Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Perfect Frosting

We've all heard of... the "I'm Not a Frosting" person...they lurk in the offices, at the parties, or stop by the bake sale table. And I really can't say that I blame them, having had my share of super-sweet frosting with a strong confectioner's sugar overtone which is enough to make one scrape the excess off with a knife.

This frosting, however, is different.

Firstly, there isn't a trace of confectioner's sugar in the mix. Crazy, right? One cup of good ole granulated sugar completes this sweet topping.There's also flour, which is plenty common in the cake, but rarely seen in the frosting. Now that I've got your mouth watering, let's get on with the recipe!

As always, we begin with the ingredients:

The first step should be done well in advance as it will require some cooling time.

The flour and milk go into a small saucepan:

Get this all whisked together and put it over medium heat.

Whisk continuously and be sure to NOT walk away from this mixture, not even for a few seconds. It will thicken incredibly fast once it starts and even just a few seconds could make or break it. The end consistency should be around the texture of pudding.

Once it reaches pudding stage, remove it from heat and continue whisking it until it's all smooth.

Put this mixture aside until it's completely cooled. You can even transfer it to a dish and put it in the fridge. Even if it's cold, it's fine. Just as long as there's no trace of "hot" left!

Once you're ready to continue, get your butter and sugar into the mixer bowl and add the whisk attachment.

Mix for a few minutes until everything is fluffy.

Add the vanilla and the cooled flour/milk mixture.

Now, here's the critical part: put the mixer as high as you can without anything going flying out of the bowl. It will take nearly 8-9 minutes of high speed mixing before the frosting starts to look like frosting. Around the halfway point, you'll stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and wonder just what the crazy cake lady has gotten you into, when you see the slightly separated mixture. Don't fret. Keep Mixing!

At 5 minutes:
 At 10 minutes: (I added orange colouring since I'm going to use this on Halloween cupcakes tomorrow night!)

The final result for your time and patience is a wonderfully smooth and silky, light and sweet frosting. It is the perfect texture for piping a 1M swirl or icing that layered cake.

If you make it the night before (like I did) you'll want to seal it in an airtight container and keep it at room temperature. In the fridge, it tends to separate. But it keeps nicely in a container on the counter until you're ready to use it!!

Enjoy! :)


The Perfect Frosting

6 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of whole milk (1% or 2% work fine too :)
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 tsp of vanilla (or your choice) extract

Whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the mixture starts to thicken. It will thicken very quickly once it starts, so when it begins to look like pudding, remove it from the heat and whisk until it's smooth. Set it aside to cool completely. If it's not completely cooled, it will melt the butter in your final mixture and you'll end up with a runny final product.

Once the mixture is cooled, whisk together the butter and sugar in the mixer until it's fluffy. Then add the cooled flour and milk mixture and extract. Whisk at the highest speed you're comfortable with (around a 6-8 on my Kitchenaid mixer) for 8-10 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

This will make enough for a whole 8 inch cake or 24 cupcakes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Equipment Post

From time to time...I get a question from one of my fabulous followers asking about the products I use and the equipment I can't live without (ok, they don't quite word it like that, but I like to gush, so...) In order to limit the rambling, I've compiled a sort of Top Ten list of the products that make the LMC kitchen what it is! 

So I present to you, in no particular order (except for number 1):

The Equipment of LMC

10. Cookie Scoops! Okay, so they're technically just oddly-sized ice cream scoops, but these are a total lifesaver! The smallest ones are perfect for portioning cake pop mix, the medium are great for cookies, and the regular sized ones are the exact amount of batter needed to make that perfect little cupcake! To put it in perspective, at this exact moment, there isn't a single container of ice cream in the LMC household, yet there are no less than 6 scoops in the big kitchen drawer. 

Check 'em out: Cookie Scoops

9. Parchment Paper! Seriously, this stuff is a God-send! I mean, how else can you explain something so simple that prevents food from sticking to your brand new Wilton cookie sheet? :) Mr. LMC likes the individual sheets for this exact reason. Just toss the paper when you're done and marvel at the clean surface beneath. The LMC favourite is the pre-cut individual sheets. 

Check 'em out: Parchment Paper Sheets

8. Decorating Squeeze Bottles! I used to look at these in the store and think that people must be nuts to pay money for a little plastic squeeze bottle. I was very humbly proven wrong the first time I drizzled a little chocolate onto my nice new cake pops. Whether decorating pops, filling a chocolate mold, or just making some easy details on that birthday cake, these bottles are simply one of the handiest little tools you could ask for!

Check 'em out: Wilton Squeeze Bottles

7. Disposable Decorating Bags! I am particularly fond of these on the days when I need to do a quick detail and am too lazy to get out the couplers out. Just snip off the end and drop in a decorating tip and voila! And as I am a fan of simplicity, these cater to my simple goal of easy and accessible cake decorating :) 

Check 'em out: Disposable Decorating Bags

6. Gel Food Colouring! I once had a reader send me an email lamenting that no matter how much liquid colour she put in her fondant, she couldn't get the colour nor the texture of the fondant in my tutorial. Extra liquid in, well, any aspect of baking is bad. It is especially bad when making fondant or icing. Gel food colouring gives you a rich and real color without messing with the composition of your recipe. The darker colours should be used in moderation, as they do tend to have a bit of a taste to them, however Wilton does make a "No-Taste" version of their red colouring...perfect for the upcoming holiday season!

Check 'em out: Gel Food Colouring

5. Cookie Cutters! I'll admit, I have a slight obsession with cookie cutters. Drawers, cupboards and baskets in my kitchen all contain, at least, a few cutters each in different sizes and shapes. On several occasions, I've returned home with a newly purchased metal shape only to find out that it's a duplicate. Oh well, there's strength in numbers, right? Whether making cookies (obvious) or creating fondant cut outs for my next cake, I couldn't do without my cookie cutters :)

Check 'em out: Cookie Cutters

4.  Fondant Smoother! You know, I have to say that I didn't like this tool a whole lot when I first received it as a gift. But the most I used it, the more I liked it. This handy little tool holds the promise of a flawlessly smooth surface on your fondant and is super useful when working on the edges. And as I learned through trial and error, don't press too hard or else you'll be cleaning icing up from underneath the fondant when it squishes out the bottom! 

Check 'em out: Fondant Smoother

3. Silicone Spatulas! I love my single silicone spatula so much that over the past weekend I reminded Mr. LMC that a few more would be a really nice Christmas gift since it seems like I'm always pulling the one I have from the sink or dishwasher and hand washing it so I can use it again immediately. There's nothing particularly genius about these, I just really love them and their ability to get that last little bit of batter from the bottom of my mixer bowl :) 

Check 'em out: Silicone Spatulas

2. Silpat Silicone Mats! It was a very long time before I finally dished out the dough (ha!) and bought my first Silpat Silicone Mat. I mean, afterall, how much different was this than parchment paper? Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled my first batch of cake pops out of the deep freeze at an awkward angle and saw that nothing slipped. Thinking they were probably frozen to the Silpat's tacky surface, I took them off with ease and a sigh of relief. This hard working little mat was soon joined by his differently-sized friends and they've been in the deep freeze, freezer, fridge and oven without so much as a minor complication. In fact, the next major purchase on the LMC list is a larger Silpat for my cookie sheet. 

Check 'em out: Silpat Silicone Mats 

1. My Kitchen Aid Mixer! I love this appliance so much because for many, many years of my life, I believed that to acquire "Martha" status, one would require a Kitchen Aid mixer. I patiently awaited the day when one would unsuspectingly fall into my budget range and when that day happened, it was less than 6 hours and my new mixer came home with me. At first glance, she was christened with the name Louise, then I remembered that I owed this purchase to The Martha and so Martha-Louise was welcomed home. And every good thing you've heard about these mixers is true :) The power and design of this mixer makes every cake and batch of cupcakes just that much easier!

Check 'em out: Kitchenaid Professional Mixer

Happy Baking!