Dish of the Day: How to achieve perfect buttercream
I switched to a new dairy supplier this week and had to entirely rework my buttercream recipes, which reminded me of a long-term baking gripe. What you need from a recipe book is not so much a set of ingredients and a method, but a set of guidelines to achieving perfect buttercream.
The end result depends on so many variables that to an extent you will have to work things out for yourself, and there will often be fluctuations each time. Everything from the strength of your mixer to the water content of your butter and the temperature in the room will have an effect.
With that in mind, here are some tips for perfect buttercream:
1. Be prepared to adapt – keep in mind the consistency you want to achieve and add your sugar and liquids in increments, beating in between to get it just right – make notes of the amounts as you go so you have a workable recipe for the next time.
2. Use good vanilla, good butter and cream if you can – these are the flavours you want to come through, rather than lots of super-sweet sugar.
3. Start with very soft (but not melted) butter and beat it alone to incorporate some air in the very first stage.
4. If it’s hot in the kitchen, refrigerating your buttercream slightly then beating it smooth again will mean you can thicken it up without having to add extra sugar.
5. If your buttercream is too thin once all the ingredients have been added, thicken it with butter rather than more sugar – it will taste much better. Just make sure the butter is very soft (or even melted).
Filling a Piping Bag with Icing (digital glossary):
Also, the world’s first agony-aunt baking column entitled “Recovering from a Bad Bake-up”.
Send in your baking disaster stories of unexpected failures in the kitchen/recurring problems to firstname.lastname@example.org
On the third Friday of the month we will feature a Q&A with advice to help you recover.
Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth is available from Cannongate books, 2012
Follow Lily on Twitter @lilyvanillicake
For more information visit lilyvanilli.com
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