Tuesday, October 10, 2006

White Buttercream Frosting

Last Tuesday, I attended the first of six classes in cake decorating offered through Canandaigua School District’s Complements program.

I’ve taking cooking classes before but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to decorate a cake. Usually, I just slap it on and schmear into a swirly pattern. Voila! Cake.

Tuesday was a basic first day of class. The instructor, Wendy, introduced herself and talked a bit about her background. We, the students, introduced ourselves. From there, Wendy showed us some tools – off set spatulas, pastry bags, decorating tips – and then we were off to make frosting.

It’s your basic grocery store-bakery butter cream: very white, very sweet, very durable. I’m not usually a fan of that kind but damned if I wasn’t Tuesday night. And, um, Wednesday. And, all the days up to today. (Maybe it’s the lemon flavoring?)

Consisting largely of butter and shortening, this frosting is, as one woman put it, “a heart attack on a plate.”

And now, I have to make a double batch for tonight’s class. Oh, the sacrifice.

White Buttercream
1 cup white vegetable shortening
1 stick butter
1 tsp. flavoring (vanilla, lemon extract, almond extract, etc.)
2 Tbsp. water
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp. meringue powder **

Cream together shortening, butter, flavoring, and water. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly to incorporate. Increase speed and blend 3-4 minutes until fluffy.

Grade: A-

** More info on meringue powder can be found here.


Lis said...

I can't wait to see what you learn as you go!

Hey, I e-mailed you with a link - did you get it or did I send to a bad address? I'm known to do that.. hehe

Miasys said...

Meringue powder? That's a new one to me- where do you get it?
The icing looks yum, although shortening kind of scares me (anything that can live for that long unchanged in my pantry is slightly alarming) can you use it on cookies too? We're getting ready to do a big batch of Halloween cutouts here.

Laura Rebecca said...

Lis, the link is AWESOME. It took me a while to finally get it up, but it's there now.

Miasys, according to O Chef meringue powder "is made of dried egg whites, sugar, and gum." You can find it in the cake decorating section of craft store or, if you're lucky, teh supermarket. I'm going to put a hyperlink in the recipe above if you'd like to purchase it online.

Shortening scares me too, though more and more manfufacturers are making transfat free versions, so it's not as horrific as it was before.

I wouldn't use it on cookies unless you're looking for a fluffy frosting. This stuff won't harden.

Anonymous said...

I just don't think I could do shortening in butter cream.

Anonymous said...

I remember taking a series of cake decorating classes. We didn't even use butter - it was all shortening. While I would never eat it, the frosting was a good one to practice the various techniques. Putting meringue powder in the butter cream is a new one to me. We did make a meringue frosting using only meringue powder and water. It was an excellent glue/frosting for assembling gingerbread houses. I have never used it on an edible cake. For cakes I serve my guests I only use the highest quality butter I can find.

Laura Rebecca said...

I don't think it would be a problem to use all butter; I'm planning on doing that when I make a non-class cake. The only difference, I'd imagine, would be an increased sensitivity to room temperature. Tonight's class was rather warm and, even with the shortening, the frosting got softer towards the end.

As for the ick factor, many recipes use shortening (pie crusts, for example) and we eat them without having a problem. Here are the fat & cholesterol stats on butter (unsalted) and organic, transfat free shortening:

Serving size for each: 1 Tbsp

Shortening's total fat: 13 g
Shortening's saturated fat: 6g

Butter's total fat: 11 g
Butter's saturated fat: 7 g

Transfats for butter and shortening: 0 g

Cholesterol for shortening: 0 mg
Cholesterol for butter: 30 mg

Miasys said...

I have used shortening in my pie crusts to great success. The trick with pie crusts is to handle them as little as possible or you'll toughen them up, and those old, 'retro' recipes with a few simple ingredients really are the best. I use a pastry cutter or a fork, and ice water (actual cubes!)
Thanks for the info on the meringue powder- learn sumpin' new every day.