Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cake Decorating 101 with Aunt Anne

Our first effort stab at cake decorating.

My Aunt Anne used to make incredible wedding cakes - multi-tiered, beautifully frosted and impeccably decorated. I was always in awe of her confectionary creations. Recently, I started thinking that you don't often see artfully frosted cakes anymore unless you go to a bakery. Individuals (like myself) just frost the cake simply and call it a day. So I thought perhaps I could learn a few tricks and find out how to make prettier cakes, cupcakes, even savory cheese appetizers - things that looked as pretty as they tasted. So I set up a lesson with my Aunt and brought my sister and mother along so we could all soak up the cake decorating knowledge of the master.

When we arrived at my aunt's house, she had everything perfectly organized and ready to go. She had 3 colors of frosting on the counter, all the tips we could possibly need and squares of wax paper for us to make our own pastry bags. What we quickly learned is we wouldn't be practicing on an actual cake. Instead, we would perfect our piping and decorations on an inverted tin container. Makes sense. Why ruin a perfectly nice cake?

Expert at work. Aunt Anne creates a beautiful American Beauty rose.

I'm completely clueless about frosting cakes except for the very basic stuff. Pastry bags, tips, piping borders and crafting roses seemed very overwhelming and daunting to me but I knew my Aunt would have the patience to stick with me while I floundered with my frosting. After we struggled with the wax paper for a bit, we got the hang of making our own disposable pastry bags. Pretty easy once you get the hang of it. And great for easy clean-up. In a short time, she had us really rolling. The lesson on creating an American Beauty rose was the most tricky and something that definitely takes some practice to get it down. There's a little flip of the wrist to make the rose petals and it has to be just so. The result is amazing though and watching my Aunt create them with the greatest of ease is like watching an artist at work (watch the video).

The day of our lesson was the day before my Mom's birthday so we saved all of our various creations and managed to make a pretty lovely cake out of it. My sister, Donna, brought it all together and made it work. Nice job, Donna!

I definitely have been bitten by the cake decorating bug. In fact, I have been so inspired that I have signed up (and dragged a couple of friends with me) to take a Cake Decorating course at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Should be very fun!

Below is my Aunt Anne's trusted recipe for the frosting she believes to be the most easy to work with when decorating cakes. She was kind enough to share it with me and now I share it with you. Happy cake decorating!

Aunt Anne's Butter Cream Icing

• 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
• 3-1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 4-5 tbsp milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla

How to:
- Cream shortening
- Add sugar and salt
- Stir in milk a little at a time, adding enough to give the frosting a stiff consistency. If too stiff, add more milk. If too soft, add more confectioners sugar.


Anonymous Donna said...

Once again, Lynne opened the door for me to try something I probably wouldn't have tried. We had fun and were exhausted! It's hard work but we had a good time. Thanks, Aunt Anne!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is your Aunt Anne really on uTube?

9:40 AM  
Blogger Lynne said...

that's right! she is totally on youtube. and quite popular i might had. almost 300 viewers already!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Jeanette said...

that cake is gorgeous!! love your blog! i'm in the works of doing a similar one (i'm in morgan's class at marymount..he told me you were a friend and suggested your blog). your aunt is too adorable!


11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting the Butter Cream Icing on your website! I had to make a pretty fancy cake for my boyfriend's dad's retirement party, and it was a big hit! I also decorated the cake with yellow roses, and seeing the examples with the uTube demonstration helped so much. Once again, thank you!

1:43 PM  

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