Icing, or frosting, is everyone’s favorite part of a cake. It’s rich and sweet and indulgent, but can be a pain to make. We’re here to tell you that you can freeze icing!
There are many different types of icing: glace, royal, fondant, and buttercream. Glace icing is by far the most simple, made with just confectioners sugar and water. They are mixed to form a thick paste which is then colored and spread on baked goods.
Royal icing sets much harder than glace, due to the addition of raw egg whites or meringue powder. These ingredients are beaten together to form a glossy, luxurious substance. Royal icing takes around 2 hours to fully set.
Fondant icing is the one that gets rolled out. It will not set hard and retains a soft texture when dried out. It contains many ingredients including glycerin and glucose syrup and tends to be purchased in a block.
There are 3 main types of buttercream - Italian, Swiss, and American. American buttercream is confectioners sugar and water in a 2:1 ratio. It is whipped to form a light and fluffy consistency and forms a thin crust when left exposed to air.
Italian meringue buttercream requires egg whites to be whipped while a stream of hot sugar is poured on top. It is the most stable at room temperature but is notoriously difficult to make.
Swiss meringue buttercream is made by whisking egg whites and granulated sugar over a bain-marie. This gently cooks the egg whites while incorporating air to create an incredibly light texture. Butter is then beaten in and the icing is used. It remains soft when exposed to air.
How to freeze icing
You can freeze glace icing very easily. As it is just water and confectioner’s sugar, it freezes well. This is useful if you accidentally make too much and do not want to throw it away. You can even freeze in piping bags to make your life easier in the future.
Place the icing in an airtight container, leaving an inch or two of space at the top for the icing to expand into. If using a ziplock bag, press as much air out as possible.
If freezing in piping bags, do not snip the ends off and cover the open end with plastic wrap. Label and place in the freezer. This will store in the freezer indefinitely.
Royal icing can be frozen for up to 3 months if stored correctly. Pour the leftover icing into a ziplock bag, leaving space at the top. Press as much air out as possible and lay flat to freeze.
Fondant icing does not freeze particularly well, often developing a gummy texture and many beads of moisture upon thawing.
If you do wish to freeze it, we advise wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and then covering in a layer of aluminum foil. The aim is to keep as much moisture out as possible, so ensure it is completely covered.
Freezing American buttercream is simple. Place in an airtight container, leaving an inch or two of space at the top. Place a layer of plastic wrap into the surface of the buttercream and seal with the lid. Label and freeze for up to 2 months.
Italian meringue buttercream can be frozen for up to 1 month if stored correctly. Pour the buttercream into an airtight container with an inch or two of space and seal tightly. Label and place in the freezer.
Swiss meringue buttercream can be frozen for up to 3 months if stored correctly. Freeze in a rigid, airtight container with at least 2 inches of space at the top.
How to defrost icing
To thaw glace icing, remove from the freezer a few hours before you want to use it. Allow to come to room temperature. Mix or massage to recombine the icing and then use.
To defrost royal icing, place in the refrigerator the night before you wish to use. On the day, remove from the refrigerator and set on the countertop. Allow the icing to come to room temperature before using it.
To defrost fondant icing, remove from the freezer the day before you wish to use. Place it in the refrigerator to slowly thaw. The morning you wish to use it, remove from the refrigerator. Leave it on the countertop, in all its wrappings, and allow it to return to room temperature.
To defrost American buttercream, take the container out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. A couple of hours prior to use, set the buttercream on the countertop and allow it to come to room temperature, and mix well before using.
To thaw Italian meringue buttercream, you must allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight to thaw evenly. The texture will be very firm and will need reconstituting.
To thaw Swiss meringue buttercream, remove from the freezer and place on the countertop. Allow it to reach room temperature and then place in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat for 2-3 minutes until the consistency is creamy again.
Factors to consider before freezing icing
We would advise freezing glace icing in piping bags if you often decorate cookies. You can even freeze colored glace icing to make a fun after school activity for your kids!
We do not recommend freezing fondant icing as it has a tendency to sweat when thawed. If you do decide to freeze fondant, ensure it returns to room temperature slowly to minimize the risk of the fondant dripping.
There are many different types of icing and all will freeze differently and for different times.
The most suitable are American buttercream, glace, and royal icing. Fondant and meringue buttercreams we advise making fresh as the structure does not hold up well to freezing and thawing.