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How to Soften Cake Icing

author image Paula Quinene
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.
How to Soften Cake Icing
Softened icing can be piped easily onto a cake from an icing bag. Photo Credit: DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images

Cake icing is excellent for piped or drizzled cake decorations, but you may have to soften the icing to use it as a crumb coat or if you need it to flow more quickly from your decorating bag. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of icing applied to a cake, and then dried so that crumbs do not get into the final layer of icing. When icing can flow quickly from a cake-decorating bag, there will be fewer breaks as you pipe the icing, which is especially helpful when writing words or making lace decorations on the cake.

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Step 1

Beat an extra tablespoon of room-temperature butter or shortening into your icing to soften it, adding 1 tbsp. at a time as needed.

Step 2

Add an extra 1/2 tbsp. of water into shortening-, sugar- or water-based cake-icing recipes to soften icing.

Step 3

Heat your cake icing in the microwave using 5-second intervals. Stir the icing after every interval to check the texture. Do not heat the icing for more than 5 seconds at a time or you could potentially melt all of the icing.

Step 4

Whip butter and shortening thoroughly with an electric beater before adding the sugar, aerating the fats to make your icing softer.

Step 5

Squeeze wrapped icing between your palms, using the heat you create to soften your icing.

Step 6

Place the lower half of a plastic container of cake icing into a bowl of 90-degree-Fahrenheit water to soften it, ensuring that there is no opening on the container through which the water can soak.

Step 7

Add an extra tablespoon of flavoring such as Grand Marnier or vanilla to your icing to make it soft.

Step 8

Set your icing on the counter so that it can come to room temperature. If the icing was stored in the fridge, whip it again to soften it.

Step 9

Use a table-top stand mixer with the bubble-whisk-beater attachment to make your icing; it is stronger than hand-held beaters, so you can make softer cake icing.

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  • “How Baking Works, Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science”; Paula Figoni; 2008
  • “Bakewise, the Hows and Whys of Successful Baking”; Shirley O. Corriher; 2008
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