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 butter....zero, 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!
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