One of the things that I was looking forward to most about our move to Charlotte was our proximity and access to cooking classes through Johnson Wales University. As soon as we moved here, I immediately looked into the classes they offered.
They offer everything from a “Tour of Tuscany”, to sausage, barbeque, and candy making classes. Being that this is a very well known culinary school in the area, these classes fill up fast. So you could imagine how happy I was when there was still space available in the Buttercream Basics class.
Happier than a pig in sh*t, kind of happy.
Buttercream Basics was all about filling, frosting, and decorating a cake. Obviously, not a skill that I can use on a daily basis, but I got to spend 5 hours around cake and buttercream. Like I said: Pig. In. Sh*t.
I will save you the in depth overview of the class and just give you some of the highlights, like the recipes we used and some of the techniques and tips that the Chef taught us.
Tip #1: To keep the cake moist, spray or brush a simple syrup onto each layer before applying the filling/frosting. This will ensure that your cake does not dry out. For simple syrup, dissolve 1 part sugar into 1 part water. You could also use honey or agave.
Tip #2: When using homemade buttercream, whip it with a spatula before icing the cake. The buttercream will develop air bubbles as it sits which will make it harder to spread. If you take breaks between a crumb coat and the final coat, make sure to whip it up between.
Tip #3: Use a bench scraper to create the perfect edge on the cake. Place one edge on the turntable at a right angle to the top of the cake and spin the cake around, evening out and smoothing the sides of the cake.
Tip #4: Before piping, put the buttercream in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up (emphasis on few). This will prevent it from getting to soft as you hold the pastry bag, which will make it harder to create flowers or other decorations.
On of the coolest things we learned how to do is make a buttercream rose. Obviously, the Chef made it look really easy, but after some practice, I think I got the hang of it. I asked her to demonstrate it for me again so I could share a video of her method with you.
What she is using is a pastry bag filled with a #104 rose tip. She is holding the pastry bag in her dominant hand with the narrow end of the rose tip facing up.
First she creates a fairly large mound of icing in the center of the rose nail. On the top of the mound she makes a cone by putting pressure on the bag and twisting the rose nail in her fingers. This cone should be the highest point of your rose.
Then she pipes 3 inside petals in the shape of a rainbow (or frown, depending on how you are feeling that day). Twisting the rose nail in her fingers as she pipe out each petal. She made 3 layers, repeating step one on the second layer, then on the 3rd layer, she angled the tip so that the top (narrow) end was further out than the bottom. On the bottom layer she puts 4 to 5 petals.
To remove the rose from the rose nail she used scissors, but you could also use or a small offset spatula and gently place it on your cake or cupcake.
Trust me, I know she makes it look so easy, but after some practice, I bet you can get it down!
If you live in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend this class. I don’t know how often its offered, but they do have other pastry classes that I plan on taking.