Hello and welcome to the first edition of the weekly post, Cake Slice Tuesday! Cake slice Tuesday is a real thing that happens on Tuesdays at Popovers, which is my current awesome place of employment. I decided to take this weekly holiday as a time to reflect on cake and all the baking things I hold near and dear to my heart.
Frosting. Most love it, some hate it, but there’s a reason we call good things “the icing on the cake”. So why do we adorn homemade cakes, cupcakes, and cookies with bad frosting?
A lot of “cake fails” aren’t due to flavor but come from poor frosting. So today I am going to outline for you the main different types of frosting and how to make a simple buttercream.
First things first,
Types of frosting
Buttercream: This is basic decorating frosting and can range from very stiff to fairly loose depending on how you mix it and this is what I am going to focus on today so I hope you like butter
Ganache: This stuff is THE BEST and is chocolate melted with cream so that it is nice and thick and then poured over other delicious things and it hardens but not all the way so it melts in your mouth.
Whipped Cream: You can ice a cake with whipped cream frosting! You can also ice a cake with cream cheese frosting!
Glaze: Glaze is what you get when you mix sugar and water and it is great for cookies, breads, pastries, and bunt cakes but used less on full cakes and cupcakes.
Royal: Royal icing is made with marzipan and is like icing glue. It is used on gingerbread houses and sugar cookies mostly.
Fondant: Fondant is kind of a surgery sheet that covers cakes, and it is what cakes on the show Ace of Cakes are usually covered with, which is why your cakes will never look that smooth unless you are using this and also are Duff. Duff brand fondant is actually my absolute favorite pre-made fondant. I will do another article completely devoted to fondant, promise.
I love Wilton, a company who makes all things baking, so I am going to link you to their recipe for buttercream, because it is what I have always used, but here are some tips and tricks I have picked up.
The difference between using shortening and butter is important. Using only shortening will get you what I call “grocery store icing” which looks pretty good but tastes a little more like sugar and less like butter/homemade. Using all butter will taste amazing but also will melt faster so this can be difficult if you are doing a lot of piping or the cake won’t be refrigerated for long periods of time. What I like to do is half buttercream, half shortening, so that you get the best of both worlds; the flavor of butter with the stiffness of shortening. To each their own.
Change it up! Want lemon buttercream? Just add lemon extract! Almond, cherry, mint, etc! I once added maple syrup and it was awesome! What I’ve learned is that it is really difficult to make butter and sugar taste bad, so let your imagination run free with the flavors and ingredients you choose.
Always frost on the flat parts. When you get a cake out of the oven, let’s say we used two round pans, there is the “top” which is rounding out of the pan, and there is the “bottom” which is nicely shaped and flat. Once the cake is cool, level the bumpy parts and attach them so that the two tops are touching and all the outside parts of the cake are flat.
DO NOT PUT BUTTERCREAM DOWN THE DRAIN. A little is OK, but you should always take a paper towel to the bowl first and throw that shit away, because it will harden in the drain and clog it and give you all sorts of problems. Also, beware of piping tips getting lost in garbage disposals.
And that’s it! Have fun frosting! In future weeks we will cover piping, fondant, decorations, and much more.