My Thoughts on Vegan Icing
Vegan Icing is one of those food items that is a “guilty pleasure” to say the least. You do not really need it, but you eat it on special occasions or when you are feeling emotional. Either way icing, or frosting, is delicious and a delicacy in any cuisine or culture. Icing is one of those recipes that is way better homemade, and it is so easy to make too. So, buying it after reading this article is just plain lazy!
The general consensus of icing and its origins date back to the late 1400’s. This delicacy was designed to coat or top marzipans. A marchpane is the early spelling ( the name changed in the 1500s) for what is now called a marzipan. A marzipan is a confection made of pureed almonds tossed with powdered sugar. This treat was good, but it needed a little extra. With this concept and idea, the frosting was born.
Icing was inseparable from marzipans for a lifetime until the 1600s. During this time a French chef, used icing to hold together multiple layers of cake and blew the minds of people everywhere. As you may well know, a single layer cake does not use icing the way a multi-layered cake does. This chef essentially changed the way the world would view cakes forever.
So, who was this chef? And how did she figure this out? We her version of icing was a “rough draft” of what we use today. Her version of icing was whipped egg whites with powdered sugar then baked off. Yes, that is right, it was cooked. The icing would be applied to the outside of a cake then place into an oven to harden into “ice”, hence the term icing. In todays world, the recipe she is using is now referred to as a meringue and if baked in the right conditions will dehydrate into a firm shell.
As the years went on, icing was revolutionized yet again by one of the most famous people in history. Queen Victoria of England coined the next use of the icing in the late 1800s. The queen utilized icing for the most epic cake of all time still used very frequently today! The cake we all know as the wedding cake!
Yes, that is correct. Queen Victoria was the first one to design the multi-layered wedding cake with white icing! This cake demonstrated the amount, quality, and expense of the amount of sugar used. During this time, using pounds of sugar for a single occasion cake was considered a sign of wealth.
Wait, there is more! Icing stuck again in the mid-1900s. This is when the first icing was seen on cupcakes! This icing was known as the buttercream icing. I guess you can guess what the secret ingredient was. Butter.
Now days, bakers and confectioners have many different variations of icings and butter creams. These variations include but are not limited to fruit purees, custard, lemon curd, and a lot more. When it comes to wedding cakes, bakers use fondant. Fondant is a dough like candy that is made from sugar, water, and corn syrup. Gelatin is added for sculpting and shaping uses.
Difference Between Frosting and Icing
Frosting and icing seem to be used interchangeably now days. There are subtle differences that distinguish between the two though. Let us jump into what separates these two seemingly alike confectionary toppings.
Icing is used as a glaze on cakes and pastries. Think of a glazed doughnut, the translucent substance on the outside is an icing. On the other hand, frosting is the opaque substance used to coat the outside of a cake.
As I stated earlier, icing has a glossy translucent appearance to it. It has a thinner consistency than its counterpart. Frosting is thick and fluffy, due to being whipped and the fat content. This type of coating is opaque (not see though).
Icing is a sugar-based glaze. It can also contain egg whites, butter, or cream. Frosting can be cream, or butter based, exclusively.
Icing has a sugary flavor while frosting has a buttery or fatty flavor.
How do you make Vegan Icing and Frosting?
This method is super easy and efficient. Icing is simply combined and mixed thoroughly. Yup, that is it! The only finesse this recipe needs is getting the proportions right. Luckily for you guys I have the perfect vegan icing recipe already formulated below!
This topping requires a couple steps, but it is still really easy. This confection can also be easily flavored with pretty much anything! So, the possibilities are endless.
9 out of 10 times this recipe starts off with softening vegan butter. Once the vegan butter is soft you begin to beat it until creamy and fluffy. You then add your powdered sugar and continue beating.
You then add a non-dairy milk of your choice and continue beating. At this point you can use the traditional vanilla extract to flavor it. You can also take your own route and flavor it how you like.
Vegan Icing and Frosting Tricks and Tips
When it comes to creaming the butter, the butter must be set out before hand to get soft. If the butter is melted the frosting or icing will not come together and it will just be a thin mess. Soft butter is imperative to the creaming process whether you are making frosting or icing.
Consistency is key when it comes to these recipes. You must think about what application you are using these recipes for. For example, if you are making a glaze for doughnuts, you want a icing that is thin enough to run down the sides of the doughnut but thick enough to grab hold.
When it comes to icing, you have options when it comes to consistency. If you added to much sugar and its too thick, you can simply thin it out with your non-dairy milk. On the other hand, if your icing is too thin, just add more sugar to thicken it up a touch.
For frosting a similar rule applies. You can add your liquid flavoring to thin out a thick frosting. You can also add sugar to thicken a frosting, but beware! If you a flavoring a frosting with a sweet liquid, let’s say strawberry syrup, you need to be aware of the consistency because adding more sugar will thicken it but render it too sweet.
In my experiences, I have found that your icing or frosting does not have to be really sweet to compliment a delicious cake.
Whether you are making a butter/cream icing or a frosting you are going to have to whip sugar into softened butter or cream. The best way to do this is to add your sugar in little amounts at a time. For example, if you have 1 cup of powdered sugar, then add a third at a time into your butter or cream.
Store these confections in the refrigerator in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks! So, this gives you a little room to plan and make ahead of time if your feeling up to it. One thing to consider when storing icing and frosting in cold storage is the hardening effect. When either of these recipes get really cold, they will firm up making them harder to spread. So, pull out of cold storage an hour or two before using.
Depending on what you flavor your frosting with you can store it at room temperature. If you flavor your frosting with vanilla extract, then storing it a room temperature is fine because the sugar stabilizes the dairy in the recipe.
If you flavor your icing with a fruit puree that you made yourself, then I would not risk storing that at room temperature.
- 1 Hand mixer
- 1 rubber spatula
- 1 mixing bowl
Perfect Vegan Frosting Recipe
Perks: Dairy free, Gluten Free, Soy free
Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 1 Cup Vegan Butter, softened (I like earth balance)
- 3 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Nondairy Milk (Oat Milk is my favorite)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Beat the softened vegan butter with a hand mixer on medium speed until the butter is creamy. The butter should look light and fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar into the whipped butter. Gradually add the sugar ½ cup to 1 cup at a time until all is combined.
- Now its time to add milk. Set the hand mixer to low speed and slowly pour the nondairy milk into the sugar and butter mixture. Add the vanilla extract right after the milk.
- Check your consistency if it seems too thick add a touch more oat milk. If you like it thicker add more sugar.
- For soy free icing, get soy free earth balance vegan butter!
Banana- Take away ½ cup vegan butter and replace with ½ cup banana puree
Chocolate- Replace vegan butter with chocolate syrup. Use store bought vegan chocolate syrup 1:1 ratio.
Peanut Butter- take away ½ cup of butter and replace with ½ cup peanut butter.
Nutrition facts for This Recipe
Best Vegan Icing Recipe(Super Easy)
Perks: Dairy free, Soy free, Gluten free
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- ¼ Cups Refined Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp Nondairy Milk
- 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Pinch Salt
- Combine everything in a food processor and blend thoroughly. Yup that is it.
Lemon- Replace vanilla extract with the juice and zest of 1 lemon.
Chocolate– Replace vanilla and salt with 1 tbsp cocoa powder.
Cinnamon- Replace Vanilla and salt with 1 tbsp ground cinnamon.
Nutrition Facts for This Recipe
Vegan Buttercream Frosting (coconut oil)
Perks: Dairy free, Soy free, Gluten free
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
- 1 Cup Coconut Oil
- 1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 3 tsp Agave
- Melt the coconut oil completely. You can use the microwave or melt on the stove. You want to make sure the coconut oil is completely melted and not grainy.
- Once the coconut oil is smooth and melted. Place in freezer to get it back up to room temperature. I know this seems counterproductive, but we are doing this to make sure the end result is smooth.
- Now that the coconut oil is solid, try to bring it to room temperature. You can use a hand mixer to break it up if it is too cold. You want to whip the coconut oil until it is creamy.
- Next add vanilla extract and continue to whisk.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and whisk until all powdered sugar is incorporated. The mixture should be thick and fluffy.
- Finally whisk in the agave and mix thoroughly.
*It is best to make this frosting on the day you need it. Don’t refrigerate.
*This recipe does not mix well with variations.
Nutrition Facts for This Recipe
- “Wedding Cakes and Cultural History”; Simon R. Charsley; 1992