Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cakes and Icing...... tips hints and more from my days as a Cake Decorator!

Many years ago....... OK, back in the 80's, I worked as a Cake Decorator.  I was looking for a part time job and someone talked me into it. I was very successful at it and I enjoyed it. My mentor was a woman named Elizabeth and she was a brilliant cake decorator. I learned everything I could from her. I wanted to succeed and I listened and I learned.

 As we were baking this weekend, my wife and I were having a conversation about icing. She's baking a recipe for a cake by Rebecca Rather (I'll post the cake recipe later) and converting it into cupcakes and small individual cakelettes. We bought a new cakelette pan from Williams Sonoma. The cakelettes will be dusted with Confectioner's Sugar. Rebecca's Icing has Jack Daniels Whiskey in it and it's incredible, but these cupcakes will be served to children, she made the basic Buttercream icing for them. So..... then we talked about the difference between Buttercream Icing and Better Cream Icing. I remembered that we only used Better Cream at the Bakery. I began to research a recipe and was unsuccessful.
Most people mistake Better Cream for Butter Cream and are not aware that there's a difference.
I decided to look at my go to hand written books of my Best of the Best Recipes and I found my notes on cake decorating..
I found my recipe for Better Cream Icing

Here are the notes from my days as a Cake Decorator:

Better Cream Icing:
2 C Crisco
2 pounds of Confectioner's Sugar
a dash of Vanilla extract
a dash of  Almond extract
a pinch of Salt
1 - 8 oz.  Thinnest recommended for a Cake  1/2 Pint of Heavy Cream ( 4 oz. for Medium /Stiff , recommended for Piped Cupcakes and Decorative Piping on Cakes), ( 6 oz. for Thin) recommended for a light filling.
The Stiff Icing is used to create Decorative Borders and Flowers with Icing Tips and Icing Bags.
I recommend using canvas icing bags but plastic ones can also be used.

Cream Crisco well in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Add all other ingredients and mix until well incorporated, don't over mix.

I have 2 recipes for Butter Cream Icing:

4 C Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 C Crisco
1/2 C Butter
2 TBS Whole Milk
1 tsp Vanilla

Cream Crisco and Butter with a Hand Mixer in a medium mixing bowl.
Add Vanilla and mix well.
Begin adding Sugar 1 C at a time.
Beat in Milk and whip until smooth and creamy.

6 Sticks of Butter, softened
9 C Confectioner's Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Beat butter and 3 C of Sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until well combined.
Reduce speed  and continue beating , gradually adding  the remaining 6 C of Sugar, 1 C at a time.
Increase speed to medium-high and add vanilla.
Continue beating for 3 minutes more.

Cake Decorating Tips:

Grease Pans with Pan Release Mix.
I use this for Cupcakes, Cakes, and any dessert recipe that calls for greasing a pan with butter and flour or a baking spray.

Equal Parts of:
Vegetable Oil
Mix well and put in a jar and keep refrigerated until ready to use. I always have a jar in the refrigerator. It keeps for a long time.
I start with 1 C of each. Increase the amount as much as you need based on how much baking you plan on doing.
It's the only release mix I use.
It works the best in the detailed designs of  any Bundt Pans.
I use a pastry brush to get into every corner and crease.

Cake Pans:

2 - 8" - 1 Cake Mix
1 - 10" - 1 Cake Mix
3 - 6" - 1 Cake Mix

I use Bake Even Strips, pre soaked in warm water and then cooled and wrap them around the outside of the pans, metallic side out and secured with a T-Pin.

I only use Duncan Hines Cake Mixes and bake them all at 325 degrees for the time suggested on the mix.
Bake as directed, until the cake returns to the touch and the sides start to pull away.
Remove from the oven, remove from the pan immediately and wrap them tightly with Plastic Wrap. Refrigerate or Freeze immediately. This will retain the moisture in the cake. I freeze them before I ice them.

Cake Boards:
8" for a 6" Cake
10" for an 8" Cake.

White on White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel's Buttercream Icing
The Pastry Queen

I found this recipe in The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather.
The recipe was originally from one of the finest pastry chefs at Houston's renowned Cafe Annie.
Jeannie Hemwattakit gave this recipe to Rebecca.
This cake recipe is great for Birthday Cakes, Special Occasion Cakes and if you're brave enough it makes an amazing Wedding Cake. I love to share the story about when I was a single Dad living in North Dallas, Texas. I'm a huge fan of Martha Stewart and always have been . I posted a great story about my obsession with Martha. I may have even mentioned this in that story. I had one of Martha's magazines with a Wedding Cake on the cover. I decided that one Saturday I would make the cake. I didn't even have an occasion to make it. I just wanted to, and I did. My son came home after I had spent most of the day making the wedding cake and he asked if I had made it for a wedding. I told him I just wanted to see if I could reproduce the cake on Martha's cover, and I made it for us!
We had wedding cake for dessert that evening and when I returned to work on Monday I took the cake to share with my coworkers.
Anyway, I know enough about cake decorating and wedding cakes to know that this recipe from Rebecca is our new favorite White Cake recipe and we will make it again.

1 1/2 C (3sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/3 C sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 C cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C buttermilk

3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 C water
2 C sugar
3 C (6 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Make the Cake:

Place one baking rack 1/3 from the bottom of the oven and the second 2/3 from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 9" cake pans with parchment paper rounds , grease with butter and dust with flour. Or, spray with a baking spray.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add egg whites and vanilla and beat for 1 minute.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until incorporated.
Add half of the buttermilk and beat until incorporated.
Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping down the bowl and beating until well incorporated after each addition.
End with the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick and glossy.

Spoon batter evenly into pans.
Stagger the cake pans on the racks so no pan is directly over another.
Place two pans on one rack and two on the other rack.
Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the tops are flat and browned.
Check them periodically. They may be done at different times.

Set the cake pans on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the Buttercream:

Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and yolks in a large bowl on high speed for about 5 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar, simmer until it reaches softball stage between 234 degrees and 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Transfer the syrup to a heatproof liquid measuring cup. ( ie. a Pyrex Measuring Cup).
Slowly and continuously, drizzle the sugar mixture into the egg mixture, mixing on low speed the entire time.
Increase the speed to medium and continue beating for 7 minutes, until the syrup has cooled. (the bowl should be barely warm to the touch at this stage).
Add the butter, 1/2 stick at a time, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
Once all of the butter has been added, beat on medium speed until the icing thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the salt and whiskey by hand.

Place a cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick layer of icing on top.
Add the second layer and do the same.
Add the top layer and ice the entire cake with an even layer of icing.

I posted a picture of the cakelettes at the end of this page. You can buy a cakelette pan and follow the instructions for baking. We got ours at Williams Sonoma. They're nice for an individual taste of the cake. You can ice them or dust them with confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder or even a cinnamon/sugar mix.

I hope this helps the beginner bakers. Follow these instructions and you'll produce incredible Cakes.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Rebecca Rather's White on White Buttermilk Cake Recipe
with my Basic Butter Cream Icing

These are the cakelettes made with the White on White Cake  Recipe
from Rebecca Rather.
In the picture above  this one ,they're dusted with Confectioner's Sugar.

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