Frosting mushrooms can add a finishing touch to cakes with woodland or fairy themes, and can even be used for Yule log cakes. Frosting naturally forms a hardened crust when exposed to air, and the mushrooms hold their shape even better when the frosting is made thicker to a consistency similar to fondant. Substitute shortening for butter in the frosting because the higher melting point of shortening ensures the mushrooms won't melt at room temperature. Make the frosting mushrooms the day before decorating your cake to allow them to set up properly.
Things You'll Need
- Mixing bowl
- Confectioner's sugar
- Vegetable shortening
- Vanilla extract
- Electric mixer
- Gel food coloring
- Cutting board
- Rolling pin
- Decorator's sculpting tools
- Baking tray
- Wax paper
- Decorating bag
- Round decorating tip
- Small spatula
- Fine-tipped artist's paintbrush
- White food coloring gel
- Air-tight storage container
Mix the frosting in a large mixing bowl at a rate of about 4 cups of confectioner's sugar for every 1/2 cup of shortening, 1 tablespoon of milk, plus vanilla or other flavoring to taste -- about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla for a batch of frosting with 4 cups of sugar. Cream the shortening with the mixer until soft and no chunks remain. Mix in 3 cups of confectioner's sugar and add more sugar 1/4 cup at a time until you form a dough-like consistency. This might require more than 4 cups of confectioner's sugar depending on factors such as humidity. The finished result should be a soft dough ball similar to fondant.
Separate the dough in half -- one half for the mushroom stems and one half for the mushroom caps. Mix in food coloring, if desired, using concentrated color gels or powder instead of liquid food coloring that will thin out the frosting. Add the color only a drop or two at a time and knead it with your hands until thoroughly incorporated. The colors you choose depend on the desired mushroom type. White, gray and brown are typical mushroom colors. Or, dye one half red for the cap and keep the stem half white to make fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), the iconic mushroom with the red cap and white spots commonly associated with fairies and gnomes.
Pull off small chunks of the dough for the stems and roll them in your hands to form cylinder shapes with the base slightly wider than the tip. The size of the mushroom stems is up to you. Press each end to flatten so the mushrooms stand upright.
Roll small chunks of the mushroom cap frosting in your hand to form a prolate spheroid shape -- an elongated sphere. Cut this shape in half cross-wise to create two domed mushroom caps. Push your pinky or a sculpting tool in the bottom to indent the bottom so it will fit easily over the stems.
Dust a counter or cutting board work surface with extra confectioner's sugar to prevent sticking and roll out the remaining frosting dough to about 1/4 inch thick, using a rolling pin. Cut out circles from the frosting in the desired size for a flat, round mushroom cap. Bend the ends of the circles to create a slight dome with curved edges that can fit well on the mushroom stems. You can make the mushroom caps both ways or choose only one style: domed or flat.
Set the mushroom stem and cap pieces on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Leave them out at room temperature for several hours until the outside hardens.
Prepare a small batch of frosting with thin, spreadable consistency for connecting the caps and stems. Mix at a rate of about 1/4 cup shortening to 1 to 1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, a few drops of milk and vanilla to taste. The frosting should be much thinner than the frosting dough, but still able to hold shape. In addition to acting as the glue to hold the pieces together, this frosting looks like mushroom gills on the underside of the caps. While fly agaric mushrooms have white gills, many white mushrooms have brown gills, so mix some cocoa powder or brown food coloring to achieve a brown color.
Add the thin frosting to a decorating bag fitted with a round decorating tip. Squeeze a small amount of frosting all over the underside of the mushroom caps and add a dot to the tip of the stems. Spread the frosting evenly across the bottom of the caps, using a small spatula, clean paintbrush or your finger. Stand the stem pieces upright and place the cap pieces over the stems. Push down on the caps just enough to secure the two pieces without breaking the caps.
Dip a fine-tipped artist's paintbrush in white food coloring gel and paint small dots on red fly agaric mushroom caps. Alternatively, squeeze small dots of white frosting -- the same frosting you used to connect the stems and caps -- to decorate the caps.
Allow the mushrooms to dry for several hours or until the frosting "glue" and optional dots harden. Store the frosting mushrooms in an air-tight container until ready to decorate your cake or cupcakes.
Tips & Warnings
- While you can color the frosting dough to achieve the desired colored mushrooms, you might also wish to use food coloring markers to add shading and color variation to make the mushrooms even more realistic after the mushrooms harden.
- The mushroom caps and stems don't have to be perfect shapes. They actually look more realistic if each mushroom looks different. After achieving the basic shape, you can use your fingers to mold and shape them as desired. For example, instead of a perfect dome mushroom cape, you might shape the top to a rounded point, giving it an almost triangular shape.
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images