Wednesday, February 18, 2009

O Buttercream, you are mine!

Finally, after many long weeks of waging war against the Mousseline Buttercream (aka Italian BC), I am VICTORIOUS! The MBC shall bow to my every wish and whim! It shall sit and look (almost) pretty on chocolate cupcakes!

I managed to get all the temperatures and timing correct enough to produce the finest specimen of BC available to me. Several people at Lee & Marsha's wedding site visit in Natick concurred. (And later on, a friend of Vitas's who I don't really know. Thanks, Jeff!)

It's a weird substance, this MBC (from The Cake Bible). If you eat it alone (say, maybe because your clean finger accidentally fell into the bowl after the BC was done mixing and you had to clean it off some how...), it has a bit of a greasy feel, and does taste like the smoothest butter in the world, even with the addition of a liquor. Its positives outweigh its negatives, by far: it holds up in and on cake wonderfully, it is easy to pipe, and makes an exceedingly excellent partner with cake. And so, cake continues to be a conveyor for frosting, but I would not eat this frosting without the cake.

As noted in a previous post, O Buttercream, WTF?!, I probably could have used the beater attachment for the Kitchenaid stand mixer, which is un-oxidized now. (Barkeeper's Friend, indeed!) Once again, I chickened out. Besides, I need the whisk attachment to make the meringue, so I'll stick with it for the whole recipe.

Cake was ok, a little too dry (of course), and still not what I'm looking for in a chocolate cake.

Details about the cupcakes:
Chocolate Butter Cake and Mousseline Buttercream from The Cake Bible.
Baked the cake in my fantasic new Calphalon mini-cupcake pan. (Did I mention I really cleaned up at a sale at the Calphalon outlet in Wrentham? Oh yes, it was a fine sight to behold!)
Flavored the MBC with 2/3 Kahlua and 1/3 vanilla extract.

MBC dyed with Wilton and Betty Crocker gel colors.

MBC made just before decorating, and night before serving.
Cupcakes made 3 days before serving.
Cupcakes decorated the night before serving.

Transported in egg carton.

Bottom line:
MBC is still darn picky! My kitchen is too cold in the winter. Get the simple syrup up to 250 degrees F, and add it in 3 portions to the meringue, mixing on high for a few seconds between each portion. If the BC starts to weep or separate, warm it a little (if not finished adding the butter, warm the butter for about 5 seconds in nuker), and beat the holy hell out of it. The liquor flavoring mellows really fast. After a few days, I could barely taste it at all. Be liberal with flavorful additions.

To use MBC if it's sitting for more than a few hours, ensure it is warm enough (about 68 to 70 degrees F) and re-beat with a mixer. Way too time and effort consuming to do it by hand.


  1. You're welcome. While I only got to see and try half the cake the day after, it was still quite good. Best of luck with your journey to an amazing wedding cake!

    --the aforementioned jeff

  2. Thanks again, Aforementioned Jeff.
    And now you get to see the whole cake ("Faux Book" post). Given your catering experience, do you have any advice for the day of the event? I'd appreciate anything you have to say about the subject. :)

  3. Definitely think ahead on transport and/or assembly of the cake. Traveling in the summer is rarely pleasant for showpieces. Bring a repair kit to touch up any flaws. What that would involve for fondant, I'm not sure -- I don't deal much with the bakery side of the business. When designing the cake, keep in mind how it will look cut and served. Depending on the size of the wedding and pace and style of reception, consider when you need the bride and groom to cut the cake in order to get it plated for the meal.

    Weddings rarely follow the schedules they set, but that shouldn't be a big matter for you.

    Most of all, assume nothing will go right (I've never witnessed a perfect event yet...) and give yourself the time and calm to correct any issues.

    Try to have any issues you need to discuss with the bridge or groom done at least a week before the wedding... then you can avoid any last-minute stress for you or them.