Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to improve store bought frosting

While I make cakes and frostings from scratch every week, I do it for a living.  There was a time that I worked in the "corporate world" Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00 and just the thought of going home to make a cake and frosting from scratch was daunting to say the least! 

Box cakes, in my opinion, are actually pretty good but store bought frosting, on the other hand, could use some improvement.  I'll tell you how to improve on cake mixes another time . . .  today is all about improving on the store bought frosting!



For most people store bought frosting is too sweet and hard to spread on a cake.  Though not specifically labeled, most of the tub frostings are considered buttercream frosting, except for those specifically labeled as cream cheese.  Here are a few tricks to making any tub of store bought frosting taste pretty close to homemade:

IMPROVE CONSISTENCY -
  • Empty the room temperature tub of frosting into a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and mix with a hand or stand mixer.  Put a spatula into the middle of the frosting and check for the right consistency.  You want the frosting to be thick enough to allow the spatula to stand by itself but not so thick that it causes the mixer to overheat.  It's better to be too soft then too thick so avoid adding too much.  The main thing to remember is that you don't want the frosting so soft that the spatula consistently falls to the side of the bowl.   Continue to add powdered sugar a little at a time until you get the consistency that you want.

IMPROVE TASTE -
  • Cream Cheese Buttercream - Using one tub of room temperature buttercream frosting and one (8 oz) package of room temperature cream cheese, combine the two.  Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract to the frosting prior to adding powdered sugar as directed above.  Just be sure to refrigerate the cake, cupcakes and any leftovers as cream cheese can't remain at room temperature overnight.

  • Whipped Cream Buttercream - Mix equal parts of store bought frosting with whipped cream for a great whipped cream buttercream.  Add powdered sugar as directed above to get the right consistency.  Add 1 tsp of extract.  Vanilla is always a great extract to use but mix it up based on the flavor of cake you are making.  Try maple, rum or orange extract or even some coffee syrups for a bit of a change.   Like the cream cheese version be sure to refrigerate the cake, cupcakes and any leftovers as whipped cream can't remain at room temperature overnight.

  • Glaze - If you like the flavor of the tub frosting but just want to make it easier to put on a cake, empty the contents of the tub into a microwave safe bowl and microwave, on high, for 20 to 30 seconds.  You want the frosting to be a consistency of syrup so stir and microwave for another 10 seconds, if needed.  Stir well and pour over the top of the cake.  Let stand to cool.  This will work great for a cake but don't try this for cupcakes.  Not only will it be too runny, you could burn yourself also!  Be Careful!!

  • Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of nuts, chocolate chips or coconut to the frosting for some added flair.

  • Mix 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter to a tub of chocolate frosting for a great taste of Reese's candy!

  • If you plan to use the frosting to write on the cake, use food coloring to change the color (use 1 drop at a time) and powdered sugar to thicken the frosting.  Invest in a couple of icing tips or use a gallon baggie with the corner cut out.
I hope these tips will help you to create your own homemade version of frosting.  If you know of more tips, please share them in the comment section below.  Until next time . . .

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks :) great tips I will likely use!!

kris valencia said...


Hi Thank you for your great tips about Cake decoating ideas This is excellent suggestion for a beginner in decorating cake.

Anonymous said...

I've also noticed that you can double the size of store-bought icing by whipping it with a whisk. This also makes it lighter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks soo much!

Claudia said...

I am a beginner. Do you think that improving the consistency of the frosting will help cupcake decorating? There are some store bought frosting a that are far too creamy.

Donna said...

Claudia - Improving the consistency of the frosting will definitely help you when it comes to decorating cupcakes. Most store bought frostings are too creamy (like you said) and does not hold up well on a cupcake. The best consistency for cupcakes is when the spatula will stand on its own in the middle of the bowl of frosting. You don't want it too thick but you don't want the spatula to fall to the side either. Hope that helps!!

Kathy said...

Thank you l looked and looked to just answer one question...can l thicken my bought frosting with something. You told me a plan yes, lm for sure making your site one of my favorites : ))

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't adding powdered sugar make the frosting more sweet? Could you add a little salt to cut down on the sweetness?

Donna said...

Most frosting, when made with powdered sugar, is too sweet (in my opinion) so, yes, if you add 1/2 - 1 tsp of salt then it will cut down on the sweetness. I like to use popcorn salt to avoid the gritty taste that salt can leave.

Charlotte Moore said...

This sounds awesome! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is the whipped cream "cool whip" or the liquid type whipping cream? Thanks I'm new to all this and want to learn how to make bought frosting better & not as sweet. Also will the powdered sugar make it even sweeter? Thanks!

Donna said...

When adding whipped cream (cool whip) to your frosting be sure to refrigerate your frosting when not using it. Also, to reduce the sweetness add 1/2 tsp of salt to frosting. I found that popcorn salt works better and reduces any chance of gritty taste associated with table salt.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, if you continued to add more powdered sugar, would you eventually have a frosting that you could use like fondant?

Donna said...

Adding more powdered sugar to frosting will get you something called "Rolled Buttercream". It has a consistency close to fondant but it tends to tear easily and does not hold together as well as fondant. I typically will use rolled buttercream between cake layers when I'm using fruit filling. I roll it into a log (like a sausage) and put it around the edge of the cake and then I fill the inside with fruit. This helps to hold the filling inside and keeps it from seeping out the sides of the cake. If you are looking for something that you can make at home that is like fondant then I would recommend searching the internet for "marshmallow fondant recipe" or search for the same on www.allrecipes.com. There are several recipes out there and they all seem to work. The taste seems to vary slightly between recipes so you'll just have to find one that you like. This may even be a good idea for a post in the future!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, this is a lot of help! I'm also a beginner. :-) I was wondering, if I follow the instructions above, decorate my cake, then refrigerate over night, what can I do or how can I store the cake, so that the cake does not dry out or taste stale the next day? Thank you in advance. :-)

Donna said...

I don't like to refrigerate any decorated cake unless absolutely necessary (such as fruit filling). I prefer to leave cake covered at room temperature. If you HAVE to refrigerate your decorated cake then you should consider using "simple syrup" during the decorating stage. After you level the cake, brush some simple syrup on every layer. Simple syrup is one cup hot water, one cup granulated sugar and one teaspoon vanilla. This mixture soaks into the cake and keeps it moist.

 

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