Saturday, November 23, 2013

An Afternoon Of Cake Decorating

Red velvet cakes ready to be baked. Look at that color!

Some of the baked cakes cooling. The most common mistake made when it comes to frosting cakes is not letting the cakes cool completely. Warm cakes fall apart when you try to transfer and stack them. And, don't forget that warm cake melts buttercream. Be patient and you'll have success.

Today is the day that the generous family who purchased a private cake decorating session with me at a recent benefit auction claims their purchase.

I spent yesterday baking four kinds of cakes - red velvet, carrot, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  By late this afternoon they all will be decorated by others with me acting simply as a guide and I have no doubt they will all be beautiful since cake decorating isn't hard it just takes learning a few tips and some patience and practice.

I promise to share the results.

In the meantime, here is a review of some of my decorating tips:
  1. Cool your cake completely before even attempting to frost it. The colder the cake, the better the icing will adhere. Plus, watching your frosting slip and melt on a too warm cake can induce tears.
  2. Use a serrated knife to even out a cake if necessary. You can't hide an uneven cake with icing. Start out with a even cake and you'll end up with an even cake.
  3. Crumb coat your cake and then chill it before doing a final icing. A crumb coat is just a quick thin layer of icing to hold the crumbs in place. It's an extra step but well worth it.
  4. Invest in a revolving cake decorating stand. Being able to turn your cake as you decorate makes a world of difference.
  5. Invest in a long thin spatula for spreading the frosting.
  6. Invest in a heavy offset spatula for lifting the cake layers.
  7. Make a frosting that's light and easy to spread. The following recipe for Chocolate Buttercream is ideal.

Chocolate Buttercream
3 large egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water, cooled

1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces, melted and cooled

Place the whites in a clean mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar and cream of tartar.

Place bowl over a double boiler on medium heat, stir frequently until the mixture is very hot (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Move to mixer and whip whites on high for 2 to 3 minutes; turn down to medium low until cool (use the bowl as your guide).

In a separate bowl with a wooden spoon, stir butter to soften.

With mixer on medium/high speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, adding the next tablespoon just as the previous one is blended in. Once all the butter incorporated, add in vanilla, salt, coffee and chocolate whip on high speed until fluffy.

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