Archive for May 2011




Failure to Launch Part 1

Heres a great youtube video on how to make Italian Merignue Frosting– a slightly different method than Swiss Merignue.

I some how failed to post this yesterday which brings me to my choice of topics– failure!  Failure is a pretty negative word and Im not one to quit on a project so when it comes to a cake that I’m less than please with I at least try find a lesson in whatever went wrong. Whether its learning a trick  to stacking a cake better (cause the top tier toppled over in the car ride) or just delegating my time better on a project.  Below are some photos of beautiful cakes made by some culinary greats that I was inspired to recreate only to have less than stellar results, and a couple of tips on different techniques.

The cake featured above is by none other than Sylvia Wienstock. She’s been the queen of fabulous culinary works of art long before the Cake Boss picked up his first pastry bag.  She’s based out of New York City and her work is featured at every big New York Wedding there is.  She’s been called the Leonardo Da Vinci of cakes– a title you don’t just earn over night.  I used this photo as an inspiration for a cake I made this weekend for a friends birthday. Ultimately I didn’t spend enough time on this cake to render a mirror image of the photo which left me frustrated…and only escalated when the cake frosting melted everywhere in the car ride up. So here some advice on Italian or Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Italian Meringue/ Swiss Meringue ButterCream is alot less sweet and so fluffy some people think its whipped cream frosting.  It is by far my absolute favorite frosting but there are some down sides when working with it

First– its expensive to make. 2 sticks of butter a dolop of milk or water and a bag of confectioners sugar will run you about $5 bucks and render a great simple buttercream– and you can easily cover an 8″ cake with it.  Italian or Swiss Meringue call for a 2-3 cups of sugar, 2 lbs of butter and at least dozen eggs whites only but really after all the time it takes to make this excellent frosting whose got time to use the yolks?  –Its almost double the cost of American Buttercream and it doesn’t go as far. The time you spend whipping and mixing rarely will cover and decorate more than a 8″ / 10″ cake.  Its also a little tricky to make– I’ve screwed it up and gotten soup plenty of times to know. Both under mixing and overmising can lead to a total waste of time and ingredients.

Secondly, It also doesn’t take color well. Food coloring tends to drown in the meringue, barely blushing from a scoop of color. You will eventually notice if you pipe with it, that the color comes out as the frosting heats in your hand but that completely unpredictable.  Its so soft at room temperature I tend to find that piping flowers is only easy for those who are beyond the novice stage of piping.

And it melts….and melts and melts.  In the refridgerator you’ll find the frosting binds up just like butter does, making for a firm surface to work on once your cake is frosted, and chilled, but just let that cake find its way into a warm car for delivery or sit in the sun light and you are looking are melty soupy madness in no time.  I reconmmend experimenting with this before deciding to go and whip up a batch for the next birthday party your invited to.

Why would you suffer through something so finicky?  Well because it tastes soooo good! When I was making Jamie’s Cake this weekend it was suggested to not knock myself out with a crazy design but rather bring a cake that was simple and tasted delicious.  I was pissed I had to run into the kitchen of the restaurant and try and doctor the sides of the cake I had already spent so much time on only to have to use a butter knife to try to fix my now botched cake.  And those beautiful fondant roses I made? Were now covered in frosting…. Strangely enough the cake was a hit!  I watched people lick their plates literally to get a few more tastes of the ohhh so finicky frosting.

I didn’t originally photograph this puppy out of disappointment, but found myself tagged in facebook later, so I figured why not post it– so hopefully I’m not the only one learning from my mistakes.

Add a comment May 31, 2011

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