The Secret to Softening Cake Icing

Softened icing can be piped easily onto a cake from an icing bag.
Image Credit: Morsa Images/Stone/GettyImages

Cake icing is excellent for cake decorations, but you may have to soften the icing if you need it to flow more quickly from your decorating bag or use it as a crumb coat (a thin layer of icing applied to a cake and dried so that crumbs don't get in the final layer of icing).

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When icing can flow quickly from a cake-decorating bag, there'll be fewer breaks as you pipe the icing, which is especially helpful when writing words or making delicate decorations on the cake.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter

  • Shortening

  • Water

  • Microwave

  • Electric beater

  • Bowl

  • Grand Marnier or vanilla

Ways to Soften Cake Icing

  • Beat an extra tablespoon of room-temperature butter or shortening into your icing to soften it, adding 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.
  • Add an extra 1/2 tablespoon of water into shortening-, sugar- or water-based cake-icing recipes to soften.
  • Heat your cake icing in the microwave in 5-second intervals. Don't heat the icing for more than 5 seconds at a time or you could potentially melt it.
  • Stir the icing after every interval to check the texture.
  • Whip butter and shortening thoroughly with an electric beater before adding the sugar, aerating the fats to make your icing softer.
  • Squeeze wrapped icing between your palms, using the heat you create to soften your icing.
  • Place the lower half of a plastic container of cake icing into a bowl of water heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to soften it, ensuring that there's no opening on the container through which the water can soak.
  • Add an extra tablespoon of flavoring such as Grand Marnier or vanilla to your icing to make it soft.
  • 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.
  • Use a table-top stand mixer with the bubble-whisk-beater attachment to make your icing; it's stronger than a hand-held beater, so you can make softer cake icing.

Tip

Always start with sifted powdered sugar and room-temperature butter and eggs so that your icing will be very soft.

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