Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cakes 101 - The Icing on the Cake

Mmmm...I'm gonna start with frosting recipes since it seems like that's the favorite part for so many people (not including moi)!

My husband, Eric, LLLOOOVVVEEESSS he helped me tweak recipes until we found just the right ingredients for my Classic Buttercream. Actually, I don't consider it really a buttercream because it has shortening in it as well...but that shortening helps the frosting hold it's shape and smooth easily which is usually what you want when decorating a cake. Plus, kids and kids-at-heart love the super-sugary sweetness. It's also the recipe you want if the cake is going to be outside when it's won't melt under most circumstances and will allow you to leave your cake at room temp for a couple days, no problem.

If you are just wanting a pretty "dinner" cake with a layer of icing, I recommend skipping the powdered sugar/shortening route and going for something more the Whipped Buttercream or Ganche.

Okay, so on with the recipes.

Classic Buttercream

1c. shortening
3 stix butter (salted, sweet cream--if you have unsalted add a 1/2 t. of salt), softened
1 t. vanilla extract (clear, if you have it)
1/2 t. pure almond extract
1/2 t. clear butter flavoring (found in the Wilton isle)
2 lbs. powdered sugar, sifted (about 8 cups)
2-3 T. light corn syrup

Cream the butter, shortening and extracts until smooth with an electric mixer . Add the powdered sugar about 1-2 cups at a time, blending well after each addition until all added. Mixing on med-hi speed, add the corn syrup, then turn the mixer off. If you mix too long you will end up with little air bubbles in the frosting that will drive you bonkers trying to smooth the cake!

Notes: A stand mixer with the paddle attachment works best...I've burnt up the motors of two hand mixers making variations of buttercream, but it can be done in a pinch...just turn it off it gets hot!

Ingredient-wise: Crisco is what you want for the shortening...other brands can add a weird flavor and/or texture. C&H is best for your powered sugar; I've also used a different brand sold occasionally at Sam's (Chef's Choice? in 7# bags) with good success. Generic brands are often made with beet sugar vs. cane and taste something nasty.

The corn syrup will add a nice bit of elasticity to the texture of the frosting, allowing you to smooth it on nicely. You can also just add some water or milk to make it a little smoother if you don't have any on hand. That is also what you want to do if you need to adjust the consistency for decorating. Anyone who has taken the Wilton method classes knows about the importance of consistency when using different techniques!

Whipped Buttercream Frosting
from Southern Living December 2000

1 c. milk
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. butter (salted), softened
1 c. sugar (super-fine)
1 t. vanilla

-Whisk milk and flour in small saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until very thick. Remove from heat and chill slightly.
-Beat butter, sugar and vanilla at hi speed until creamy. Add cooled milk mixture, beat until blended. ~3 cups~

Notes: This recipe is a little more tricky. The milk/flour mixture seems to always form a bit of a film on top when chilled that has to be removed. If there are ANY lumps in the mixture left over, they WILL be in your frosting. My solution was to strain the milk/flour through cheesecloth after chilling. Messy, but worth it for the smooth, fluffy results. Yummers.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
from the back of the Hershey's Cocoa can

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa, sifted
6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 4 cups frosting.

Notes: The title says it all...nice, dark color and delectable! I doubled it for ya, as 2 cups just ain't enough! Oh, and don't forget to sift the cocoa and powered'll regret it if you skip that step. Believe me.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 T. liqueur of your choice (optional)

Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and gently stir until melted. Stir in the liqueur if using (I've never put any in).
Let stand a room temp for 10 minutes if you want to glaze a cooled cake, otherwise chill until thickened to frosting consistency. You can also whip the cooled ganache, to make a light whipped can be tricky, but it's super yummy! ~2 cups~

Notes: Ganache is a little slice of chocolate heaven. IF you over mix it when trying to whip it, it goes straight to hell. It will turn into grainy soup. The only way to rescue it from that state is to reheat it and start over with the cooling process. You may want to double this recipe to make enough for a thick layer on or in your cake (as a filling) and for extra taste-testing!

Well, that should give you a mini-arsenal of frosting recipes to ice most cakes. Now the trick is getting it from the bowl to the cake...and that's enough for a whole other post. So until next time...happy licking the bowl!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so excited about your cakes & frostings 101! The church is getting ready to celebrate 20 years and we are baking a BIG cake!

Thanks for the tips and updates,