Sunday 14 October 2007

Dressing up cupcakes

As previously mentioned, while in Toronto, I managed to squeeze in a class on decorating cupcakes at Bonnie Gordon Cakes. For those of you who haven't heard of Bonnie Gordon, she is the genius behind all the wonderful creations featured on the Heather Locklear movie, The Perfect Man. (You can check out pictures of her creations by clicking on the link above)

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Designer Cookie class that I took with several days prior, I was very much looking forward to this particular class. In addition, since I had scheduled a private session, I was relishing the chance to ask all the stupid questions that I had about decorating that I didn't quite want to voice in front of other people.

My teacher this time was a lovely lady named Sarah who spent about 7 years as a pastry chef at a restaurant before deciding to move into cake decorating and chocolate making. She is the person responsible for all the lovely creations featured in the photo at the beginning of this post and below. (Sorry to disappoint those of you who thought I might have been the one who made these lovely cupcakes!)

During our two and a half hour class we covered the basics of decorating cupcakes such as the right buttercream consistency for cupcakes (used to create even mounds on top of cupcakes before layering on the fondant), creating thumb roses and ribbon roses from 50/50 (a 50-50 mix of fondant and gum paste), using cutters, embossers and veiners to create decorations for cupcakes, etc. We also spent time talking about the endless possibilities for coloring the decorations such as using gel pastes, lustre dusts and petal dusts. Before this session, I had no idea the sheer amount of tools that existed to aid in making baked goods look pretty. One can easily spend thousands, and I really mean thousands, on this equipment. Don't believe me? Just go to Yahoo or Google and search for cake decorating or sugarcraft equipment to see for yourself.

In the short time allocated for the class, it was hard to complete many of the more intricate designs that Sarah had done in advance since many of the decorations you see take about 24 hours to fully dry. Still, I was able to create some simple roses, bows and butterflies to make my own cupcakes. (see smaller pictures directly below) I know I've got a long way to go, but hey, you have to start somewhere! In any case, for those of you who are interested in cupcake decorating, I've reproduced the perfect buttercream recipe below. Enjoy!

Perfect Buttercream

1 cup sugar
5 pasteurized egg whites
2 cups butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla

Warm egg whites and sugar, whisking continuously over a pot of simmering water. When sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot, whip meringue in a bowl of an electric mixer until cooled, thick and tripled in volume. Add butter in chunks mixing continuously. When butter if fully incorporated and the buttercream has a smooth silky look, whisk in any desired flavourings.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe buttercream on tops of cooled cupcakes.