Call me a perfectionist, but I am always smitten by cakes that come out of the pan so perfectly baked that the sides are straight and sharp. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many cake pan horror shows in my day (my own in the early days, and every now and then via photos my friends share with me). Just a few months ago a friend texted a photo of her husband’s birthday cake post-oven and it was a doozy. Even though she greased and floured the sides of the pan, for some reason the cake decided to stick to bottom of the pan and leave her with a crumbled mess. All the buttercream in the world couldn’t hide it’s imperfections.
I’ve tested a ton of buttercream recipes in my day, but my go-to is a super simple American buttercream recipe that I’ve tweaked to my liking. I’ve used this recipe for frosting countless cakes and cupcakes and I’m a big believer that a good vanilla buttercream is something every baker should have in their recipe box. There’s nothing fancy about the way this recipe is made, but it will certainly taste like you whipped up something special!
I have a little confession to make: when I first started making cakes, my secret go-to for far too long was the box vanilla cake mix by Betty Crocker.
Phew. Now you know.
Since I became accustomed to the light and fluffy texture of said box mix, every time I tried to make a vanilla cake from scratch, the result seemed off. Blame it on the lack of Propylene Glycol Mono (or the handful of other ingredients in box mixes that you’ve never heard of), but my from-scratch vanilla cakes always ended up too dense, tasted a little cornbread-ish, and just didn’t have that fluffy appeal. Finding a go-to vanilla cake recipe from scratch felt like a mountain I had to climb, but after (what felt like) five hundred tries and a whole lot of not giving up, I’ve found a recipe that is beyond my wildest cake dreams.
Over the years I’ve learned that, aside from fondant, white chocolate is one of the best mediums for creating cake toppers. It’s great for making fun geometric shapes, 3D art (I hope to master the white chocolate sphere someday!), and one of my favorite techniques: painting with white chocolate to create brush strokes. It’s one of the easiest techniques ever, and when you get a little creative with your colors the results can be breathtaking. Let me show you how it’s done:
When I first started making cakes, I was so pleased to find out that my local craft store had a whole two aisles full of cake decorating supplies! All of the tools in those aisles were Wilton and they became the foundation of my toolset for years to come. Although I have incorporated some other brands into my cake decorating arsenal I am most definitely still a huge fan of Wilton, especially since their tools have taken a beating from me over the last several years and have held up pristinely.
I wanted to shed a spotlight on my favorite piping tip of all time, the classic Wilton 4B. It’s an open star tip that I’ve come to love for creating unique designs on cakes and cupcakes. It really shines when you get a little crafty with color.
The other day I had an epiphany while I was perusing the aisles at Trader Joe’s. I stumbled upon their selection of freeze dried fruits and when I saw the raspberries I knew I had to try them in a buttercream recipe. The results? Absolutely flawless flavor, not too sweet (like when you use raspberry jam or preserves), not watery (like when you use fresh raspberries), and so easy to work with!