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I need a good buttercream recipe for cakes

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I love baking but it seems my hobby is going downhill.

 

I normally make plain cakes/cupcakes which taste fine but my favourite is chocolate. Till today and after many failed recipes I still haven't found a good recipe.

 

Nevertheless, I enrolled on a cake decorating course so I can learn the art of decorating cakes but I don't want to eat them. The reason is because we are starting with buttercream.

 

I live in the UK and I aim to make all my recipes suitable for vegetarians and alcohol free. Okay I still use milk, eggs etc. but anyway

 

Most recipes ask for confectioners sugar, butter and water. Some say add vanilla essence but I haven't found an alcohol free version in the supermarket yet. The recipe is too sweet or simply is not to my tastes.

 

I recently read about italian buttercream as well as swiss buttercream. I have read that Italian buttercream tastes better but the steps seem a little difficult.

 

I don't have a stand mixer but I could borrow one however it is old and would not be able to run on a motor for 30 minutes at a time so I would have to resort to a hand mixer unless I can use a smoothie maker or something. I have found this post http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-make-italian-meringue.html which desn't mention having to mix for so long and not needing a stand mixer. I only have a hand mixer so I thought I would try it but I am a little afraid.

 

1) Is this recipe good?

 

2) Will it come out white even if I use yellow butter?

 

3) Is it too sweet?

 

I have decided I will not use confectioners sugar anymore because it is simply too sweet.

 

Please give me clear advice as I am on my mission to find the perfect recipe. I know there are recipes out there which aren't too sweet because I have eaten cakes with buttercream icing which aren't too sweet.

 

Thank you.

post #2 of 10

Making a meringue is a basic culinary skill.  But first you have to make a simple syrup which is also another basic culinary skill.  It pays dividends down the road to learn these skills well.  Learn how they feel, how egg whites work, what the different sugar stages look and feel like, etc.

post #3 of 10

It's hard to know where to begin.

 

Confectioner's sugar is only too sweet if you use too much.  Try less.  Not that you can't work around it, but confectioner's sugar is special because it's ground so fine and dissolves so readily.

 

A tsp of vanilla extract donates very little alcohol to most baking -- including a butter cream recipe.  Alcohol is a naturally occurring substance.  The vanilla frosting on a generous slice of cake will have far less alcohol than a piece of ripe fruit or a bowl of hot and sour soup. Will you eschew ripe fruit and cook vinegar-free?

 

 

Why are you going to such extremes to avoid alcohol? If it's health, you're wasting your time when it comes to extract.  But supposing it's something else, you can use vanilla powder with very good results.  It's available from a number of sources in the UK, including a number of well stocked supers, and certainly online.

 

You really can't find a good recipe for chocolate cake?  Which ones have you tried?  What didn't you like?  If you're going to be a good baker you want more than a few chocolate cake recipes up your sleeve. 

 

The butter cream recipe looks fine, but it's hard to predict without having tried it first.  I'm not the world's best pastry guy anyway.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/16/10 at 5:22am
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post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Most people I know don't like the icing with confectioners sugar. I have tasted icing from professionals which tasted good but they didn't use that kind of sugar. Unfortunately I can't get hold of them to ask what they did use. I have read about italian and swiss buttercream which makes me think I should try those as they seem better by reviews.

 

I have tried less confectioners but then it is buttery which doesn't give a good taste. Which brands are recommended? I have always used silverspoon so maybe that is what because even their chocolate and white chocolate chips are too sweet. Nevertheless I want to try other recipes.

 

The reason why I don't want to include alcohol is because I have friends who do not have alcohol even in foods and they will be tasting my cakes, so I am not sure whether the alcohol you find in vanilla essence they will accept or not which is why I am avoiding it for now. I did see one company without alcohol but I can't remember where it is from.

 

Thank you for the help on vanilla powder, I will look into that.

 

The chocolate cake is just a point I made but I have tried Mary Berry's, others on BBC Food as well as Channel 4's website and other websites which were highly rated but just weren't to my tastes. Actually one of their ciings were but it was made out of chocolate, condensed milk and butter.

 

Anyway, I do want to try out a good buttercream icing recipe for filling cakes as well as covering cakes with (not for pastries) so if anyone can recommend a method which is simple but will give me the right taste, I will try it.

 

Thank you.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

It's hard to know where to begin.

 

Confectioner's sugar is only too sweet if you use too much.  Try less.  Not that you can't work around it, but confectioner's sugar is special because it's ground so fine and dissolves so readily.

 

A tsp of vanilla extract donates very little alcohol to most baking -- including a butter cream recipe.  Alcohol is a naturally occurring substance.  The vanilla frosting on a generous slice of cake will have far less alcohol than a piece of ripe fruit or a bowl of hot and sour soup. 

 

Why are you going to such extremes to avoid alcohol? Will you eschew ripe fruit and cook vinegar-free?

 

Whatever your reasons for disliking extract, you can use vanilla powder with very good results.  It's available from any number of sources including a number of well stocked supers; and certainly online.

 

You really can't find a good recipe for chocolate cake?  Which ones have you tried?  What didn't you like?  If you're going to be a good baker you want more than a few chocolate cake recipes up your sleeve. 

 

The recipe looks fine, but it's hard to predict without having tried it first.  I'm not the world's best pastry guy anyway.

 

BDL

post #5 of 10

I don't quite understand your direction.

 

You want results comparable to professionals,

 

O.K., fine, who doesn't? 

 

Professionals use stand mixers. 

 

Period.

 

 

 

-Stay away from chocolate "Chips".  Read the ingredients on the package, if it doesn't say "cocoa liquor/cocoa mass"*, as first ingredient, you're getting waaay more sugar than you bargained for.  If it lists any type of fat, oil, or unknown sludge, run away screaming from it.

 

See the rest of the site for Italian buttercream recipies, it's a very current thread.

 

* Cocoa liquor does not contain any type of alcohol.  It is a term used to describe the whole cocoa bean which has been roasted, ground, and processed into a very fine paste.  This is the base for all dark and milk chocolates.  White chocolate does not coantin any cocoa mass--only cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder.    

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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 


Hi, no, I didn't say I want it to that extent but I have seen "professionals" use it. In the sense that, I can also make it too because I am good at following instructions and have done cake courses but the buttercream recipes are from Wilton which most people don't want to have.

 

Some people have mentioned you can make italian buttercream icing without a stand mixer. I would like to know how.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

I don't quite understand your direction.

 

You want results comparable to professionals,

 

O.K., fine, who doesn't? 

 

Professionals use stand mixers. 

 

Period.

 

 

 

-Stay away from chocolate "Chips".  Read the ingredients on the package, if it doesn't say "cocoa liquor/cocoa mass"*, as first ingredient, you're getting waaay more sugar than you bargained for.  If it lists any type of fat, oil, or unknown sludge, run away screaming from it.

 

See the rest of the site for Italian buttercream recipies, it's a very current thread.

 

* Cocoa liquor does not contain any type of alcohol.  It is a term used to describe the whole cocoa bean which has been roasted, ground, and processed into a very fine paste.  This is the base for all dark and milk chocolates.  White chocolate does not coantin any cocoa mass--only cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder.    

post #7 of 10

If you're serious about baking and want to make those things which require a stand mixer, you'll have to bite the bullet and buy a usable stand mixer.  In the meantime you can use an electric hand-held if you have the patience and an adaptable recipe such as the one you linked to at the top of the thread in your OP (original post).  For some things you can use a whisk.  You'd be surprised, once you've beaten the eggs lemony, or got the whites to stand, or thickened the cream -- a hand whisk actually goes pretty quickly.  But baking has moved on since the old do it all by hand days, and a lack of equipment is limiting. 

 

It bears repeating that you can do the whisk-kids recipe with a hand-held (or, I think, even just a whisk). 

 

If you're serious about baking, you should know that powdered sugar is just ordinary white sugar like all other white sugars -- except it is ground extra fine and contains about 3% talc to keep it from clumping.  It is only "sweeter" than other white sugars if you use more (by weight).  Its sweetness does not vary by brand.

 

If you serious about improving your baking by getting help from others, you'll need to be more specific.  I'm still not clear about the icing containing powdered sugar you didn't like -- although I gather it contained some amount of butter as well.  If you want help, the more specific you are about your failures, the more specific we can be in our answers and substitutes. 

 

I'm compelled to add that it's quite natural the last frosting tasted more like the other ingredient(s) and less like sugar as you reduced the amount of sugar.  That's pretty much the way it works with everything, every time.

 

If you're serious about baking, you'll have to figure out the alcohol thing.  If those who object form your chosen audience/cleintele and their objections are religious in nature, you should of course honor them.  If their objections are based on "nutrtition" or "health," the objections are foolish; and you have to decide whether you're going to humor those who make them or simply make the bake the best pastries you can in the best way you can.  I suggest the second, but it's up to you. 

 

You've already dealt with "vegetarian" restrictions without resorting to vegan extremes.  Good for you.  

 

BDL

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What were we talking about?
 
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

I am serious about baking but I am taking steps at a time. I have always made stuff using a hand mixer and then discovered the Italian buttercream which is supposed to taste better. The reason why I looked for buutercream is because of a cake course I am taking and we are using buttercream during the course. I prefer not to use confectioners sugar and butter with vanilla extract and water simply because most people I know find it too sweet.

 

The reason why I cam here to ask for a recipe (specifically Italian or Swiss now) is because I read on that post that you can make it with a hand mixer (whereas most others were just mentioning srtand mixers). I know things have advanced now (I am upto date with technology and everything and run my own websites) but in terms of baking I have only focused on certain areas like making certain cakes and biscuits from different cultures, but something simple like making the perfect buttercream I haven't explored. So I came here to ask whether I could find a way to make it without a stand mixer temporarily as I need to make the buttercream soon (preferably italian/swiss - whichever is better) whilst I look around for a good stand mixer (I noticed KA is popular in Canada and the US but I'm not so sure about the UK). I wasn't trying to fuss over it or anything and be backward and say that I don't want to use a stand mixer or I will only use my hand mixer, no. It's just that I need a recipe that will be okay for my hands since I currently do not have a stand mixer. I thought professionals or those who may know recipes well will be able to help me but instead it seems like everyone wants to say negative things about my posts. I'm sorry if I come off odd but I do find it a little difficult to communicate via forums nowadays and not so good at writing down things sytematically but I hope you can all be patient with me.

 

Okay, so back to the recipe.

 

I guess I have only really tried the recipes for buttercream icing mentioned on the box (for icing cakes).

 

For example, Silverspoon (company) says use 3 oz butter, then about 8oz confectioners sugar, water and vanilla extract if wanted. This recipe is too sweet. I have tried breaking it down by starting with equal amounts of butter and sugar then slowly increasing sugar but to be frank, it doesn't taste the way we want it.

 

After searching online, it seems Italian buttercream is the best, better than Swiss buttercream. Italian buttercream just takes a little more effort. I have watched videos on how to make it and read about it, which seems good. But I know I will need a stand mixer.

 

I then found the whisk kid blog which mentions you can just use a hand mixer and won't need to mix for so long. Of course I've never tried it, and I thought I would come here to ask you whether the recipe looks good and whether I can make good buttercream for icing cakes. I'm talking about Italian buttercream here, or Swiss.

 

If not, what other recipe do you recommend?

 

I don't know if you know about Wilton cake decorating courses but they teach you how to write, make simple flowers, and then their rose. It requires thin consistency buttercream icing for the writing, medium for the little flowers, and thick consistency for the rose.

 

I wanted to ask how the Italian buttercream turns out. Is it of thick consistency? Will I be able to pipe a Wilton rose out of it? Then, can I add water to it to make the medium and thin consistency?

 

As for the alcohol, yes that's for religious reasons. It's easy to make buttercream with vanilla extract but when I get asked to bake cakes from some people then I cannot add that ingredient. I am here to look for an alternative especially because I want to start decorating properly.

 

To summarise:

 

1) Is Italian buttercream the best buttercream recipe out there for icing and decorating cakes (covering cakes, decorating flowers and roses etc.)?

2) The stand method uses a stand mixer. Right now I do not have one although I want to buy one. However, I only recently found this buttercream recipe which is why I haven't purchased a stand mixer yet. In the meantime, is there a method you know that will allow me to use a hand mixer to make this buttercream icing? Do you think the whisk kid one is good or do you know of better ones?

3) Is the result a thick enough buttercream to pipe Wilton roses, and can I add water after to make the consistency medium and thin?

 

Thank you.

 

I apologise once again for not being clear in my posts and I really hope you didn't read my post in a bad way, I was not meaning it out sound in a bad tone.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

If you're serious about baking and want to make those things which require a stand mixer, you'll have to bite the bullet and buy a usable stand mixer.  In the meantime you can use an electric hand-held if you have the patience and an adaptable recipe such as the one you linked to at the top of the thread in your OP (original post).  For some things you can use a whisk.  You'd be surprised, once you've beaten the eggs lemony, or got the whites to stand, or thickened the cream -- a hand whisk actually goes pretty quickly.  But baking has moved on since the old do it all by hand days, and a lack of equipment is limiting. 

 

It bears repeating that you can do the whisk-kids recipe with a hand-held (or, I think, even just a whisk). 

 

If you're serious about baking, you should know that powdered sugar is just ordinary white sugar like all other white sugars -- except it is ground extra fine and contains about 3% talc to keep it from clumping.  It is only "sweeter" than other white sugars if you use more (by weight).  Its sweetness does not vary by brand.

 

If you serious about improving your baking by getting help from others, you'll need to be more specific.  I'm still not clear about the icing containing powdered sugar you didn't like -- although I gather it contained some amount of butter as well.  If you want help, the more specific you are about your failures, the more specific we can be in our answers and substitutes. 

 

I'm compelled to add that it's quite natural the last frosting tasted more like the other ingredient(s) and less like sugar as you reduced the amount of sugar.  That's pretty much the way it works with everything, every time.

 

If you're serious about baking, you'll have to figure out the alcohol thing.  If those who object form your chosen audience/cleintele and their objections are religious in nature, you should of course honor them.  If their objections are based on "nutrtition" or "health," the objections are foolish; and you have to decide whether you're going to humor those who make them or simply make the bake the best pastries you can in the best way you can.  I suggest the second, but it's up to you. 

 

You've already dealt with "vegetarian" restrictions without resorting to vegan extremes.  Good for you.  

 

BDL

post #9 of 10

Look, I'm not trying to be negative, or snide.  I'm a very practical person, and I don't like to waste  time.

 

As BDL says, bite  the bullet and get a stand mixer. 

 

If you want good icing, it stands to reason you want a good cake too.

 

For me, a "professional" is someone who does a certain trade or profession for a living.  I happen to feed my family by making artisan chocolates and pastries.  I can't

stand infront of a bowl of eggs waving a hand-held mixer over it for 10 minutes, I let the mixer work for me and multi-task untill the batter, dough, or icing is done.

 

Italian butter cream is great.

 

So is French Buttercream (made with yolks and hot syrup)

 

In France they swear that only French wine is the best, In Italy, they swear only Italian wine is the best, in Spain....O.K you get the idea. 

 

There is no "Best".  Each type of icing is great for certain applications.

 

A blend of butter/marg and icing sugar + colouring is best for roses, as it is dense and keeps it's shape, even under warm/humid conditions.  Not much for eating qualitites, but good for roses.  And


great and cheap for practicing on.

 

Royal icing--icing sugar and lemon juice with perhaps a drop of glycerin is great for run out work, borders, and other work.  Again, not much for eating qualitites, but perfect for certain decorating applications 

 

Adding water to icing isn't a good idea. Besides, anytime you add water to anything, your shelf life deteriorates rapidly.

 

Once again, I apologize if I sound rude or snide.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #10 of 10

The Wilton basic BC is a designer's go to for learning the art of piping.

No, it is not the most delicious to eat, but it does serve a purpose.

That said, it is not the only recipe out there.

Try Toba Garrett's decorator icing.

She uses high ratio shortening, so it pipes great, but the  waxy feeling is almost nil.

Learn to season with salt, it will take the edge off of the "sweet" taste you are finding so distasteful.

Read the OP's comments again and really understand what they are trying so say.

Lots of wisdom and practical tips.

 

mimi

 

OBTW.. caking is a sugar art form. Sugar is sweet. Most of your future clients know this and expect it.

 

m

 

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