Ask Nancy Archives

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I'll be answering ten questions each month... and if your question is chosen, I'll post a personalized response!

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Do you have a baking, decorating or celebrating question for Nancy? Now is your chance to have it answered.

Check here each month, Nancy will select ten questions submitted by viewers and posting her answers here.

Buttercream Icing Questions

How can you make royal icing that is hard, but you can still eat it and it will not break your teeth?

Valerie - from Saginaw, MI

For a 2 layer, 9" cake, how much icing do I need for each (of 3) shades of icing to create the ombre swirl cake?

Jill - from Calgary, AB

I live in Sri Lanka and I'm unable to find Crisco or any sort of vegetable shortening. What can I use instead? Will butter or margarine work?

Dilani - from Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka

Do you have any recommendations on how I can smooth buttercream icing on a cake?

Ron - from Baltimore, MD

When using milk in buttercream do you have to refrigerate it?

Tammy - from Hillsboro, IL

Which type of icing should I use to decorate my cake?

tiffany - from washington, IA

Please explain how to pipe a Wilton Rose, I'm not sure how to position my tip.

Ursula - from Tarentum, PA

Can I use buttercream icing over fondant? Will the buttercream soften the fondant? I was planning on writing in buttercream on top of fondant.

Irean - from Nantucket, MA

I have recently became disabled, have worked all my life, now I am bored to tears. I have decided to teach myself cake decorating. Are there any inexpensive recipes, to use for practice with the different tips, until I gain confidence to use real icing?

Bethany - from Chattanooga, TN

How can i make royal icing or a good icing to frost a cake? I use a storebought buttercream but i want to learn to make my own to save money.

yareida - from worcester, MA

I've tried many chocolate frosting recipes, many with a great flavor, but in each recipe the frosting hardens after a few hours. It is super soft and silky putting it on the cupcakes, but then it hardens. How can I make a chocolate frosting with great flavor that stays super soft all the time? Thanks so much!

Andrea - from Ancramdale, NY

Our local PBS station has stopped airing your show. How should i approach this? I really miss it.

linda - from sharpsville, PA

I will be making wedding cupcakes for my niece's wedding and I was wondering if I can put royal icing flower decorations on top of Wilton's buttercream?

Christina - from Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Can buttercream roses be stored in a cotainer and not refrigerated or in freezer?

sheila - from houston, TX

I'm looking for a smooth and creamy icing recipe. I plan on decorating cakes. Thank you!

Kyle - from Troy, IL

When I'm decorating a cake how can I prevent my icing lines from breaking?

Cassie - from Nortonville, KS

The last time I made cupcakes for an event, I baked and frosted them the day before and left them in the refrigerator over night. The container was covered. The next morning I took it to the event, but it was not served until 11:20. By then the piped star frosting was very soft but the design still showed, and the frosting slipped to the side from some of the cupcakes. By the way I use canned icing from the grocery store. What can I do to prevent the frosting from melting and slipping off the cupcake?

Meranda - from Boston, MA

How do you make buttercream icing?

j. craig - from Baltimore, MD

Is it possible to flavor icing? If so, how?

Nancy - from Moreno Valley, CA

Nancy, Can I use unsalted butter in my buttercream?

nathaniel - from panama, panama

In the Top 10 Questions, you directed Connie to the website to get the recipe for the "Quatro Leches Cake." I was curious, so I went into the website to read the recipe. I was fine until I got to the last paragraph of the recipe about assembling the cake. Do I understand from these instructions that buttercream icing is spread on top of the cakes that have had milk poured on them? How in the world did they accomplish this?

Judy Cannon - from Mishawaka, IN

I'm trying to make buttercream roses and i understand you need a stiff buttercream. I tried it with refrigerated buttercream and it didnt work. It was too stiff. Was that wrong to do? Should i start over and add more sugar? I had 3 cups of sugar in it.

rachel - from east windsor, NJ

I'm making cookie pops that will have an edible image on them. Should I put royal icing or buttercream frosting on the cookie before placing the edible image on top? Also how advanced can I make them?

Elizabeth - from Providence, RI

I made cupcakes using a tip for a rose on top. I also made butterflies out of royal icing and placed them on top of the cupcakes, but after an hour the butterflies went soft. Can you please tell me why this has happened?

sally - from colchester , England

What is difference between royal icing and buttercream icing?

marzie - from esfahan, iran

I am making a cake for my grandson's Boy Scout blue and gold dinner. I am making a buttercream transfer which consists of blue and gold. I cant get the gold color I want. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

diane - from wurtsboro, NY

Could I use food coloring or other sorts of food dyes to put in plain, white frosting to put on my cupcakes?

Kristine - from Orange County, CA

My son loves chocolate so I am using milk chocolate icing instead of buttercream - will it still help keep my chocolate fondant covering moist and yummy?

Rachel - from Cupertino, CA

Can I use royal icing instead of Candy Melts for the cake pops or do I use thinned buttercream?

Neikhila - from Katy, TX

One of my friends is planning on making a rice cereal treat wedding cake for her niece. She's thinking of doing rectangular layers. Do you think that this can work? What kind of frosting would you suggest?

Micki - from chicago , IL

How can I tell the difference between stiff & medium consistency icing?

Domenica - from Montreal, Montreal , Canada

I'm new to decorating cakes and cupcakes. Your show is amazing. Thank you for such a good show. My problem is that I can't decorate as well as all the videos of buttercream. Sometimes when I lift my piping tip away the buttercream pulls away with the tip and spoils the whole design. What am I doing wrong?

Ayesha - from Fort worth, TX

Can you freeze sugar cookies decorated with buttercream icing?

Martha - from north augusta, SC

Will chocolate decorations melt if left on buttercream icing? I want to decorate my granddaughter's birthday cake the day before her party. Will the candy melt?

nancy tuman - from fox river grove, IL

I had a hard time trying to make a simple bow out of fondant for a birthday cake. It would not hold its shape, even when I put clear wrap inside of it to hold it up. How do get the bow to hold its shape? Should I use buttercream icing or cream cheese icing when using fondant?

Kate - from Parkers, MN

I have friend that is wanting to dye a cake black for an 'over the hill' birthday. What is the best way to do that?

Jessica - from West Plains, MO

How can I make the same buttercream icing like the bakery makes? I want it to be creamy.

Susan - from carteret, NJ

How long can the Wilton Buttercream remain outside of the refrigerator?

Sandra - from Airmont, NY

For cake pops the recipe calls for decorator icing, do you mean royal icing?

Pat - from Clare, MI

Hi Nancy - I will be making gumpaste cascading lily sprays for a 3 tier wedding cake. Would it be better to use fondant covered cakes to help hold the flower wires in place ? I'm afraid if I use buttercream, they may sag/slide or make indents in the icing. Please help ! Thanks !

Cathy - from Pittsburgh, PA

Hi Nancy! My 4 year old daughter loves watching your show! If I use store bought buttercream icing, what do I add and how much should I add to get it to the thin consistency icing to put on my cake before I fondant it?

Trisha - from Manhattan, MT

Hello Nancy, I love your show... I was wondering how can I get a Silver o Gold Icing on my Fondant or Buttercream to decorate my cake...

Claudia Sandino - from Caracas, Venezuela

I'm making a buttercream frosted wedding cake top as a gift for a friends wedding in August to be eaten on their one year anniversary. Will the cake and frosting still be edible if frozen?

melissa - from coal township, PA

Hi Nancy, I was wondering if I can put buttercream frosting and then the fondant over my pre-made frozen cakes or do they have to thaw completely first?I wasn't sure if condensation may form underneath.

Sue - from China Twp, MI

If I make buttercream with powdered meringue and water does it need refrigeration? I am planning to make the day before and serve the next evening. Thanks so much! Great web site!

Cinde - from Dayton, IN

I'm baking a wedding cake covered with fondant what can I use to pipe dots and pearl border? help wedding is Aug. 5th 2011.

Linda - from Clarksburg, OH

Why aren't my buttercream/royal icing roses centered? They keep leaning to one side after I get the 1st, 3-pedal layer on.

Dee - from East Orange, NJ

Dear Nancy, is it necessary to use royal icing for drop flowers or any kind of things you want to do?

Lucita - from El Salvador, GA

What is the best way to adhere fondant decorations to buttercream icing?

Ellen - from Grand Junction, CO

We are plannng to have red velvet cupcakes (100)for our wedding. My plan would be to make the cupcake 3 weeks in advance, freeze them, then bring them out a week before the wedding, decorate them while frozen with a buttercream icing freeze them in containers. Take the cupcakes out of the freezer a day before the wedding and keep them cool until setting up. Would this work?

Darlene - from yellowknife nt, Canada

Hi Nancy! Do you have a buttercream icing recipe that does not require shortening, and a royal icing that does not require Meringue Powder?

Gilda - from Chicago, IL

Can buttercream flowers be frozen for later use and will they soften upon thawing?

Ummul - from Sarawak, Malaysia

I am not sure of what icing you used with the Chocolate orange cake. Sorry about that.

Sandra - from Fayetteville, NC

How much time before using, can I make the chocolate buttercream icing?

sandra - from progreso, TX

How long can I keep decorated cupcakes at room temperature with buttercream or fondant? And if I store them in the refrigerator, when I put them out will they be the same?

hanna - from caracas, distrito capital

About 30 yrs. ago I was making an icing to decorate cakes with and it was easy, but I have forgotten how. I used one box confectioners' sugar, Crisco, and vanilla flavoring. Would you know this recipe?

Sandy - from Mullins, SC

Can I use all Karo Corn Syrup instead of water in my buttercream recipe?

Marcia - from Osceola, IN

What can be used instead of vegetable shortening in the buttercream icing recipe?

Zartash - from Hyderabad, pakistan

My stepdaughter insists lard or shortening is best for buttercream icing; I maintain butter is best with egg white for stability. Who’s correct?

Viki - from Auburn, CA

Can I add leftover thinned royal icing to buttercream? I glazed cookies with a yellow royal icing, now I need yellow buttercream. What do you think? Thanks!

Nancy - from Chicago, IL

I am at my wits end. I would like to make cupcakes with either a figure or flower decoration on top. The decoration should be able to hold up and stay that way without being too hard like royal icing. What kind of frosting recipe do you recommend? It’s for my daughter’s birthday party.

Sherry - from Denmark, Denmark

Can we add water instead of milk to make buttercream icing?

Ashirwad - from Milpitas , CA

What is it to "spatula stripe" an icing bag?

Sheila - from Bronx, NY

I use unsweetened cocoa for the frosting in a chocolate cake, but it never turned dark brown. Do you have to use other kinds of chocolate?

Mrs. Adria Ramirez - from San Juan, Puerto Rico

How can I get a nice smooth icing finish on my cakes before decorating them?

Cordieann - from Bossier City, LA

I live in Florida. When I’ve tried to decorate a cake, the buttercream is way too soft. Should I refrigerate it first? I’m trying to make it look like fur and it keeps mushing together.

Erin - from Hallandale, FL

Since vegetable shortening now is trans fat free, my buttercream icing no longer crusts the way it used to. What can I do to compensate for this change?

Mike - from Hixson, TN

How can I make chocolate icing?

Brenda - from Redwood City, CA

How do I keep the icing from running down the sides of my cake?

Megan - from St. Louis, MO

Why is Karo syrup used in the icing you use for writing?

James - from Azusa, CA

Hi Nancy. Is there any other ingredient instead of vegetable shortening to make buttercream icing?

Alejandra - from Chandler, AZ

What type of icing is best for under fondant?

Zoe - from New Glarus, WI

When i ice my cakes,the icing almost always runs down the sides.How do i prevent this from happening?

Sherry - from San Antonio, TX

I have tried numerous methods to make a stiff buttercream, including ones posted here for high altitude and high humidity. Flowers still seem to pipe out soft and droopy. Do you have any other suggestions as to a way to stiffen the buttercream without creating a royal icing?

John - from Topeka, KS

Why do you use buttercream icing?

Rosanna - from Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic

Nancy, I can’t wait to try some of the many cake decorating techniques you have shown us. I notice that when I use butter or margarine in my buttercream icing, it has an ivory or off-white color. Can you help?

Jaimie - from Round Rock, TX

Can I freeze leftover buttercream icing?

Brandy - from West Terre Haute, IN

Can you add strawberry flavoring to the Buttercream icing recipe for a strawberry Buttercream icing? Would it give it the right flavor?

Nancy - from New Market, AL

I am having trouble with my buttercream icing not sticking to my cake and it will not even stick to itself. Do you have any suggestions?

Debbie - from Hesperia, CA

How do I make the different consistencies of buttercream icing? Also, which consistency is good for icing a 2 layer cake?

Diane - from Fall River, MA

I tried to freeze my leftover buttercream icing and after I defrosted it to use it, it had a funny taste. What is the best way to freeze buttercream icing?

Elizabeth - from Paris, KY

Hi Nancy! I was wondering what consistencies of icing I should use? I want to make my daughter's birthday cake, and I want to put buttercream flowers on it.

Pam - from Homewood, IL

Why is shortening used in "buttercream" icing? I would expect it be made only with butter.

Beverley - from Ottawa, Ontario canada

Is there a chocolate buttercream recipe that doesn't crust?

Wendy - from beverly, MA

Nancy, I'm new to cake decorating, but I love it! What is the difference between buttercream and royal icing, and when do you use each one?

Amanda - from Shelbyville, KY

Nancy, can I use buttercream icing on a cake, then add a fondant bow without covering the cake in fondant?

Cathey - from Camden, AR

What would be a less sweet icing that I can use for my cakes?

Juanita - from Houston, TX

My friends and I tried to frost our cupcakes with buttercream icing, but the icing melted too quickly. What can we do to prevent this?

Ainaa - from Singapore, Singapore

What tools should you use to get icing on the top of a cake the smoothest?

Carly - from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

Is there anything I can do to make buttercream icing hold its shape better in warmer weather and for outdoor weddings?

Linda - from Keokuk, IA

What is the best way to thin buttercream icing for icing a cake?

Aurora - from Sitka, AK

When you prepare your cake with buttercream icing before covering with fondant, how thick should the icing be?

Cynthia - from Durham, NC

How can you tint classic buttercream icing ivory? My best friend wants her wedding cake to be cream colored – how can I get a true cream color?

Joanne - from N. Ridgeville, OH

What is crumb coating? What pointers can you give us regarding successfully applying a crumb coating?

Kim - from Mayport, PA

I would like to know whether I can use stiff buttercream icing, maybe with meringue powder added, in place of royal icing to make roses?

Pani Thuly - from Atlantic City, NJ

Your buttercream icing includes milk. I keep a kosher diet that does not allow mixing meat and milk. Can the milk be omitted or replaced with a different ingredient?

Rina - from Brooklyn, NY

I have been having a problem with my buttercream icing (the recipe with only shortening - no butter) breaking when I try to do my roses. I have tried thinning and it still breaks. What could be the problem? Would adding corn syrup instead of water help?

Amy - from Calhoun, GA

Hi Nancy, LOVE LOVE LOVE the show!! It is everything I wanted to refresh my skills from classes I took. I am having problems getting a real smooth look on my cakes when I ice them. Whether I work it to the end or to the middle I am still left with lines and marks on the cake. I have done some awesome cakes but I still see lines.

Trini - from Lake Ronkonkoma, NY

When I took my decorating class we used a recipe that only had shortening in it. I have lost the recipe and am trying to locate it again.

Margie - from Shreveport, LA

How do I keep colored buttercream from darkening or lightening while the finished cake is on display?

Babette - from South Lake Tahoe, CA

Can butter flavored shortening be used instead of regular shortening for buttercream icing?

Stacy - from Katy, TX

When making buttercream icing, can you use butter flavored solid vegetable shortening?

Donna - from Greenfield, IN

I make 18"x24" cakes for church and have trouble getting the iced surface flat and even. Is there a way to do this?

Linda - from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada

If you use butter instead of vegetable shortening to make buttercream icing, does the cake need to be refrigerated after decorating? Karen.

Karen - from Davenport, FL

What consistency should the icing be for icing a cake?

Lisa - from Austin, TX

Why does my buttercream icing seem gritty at times?

Malissa - from Checotah, OK

My buttercream icing often cracks after it has sat for a few days; is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Karen - from Springboro, OH

What is the difference between fondant and buttercream icing?

Angela - from Lansing, MI

When writing with icing on a cake, after a while the icing cracks? What am I doing wrong?

Jeff - from Medina, OH

Why does the icing on my cake crack as it dries?

Joey - from Rockland, IL

The Public Television cake decorating show providing easy projects for special celebrations. Not intended to replace instructional classes.