I have a small home-based baking business. I’ve always used only “real” buttercream—that is, the meringue-based or French style buttercreams most everyone on this board mentions.
Last week a man wanted to order a birthday cake from me, and stated vociferously that he did NOT want anything “gooey” or “soft” as frosting. Rather, he wanted something he termed “crispy.” I was puzzled. The man had lived for a while in South America and said the cakes he would get there had this “crispy” frosting. The next day he came by and said the word he was thinking of is “icing.”
So he wants a sturdy, butter-based lemon cake, which I can handle no problem, but then he wants a hard crunchy icing. Any suggestions? I was thinking of royal icing, but have seen posts discouraging that as a cake coating. I have only used royal icing rarely, typically just for decorations or baked onto puff pastry. I would like to take the job but don’t want to promise something I cannot deliver.
So would that be like a regular buttercream only with shortening not butter?
I don’t usually bake with shortening except in some pie crusts.
Also, Dept of Health regs tell me I’m not allowed to sell anything that “requires” further refrigeration after sale. I often bend the rules and sell cakes with classic buttercream, but am a bit leery about doing so for a summertime birthday cake.
Would the shortening buttercream be really that much firmer than one made with butter? Or are we just talking about the shortening/powdered sugar stuff all the lousy bakeries use?
I wonder if he’s talking about glace icing, sometimes called water or bun icing, the kind that’s spread or drizzled over cakes and pastries and becomes crusty. Usual proportions are 2 tablespoons water or milk to every 100 grams or 4 oz. icing sugar. Colorings optional. For other flavors, use juice in place of the water or milk. You can add a tsp. or so of butter for flavor, again to every 100 grams or 4 oz. icing sugar.
Basically you make a smooth paste with sifted icing sugar and liquid, and warm it slightly in the microwave or in a pan of hot water. Beat well and use immediately to prevent a crust forming. Pour over the cake or spread with a palette knife. Alternatively warm the liquid before adding to the sifted icing sugar and beat vigorously for 3 minutes. It becomes shiny and smooth. If the consistency isn’t right, add more liquid or icing sugar as needed.
There are a number of related icings under the heading “Quick Icings” in the Joy of Cooking.
My books show the glace icing being used to decorate cookies, petit fours, cupcakes and occasionally on cakes. The cakes tend to be dense like a pound or Madeira in loaf or round shape, single layer and fairly deep. From pictures, I’d say 2 1/2 to 3”. Instructions say to place cake on a wire rack over a plate or tray, leave the icing fairly thick and spoon over the top allowing it to run down the sides. The icing should be warm, not hot to the touch. Otherwise you’ll just get a thin, shiny coating on your cake. If using nuts or other decorative add-ons, leave icing 10 minutes to firm slightly. Allow to set before slicing.
The overall look is quite informal. For a birthday cake, I’d be tempted to use one of the quick buttercreams instead—the kind I mentioned from the Joy of Cooking made with butter and icing sugar. They’ll crust over, too—just not as solid as the glace icing because of the butter.
As long as I’m typing, might as well give you the quick one I used for my grandson’s cake last year, when he turned two. So easy! And a huge hit at the party with kids and grownups alike (picture attached). Credit goes to authors of “the essential guide to cake decorating” (Whitecap Books):
4 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. icing sugar
2 tsp boiling water
Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar, beating well after each addition. Add water and beat well again. Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in fridge for a day before using. Enough to cover and fill a 9” cake. Can be varied with addition of citrus zest, instant coffee in boiling water, any flavouring such as almond essence, 2 oz sifted cocoa powder for a light chocolate, etc.
yes, try make a pastry and drizzle THAT on it, and do a taste with customer. You could do it on a muffin or cupcake, too.
My Mom was an expert on it, but I have not gotten into it yet. Carol is right, you need a heavy cake, it is just a delightful better combination. I would say a minimum of a dense yellow butter cake. A cake with raisins and candied fruits best but not a true dense fruit cake (something in between a fruit cake and a butter cake).
This is the cake my Mom made for my first communion. I’ve just browsed my family album, we were 5 children and all first communion-ed while at 3rd grade school. I’ve just realizes if I was the only lucky one with real cake for my first communion, or if I helped my Mom to execute the cake.
In an egullet discussion I posted to that thread, they seem to say that you can take a simple or Italian meringue bc and soften it over a bain marie until JUST barely pourable. Then pour over your layer cake like a ganache or glaze. The result is a smooth and crusted covering with lots of lustre. It seems to set up like fondant. As Jeanne says in our thread, it’s fascinating to see how many ways there are to cover a cake.
Hector, loved seeing the photos of your 1st communion. Cute is right!!
Thanks. You are bringing me back years ago. Now I remember Mom spending months working on the cake top (that lacy altar made of pastillaje), plus raising 4 children (the 5th was born a few years later). Then, working the cake down to the oval fencing and the roses.
By the time the bottom tier was to be done, Mom ran out of time and decided to bring in the inverted cake pan instead. At that time, NO-ONE that I know off have ever heard of a cake dummy!