Tips & Tricks

Icing 101


Buttercream is made by beating butter with icing sugar, vanilla and sometimes milk. This soft, buttery icing is perfect for spreading over a cake or piping into patterns. Buttercream can also be coloured and flavoured and is popular for icing cupcakes.

Buttercream will firm up so that it holds its shape, but remember to keep it cool as it will melt easily in warm conditions.

We have a great buttercream recipe in our recipe section, or you can buy ready made buttercream icing.


Fondant (or sugarpaste) is like a sweet dough that can be kneaded and rolled out into thin sheets for covering cakes and creating cake decorations. It is basically made of sugar with the addition of gelatin, corn syrup and glycerine to provide a malleable sweet paste.

Fondant helps to seal a cake so that it retains its moisture which is why fondant is a popular choice for cakes that need to be made ahead of time such as wedding cakes.

You can make your own fondant, but it's much easier to buy ready to roll fondant. It comes in a range of pre-mixed colours, or you can buy white fondant and colour it with gel colours. You can also combine pre-coloured fondant to create an infinite range of colours and shades.


Gumpaste (or Modeling Paste) is similar to fondant in texture, but it will harden and hold its structure making it perfect for creating models, figurines and delicate decorations such as flowers and leaves to decorate your cake.

You can buy ready to use gumpaste such as Satin Ice Gumpaste or Model-It which is a mixture of fondant and gumpaste. Alternatively you can create your own gumpaste by adding Tylose Powder to fondant.

Royal Icing

Royal icing is made from softly beaten egg whites, icing sugar, and sometimes lemon or lime juice. The egg whites make it harden which is why it is a popular choice for decorating cookies and biscuits. Royal Icing can also be used to ice wedding and Christmas cakes, and for creating sugar decorations to put on cakes.

The secret to using Royal Icing is getting the consistency right. Use a thinner consistency for piping and flooding cookies, and a stiffer consistency for piping decorations onto cakes.


This rich chocolate icing is made from either white or dark chocolate and cream, then used as a filling, glaze or for piping decorations onto a cake. Ganache is also perfect for making truffles and decorating drip cakes.

The type of chocolate used and the ratio of chocolate to cream will vary the consistency of the ganache. Typically for a glaze or soft icing use one part chocolate to two parts cream; for a cake filling or rich, thick icing, use one part chocolate to one part cream.

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content will produce the best results - milk chocolate and white chocolate are much sweeter.

Ganache can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks - use a microwave to soften before use if required.

Cream Cheese Icing

Cream cheese icing has a similar consistency to buttercream, and the addition of cream cheese to butter and icing sugar makes a delicious fluffy, cream-coloured icing. 

Cream cheese icing is traditionally used to decorate carrot cakes and cupcakes.

Meringue Icing

Merinque icing is a very American styled frosting made from egg whites, caster sugar and water. It is whipped and then spread with a palette knife onto the cake to create a delicious, fluffy icing for cakes and cupcakes.

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