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Lighter frosting ideas?

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I find as I get older that I'm more and more dissatisfied with buttercream of all sorts. It's SO heavy and sweet and strong that it overpowers my nice cake recipes.

I'm looking for ideas for frosting types that would be a lot more subtle. I've never tried anything super fancy. A 7 minute type frosting has a nice soft texture but is too sweet...chocolate cream type frostings are too fudgy (but might work if used in very thin layers?), and my standard American style buttercream is just too EVERYTHING.

Any alternatives that I might try? It still needs to have the staying power of regular frostings, so nothing that has to be eaten within the day.

In particular, I'm thinking of frostings that would be nice on yellow and white cakes. I'm very happy with the Cooks Illustrated recipes I have for those two types, and being on the delicate side, they just disappear under all the frostings I've tried.

I should say that Cooks Illustrated gives a cooked, egg-based buttercream recipe with the yellow cake that I have not tried. Maybe that would do what I'm looking for?

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  1. French Butter Creams( like the one you mentioned) are definitely less heavy handed than the American Style.
    There is also Butter Creams made with all egg white rather than yolk which is even more "light".
    I normally use Rose Levy Berenbaum's from The Cake Bible
    Here is a Martha Stewart recipe
    http://www.marthastewart.com/318727/s...
    Here is another discussion of a custard type frosting which tends to be less buttery and sweet
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/277826

    1 Reply
    1. re: chefj

      Thank you, I'd forgotten there were egg white only options too. I do mean to try C. I.'s french style buttercream, but I'm leary. The chocolate cream frosting recipe they included with that same yellow cake just overwhelmed it, I was very disappointed.

    2. Flour frosting isn't as thick and rich as buttercream. I love it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Njchicaa

        Seriously? I've never heard of it. INTERESTING.

        1. re: LadySaiga

          it is very similar to if not the same as custard frosting depending on which recipe you use.

          1. re: chefj

            I'm intrigued but it DOES sound rather yucky. It makes sense, though. This might be what I'm looking for...

            1. re: LadySaiga

              Try it, LadySaiga. It's not nearly as sweet as American buttercream, or as over-the-top buttery as classic buttercream. Where the American type might have a half pound of butter and 4 cups of powdered sugar, and classic not a lot of sugar but a pound of butter, the custard/flour type has a cup of sugar and a half pound of butter for a greater volume, and a light, fluffy texture.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I'll give it a try...sheesh, been baking alla my life, learn something new every day...

      2. A spin on royal icing? Lemon is nice for the summer
        2 cups powdered sugar
        3 or 4 tablespoons lemon (or lime) juice
        whisk them, drizzle liberally, allow to set?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pinehurst

          Well...points for originality. If it wouldn't come out so hard it might be fun to try.

        2. I use a swiss buttercream.

          Egg whites and sugar are whipped in a double boiler. Cool. Whip in butter.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaykayen

            I think I made one of these once, come to recall. I never could get stiff peaks, and was forced to add extra butter to improve the texture. The lack of gritty powdered sugar was nice, though. If I could make it come out right, I'd probably like that method.

          2. Try stabilizing whipped cream frosting with mascarpone cheese. It's my go-to for light frosting.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              Geletain also works well and gives a marshmallowy texture.