11 September, 2009

Why Icing Should Change

I love cake. I think everyone does, at least a little, because of nostaglia or the taste or the sugar rush, and it's awesome. It's a common denominator. Even if you can't have sugar, there is still a love for that soft, moist food that you eat for a party or nosh on when you're blazed, pour milk over, smell straight from the oven and just love. It's wonderful.

I, as a cake lover, recognise all successfully baked cakes as awesome. Cupcakes, carrot cake, pound cake, angel food, scratch cake, you name it, I love it. Just a little. Even if it has coconut or caramel or zucchini. It's cake!

However, there is something that goes commonly with cake that I absolutely hate:


There, I said it! I'm an awful sinner. I hate icing so much. It doesn't matter what kind it is, it's incredibly likely that I'll hate it, even moreso if it has coconut. Ugh.

The problem with icing is that it's almost always badly executed. There have been few icings I have tried that weren't just "too" something, you know, too sweet, too bland, too sticky, too dry, too runny, too chalky, too strong, too weak, too coconutty. What few icings I have enjoyed were always in small amounts, uncommon, and typically less sweet, but even still, most of them come up short.

The biggest problem with icing is that it totally ruins the point of cake for me, taking something perfect in it's simplicity and putting something on top that just removes that simplicity and soft sweetness and replaces it with something unnatural and generally unpleasant. Worse, it gives people a way to hide badly done baking. How many times have you had a cake covered and smothered in icing to find that beneath the sticky sweet lies crumbling, dry cake? Or undercooked cake? What about the cake that is just short of perfect, but has an off taste when you eat it without the icing?

Icing is full of lies.

I suggest that we take some time and consider a new take on icing: either make it good, well balanced, and make the cake of equal quality, or toss that stuff out. What happened to icing that was creamy and maybe even tangy? Or fruit on top of cake? Or icings with a subtle flavor? What about powdered sugar or even sugar crystals? It looks so wonderful that way, and tastes even better!

And better yet, let's reconsider cake in general. Why do so many cakes have icing? Is it to hide a badly prepared dessert or is it to dress up something that looks beautiful naked and untouched straight from the oven?

I like my cakes to be nudists, but if you must have icing, at least let it be sexy.

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