This butter icing is a personal favorite when it comes to cake frosting and I often use it for my cakes. And this is also the icing I recommend to customers who do not like fondant on their cakes. With the right consistency, this icing can result in very smooth finishing on cakes, just like fondant.
The main difference between this icing and my buttercream icing recipes is the consistency of the icings. This icing is much stiffer than the buttercream icing, as the proportion of icing sugar to butter is much higher, and there is no shortening added to this icing. Buttercream icing, on the other hand, just like the name suggests, is more fluffy and creamy as it contains more butter and/or shortening.
I use both icings interchangeable in my cake decorating projects. Both can be used as cake coverings, however, buttercream works better for piped decoration. This icing is too stiff and is not quite easy to use for piping work. Having said that, its very easy to change its consistency to a piping consistency by adding more butter to it. And the additional butter of course, in directly turns this icing into buttercream icing.
Otherwise this icing can be colored in the same way as the buttercream.
Personally, I prefer this icing as a cake covering. I am better at getting this icing smoother on cakes compared to buttercream so I prefer this over buttercream. To apply the icing onto cakes, I just take a little lump of icing in my hands and then flatten it in the cake with my fingers. At this stage, the icing will not be smooth, but I continue to cover the whole cake this way. Once all is covered, I use a spatula to smooth the surface.
And if the cake design requires piping work on it, I use the remaining butter icing and turn it in buttercream by adding some butter until it reaches a piping consistency. Its very easy to ruin the consistency by adding to much butter so I always do it by adding small amounts of butter until I get to the consistency I want. There is again a remedy if too much butter has been added to the icing. I add more icing sugar, off course. But then again, its very easy to overdo this whole process so adding both the butter and icing sugar in small quantities is the key!
This is one such cake I have made in the past. The cake itself was covered in butter icing and then for Elsa and Anna images, I added more butter to the remaining icing for a softer piping consistency and did the rest of the star piping work on the cake.
560 icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
food coloring (optional)
Sieve icing sugar to break lumps.
In a separate bowl, cream butter till soft. Add icing sugar, a little at a time, beating continuously. Add vanilla and continue beating until butter and icing sugar are well combined.
Color as you wish.
At this point, the icing should be quite stiff, and it should not be sticking to your finger when lightly pressed.