Virtually tasty: ice your cakes like a top pastry chef

On July 6th the foodie site and publication Saveur deemed wiseGEEK.com, a ‘clean' answer database, an authority on icing. Here is a quick cheat-sheet to feed your inner pastry chef and make yummy cakes and desserts topped with the correct icing.

All icings can be classified into seven different types (buttercream, flat, foam, fondant, fudge, royal icing and glazes).

Buttercream icing normally made with butter and sugar and varying thickness and texture can come from eggs or milk.
level: beginners
tip: very popular, easy to spread and most store bought cake icings are buttercream
use: cake, cupcakes
how-to: http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Make-Buttercream-Icing-142090098

Foam icing is essentially a meringue made with whipped egg whites and flavored syrup
level: moderate
tip: most popular is marshmallow foam, but can also be made with vanilla or chocolate
use: pies, spiced cakes/breads, baked Alaska
how-to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lB3Y4pvEzg

Fondant icing made with sugar, water and glucose or cream of tartar
level: moderate to advanced
tip: should have elegant, smooth, porcelain look
use: wedding cakes and show pieces
how-to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAaICRRscfc

Fudge icing is thick chocolaty rich goodness made with butter, shortening, syrup, sugar
level: moderate
tip: time consuming but can be made in advanced and refrigerator until needed
use: cakes, cupcakes
how-to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvl7iEtie38

Royal icing made like flat icing with egg whites for a heavier, harder icing
level: moderate to advanced
tip: not so tasty but perfect to create flowers etc
use: decorations on cakes and sugar sculptures
how-to: http://www.howcast.com/videos/168375-How-To-Make-Royal-Icing

Glazes are light, runny icings that create a hard shell
level: beginner
tip: normally enhanced with a fruit, chocolate or coffee flavor plus keeps pastry moist and fresh longer
use: cakes and sweet breakfast pastries
how-to: http://how2heroes.com/videos/dessert-and-baked-goods/simple-cookie-glaze

Flat icing is glaze-like made with powdered sugar and water.
level: beginner (easiest)
tip: flavor with fruit or spices
use: glaze pastries 

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