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Video:How to Use Buttercream for Cake Decorating

with Susan Reid

Buttercream frosting works well for cake decorating and looks elegant. Learn how to use buttercream when decorating a cake and some important things to remember in this video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Use Buttercream for Cake Decorating

Hi, I'm Susan Reid from King Arthur Flour, I'm the editor of The Baking Sheet, and I'm here for About.com to talk about working with buttercream.

The Advantages of Cake Decorating with Buttercream

The first thing you might want to know is that there are lots of types of buttercream. Italian buttercream is the one that I like to work with the most. It's stable, it's soft, it pipes, it holds its shape, and that's what I have right here. This is an Italian buttercream. Very important that you work with it at room temperature.

You can color it, you can pipe it, you can crumb-coat with it, which is what happened on this cake right here. This cake has been crumb-coated with Italian buttercream, and it's chilled, it's cold enough now that I can't leave a fingerprint in the top.

It's always a good idea when you're working with buttercream to divide your frosting up into a couple of different containers. I'm going to take some of this frosting and put it in a seperate container here.

How to Apply Buttercream Frosting to a Cake

So I'm going to take this cake and I'm going to put more frosting than I think I need right on the top. And then I'm just going to smooth this and let it roll over the sides of the cake. Now I'm going to spread some of that extra frosting that's rolling over the sides and cover up any bare spots. It's always better to put more frosting than you think you need. It's easier to take it away than it is to try to put it back in little bits and pieces.

Now it's important not to stop and start too many times or not to press on the cake. You're just leaving your knife in place as you go around, pulling the frosting into a nice smooth shape.

What do you do with this top where it looks like it's sticking straight up in mid-air? Take your spatula, go at a 45 degree angle, and you're just going to sweep toward yourself, and that gives you a very nice clean edge, all the way around the cake. If I want to really touch it up and get any place that I think needs a little extra work, I switch to the smaller spatula.

What to Remember When Working with Buttercream

If everything starts to get a little too soft, you can always pop the cake back in the refrigerator for ten minutes. Buttercream can almost liquefy, so you need to keep it in a  good temperature range. Any warmer than 75 degrees and it's going to be difficult to work with. If your buttercream is out on a humid day, a chilled cake will very often sweat. You just have to let it air-dry. Any colder than 70 degrees, it's going to be stiff. And if it separates at all, you can put it back in the mixer and whip it to bring it back together.

So I'm piping some nice elegant stripes on the middle layer of this wedding cake. And if you want to know more about decorating cakes, please visit us at About.com.

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