One of the best parts of this gig, is helping all of you find your way in Buttercream.
I get lots of questions, and I love answering them. I get some questions more than most, so I thought I would the top 5 in a post, complete with links to more info, to get you started!
1) “What Buttercream do you use?”
I only use Basic Buttercream. Its easy, inexpensive, and versatile, and I like eating it, which is probably the most important part!
Basic Buttercream can also be known as ‘American Buttercream’, but generally speaking, American Buttercream has at least some shortening added, whereas Basic Buttercream doesn’t, so to avoid confusion, I refer to it as Basic Buttercream.
You might find mention that shortening helps with stability in heat and humidity, and yes it does. It also tastes and feels gross, so I don’t use it as a rule. If its too hot, I keep my Buttercream cakes in the fridge, rather than resort to using shortening. Which leads into the next question..
2) “Can I leave my Buttercream cake outside, in 37 degree heat, sitting for hours?”
NO. No you can’t, and you shouldn’t. This is cake we’re talking about! Would you leave potato salad outside for 5 hours and be upset when it spoils? No!
Basic Buttercream IS room temperature stable, and can be kept at room temperature for a few days.
That being said, its still dessert. It really should not be expected to look its best after 3 hours in the sun. I know I wouldn’t look my best after 3 hours in the sun! If its REALLY hot or humid, store the cake in the fridge, or aircon if you have to, and bring it out close to the time of serving.
3) “How do you make your flowers stick to the SIDE of your cake?!”
I love to say Sorcery, but in reality, its much more simple.
Flowers fall off cakes mainly for two reasons: they are too heavy, and/or too soft.
You’ll notice that I pipe my Buttercream flowers without a base, now not only does this keep the flowers lower profile, but it also reduces the weight.
A heavy flower WILL fall of a cake, and the only way to avoid that, is to place heavy flowers either on the top of a tier, or on the ledge between tiers (as seen on my “Wintertide” cake. I braced the larger Anemones on the cake ledge, whereas the smaller ones could be placed vertically).
So what about the small ones? I pipe my flowers at least the day before I need them, and put them in the freezer, uncovered, overnight. Not only does this chill them so they firm up, but it helps to draw some of the moisture out of the Buttercream, helping to prevent them from going soft once they come to room temperature.
You can freeze prepiped flowers for up to 3 months, but be sure to cover them in an airtight container if you plan to store them for longer than overnight, to avoid freezer burn.
For more info, check out my blog on Defying Gravity.
4) “How do you get your Buttercream so smooth?”
It all comes down to patience, good tools, and chilling your cake. To get a really great result, you need take your time. Crumb coat, chill, and build up your Buttercream slowly. If you add too much Buttercream to quickly, all your going to do is pull it off (and possibly some crumbs while you’re at it!) Let your layers set in the fridge, then have another crack at it. A chilled cake, means a chilled decorator!
I also use and recommend the scrapers from Fat Girl Cakes.
To see how I do it, check out Frosting a Cake with Basic Buttercream.
5) “Can I do that with Buttercream??”
Probably! Buttercream is HUGELY versatile. You can pipe it, spread it, mould it, paint it, airbrush it, stencil it, emboss it, carve it, sculpt it, and now I’m tired.
There are limitless things you can do with Buttercream, you just need the right tools, a little know how, and some faith in yourself, and I’m here to help!
If you are new to Viva La Buttercream, or Buttercream in general, have a look around! There is stacks of free content here to get you started, and paid full length tutorials as well, so settle in, and join the family!
Viva La Buttercream xx