And then one day, a neighbor, whose daughter had been to my daughter’s birthday parties asked me to bake a cake for her husband’s 40th birthday. I jumped at the chance. She knew lots of people in the town in which we lived, and if my cake turned out well, maybe this would be the start of something! So I researched recipes for carrot cake, narrowed it down to the best one, baked it, frosted it with the most luscious cream cheese frosting ever, decorated it quite nicely, and delivered it. It was then that I realized that this professional bakery thing was not for me. While I enjoyed the process of designing and baking the cake, while I loved trying to get the frosting just right, I realized that it was the joy I got from doing something special for other people that was the real draw here. And while I was happy to make the cake for a neighbor, it wasn’t the same as making the cake for someone I love, and someone whom I will watch enjoying the creation. And so my cake rule was born: Only for Love!
Our dear friends’ daughter made her First Communion this weekend, and it made me so happy to help her celebrate a very special milestone by baking her a cake. In addition, it was the weekend of a bridal shower for my husband's cousin, and I was in charge of the cake for this event as well. While it was a crazy week (I baked 6 layer cakes from scratch in addition making the frosting, fillings and assembling and decorating everything), it struck me that I am blessed to have so many people that I love enough to bake for. I have always used the Wilton buttercream frosting, but I did not love the fact that it contained Crisco, so I wanted to try something a little different this time. I had an old recipe for something called “American Buttercream” that contained only butter, sugar, cream and vanilla, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was delicious, and is the frosting that I will use from this point on. The recipe follows, with some notes to help you avoid the mistakes I made while making it!
1½ pounds unsalted butter
7½ cups Confectioners Sugar
5¼ cups heavy cream
Vanilla bean or vanilla extract
With paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth, scraping down the bowl several times. Add sugar slowly, incorporating into butter to form a smooth paste. Warm the heavy cream to 98-100 degrees, and begin to drizzle in, with mixer running, very slowly. Continue to add until all the cream is incorporated, and frosting is smooth and full of body.
1. This frosting must be made the day you are going to use it. Do not try to make it ahead of time, refrigerate and use the next day, as it will separate, and you will have to dump it and start all over. Having said that, it is so smooth and easy to work with, that this trade- off is worth it.
2. There is no need to sift the confectioners sugar, even if you are going to use a fine piping tip, as I did for this cake. The warm cream dissolved it all, and there were no problems.
3. The recipe says to drizzle the warm cream in very slowly. Really. I am not kidding. I had to throw out 2 batches due to excessive eagerness which led me to drizzle too quickly. Then it is a big batch of liquid goo. There is real science going on here, people.
4. I did place the frosting in the fridge for about 7 – 10 minutes before putting it into the piping bag just to firm it up a little, but I was working with it on a hot day, so plan accordingly, but do not leave it in the fridge too long.