UPDATE: Kerrie will be back teaching in my studio in Sydney this coming March 2017! Check out our cake decorating classes or read below for her tips and tricks.
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When I first started cake decorating, ganache wasn’t really very popular yet so using buttercream was all I knew. Buttercream has come a long way since then and while the medium itself has not changed in any way (the recipes and types buttercreams are still the same), people sure have come up with way more creative uses for buttercream.
Kerrie Wyer of Viva la Buttercream specialises in pushing the boundaries of buttercream and she will be teaching some amazing buttercream cake decorating classes in my Sydney Studio in May and October this year (beginners are welcome!). So I thought I’d get her to write a guest blog post about the various buttercream myths that she comes across all the time. And if you need some help getting started, our cake decorating calculator has both a swiss meringue and regular buttercream recipe.
Buttercream can change the world. Think I’m exaggerating? Well maybe a little, but a perfect buttercream cake can be the difference between an event, and a lifelong memory. For me, nothing creates a more delicious, show stopping cake, than buttercream. So why isn’t everyone using it?
The truth is it boils down to 5 big myths about buttercream. Every cake enthusiast that hesitates to work with buttercream, does so for one of these 5 reasons, so let’s blow them out of the water shall we?
1) “Buttercream is for fillings and kids cakes”
Sure is. But if that’s where you stop, you are missing out. Epically. Why do you think kids love buttercream? Because it tastes like unicorns and rainbows, that’s why. Every cake I make in buttercream I hear the same thing “this tastes just like my Mum/Nanna/Aunty used to make! I haven’t had a cake this good since I was 8!”. That, is how you make a cake into a memory. It all starts with taste.
2) “You need to use Meringue Buttercream (like Swiss Meringue)”
Nope. Just nope. The most important consideration when making a cake, should be its taste. If you like swiss meringue buttercream, then you should use swiss meringue buttercream. If you love basic buttercream, like I do, then that’s what you should use. A more complicated recipe, does not automatically mean a better taste, or workability, so don’t be afraid to embrace the basics.
3) “You can’t get dark colours with Buttercream”
Yes, you can. The biggest mistake that people make when colouring buttercream, is to expect immediate results. Just like fondant, coloured buttercream needs time to develop, preferably overnight. Adding a whole bottle of gel colour will not make dark colours magically appear, but it will almost certainly split any buttercream, so add some colour, and sleep on it.
4) “You can’t get sharp edges with Buttercream”
Not only can you get sharp edges with buttercream, you can get sharp edges with fondant over buttercream. If you are used to using ganache, you will need to work a little differently, but it CAN be done. Buttercream may crust, depending on your recipe, but it doesn’t generally set hard at room temperature, so you need to chill it until its firm. When it comes to buttercream, a chilled cake, means a chilled decorator.
5) “You need to use gum paste/fondant/modelling chocolate to get details and texture”
Au contraire! There is NOTHING that buttercream cannot do. You can impress it, stamp it, paint on it, carve it, sculpt it, paint with it, emboss it, pipe it, and that’s all before lunch! The only limits buttercream has, is your imagination, and your willingness to try. Buttercream is the most versatile cake decorating medium. It can fill, ice and decorate any cake, for any occasion, for any skill level. And it tastes like unicorns and rainbows. Did I mention that already?
I hope the busted myths above will give you some confidence to either start working with buttercream or continue working with buttercream and experiment with some new techniques.
You can learn with Kerrie through her live hands on day classes in Sydney this coming March 2017. The class will be capped at 8 students and will be held at my studio in Mascot, Sydney.
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Kerrie also has some short tutorials on her website and you can also connect with Kerrie via Facebook.