Friday, 26 September 2014


OK boys and girls, it's time to address a problem we have here in the caking world. I believe we all have this obsession with making ALL things edible on our cakes. I'm talking about fancy flowers and cake toppers. We all brag about our cakes being 100% edible, but let's face it, when was the last time you saw someone chow down on a gumpaste topper?? I feel like I have a job to do here! Should I address this worldwide addiction and host an intervention......or feed the obsession?? Who am I kidding!?! Let's make a gumpaste rose!

Here's what you're going to need:

  1. Gumpaste
  2. Rolling mat
  3. Nesting teardrop cutters
  4. Silicone roller
  5. Thin shaping foam
  6. Thick shaping foam
  7. Ball tool
  8. Toothpick
  9. Edible glue
  10. Cornstarch (or corn flour for you Brits)
  11. Vegetable shortening (Crisco, Trex, any solid veggie fat you can find)
  12. Paintbrush 
  13. Petal dust
  14. That blue thing in my picture LOL I have no idea what it's called but if you don't have one a ziplock bag will do just fine
So the first thing we need to make is a base for our rose. We're going to build the base on the toothpick so we can insert the rose into our cake when we're done. Basically you just need to ball up some gumpaste and taper it on one end so it looks like this. I am using my smallest tear drop cutter as a reference here.

Oh, you should probably make your edible glue now too. This is probably going to be the easiest part of this tutorial. Break off a pea size amount of your gumpaste and dissolve it in a couple tablespoons of water. I usually mash it up with a spoon to get it to dissolve quicker. It's really an exact science you see...

Now I'm going to let you in on the big secret - the key to making realistic looking flowers is to use gumpaste rather than fondant. Gumpaste has way more stretch which allows you to roll it out incredibly thin without it tearing on you. Can you guess what the next step is??? Let's roll out some gumpaste. I like to smear a thin layer of vegetable shortening on my rolling mat before I start to prevent the paste from sticking. I'm going to warn you now, you're going to have to put some muscle into this step. Your gumpaste needs to be paper thin, you should literally be able to see through it!

Do your arms hurt yet?? I've heard that you can use a pasta roller to roll out your gumpaste, just some food for thought. Now it's time for the easy part, take out your smallest cutter and cut out 8 petals. Here comes the instructions for my mystery supply - lift up the clear plastic sheet and slide your petals inside so they don't dry out.  You can also place them in a ziplock bag and zip it up.  DO NOT skip this step.  Gumpaste dries out crazy fast!!!

If you guessed that your gumpaste is thin enough to make your rose, I'm sorry to disappoint you but we're not quite there. It's time to grab your ball tool, cornstarch and your thin and thick foams and let's move on to our next step.

So you need to roll your ball tool around the edge of your petal to thin it out as much as possible. The cornstarch helps your tools to glide over the petal. In the video I was dipping the ball tool in my cornstarch. I have the cornstarch in a dusting pouch so I can also grab the pouch and dust the whole petal if I need to. Next place the petal on your thick foam and punch it right in the middle and drag your tool towards the tip of the teardrop. This makes your petal form a nice cup shape. You need to do this to every single petal of your rose.

Moving on, it's time to form the middle of the rose or the "bud". Basically you will need to take 3 of your petals and wrap them around your rose base. You want to attach them so the pointy end is facing down. Basically just space them evenly around the base (they will overlap) and attach them using your edible glue. The middle of the rose should be quite tight.

Now take your remaining petals and attach them around your bud, but not as tight as last time so it looks like an open rose.

Now you're just going to repeat this process using the next size tear drop cutter. You can add as many petals as you want to get your desired size.  Just remember to keep opening your petals up for each layer you add.

For this rose I used 3 sizes of cutters and the rose is about 3-1/2" wide. To finish it off dip a paint brush in some petal dust and apply the dust into the crevices. If you tried out my tutorial, post a picture of your rose in the comments, I can't wait to see your creations!

Now I just need to make a cake to put this on......

Monday, 8 September 2014

Caking in the Emerald City

Oh, how I have neglected my little baby blog these last few weeks!  With a 2 year old, a 6 month old, a vacation, my sister-in-laws wedding and my baby's dedication; well, life's been a little busy!  On the plus side, there has been ALOT of caking happening over here.  I made my FIRST wedding cake and I have lots of tutorials to come as a result.  I'm currently working on my dedication cake, so you'll be seeing that soon as well, not to mention a few birthday cakes that I have up my sleeve for this month too.  As for now, we're going on a little road trip.

As I mentioned, I just got back from vacation.  We went to Seattle (AKA Emerald City - who knew!!) to visit my aunt and her family.  With the exception of my 2 year old, my aunt is probably my biggest fan.  She's also the one who bought me my treasured stand mixer and made all of these cakes possible (round of applause please).  So naturally, she knew I would want to check out the local cake scene and was gung ho to explore with me.  I arrived on a mission to find rose petal cutters for my upcoming wedding cake (more specifically the Ateco nesting tear drop cutters here).  Our first stop was Sur La Table.  Although they did carry a wide variety of nesting cutters, they did not have the one I was looking for.  I wasn't too disappointed though - I LOVE to browse that store.  If my suitcase had been a little bigger, I could have done some serious damage.  Luckily, I did find some cute little fondant plunger cutters that didn't take up much room!

Although I didn't get to visit any full fledged cake bakeries I did check out Lady Yum, a macaroon shop in downtown Kirkland.  Their decor was spot on, a little bit vintage with lots of pastels and cute chalkboard signage; all around super cute!  We tried the s'mores (meh) , maple bacon (getting better) and apple pie macaroons (now we're talking).  It was liking eating an apple pie!  I don't know how they made cake taste like pie, but they perfected it!  I would have loved to try more flavors but neither my wallet nor my belt could afford it!!!

My favorite treat spot on vacation is totally not cake related, but if you're ever in Kirkland you have to stop into Sirena Gelato and try their Salted Caramel gelato.  TO. DIE. FOR.  It was so good, that on our last night of vacation the shop was closed and we begged them for one last taste of their gelato which they happily obliged (on the house to boot)!!!  These guys are AWESOME!!!!  I already can't wait to go back for one more fix....

Due to some time constraints I decided to call ahead to find a place that carried my cutters.  I found a place online called Home Cake Decorating Supply Co. and upon calling she immediately knew what I was asking for (you want to make a really big rose?) and said she had them.  Ah-mazing, off we went.  Here's where I have to admit that I have some predetermined ideas about what a cake store should look like.  It should be super cute, painted in pastels with a girl behind the counter wearing a chic little apron that wafts a delicious vanilla aroma into the air every time she moves (you have to be an imaginative person to become a caker....). Boy was I surprised when I walked into this!

Please try to focus on the background rather than the awful picture of myself.  I was completely dazed!  It was like a cake hoarding store!  My aunt and I probably wandered around for 15 minutes trying to find my cutters before we gave up.  When we asked the lady who owned the shop she promptly instructed us - 4th shelf up from the floor, 3rd basket from the right, pull it down and balance it on the display behind you and you'll find the cutters near the bottom of the basket.  Lo and behold there they were! There was a method to her madness!  Emphasis on madness,  this woman knew her stuff and wasn't afraid to share. As I was shopping around a couple of self proclaimed newbies were looking for some advice.  After pestering the owner with questions for about 10 minutes she finally said "Look, you guys don't know what you're doing. I'm trying to tell you what to do in the easiest way possible, stop trying to bite off more than you can chew." This was in response to them trying to buy more supplies than they needed....interesting business tactic but I respected her honesty!

Next up was my turn to pick her brain.  I had my cutters and now I had some questions about mats. I wanted a bigger mat to roll out fondant on, and she carried 3 (that's as many as she showed me anyways). Fairly pricey - around $50 a mat. She seemed to be rolling her eyes a little as I went through my list of questions regarding the mats.  Finally she asked me what I needed it for and I explained that my Wilton mat wasn't big enough to roll out the fondant for my upcoming 12" wedding cake tier.  Her response "Don't waste your money on this, go down to the fabric store and and buy yourself some oil cloth.  Same result, fraction of the price."  This lady can't help but talk herself out of business but you know what, if I lived in the area she would be my go to lady!  She knows her stuff and probably has a million tips and tricks that she's willing to share!  I ended up walking away with my nesting cutters, a set of alphabet cutters and some Tylose powder (if anyone knows where to get this in Canada I'm all ears).

My over all take on the store: they probably have what you're looking for!  The owner is willing to help you out if you ask and she's a fount of information!  If you're looking for cake inspiration though, this probably isn't the place for you!  I would definitely visit again.  The shop is located at 9514 Roosevelt Way NE in Seattle and is open Tuesday-Friday 10-6 and Sat 10-4, go check it out!  FYI, she doesn't have email or a website or internet because she's not into "all that crap"!  She also asked me not to "screw up her hours" on my post "like the last chick did".  Love it!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Strawberries and Champagne

For those of you who follow my blog, you're going to start to notice a trend - I make cakes and cupcakes for any reason I can find.  This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have an entire evening out (no kids, yay) with a wonderful group of gals for my sister-in-law's bachelorette party.  Of course when I got the invite I immediately started looking for cake ideas.  Let me just warn you now, DO NOT look up bachelorette cake ideas around your children, parents, grandparents... DEFINITELY don't do it at work, I think you get the idea.  I swear I'm still blushing!  Seriously, I can't even DREAM of decorating, let alone EATING some of those cakes!  Is anyone still reading, or are you all googling hen party cakes?

Despite my prudish ways I still wanted to bake something for the night and phallic cakes were definitely out of the question, so I started brainstorming on my own.  As I was looking through my fridge for flavor ideas, I noticed a bottle of champagne tucked in the back.  In my head champagne and a girls night out go hand in hand, right?  So I whipped out my stand mixer and a champagne buttercream was born!

And we all know what goes great with bubbly - strawberries!  Luckily I still had some of the strawberry preserves left over from my hello kitty cake.  Believe it or not, this was my first time filling cupcakes.  I might not have done it the best way, but it worked and was pretty easy so let's make some cupcakes, shall we?

First of all you need to bake yourself some cupcakes, I made vanilla.  Once they're cool, take a small paring knife and cut a circle out of the top of your cupcake and hollow yourself out a little hole. Then fill up the hole with your strawberry preserves.

Next up, give your kids a snack, waste not want not!

Now we're on to the buttercream.  I don't have very specific instructions here, it was a lot of trial and error!  Basically I whipped up a batch of buttercream and dumped in some champagne.  This of course makes a soupy mess so I added icing sugar to firm it up again.  I ended up using about a third of the bottle to get the flavor I wanted, as for the icing sugar....who knows!  Lots!!!!  The goal is to get the buttercream back to its original consistency after adding the bubbly.  I got mine pretty close but it was still really wet.  I was worried it was going to turn into a blob after piping but it held up nicely.  That being said, if I were to do this over I think I would pick up some sparkling wine flavoring (like this).  It packs a ton of flavor into very little liquid so it has very little impact on your icing consistency.  But then again, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the rest of that bottle of champagne!!!

OK, ready to pipe!  I decided to pipe roses onto my cupcakes.  To pipe a rose you're going to need a piping bag fit with the 1M or 2D piping tip.

So pretty.  The only thing left to do is try one!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hello Frozen Buttercream Transfers

Good day all ye cakey boys and girls.  I am so excited about today's tutorial!!!  These transfers are the perfect place to start for a beginner.  They're easy, they don't require any special cake decorating tools and the end product looks absolutely amazing. So, let's dive right in!

Ok, time to grab our supplies.

1 iced cake (duh, for icing tips check out my tutorial here)
1 large batch of buttercream (if your recipe calls for all shortening, sub out half for butter)
Parchment Paper
Picture to transfer
1 Piping bag for each of your colors
A couple round tips (I used Wilton tip 3)
Gel colors to dye your icing

The first thing you need to do is cut yourself a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan you baked your cake in.  Now place your pan on top of the parchment paper and trace it.  This is your guide, as in your picture needs to fit inside this outline.

Perfect!  I would like to point out a few things here.  First off, your finished product is going to be a mirrored image of what you are looking at (ie. in my finished product Hello Kitty's spoon will be on the left hand side).  For my example it didn't matter so I just went with it.  If your image contains any words, you need to mirror your image.  If you're fancy, you'll go on your computer and click a couple buttons and be able to print out a mirrored image for yourself.  If you're not so fancy pants (like me), you'll flip over the piece of paper with you picture on it and trace it (little tip here, if you're having a hard time seeing your lines while tracing put your picture up to a window or over a lit up tablet).

The second thing I want to point out is a little more random.  Did you know that you can't tape things to parchment paper????  Doesn't work - it just won't stick.  My next step was going to be tape your picture to the parchment paper, but don't bother!  My tape's just for show, you learn something new everyday!

Ok, time to tint your icing and fill up those piping bags, we've got some coloring to do!  You want to start with your outline first. 

Just a little aside here, I can't be bothered to make black or red icing.  It takes FOREVER and usually requires close to a whole jar of gel coloring to achieve the true color.  This is way too time consuming and expensive for me (plus the amount of dye used can affect the taste of the icing), so I just buy these 2 colors.  If you still want to give it a go, here's a couple of tips for you.  For black, start with chocolate frosting and then start adding your black food coloring.  If you're making red, I hear the color darkens as it sits, so try making it the day before you need it.  Also, Wilton makes a no taste red color that I highly recommend using.

Now it's just a matter of filling everything in.

If you're not sure how to fill this in check out this tutorial.  I'm using the exact same techniques.  The only difference is that I'm also taking my finger and smoothing the icing so it gets into every nook and cranny.  Once your image is all filled in you have two options.  You can stop here and just transfer the image onto the cake.  Your second option is to continue filling in the background, all the way out to your outline.

I like to do the whole thing.  It gives your cake a nice smooth top and you don't have to worry about getting your image perfectly centered when you transfer it on to your cake.

Now it's time to pop this baby into the freezer.  You might have noticed that earlier in the post I mentioned that you need to have some butter in your buttercream.  The reason for this is because butter will go rock hard when frozen, and I don't believe vegetable shortening (Trex, Crisco) will.  If you've had success doing frozen transfers with shortening please leave a comment, I'm curious to know how it would work!

So, lucky for us busy bakers, these transfers freeze really fast.  An hour should be more than enough time.  Just touch it, you'll know.  Next step is the exciting part, flip that transfer over and place it on your cake and peel back the parchment paper.

Ta da!!!  You can see in my photo that there are a couple air bubbles.  I just filled in the spots with my left over icing and smoothed them out.  Now it's time for the finishing touches, I piped a shell border around the transfer and around the bottom of my cake (check out this post for shell border tips).

And of course, this tutorial was brought to you by cake number 4 and 5, before I knew how to do a proper frozen buttercream transfer!

I love seeing these side by side comparisons of my cakes then and now!  Hope you enjoyed this post, time for some cake!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Cupcake Birthday

Well, if you read my first blog post, you know the whole reason I started caking was for my kiddos.  I figured 2 birthday cakes a year for the next 18 years (not to mention all those school bake sales and class parties) were enough to justify taking some classes!  With 2 classes under my belt, I felt like I was ready to conquer the caking world...queue catastrophe here.  If you've been following me since the beginning, you've learned that I'm not very tech savvy.  I'm actually amazed that I'm able to publish a post on a weekly basis!  With my daughter's first birthday around the corner, I was considering invite options.  Usually I turn to my sister-in-law for invites (she's amazing, check out her stuff here), but somehow the time had gotten away from me so I had to look into other options.  The first place I turned to was Facebook.  I wrote up a mock invite and was playing around with the options and somehow, unbeknownst to me, I had created an open invitation and had invited ALL my friends....all 300+ of them!   HYPERVENTILATING!!!  How do I even know this many people??  How am I going to feed this many people??  There were definitely a few weeks of panicking, but at the end of the day all my friends and family came and none of my elementary school buddies that I haven't seen for 15+ years showed up (not that I don't love you all)!  Oh happy day!!  So, now that catastrophe numero uno was under control, enter problem number 2.  I still had over 50 people coming and I didn't know how to do tiered cakes yet.  Fortunately, I had any easy fix for this one...cupcakes!!!

I decided to make 3 different kinds, chocolate with Oreo frosting, lemon blueberry with lemon cream cheese frosting and banana with chocolate peanut butter frosting.  Today, I'm demonstrating how to do the quintessential cupcake swirl.  You'll be making professional looking cupcakes in no time!

Just a little side note here, I made those pink cupcake holders using this tutorial.  I subbed out the candlestick holders for goblets though as I thought they would be sturdier.  They are a cute, cheap fix for when you have alot of cupcakes to display.

Now back to the baking, I decided to show you how to make the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes because we're actually making 2 different frostings and swirling them together in one piping bag, so let's get started.  First you'll need to prepare the frosting using this recipe.  I should warn you now, this stuff is ADDICTING!!  I swear I could put this on my cereal, in my coffee, squeeze it right into my mouth from the piping bag - you get it, big time yum!

Now it's time to fit your piping bag with Wilton tip 1M open star tip (some people prefer to use a 2D closed star tip, play around with them and see which you prefer).  So in order to swirl the colors together we need to put the chocolate frosting on one side of the piping bag and the peanut butter on the other.

It doesn't need to be perfect since we're just swirling them together anyways.  Now it's time to pipe!

Just start with a large base circle and keep piping smaller circles as you work your way up until you're happy with the height.  Keep steady pressure as you squeeze and remember to stop squeezing at the end before you lift out the tip so your cupcake doesn't have a tail.

When it comes to cupcake swirls, it's the embellishments that put them over the top.  For the lemon cupcakes I put a few fresh blueberries on top, I found mini Oreos for the Oreo cupcakes and for the chocolate peanut butter ones I cut mini Reese Peanut Butter Cups in half and put them on top.

Yep, that looks good enough to eat.

Happy cupcaking until next week!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Buttercream Roses & Shells, Oh My

You know that old saying "practice makes perfect", I can personally vouch that this is true when it comes to caking.  I've told you before that I'm a fondant gal.  I didn't quite realize how much of a fondant girl until I looked at my third cake and realized I would have to pipe a rose.  NO!!  Say it's not so!!  It's been too long!!  I seriously thought about skipping the cake, but I couldn't do that to you guys.  It's a skill that every caker should have in their toolbelt so here goes, a full tutorial (including bloopers)!

First things first, you're going to have to whip up a batch of stiff consistency buttercream tinted to your color of choice.  Sidenote: I should mention here that I recommend using gel colors for coloring your icing over food coloring drops.  The drops add too much liquid to your icing and tend to change the consistency and you need to use a ridiculous amount to boot.  Wilton, Sugarflair and Americolor all make great gel colors.

Next up, you will need a piping bag fit with a coupler and Wilton tips 104 and 12, a flower nail, a Rose template (optional) and some tape or sticky tack, a flower square (or a small square of parchment paper) and a whole lot of time and patience!

Let me just warn you now, there are going to be many continuity errors in this post.  I had to practice for an entire week before I got my groove back!  You will be seeing blue, light purple and dark purple icing as I kept on making new batches assuming the icing was the reason my roses weren't turning out.  Ha, what a joke, it was totally me!

OK, next we're going to stick our rose template to our flower nail and take our tape or sticky tack and stick your flower square on top.

Pretty easy so far!  Here's a good time to practice spinning your flower nail.  You need to be able to roll the nail between your thumb and index finger to pipe a rose.  You should be twirling with the opposite hand that you pipe with.  Once you have that down pat it's time to pipe the base for our rose.  Fit your piping bag with tip 12 and fill up the entire middle circle of the template and then pull up the piping bag as you squeeze until have something that looks like this:

About an inch tall should do it. Now we need to fit our piping bag with tip 104 (I imagine any rose tip will probably work here).  In order to pipe a rose you have to hold your piping bag so the fat end of the tip is at the bottom.

 All you need to do now is pipe 4 "ribbons" around your base.

For the first ribbon you're trying to make a tight rosebud so angle your rose tip in.  For the next ribbon angle your tip out a little more.  Continue doing this for each ribbon to achieve the open rose effect.  It's important to keep your tip clean when creating these, in the video I was using my hand but I'm generally not this barbaric, a paper towel is a far better option!  Also notice that the piping hand is stationary and the "twirling hand" is doing all the work.

Once the buttercream has crusted you can pick them up and put them on your cake like so, introducing cake number 3!

For the dots on this cake I used the same method as I did here for the dot border but scaled down, using Wilton tip 3.  And of course, a cake doesn't look finished until we add a border. The shell border is one of my favorites.  It's quick, easy and pretty.  For this I used tip 21.

Wow, what an awful looking cake!  I was recipe testing and just slapped on some buttercream!  Anyways, back to the border.  You want to hold your hand steady at the top of the shell and let the buttercream fan out and then quickly pipe a tail, nice and easy!

OK, it's blooper time, so earlier in the post I mentioned that we need stiff buttercream for this rose, well here's why:

I'm still giggling about this one!  Nope, not stiff many places I could go with will never look at buttercream roses the same again!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Piping Gel Transfer

Between the blog and some recipe testing I've been doing, there's been ALOT of cake around here.  When I say alot, I mean way more than the 4 of us could possibly eat (my 4 month old is NOT pulling her weight, lol)!  So last night as I was making a mad dash to the store to pick up a few ingredients, I ran into my neighbors and decided to enlist some help.  I told them I had a cake in the oven and wondered if they wanted to try it and give me some feedback.  Word spread fast!  By the time my cake was ready I had 11 neighbors willing to critique my work.  I almost didn't get a piece myself!  I'm excited that I can keep on testing recipes and know that I have a whole neighborhood to help eat it.  Just like that, I became the neighborhood cake lady!

Now it's time to roll back the clock.....all the way back to my second cake.

In today's tutorial, I'm going to show you how to put an image on a cake (as I did above) and how to "color" it in.

You are going to need some piping gel, food coloring, Wilton tip 2, a pencil, a piping bag, the picture you want to transfer and a piece of parchment paper larger than your picture.  If you need to find a picture of something I would suggest doing a google search for coloring pages...never buying a coloring book again!  I've just been struck by the cutest idea, dual purpose too.  If you need a distraction for your kiddos while you're decorating, print them off a couple copies of your picture to color and then frame them and put them on your dessert table.  I am so doing this!

Back to business, the first thing you need to do is tint your piping gel.  I like to tint mine blue because I only have 2 uses for piping gel, the first being transfers, and the other is for creating "water" for cakes.  You don't need very much gel for transfers, but I like to have a fair bit in my piping bag for ease of piping.  If I keep it blue, I can tint as much gel as I want and not worry about what I'm going to do with my leftovers.  Once your gel is tinted fit your piping bag with Wilton tip 2 and fill 'er up.

Now place your parchment paper over your picture and trace it with your pencil.

Next you're going to flip over your piece of parchment paper, grab your piping bag and trace your image again.  If you're having trouble seeing your image, place your parchment paper on top of a piece of white paper.

Here's where the magic happens, take your iced cake and place your parchment paper on top of the cake, gel side down.  Take a paint brush (or your finger) and gently trace over all your lines.

Carefully peel up your piece of parchment paper.  And....

Ta-da!!!  I think your level of excitement here will be directly tied to how artistic you are.  If you're like me (can't free hand a stick figure), you're ecstatic right now!  For all you artsy folks, freehand away!  Time to start coloring.

You can use any method to fill this in.  I'm using Wilton tips 7 and 4 and using the dimensional technique.  I'll also be making a dot border with Wilton tip number 12.  I'm using tip 7 on the leaves and petals and tip 4 to draw the stem.

This is a pretty easy piping technique.  The important thing to remember here is to keep the head of the tip buried in the icing as you are dragging it around your shape, and keep steady pressure as you squeeze.  When the whole space is filled, stop squeezing the bag and lift it out.  If you get a peak where you lift it out, just use your finger and smooth it out.  Here it is again for the leaves.

We're well on our way to a cute cake.  All we need is a border.  I'm going to show you how to pipe a ball border.

It's as easy as that!  If you end up with peaks just smooth them out with your finger. 

And here's the finished project.

Next up, buttercream ribbon roses and shell borders, oh my!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Ice Ice Baby....

OMG, I am the meanest mom in the world!  My 2 year old is currently having a tantrum because I won't let her wear running shoes that are two sizes too small for her.  Let me tell you, NOBODY can throw a tantrum like a 2 year old!  I just spent an embarrassing amount of time learning how to mute my videos so you all didn't have to share in my're welcome!

Anyway, let's get down to business.  First up, we need a soundtrack.

That's better! Now let's talk buttercream or, if you saw my last post, "butter"cream.  Here is a link to the first buttercream recipe I ever made.  Why do I refer to this as "butter"cream you may ask?  Well, it doesn't contain ANY, zip, nada!  You may also hear this referred to as a crusting or American buttercream.  As the name implies, the buttercream gets all nice and crusty as it dries.  This kind of icing is ideal for piping flowers that need to be picked up and transferred onto your cake.

Now you might be wondering why in the world would someone swap Crisco (a.k.a. Trex or vegetable shortening) for butter just to add butter flavoring instead?  Well, there are actually several valid reasons.  First of all, Crisco stands up better to heat.  If your cake is going to be sitting outside in August for more than 10 minutes, this may be the icing for you!  Also, when piping, the heat from your hands won't melt the icing in your bag as quickly as they would if using butter.  Another reason would be the color.  If you're doing a wedding cake and you want the cake to be white, white, white...Crisco is the way to go - just remember to use artificial clear vanilla as well.  Crisco is also dairy free, vegan and all that greasy goodness makes it just slide right down your pie hole (insert shudder here).

So this recipe is for a stiff buttercream.  If you try to ice your cake with this, you'll probably throw in the towel and never attempt cake decorating again.  You will need to thin it out.  Luckily, it's really easy to do.  Just add water very s...l...o...w...l...y.  We're talking a teaspoon at a time.  Mix after each addition and check the consistency.  About 5 teaspoons should do the trick.  A quick test to see if your icing is the right consistency is to stick a spatula in the mixing bowl and wiggle it (just a little bit, ha).  You know you have it right if the spatula falls over.

I'm not going to lie to you...I honestly hate this stuff (sorry Wilton).  In fact, I used to think I hated all buttercream until I stumbled upon a gem of a recipe, but we'll get to that later.  I'm sure there are better recipes out there for crusting buttercreams but I haven't done too much experimenting, being as I'm more of a fondant gal.  If you are really into sweet, sweet, sweet icing you'll probably enjoy this more than I do.

OK, time to start icing! This method will work for any crusting buttercream.  You're going to need some sort of turn table to put your cake on.  They sell turn tables specifically designed for cake decorating but I just use a lazy susan (see that dear, I don't own EVERY kitchen gadget).  You're also going to need a spatula.  This is my all time favorite spatula to ice with.  It's a 9" offset (or angled) spatula.  This is really a personal preference.  Some people prefer a straight spatula but for some reason I always end up covered in icing when I use one (weird I know).  I just really need that extra 1/2" between my fingers and the cake!

So plop your cake down on your turn table (check out my previous blog post here about filling your cake if you're so inclined) and scoop a HUGE dollop of buttercream onto the middle of your cake.  This is not one of those less is more sort of scenarios!

Now it's time to put your prissy pants on and do a move I like to call the "queen wave".  The object of the game here is to keep pressing down on that icing in the middle until it covers the entire top of the cake and is flowing over the sides.

It's all in the wrist! And now you're going to take all that overflowing buttercream and do the same on the sides.

I never claimed that my videos would be exciting. OK, so now you have a cake completely covered in icing.  It probably looks a bit like this.

What a beaut, haha!  Trust me, we'll get there! So now I want you to take your spatula like so:

Hold it up against the side of your cake and start rotating your turntable.  This will take off all that excess buttercream.  Now you should have a cake with fairly smooth sides and a lip of buttercream higher than the top of your cake.  Let's take care of that lip.

Ok, so your sides and top are smooth-ish.  Your cake probably looks something like this:

Aren't you glad you read this tutorial?  Some of you may think I'm crazy right now, but just trust me.  I need you to walk away from your cake.  Go do the dishes, turn on the TV, read a book, whatever you'd like.  Just DO NOT touch that cake. We need to let this guy dry out for about an hour.  After an hour gently touch your icing.  It should feel like it has crusted over and when you pull your finger away the buttercream shouldn't stick to you.  You can't rush this step! If it's not dry, the next step won't work.

Ok, so now you have this crusty, fairly ugly cake.  Great!  Go cut yourself a square of parchment paper about the size of your hand.  Place the square on top of your cake and gently rub the icing smooth with your other hand.

The idea here is to let the heat of your hand warm up the icing enough to smooth it out nicely.  If you notice that your parchment paper is sticking to your cake, stop what you're doing and let the cake crust again and start over.  You're going to do this to the entire cake.  You may notice after smoothing things out the first time that you've smooshed all your icing out to the sides, like this:

Just take your spatula and scrap off the excess, let it crust again and smooth once more.  And here's the finished product:

I just used a damp paper towel to clean up the turn table. If you're a perfectionist, this whole process may drive you crazy.  I usually get to a point where I think it's smooth enough and move on.  Remember that you're going to be putting borders and embellishments all over this baby!  And naturally these embellishments will be strategically placed to cover up any imperfections.

So there you have it!  Next up, I'm going to show you my second cake (please try to contain your excitement)!

#cake #cakedecorating #caketutorials