How many Frostings are There?

A lot. And, almost infinite variations thereof.

I created a list of the types of frosting. Some categories overlap, or some frostings can be considered in multiple sections. Butter means real butter, but in many instances, you can substitute Shortening.

Buttercream: Made with Butter without Powdered Sugar

There are many types of buttercream. For me, the best ones include butter and granulated sugar, with something to make it fluffy. (Scientific, right?)

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Egg Whites are heated with sugar, then beaten until fluffy, then have butter added. (Such as my Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue)
  • Italian Meringue Buttercream: A sugar syrup is heated until it reaches 240 degrees, and then the syrup is added to beaten egg whites, and then butter is added.
  • (You can make Swiss Meringue and Italian Meringue by not adding the butter. Or, rather, make the meringue into buttercream by adding the butter.)

  • French Meringue Buttercream: Instead of egg whites, whole eggs are used. I have not made these yet, but the Robicellisuse French Buttercream almost exclusively, which is one of the reasons their cupcakes are awesome.
  • Pastry Cream Buttercream. I found this in CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch. it involves making a pastry cream with egg yolks and milk, and then whipping it and adding butter.
  • Heirloom Frosting (Often called a cooked flour frosting): A roux is made with milk and flour, and allowed to cool. Sugar and Butter are creamed together, and then the roux is added.

Other Cooked frostings

  • 7 Minute frosting Kinda like a swiss meringue, in which sugar and eggs are heated over the stove, but the mixture is beaten while cooking. This creates an almost marshmallow like consistency.
  • Marshmallow frosting: like a 7 minute frosting, but with additional ingredients to make it more like a marshmallow.
  • Fondant: Technically, Fondant is a candy. It can be made to be rolled out, or liquid to pour over cakes.

Powdered Sugar Based Frostings

These frostings contain powdered sugar.

  • Glaze: Powdered sugar is mixed with a tiny amount of milk, to create a glaze like substance.
  • Royal Icing: Powdered sugar is mixed with Egg Whites, to create a very hard setting frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar Buttercream: Solid Butter and Powdered Sugar are mixed together. You can add infinite flavors and other foods, such as Chocolate and Orange Marmalade
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream cheese and powdered sugar are mixed together. Sometimes this includes butter.
  • Brown Sugar Frosting: Butter and Brown Sugar are cooked together, allowed to cool, the mixed with powdered sugar.

Cream Based Frostings

Frostings made with cream.

  • Ganache: cream and chocolate mixed together. Depending on the proportions, ganache can be poured over (or inside) a cake, or cooled and whipped.
  • Whipped Cream: Cream is whipped, usually with sugar, and often with gelatin or other stabilizers.

Am I missing types of frostings? Please let me know in the comments!

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Weekly Plans

Today starts my attempt at the SITS Problogger Challenge. The challenge is a set of 31 things that I can do for my blog (post one is an elevator pitch) to increase how successful it is.

I have a few cupcake attempts in my future for this week. The first came from Cupcake Wars, in which one of the items was pulled pork, and everyone skipped it for the much easier bacon. If professional cupcake bakers shy away from it, I want to try it!

The second was a discussion of how the realities of my partner and myself overlap, as evidenced by this graph. Thus, I must attempt these cupcakes.

Exciting week! :)

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My First Cake

My first cake that I made up using formulas and percentages, that is.

I finally bought BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes, which is a Must Have for geeky cooks that want to make up their own recipes.

There are a few bakers formulas and percentages that I used, and all of these are by weight.

Eggs => Fat
Liquid+eggs = Sugar
Fat = 50% of Flour

I pretty much exclusively use King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour, which is a high protein flour. Adding cornstarch to all purpose flour creates something that is more like cake flour, which is why this step is there.

I am still unsure on the whole leavening thing. The Cake Bible, as also quoted in Bakewise, suggests 1 1/2 tsp baking powder for 6-8 inch cakes. There is also suggestions of 1 to 1 1/4th tsp baking powder per cup of flour. Also, in Bakewise, Shirley Corriher suggests keeping batters slightly acidic to help proteins set faster. This batter may be too acidic due to the buttermilk, as it did not brown that much on top. It domed pretty high, so perhaps too much baking powder? So confused!

My kitchen HATES the creaming method, because as I started making the cake (before preheating the oven), it was 85 degrees in my kitchen. Standing here, above the oven, it is now 98 degrees. So, any method that requires keeping butter in a solid state is pretty much not available to me during the summer. I used the “dissolved sugar” method, which is supposed to create a denser cake, but still moist.

Yes, this calls for an entire tablespoon of vanilla extract. Since I am not using butter, vanilla is the main flavoring of the cake. I noticed while looking at the recipe for Sweet Revenge’s Pure Cupcake, that she uses 3 tablespoons of Mexican vanilla! So, I have since felt more confident about using more extract.

Amanda’s First Cake
(Created with guidance from BakeWise)

6 oz all purpose flour
1 oz cornstarch*
7 oz sugar
3.5 oz canola oil
3.5 oz eggs (2 eggs)
3.5 oz buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda**
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract.

(In a totally unrelated story, as I was converting halving and converting Billy’s Bakery Vanilla Vanilla Cupcake recipe to weight, the proportions are almost Exactly the same :)

In a small bowl, combine eggs, 3 tbsp of buttermilk, and 1 tbsp of vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, combined flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and blend for 30 seconds. Add oil and remaining buttermilk. mix on low for 30 seconds, then medium for 1.5 minutes. Scrape the sides. Add 1/3rd of the egg mixture, mix for 20 seconds, scrape sides. Repeat twice until all the egg mixture is in the bowl.

Bake. I used a 6×3 pan. My cake domed quite a bit, and the edges were done before the middle was, so perhaps next time I might use another pan, like an 8×2.

The cake was dry. It tasted fine, just was a bit dry. Most likely it was overbaked, as the middle took ForEvEr to cook in the middle. I will perhaps try it again in a smaller pan.

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Microwave Single Serve Rice Krispy

Since I can burn Rice Krispies, I decided to go with the microwave. Leaving out the butter creates a slightly different tasting treat, but one that is still great!

The original recipe includes 4 cups of marshmallows for 6 cups of Rice Krispies. Using a fancy skill called Math, that is one cup of marshmallows for 1.5 cups of cereal.

Spray a glass bowl with nonstick spray. Put marshmallows into the bowl, and melt. (You could melt butter in the bowl first, then add marshmallows and stir, if you want butter.) It takes about two minutes in my microwave, so it will probably take less in yours.

Spray a silicon spatula with non stick spray. Dump rice Krispies into the marshmallows, and stir. Eat.

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Mexican Chocolate Cupcake with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Frosting

Woohoo for Air conditioned kitchen! Boo for still melting my frosting!

I am kitten sitting for some friends of mine, and while I am here, I am taking full advantage of their air conditioned kitchen to play with baked goods. I also did not bring butter or milk over with me the first day, so I needed a vegan cupcake.

I found this Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe listed a few places online. I liked the fact that it didnt use any milk substitutes, and that it had balsamic vinegar for acidity (rather than white vinegar, which is also not in this kitchen.) “Mexican Chocolate” is typically spiked with cinnamon for a slightly spicy kick, and these cupcakes also have cayenne pepper. They do have a spicy after kick.

I wanted to try this Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream, because I think it may go well with my dulce de leche cupcakes. The frosting was great, except I think I overbeat it, and/or the kitchen was too warm, so the butter started to melt.

This is different than the buttercream curdling. Most meringue based frostings (as well as my Cooked Flour Frosting) go through a stage where they look curdled. This is normal, and the answer is to keep beating it. However, when it starts to look like tiny fat globules and shiny liquid, something happened and you need to start over. (Or, ya know, eat it, because it is butter and sugar and therefore tasty, just not smooth and not pretty.)

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from
Makes 12 servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil*
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

This is a one bowl cake. Put everything in a bowl, and mix it up. Do not overbeat, but stir until just smooth. You can leave out the cayenne pepper, or substitute chili powder for less heat. (Edit 7/25/2010: Since this is an egg and dairy free cake, you actually can agitate the flour a bit, because it is the gluten that holds the cupcake together. Making this a second time, i put in 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper, and I think the chili powder provides a slightly better taste. I also upped the Cinnamon to 3 tsp., as I think the cinnamon came out more pronounced. The downside was that many thought the chocolate flavor wasn’t there.)

*(Note: Serious Eats has made this cake without the canola oil, so it may be optional. I would think that the cake would be drier, and I tend to like moist cupcakes.)

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. You can also make one 8 or 9 inch layer, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when finished.

Top with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

A few notes on the swiss buttercream: when the eggs are at proper temperature, you can feel the mixture and it will no longer feel gritty. Make sure that everything is clean, otherwise the initial meringue will not fluff up. When adding the butter, “curdling” or it looking lumpy is fine, just keep beating. “Melting” is not okay. Make sure your kitchen is cooler than 75 degrees or so , otherwise the butter may melt. If you are really worried, watch this video on 123 Swiss Buttercream.

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Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

I think I have a problem naming things. After all, there should really be a shorter name for these cupcakes besides “Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting.” (they are drizzled with dulce de leche on top, but I decided that it was superfluous.)

I could not come up with a shorter title for my thesis, so it had all five variables in the title. But you almost know exactly what it is about when I say the title.

Anyways. Cupcake Project is one of my go to places when I am searching for new cupcake recipes. I knew I wanted something different, and I had a few extra cans of sweetened condensed milk laying around. So, the cupcake recipe, and brown sugar frosting are from that website, and the dulce de leche is something that I am sure I got from a website a while ago, but have no idea where I got it.

yummy cupcakes

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
(Adapted from Cupcake Project)

Part One: Dulce de Leche
Note: This method can be extremely dangerous. Borden recommends NEVER boiling the can in this way, as the can could explode, causing major injury to anyone nearby. I choose to take this risk, but, please educate yourself about the risks before choosing this method. There are alternate methods of making this wonderful sauce.

One can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated.)

Take the label off the can. (Or not, but you will have label paper floating in your water). Put can into crock pot, and cover with water. (A few websites say that the water should cover the can to prevent it from exploding. One can fits into my mini 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker, with the water covering the top (barely)).

Heat in slow cooker on high for a few hours. I usually do about four hours, which results in a very thick dulce de leche. You can go as short as an hour (I have heard) to make a more syrup consistency, or longer for a more firm caramel type consistency. After time is up, remove the can from the hot water, and let cool. DO NOT open the hot can, as it might explode.

Part Two: Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cupcake Recipe

1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade!)
1 cup, (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c dulce de leche (I used slightly over half the can)

Whisk boiling water and cocoa together, until smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla extract, and put to side.

Cream the butter and sugar together for about 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding the next only after the first has disappeared.

Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, and salt). Add the dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry. (Note: This is why I tend to not make this type of cake, as the more you beat the flour into the mixture, the tougher the cupcakes can be. So, only mix until the ingredients are mostly incorporated, and do not overmix. In addition, I do not think that my cocoa mixture had cooled enough, as part of the butter melted in this step. The cupcakes were a bit dry because of it, so make sure to let it cool.)

Stir in Dulce de Leche. Im not sure how it was in the original ingredient, but I put mine in cold, and it created clumps of dulce de leche in some of the cupcakes. Next time, I might heat up the dulce de leche to see if it becomes more incorporated into the cupcake.

Part Three: Brown Sugar Frosting
(Taken from Cupcake Project, which was adapted from Food)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Note: This is Candy Making, so things can and will burn easily, so stir constantly, and with a heat proof implement like silicone or wood.

Melt butter over low heat. Add Brown Sugar, and cook for two minutes. Add milk, and cook for another two minutes. Let cool. (At this point, it is an acceptable caramel replacement, and you can use it as such.)

Gradual beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Pipe onto cupcakes. (I tend to pipe things on cupcakes, it seems easier than attempting to spread it.)

If desired, drizzle heated dulce de leche onto cupcakes.

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Cake Mix Extender

Sometimes, you just want more cake mix. Or, ya know, cake.

Many cake decorators use the White Almond Sour Cream Cake, but I find it makes a dry cake. I am pretty picky about having moist cakes. There are other recipes ( Cake Mix Extender) that add just a little extra batter. Adding extra ingredients changes the texture of a cake mix, making it seem more homemade, and it adds extra volume, so you get higher cakes or more cupcakes.

Cake Mix Extender
Makes 36 cupcakes (one cake mix alone makes 24 cupcakes)
Adapted from hpjmom from the Wilton Forums

1 box cake mix (any flavor) (and everything listed on the box)
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup milk (or water, or other liquid)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp flavoring (vanilla, almond, whatever you want)

As with a cake mix, you can put all ingredients into mixer and follow the box instructions.

I put the cake mix and dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, then mix on low for a few seconds to incorporate everything. Add liquid ingredients (include everything in the extender as well as everything on the box.) Mix about 30 seconds until blended, scrape down the sides, and then 2 minutes on medium speed, stopping halfway to scrape the sides.

Note: With a white cake batter, the cupcakes are slightly dry.

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Heirloom Cooked Flour Frosting

I think I finally figured it out!

I never figured out why Red Velvet cake tasted different. Of course, I expected a difference from my grandmother’s cake, but, still, something was off.

When I got my grandmother’s recipe, I figured it out. It called for cooking flour and milk, then mixing with butter and sugar. I had never seen anything like it.

It is called a “cooked flour” frosting. (Catchy title, huh. I am thinking of going with “Heirloom Frosting.) Yet, the few times I made it (including under the supervision of my grandmother), it never seemed to come out right. It always had a grainy texture to it. I tried superfine sugar, but that still did not make a difference.

I was reading a few places online, and one recommended beating the frosting for a longer period. With other types of meringue based frostings, it says to continue beating after the point it looked curdled, until it comes together.

The very first time I made the frosting, I did not let the milk and flour mixture cool enough, so it melted the butter when I added it. The second and third time, I creamed the butter and sugar for longer periods of time, and added the cooled milk/flour mixture, and it still came up grainy.

This time: I mixed one cup of milk with four tablespoons of flour, and cooked until thick. I let this cool for about an hour.

I mixed the sugar in a food processor for a bit. I added some of the 1/2 cup of shortening to the food processor, to try to get the sugar to adhere better. (I have no idea if this worked.) I mixed the remaining shortening, and 1/2 cup of butter with the sugar/shortening mixture. I creamed this for about 5 minutes. I added the cooked flour mixture in, and let it mix for another 5 minutes.

I stopped it a few times to taste. The longer I let it mix, the more smooth it became.

I frosted a few of the red velvet pumpkin cupcakes, and put the rest in the fridge.

Just a note: This flour, like meringue based buttercreams, tastes like butter when refrigerated. So, let the cupcakes or cake sit at room temperature, or let the frosting come to room temperature and re-beat it before frosting.

Also, the last two times I made this, I did not include any extract (mostly because I was out of vanilla.) You can put extract into it. My next experiment with this will be to play with flavorings :)

Heirloom Frosting
24 Services, or enough for a 3 layer 8 inch cake.

1 cup milk
4 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (or you can use all butter or all shortening)

Whisk together 1 cup of milk and 4 tbsp of flour. Cook over low heat until very thick. Let cool to cool room temperature.

(Optional: You can process the sugar for a short period in a food processor. This may or may not make a difference, and was not in any recipe I have seen.)

Cream together 1 cup of fat (either the shortening/butter mix, or all butter), and 1 cup of sugar. Make sure to fully cream these together, at least five minutes. Once the butter is light and fluffy, add the cooked flour mixture. Mix until it looks like whipped cream. You can add vanilla extract towards the end of the beating process.

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Red Velvet Pumpkin Cupcakes

Rather, red velvet cake mix made with pumpkin. I took half a cake mix, 7.5 oz of pumpkin (half of the can), one egg, and a little bit of oil. (I did not measure it.)

It came out cakey, like an actual cupcake. The first pumpkin muffin attempt was just a spice cake mix and canned pumpkin. That was good, and had a distinct pumpkin taste, which was good. The texture was more of a muffin. So, I wanted to try out adding typical “cake ingredients” to see if they would come out. And they did!

Tomorrow, I will attempt (again) my grandmothers cooked flour frosting. Look for that later!

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Banana Cupcakes with (Attempted) Strawberry Frosting

I had a few older bananas, and faced with the choice of banana bread or banana cupcakes, I chose the cupcakes. I used Banana Chiffon Cake recipe. Chiffon cakes are made with oil, with most of the leavening coming from egg whites.

My egg whites did not whip up. I probably did not check the pan or the whisk to make sure that they were absolutely residue free, so I will have to do that next time.

The cupcakes browned rather quickly, but they rose with a nice dome top. The bananas did something funky, as the inside seems to have tiny dark spots, almost like threads. I assume they came from the bananas.

The frosting? Well, strawberry frosting still eludes me. I learned that my frosting does need some fat in it. I started with cream cheese, strawberry puree, and strawberry jam. I mixed in 1.5 lbs of sugar, and it was still quite runny. I mixed in some shortening, and it firmed up. Will mix in shortening at the beginning next time.

I played with the frosting. I am deciding what type of decorations look and taste best on cupcakes. These were made with just a disposable piping bag with a large part of the tip cut off. Pretty! Will have pictures once I figure out a photo editing program :)

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