Ask Nancy Archives

Do You Have a Question?

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

Submit Your Question

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.


General Icing Questions

How do you make a champagne cake, and champagne frosting?

Lorraine - from Azusa, CA

I just purchased a Tip 150. What is it used for?

sylvia - from Lutz, FL

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

tiffany - from washington, IA

Why do you sometimes get an unappetizing taste from using red icing color?

Ellen Wiggins - from Houston, TX

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

How do i make royal icing that dries shiny? Sometimes it is slightly shiny, and other times dull and grainy looking. My recipe is powdered sugar, real egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice. Should i increase the egg whites to make the icing shiny when it's dry?

chris - from rancho santa fe, CA

I would like to know where I can get a stabilizer for meringue to use it for an icing?

Jean - from Erie, PA

Can i bake and ice 2 pound cakes (one 6" and 10" round) two days in advance of an event?

rudi - from Stoke-on-Trent, United kingdom

I have a cake I made Thursday morning with crusted cream cheese covered with fondant. How long can I leave it out?

Raquel - from Bronx, NY

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

linda - from sharpsville, PA

Where can I find the color flow recipe?

Marcia - from Grand Blanc, MI

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

Kyle - from Troy, IL

How long can I store my fondant? It is homemade with marshmallows. Also, how do I exactly store it ?

Maha - from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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 take Wilton butter cream and make it the color black using Wilton black food gel?

Jaclyn - from Chicago, IL

What is the difference between gum paste and fondant? Can you flavor them?

Rachel - from Houston, TX

How do you make buttercream icing?

j. craig - from Baltimore, MD

Do you have a receipe for whipped icing?

jackid - from houston, TX

Would you use cream cheese frosting for a basketweave decoration?

shoko - from mexico , mexico

Can you decorate all types of cakes with fondant icing or are there only certain types that work?

Joanna - from Melbourne, Victoria

Can cookies decorated with color flow icing be frozen and if so, for how long?

Lois - from Borden, Prince Edward Island

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

Will adding powdered almonds to whipped icing deflate it?

Bertha - from Robstown, TX

How do you put fondant on a square cake? We are making this for a wedding in April and we want to get it right. Thank You. P.S. Love your shows.

Ruth - from Glasgow, KY

Where can I buy fondant? Or can I make it?

Deborah - from White Lake, MI

What is difference between royal icing and buttercream icing?

marzie - from esfahan, iran

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

Hi Nancy! I was wondering if you used melted icing to dip your cake pops, would the icing dry like candy melts? I would so appreciate it. Thanks!

Alia - from Los Angeles, CA

What is fondant?

Zaaynah Joomun - from Rose Hill, ME

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

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

Hi Nancy! In the episode when you made flag cookies, I thought you used royal icing (with 2 different consistencies, thick and thin) so I bought meringue powder, but then I saw you needed color flow. Will there be difference if I use royal icing?

Amanda - from Chicago, IL

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

Who makes the sample cakes you feature on the show and your website?

Jane - from Santa Rosa, CA

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

Sandra - from Fayetteville, NC

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

What kind of glaze can I use to put shine on a cake?

marie - from atlantic city, NJ

Can I put fondant accents on a cake iced with Wilton Whipped Icing? Also, since this icing typically needs to be refrigerated, can I put a cake with fondant accents in the refrigerator?

Roseanne - from Syracuse, NY

My piped leaves have points. What am I doing wrong?

Alena - from Woodridge, IL

Dear Nancy, I am writing from Santiago, Chile. I have been unable to find 100% vegetable oil shortening here. Is it possible to use a shortening that has part vegetable oil and part animal fat to make buttercream icing?

Anne - from Santiago, Chile

What kind of icing should I use for cookies? (I’m going to stack them.)

Patricia - from Brooklyn, NY

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

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

Zartash - from Hyderabad, pakistan

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

Do I have to refrigerate the cake before I decorate?

Carmen - from Kingsport, TN

I can pipe only a few small leaves before my buttercream icing seems too hard to pipe. I can remove the tip, clean it out, and continue piping a few more leaves before it becomes too hard to squeeze again. What am I doing wrong?

Katheryn - from Milpitas, CA

How exactly do you cut iced cakes? Whenever I cut a round cake, pieces left and right from the cut break away, because the icing dried so very hard. I’ve heard somewhere to put glycerin in the icing to keep it moist ... is that an option?

Kate - from Stuttgart, Germany

Can you put buttercream decorations on top of fondant?

Linda - from Lafontaine, Ontario

Nancy, I tried the marshmallow icing and it came out very soft. I need to know how can I make it stiffer for decorating? Is there a difference between marshmallow fluff and marshmallow crème? Please help

Linda - from Country Club Hills, IL

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

If you use a chocolate buttercream to ice a cake, will it come through white fondant?

Tameka - from Orlando, FL

When I make boiled icing, it looks really good. However, it is gritty like the sugar isn’t dissolved. My recipe calls for brown sugar, egg white, cold water, vanilla and salt. Would a bit of corn syrup help?

Kimberly - from Saint John, New Brunswick

I want a frosting that will harden when it dries (like the birthday letters at the grocery stores). Is there an icing out there or recipe to make one at home?

Angela - from Ventura, CA

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

How can I make chocolate icing?

Brenda - from Redwood City, CA

What type of icing is best for under fondant?

Zoe - from New Glarus, WI

How do I transport cookies that have iced decorations?

Barbara - from Akron, OH

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

Dear Nancy in the ganache i can change the whip cream for milk? Or just i have to use whip cream? What i can do?

Massiel - from venezuela, caracas

I prepared your perfect buttercream icing with cream cheese, but it had a weird consistency. It wasn’t combined and a little bit separated consistency. I used margarine and everything was cold. What did I do wrong?

Gaby - from Guatemala , Central America

Why do you use buttercream icing?

Rosanna - from Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic

I make buttercream icing with half butter and half shortening, however, when I ice my cake I get a lot of air pockets. They seem almost impossible to smooth out and the more I try to respread the icing, the more I get. Any suggestions for how to get rid of them?

Jodi - from Edmonton, Alberta

Can I melt the fondant I bought to cover cakes and cookies?

Sheila - from Houston, TX

I would rather cover a cake in modeling chocolate than rolled fondant. Has it been done? If so, what recipe would you use?

Rachael - from St. Augustine, FL

Some recipes, like for icing, require corn syrup. Can I replace the corn syrup with golden syrup?

Rahayu - from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What is the difference between lard and shortening?

Linda - from Canada, Canada

I know you use a lot of royal icing for flowers. I have always heard that you cannot eat royal icing. Is this correct?

Cora - from Millersburg, KY

I am taking a cake decorating class and my instructor said not to use any plastic when making or storing Royal icing because it will break it down. Is this really true? I have a mixer that is all plastic – does this mean that I can’t use it to make the icing?

Kristen - from Logan, UT

Besides royal icing what other kind of icing can I use to make flowers?

Joisy - from Carlsbad, NM

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

Why put shortening in icings?

Lisa - from Chicago, IL

How can I make my own colored icing and cakes?

Viola - from Bossier City, LA

How far in advance can you ice a cake with buttercream and fondant?

Sara - from St. Louis, MO

I want to try to decorate a cake using Color Flow decorations. How do you store the Color Flow icing while the outline is crusting? I’m going to be using several colors. Do I prepare all the colors needed and try to keep them moist, or do I color as needed, and then how do I keep the icing moist?

Tina - from Cape Coral, FL

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

Can I use buttercream icing to place dried fondant cutouts on a fondant covered cake?

Kim - from Mississauga, OK

I love your show! It has gotten my 11-year-old daughter interested in baking and cake decorating. Our question: Is it necessary to sift powdered sugar when making buttercream icing? What difference does sifting make in the icing?

Kate - from Tomball, TX

Should you put homemade icing or store bought icing on a cake, or does it matter?

Kayla - from Granger, TX

Can I decorate cookies with Color Flow or is regular royal icing better?

Yael - from Herzylia, Israel

How many recipes of buttercream icing would I need to ice and decorate a two-layer 9-inch round cake such as the World of Swirls cake?

Elizabeth - from Houston, TX

I have heard that fondant will keep for 2 weeks, 2 months or even 6 months. Exactly how long can you keep it? How long can royal icing be kept? Buttercream?

Sandy - from Trussville, AL

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

When using boiled icing, how do you apply it to the cake? What kind of consistency comes from this particular recipe?

Athena - from London, CA

How do I keep my powdered sugar from lumping up in my frosting and clogging my decorating tip? I always beat my frosting thoroughly, but this still happens. I also sift my powdered sugar thoroughly.

Kiere - from Pearland, TX

Do I have to refrigerate cookies I have frosted with icing made from butter, light corn syrup and confectioners' sugar?

Lucy - from Tucson, AZ

You said that freezing royal icing is not recommended. Why? What happens if you freeze it?

Ricki - from Redding, CA

Can you share a recipe for a delicious frosting for cookies that won't smear if stacking the cookies?

Linda - from Rochester , NY

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

What is a good icing to use for ice cream cake?

Toy - from Brooklyn, NY

How do you get whipped cream icing to stay stiff to spread on cake?

Leatha - from Ballwin, MO

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

Kim - from Mayport, PA

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

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

Donna - from Greenfield, IN

When icing a two layer cake, I always end up with a bulge around the middle and never seem to get smooth sides. What am I doing wrong?

Virginia - from Fort Smith, AR

When decorating a cake baked in a character pan, should you ice the cake with a smooth base layer first, or pipe your decoration directly onto the cake?

Angela - from Ann Arbor, MI

What consistency should the icing be for icing a cake?

Lisa - from Austin, TX

When using fresh strawberries as a filling instead of preserves, how do you keep them from bleeding?

Shirley - from Chicago, IL

What is the best consistency of icing to use for roses?

Joe - from Portland, MI

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

If I use cream cheese icing to ice my cake, can I use buttercream icing to make the decorations?

Michelle - from Mishawaka, IN

What is the difference between fondant and buttercream icing?

Angela - from Lansing, MI

Why am I getting white spots in my icing?

Syndy - from Bloomington, IN

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

Jeff - from Medina, OH

My cake domes in the middle while baking. How can I prevent this?

Jeff - from Medina, OH

Do I need to ice my cake before I put on fondant?

Jennifer - from New York, NY

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

Joey - from Rockland, IL

What type of icing can I use to ice cookies with?

Noelle - from Lynwood, IL


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