In case you are not hip to the internet nerd scene, FTW stands for 'for the win'! I use this term to share with you the final project from my misadventures in cake decoration - all done with buttercream, actually made with butter. Since I had so much success with leaves, I really went with this theme, and I must say, am happy with the end result.
I'm pleased with the ribbon roses, but honestly, leaves are way more fun. I think I have an excuse to make a leaf cake in honour of the start of hockey season. (Yeah, I'm a Toronto Maple Leafs fan...as difficult as this is to admit sometimes.) Truthfully, this experience has taught me some great tips:
- Remove the top layer of the cake (evenly) before icing it. The crust of the cake develops moisture, making it tough for the icing layer to adhere. You really don't want all that work to slide off, do you?
- Apply the first layer of cake icing with a piping bag, not a knife. This will prevent crumbs from making their way all over the top. Once this layer is no longer tacky, smooth out the icing by placing parchment paper over the top, then use a knife to smooth. Oh, how many cakes did I ruin with hot water before learning this!
- Less is more in your piping bag. For really great control, don't fill up the bag - you have to squeeze harder, and it's more difficult to be precise. Also, the longer icing sits in your hand, the more melty it becomes. (Yes, I am officially deeming 'melty' as a new word -- just sent a text to the Oxford English Dictionary folks.)
- Technique is important, but you can ruin a great technique with fear of failure. I saw this first hand with a few students. The desire to be perfect really hampered their ability to let go and create. I mean, it's a cake! You'd think we were trying to disarm a room full of explosives with the apprehension they had. I almost yelled 'Squeeze it! Yeah!!! Squeeeeze iiiiiiittt!'. I probably should have since they only had 1/4 of the cake finished after two hours.
- Shortening is not a good substitute for butter. Not even for icing. Yeah, I know that it keeps the icing looking pristine and white, but I can't advocate eating something insects don't even want to be a part of. Although I was told that butter would not hold up to make roses, my icing stayed firm all night, while most of the versions made with shortening began to soften. I think the liquid ratio is more important. No, I take that back - edibility is way more important.
And that's my final report on cake class. By the way, the cake is named 'Boss' because it's the closest I'll ever come to being one. (A cake boss that is!)