Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Buttercream: Move Aside Betty Crocker!

I get a lot of clients that really do not know what buttercream is.  Many compare buttercream with "frosting".  Frosting being that canned crud you find in the grocery store (Sorry Betty Crocker, it's true).  It's overly sweet, grainy, and stiff.  Basically it is the definition of "gross".  A lot of people do not know how to make buttercream, therefore they buy this little jar and call it golden. Well lets fix that today, shall we?

First of all, there are several types of buttercream (and no, Betty Crocker or Pillsbury jar frostings are not one of them):

Simple or American Buttercream - This is your standard buttercream that many homemakers use and even some commercial bakeries.  It consists of fats creamed together and then powdered sugar beaten in.  Flavorings and colors can easily be added to this batch.

Decorators Buttercream - This is also known as "Rose Paste".  It is creamed much less than Simple Buttercream and used for decorations (i.e. roses).

Pastry Cream Buttercream or German Buttercream - Made by beating together pastry cream and softened butter.  Not a very stable buttercream and is usually used for fillings.

Italian Buttercream or Swiss Buttercream - Boiled water and sugar (simple syrup) is cooked to the softball stage and poured over beaten egg whites.  Butter, flavorings, and colors are then added.  This is the most stable form of buttercream and is used by many wedding cake decorators and bakeries.  This buttercream has an eggy aftertaste at times.

Buttercream Fondant - Made by beating equal parts of buttercream and fondant until smooth.  Does not harden over like normal fondant, but is much more pliable. However, in high heat this tends to break down.

Which is better?
Well depends on the use.  If you are just making a simple round for a family party, go with the Simple or American Buttercream.  If you are making a wedding cake or have a larger tiered cake (and especially if it will be outdoors), I recommend Italian Buttercreams.  Decorators Buttercream should only be used for roses and other buttercream decorations that you need to stand up.  Do not use it just to ice your cake.  Buttercream fondant can be used in place of normal fondant, however just remember that in high heat or humidity it will fall apart.  Pastry Cream Buttercream should ONLY BE USED FOR FILLINGS.  Do not frost a cake with this.  One, it's a pastry cream.  Two, it will break down.  Three, only use this as a filling if you plan on keeping the item in a fridge. 

Classic American Buttercream
1/2 C. Shortening
1/2 C. Unsalted Butter
2 T. Milk or Heavy Cream
1 t. Extract
4-6 C. Sifted Powdered Sugar

1.  Cream fats until fully incorporated.  Slowly stream in milk until mixed.  Whip for two minutes.
2.  Add extract.
3.  Slowly add powdered sugar until buttercream has reached the consistency you desire.  I prefer it to stick to the paddle when you lift up your mixer.

And there you have it...BUTTERCREAM.  True, American, creamy and sweet buttercream.  Now, go out there and make yourself some buttercream.  It's quick, it's easy, and you can frost cupcakes, cakes, cookies, or whatever.

Happy Eating!

...and no more jar frosting.  Please.

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