This post is dedicated to frostings, frostings and frostings. Base for any frosting is fat (butter, creamcheese, heavy cream, shortening),flavorings (vanilla, almond, butter, lemon or any other extracts) and sugar. Most of the decorators use three kinds of frostings mainly. They are buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting. There are advantages and disadvantages of each.
Buttercream frostings: There are two kinds of buttercream frosting. Powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar based and the other is egg white based or Meringue buttercream. Powdered sugar buttercream tends to be very sweet, but can be left out at room temperature for more than 24 hours. Meringue buttercream are very soft and not so sweet, but cannot be left out at room temperature for long. Powdered sugar buttercream is the best to make flowers and decorate the cake. You can make some kind of flowers using meringue buttercream, but not all. We'll be concentrating on powdered sugar buttercream frosting in this post. I have never made or ate meringue buttercream since it uses egg and I try to avoid using eggs as much as possible.
Creamcheese frosting: These frostings are great on fruit flavored cake or spice cakes. In these, part of the fat is from creamcheese along with butter and/or shortening. These are very similar to regular powdered sugar buttercream, but are not sickly sweet due to tang of cream cheese. You can pretty much make any decoration using this, but cannot be left out for more than couple of hours. We'll talk about this in the next post.
Whipped cream frosting: This is whipped cream with sugar. This one is not very sweet, so lot of people love them, but is not suited for a lot of decoration. You can frost the cake with this, but even piping a simple border is a challenge. Also, the decorations might lose shape if left out of the refrigerator for couple of hours. These are great to swirl on cupcakes though. There are many ways of making it sturdy by adding pudding mix to this frosting, but they still need to be refrigerated. There is another frosting called 'mocked whip frosting' which can be left out and is made by cooking flour and milk and adding butter and sugar. We'll go over that in future posts.
Did you know that when someone says buttercream frosting, it need not have any butter in it? I did not know that till I took wilton cake decorating courses. I was shocked when I heard about this in the first class. I honestly think that every mom should make her kids' birthday cakes herself with or without decorations. Bakery uses tubs of frostings that come prepared and have high transfat shortening in it. Why? firstly because it is easy to handle shortening based buttercream than butter, secondly shelf life is very long and finally they can withstand the temperature of hottest places in summer. If any of you have used shortening to make the buttercream, you'll know that zero transfat crisco based buttercream tend to melt compared to high transfat shortening based one.
Wilton's all shortening white buttercream
For stiff consistency -
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 TBSP water or milk
1 TBSP meringue powder (This helps in crusting, to make it egglesss, add 1 TBSP of corn starch in its place)
4 cups of powdered sugar.
Flavoring - vanilla or almond or butter or combination of these extracts.
Beat shortening, meringue powder or corn starch and 2 TBSP of water. To avoid sickly sweetening taste, add a pinch of popcorn salt or grind regular salt very finely and add or dissolve salt in 2 TBSP of water and use that instead. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat till mixed very well. This is perfect for making roses, string work.
To make it medium consistency - To the above recipe, add 1 TBSP of liquid and beat. This is used for making drop flowers, borders, flat petaled flowers, stars.
To make it thin consistency - To the above recipe add 2 TBSP of liquid and beat or 1 TBSP of liquid to medium consistency buttercream. This is used for icing the cake, writing, cornelli lace.
You can know more about where to use which consistency icing here. If the consistency is not correct, you can always make it thicker or stiffer by adding more confectioner's sugar and thin by adding more liquid and whipping or mixing again.
This can be stored in refrigerator for 2 weeks if using milk or outside for 2 weeks if you use water.
A tip: If you are planning on coloring this buttercream with violet, make sure you use milk. If you use water, it'll turn blue and never be violet.
Half and Half buttercream
I call it half and half because this is basically the same recipe as mentioned above but uses half shortening and half butter. This is much better tasting buttercream than wilton's all shortening buttercream. But, you might not need all the liquid since butter has some water content in it. There is one important thing no recipe tells you. That is your body heat. Some people have very warm hands. Those people need to make their icing stiffer than usual to prevent sugar melting due to heat and becoming hard to pipe.Once you play with the icing, you'll know what works best for you.
Now coming to my favorite buttercream which crusts beautifully and I can control the consistency very well is here..
My Favorite buttercream
This is a result of my experimenting with various buttercream recipes from different websites and forums. I have come to the conclusion that this is the best suited for me so I am sharing this with you all..
1 cup unsweetened butter at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup of solid vegetable shortening (crisco)
flavoring (I use quite a bit vary according to your taste) - 2 tsp of favorite extracts.
3 pounds of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
Heavy whipping cream - 6 to 8 TBSP based on the consistency desired.
Corn syrup to thin the icing if needed.
Beat butter, shortening together till creamy. Add salt and slowly add confectioner's sugar about a cup. Then add whipping cream in steps of 3 TBSP each and alternately add confectioner's sugar and corn starch till you have used up all the sugar.Beat for a minimum of 15 minutes and adjust the consistency using corn syrup.
There is no picture for this post, but I am away for the week and not in my kitchen. So, whatever I write if I write till I get back home will not have pictures. Any questions, leave a comment and I'll answer it to the best of my knowledge.
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