Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Cake Part IV: Icing


     Isn't it amazing all the things you can do in advance when you make a cake? You can make the different layers and freeze them - wrapped in inordinate amounts of cling wrap if you are me. And, you can make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. It was rather hard for me to figure out how to ice this cake. With the different flavors, banana, chocolate, and butterscotch, I didn't want to pick a flavor of icing (like coffee) that could complement all three but would also add even more confusion to one's palette. I wanted something simple, not too too sweet, and easy to make in large portions. So what would that be? Buttercream.

     Saying I made Vanilla Buttercream for my cake makes me feel so...pretentious. It makes me think of Food Network shows like Cupcake Wars where they stand up and say, "Yes, and I made a delicious Vanilla Buttercream to go on top of the cupcake to enhance its flavors." It just sounds so fancy. But, a buttercream is really nothing at all. It is just what its name implies: butter creamed with sugar. That's it. Butter and Sugar. In my case, since I made a Vanilla Buttercream, the flavoring I used was rather a lot of vanilla, and there was also some milk to thin it out. But really, it's the easiest thing you could do. 

     The most complicated part of making icing is making sure powdered sugar doesn't fly everywhere. Powdered sugar, or confectioner's sugar, gets on my nerves as nothing else does. Poofing out of its bag to create little piles all over the floor as though it thinks it's snow. Silly powdered sugar. If only you could stay still and let me get you into the bowl, so that I could mix you up with butter and you would not fly all over the place. Be careful about that, by the way, whenever you use powdered sugar: do not immediately start mixing it at high speed, you'll just get stuck in a big sugar cloud. You have to start mixing the sugar in really slowly, and then when a lot of it is already incorporated into the butter, then turn the mixer up to high and beat it properly.

     I have to confess that I ate rather a lot of this icing off of the whisks. I love icing. It's so soft and pillowy and light but sweet, but not too sweet. The perfect little sugar rush. PN ate some too! It wasn't just me. It's lovely to have a friend around to blame these things on. I'm pretty sure she appreciated it as much as (if not more than) I did, and she doesn't even have as much of a sweet tooth as me. So, we are decided: this is a lovely, not achingly sweet, but just right icing for my Great Cake.

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