Frosting or Icing?

Frosting, also called icing, is a sweet, sugar-based mixture used to fill and coat cakes, pastries, cookies, etc. In addition to sugar, frosting can contain a combination of other ingredients including butter, milk, water, eggs and various flavorings.

Frosting can be cooked (as with boiled icing) or uncooked (as with buttercream), and can range from thick to thin. Frosting must be thick enough to adhere to the item being coated, yet soft enough to spread easily.

Icing is defined as a sweet glaze made of sugar, butter, water, and egg whites or milk, often flavored and cooked and used to cover or decorate baked goods, such as cakes or cookies. Topping is defined as a flavorful addition on top of a dish.

Regional Differences:

Although both frosting and icing are widespread, people in New England, the Upper Midwest, and the Western U.S. tend to put frosting on cake.

In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the Lower Midwest, and all of the South, the preferred term is icing.

There is some overlap, especially in upstate New York, Michigan, and California, but the regions in which the two words predominate are surprisingly distinct.

A few people in the South call it by a third name, filling, even when it goes on top.

Quick Food Facts

  • One teaspoon of butter should be added to chocolate when melting it, to be used in an icing recipe. This helps the icing have a better consistency.
  • When you are frosting cakes or pastries, frequently dip your knife in cold water.
  • If you have a problem whipping cream, add a small amount of lemon juice or a small amount of salt to the cream.
  • Whipped cream will have an excellent flavor if you add a small amount of honey.
  • To glaze the tops of rolls before baking or browning, beat one egg white lightly with one tablespoon of milk and brush on.
  • Add about 7 drops of lemon juice to 2 cups of whipping cream. It will make the cream beat up firm in about half the time.
  • To glaze cakes, try using one tablespoon of milk with a small amount of brown sugar dissolved in it.
  • In order to keep boiled icing from hardening, add one-third teaspoon of vinegar while it is cooking.
  • To keep powdered sugar frostings moist, add a dash of baking powder.
  • A quick frosting can be made by mashing a small boiled potato, then beating in confectioners’ sugar and a small amount of vanilla.
  • To prevent icing from running over the tops of cakes, try sprinkling a small amount of corn starch or flour on the top before you ice.
  • When making meringue pie topping, add no more than two tablespoons of sugar for each egg white. The meringue should be spread to the pastry rim, then cool the baked pie slowly and keep it away from drafts.
  • Before placing on the pie filling, be sure the filling is cool.
  • Cream that is whipped ahead of time, will not separate if you add a touch of dissolved unflavored gelatin (1/4 tsp. per cup of cream).
  • Store your sour cream or cottage cheese upside down in your refrigerator to make it keep longer. (Editor’s note:  You may wish to place a small plate underneath just in case!)

Cinnamon Apple Cream
Combine 1-cup cinnamon apple sauce with 2 cups light sour cream. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Use to top pumpkin pie, fruit pie or spice cake.

Read More: Food Facts