly because of the heat of my hands. I use 2 tbsp. of unwhipped whipping cream and thin the icing with whole milk. I use real brown pure vanilla because I really don't like the taste of the artificial clear vanilla at all and i find that even the artificial brown vanilla has a better taste than the clear ones. I use 1 1/2 tsp. of it. I think the use of real vanilla makes a big difference, although if you want a pure white icing, you won't get it with this. I do find that every bride I have had taste test the icings chose the ivory coloured icing with the real butter and real vanilla in it over the pure white all shortening icing regardless of whether she wanted a white icing or not. I would imagine that children would prefer the all shortening recipe as that is generally what they are used to from bakery cakes. It all depends on what you have grown up with, in my opinion.
I must say, I didn't mind the Whimsical Bakehouse Buttercream recipe, the high fat ratio one with the high ratio shortening. I found it to be a bit gritty, likely my powdered sugar was beet sugar and that was the issue because I had sifted it several times and still the icing was gritty. But I was surprised at how it tasted and for folks that don't like sweet icing, it would be a hit. I suppose the texture would throw a few people off because of the high ratio of fat to sugar.
I have made all of the meringue icings, but was always concerned about using the egg whites. Apparently now, according to www.baking911.com, I was right to be concerned as the egg white temperture doesn't reach high enough as much of the heat is dissipated in the bowl. So even though I like these icings, I wouldn't risk using the actual egg whites in it if the cake was leaving the house.
Actually adding salt to sweet things is supposed to cut the sicky sweet taste and I find it does, but you have to be careful to insure it gets dissolved.
Adding a bit of coffee to chocolate icing enhances the chocolate flavour.
My favourite chocolate icings are heated or cooked.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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