I am bound and determined to learn to decorate cakes and cupcakes. I know a little, but am entirely self-taught. So, when Robert Rose Publishing sent me a catalog of their newest books, I chose Sensational Buttercream Decorating by Carey Madden to review. It’s gorgeous. And Carey is SO talented. At first, I was really intimidated by her artwork, but reading her instructions made me realize that I might actually be able to make a beautiful cake, not just one that tastes good. But, it would require baby steps. So, I started with the simplest design first, pink Rosettes made of Vanilla Buttercream atop Moist Yellow Cake cupcakes in two sizes.
Carey’s yellow cake recipe is divine – just the right balance of texture and flavor. And, her Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing is a revelation! As a member of Baked Sunday Mornings, I’ve made my share of cooked buttercreams, but this one is the smoothest and silkiest of them all. Although Carey offers a number of variations and add-ins for her lovely buttercream, I started with vanilla. In the book, Carey covers a layer cake with pale peach rosettes, but I chose pink for Valentine’s Day. The buttercream is so easy to work with. It takes some time to make, but is really worth the effort.
- 1½ (350 mL) granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup (250mL) large egg whites (about 7)
- 1½ (7mL) tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (500 mL) unsalted butter, softened (1 lb/454 g)
- In the top of the double boiler, over gently simmering water, whisk together sugar, salt, and egg whites. Heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) or is uncomfortably hot to the touch.
- Pour egg mixture into stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form and the mixture is cooled to room temperature. Beat in vanilla.
- Meanwhile, cut butter into small cubes, about ¼ inch (5 mm) in size.
- Add butter cubes to the cooled egg mixture, two or three at a time, beating until all of the butter is incorporated and the icing is smooth and satiny.
- Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and store at a cool room temperature for up to 24 hours.
This master recipe is fantastic, but for more hints. tips, and information on making successful buttercream, refer to pages 46 – 50 of Sensational Buttercream Decorating. Not only are the directions easy to follow, the results are beautiful and delicious. Everyone I shared these cupcakes with loved the icing. It’s just melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Every delicious cake starts with an easy-to-follow recipe, and Carey provides several failsafe recipes for cakes, cupcakes, icings and fillings, including gluten- free and vegan options. And then the fun really starts, with her detailed, step-by-step explanations of icing techniques, decorating fundamentals and, best of all, 50 gorgeous cake decorating projects. Every step is accompanied by a color photo, ensuring that you’ll be able to duplicate Carey’s results and create a sensational cake for any occasion. – Press Release
With my success at the easiest method, I’m ready for more. I’d really like to try the robin’s egg blue cake decorated with birds, branches, and blossoms. If you are ready to take your cake decorating skills to the next level, this is the book for you. For another review and more impressive cake, check out this review on The Art of Baking.