Sugar paste icing on celebration cakes is not to everyone’s taste (makes the cake too sweet, look kiddish & gives a strong sugar rush!). One can always use simple buttercream icing for decoration but it can make your cake taste too buttery & heavy to digest.
The secret to my delicious cakes is French buttercream icing – which is not only light, but tastes heavenly as well.
This delicious concoction of eggs, sugar syrup and butter goes perfectly with cakes, gateaux and pastries. A word of warning – my internet research indicates that a lot of recipes floating around on the web can be confusing on ingredients and technique. Some of them are downright criminal !!
Okay, so I am sharing here what I have learnt and used extensively over the last 2 years and know that it would work well for you too. Correct mixing is extremely important and so I strongly recommend a kitchen aid or a similar mixer or an extra pair of hands even !
Here goes :
180g caster sugar
Yolk of 2 eggs
1 whole egg
250g softened butter
1-2 tsp of vanilla extract (as per your taste)
1. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in the machine till they are pale in colour.
2. At the same time, heat the sugar and water to 118 deg Celcius, commonly known in the pastry world as a ‘Soft ball solution’.
Pro TIP: If you don’t have a thermometer to tell you the exact temperature, here’s how you can tell when this stage is reached. Take a bowl of iced water. Dip your fingers in it. Then with a quick action, pick up a tiny amount of the sugar solution & place your fingers back in the ice, holding on to the sugar. Remove from ice & roll the sugar with your fingers. It should resemble a soft and squishy ball of sugar. Doesn’t sound easy at first, but you should get the trick after 3-4 tries. (I’ll try and get a youtube video of this made soon)
3. As soon as you reach the soft ball stage, turn down the mixer speed (to avoid splashing the hot liquid around) & pour the sugar solution into the whisked eggs.
4. Turn the mixer speed up (I usually cover mine with a splash guard before I do that – I hate to clean up the mess afterwards) and whisk until the mixture cools down to room temperature i.e you can touch the bowl without feeling any heat.
5. Add chunks of softened butter, continue to whisk and watch them getting absorbed into the mixture.
6. Once you are done with all the butter, add any flavourings like vanilla extract, coffee extract, praline paste or melted chocolate (or a combination of them) and whisk until these get incorporated.
Layer and coat your cake with this buttercream or enjoy a liberal splash on your cupcakes.