My friend's son turned two on the weekend. For his first birthday, it was easy to pick a present -- no kid's childhood is complete without a Tupperware Shape-O toy. But I had no idea what to get him this year. So I asked, "Have you ordered a cake yet?" Baking cakes is really a labour of love. When you factor in the total amount of time involved, even if you use a low hourly wage, it's just not worth it. That's why all those store-bought cakes are so tasteless and generic. But when you enjoy what you're doing, it becomes a hobby, and then the time can be justified.
For this baking adventure, I managed to take photos at every step of the process. And so I present, Cake Making 102 (I'm going to assume you've baked a simple cake before attempting the following).
Step 1: The FrostingI have developed my own quick frosting recipe. I drew on several different sources when "perfecting" it, including the Good Eats episode (S11E19), Honey, I Shrunk the Cake, and the Wilton cake decorating website. You should note that none of these are true buttercreams. They are not made over a double-boiler with a simple syrup. They're a cop-out, but I'm ok with that.
Without further ado, the recipe:
Quick Vanilla ButtercreamMeasure out 1 lb (~ 4 cups) icing sugar, then sift it into a bowl and set aside.
Combine in the bowl of a stand mixer:
6 oz (¾ cup) unsalted butter
2 oz (~ ¼ cup) vegetable shortening
Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy (~3-4 min).
Add 1 large egg and beat on medium-high until well-mixed. The mixture will become lumpy and grainy but will return to a smooth texture.
Sprinkle over ½ tsp table salt.
Slowly incorporate the sifted icing sugar, alternating between low and medium speeds. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Mix in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Beat frosting on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until smooth and light in texture. If colouring frosting, add food colouring at this time.
Thin with 1-2 tbsp milk to achieve correct consistency for spreading/decorating.
Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for several months. Bring back to room temperature and gently re-whip before using.
Yes, the recipe has a raw egg in it. So do a lot of foods you eat. Nanaimo bars and tiramisu come to mind immediately. If you're worried, you can buy pasteurized eggs (expensive), or you can substitute the egg with 2 tbsp whole milk, but it's not the same.
Next up: Step 2 - Assembling the cake