Thursday, May 26, 2005

buttercream frosting...icing...whatever.

see frosting, insert face.
this is for jen who asked for the buttercream frosting recipe.

and...if you haven't already read jen's exquisitely beautiful and eloquent comment on being a mother, do. it's the comment attached to my "motherhood + self-promotion" post. she's a writer and a very wise mother. perhaps i'll be like her when i grow up. hmm...the writer and mother part is promising...the growing up part? eh...notsamuch.

buttercream frosting was the only kind of frosting i ever recall my mother making. she used it for every birthday cake and Christmas cookie and pasta dish (kidding).

mom was like martha stewart, but nicer, prettier, and less felonious. she was full-time mom and homemaker, so birthday cakes were complex arts and crafts projects for her. she'd make several cakes (from a mix, mind you. it was my mom's opinion that you didn't need to waste your time making the cake part from scratch. i mostly agree with her, although i do make coconut cake from scratch. for a general, run of the mill bday cake, however, i think mixes are fine. spend your time and money on the icing. if that's homemade, they'll think the whole thing is.) - round, rectangular, square - cut them up, and then paste them together with her buttercream spackle to make any number of shapes not available in Wilton cake forms - Holly Hobby, a colorful bunch of balloons, and one year, a roll of Lifesavers (for which she used aluminum foil for the wrapper - clever!). at Christmas time, she'd make enormous batches of frosting and then divvie it up into little bowls. my brothers and i would squirt McCormick food coloring into the snowy whiteness, stir it up, fling it at each other, eat it by the spoonful, and slather whatever was left on sugar cookies.

mom was actually kind of snooty about her buttercream frosting. that gives me a little giggle as my mother was probably one of the least snooty people i know in every other area of her life, but about her buttercream icing, she was a bit hoity-toity. i actually remember her audibly scoffing at my suggestion that we use royal icing as the recipe suggested. ha! it was weeny in comparison to her thick, buttery powerhouse icing that you could plant an oak tree in, and seven minute icing, that meringue-like diabetic foam that i have since admitted into my frosting repertoire, was not even discussed.

in our house, it was just understood that if you needed to frost something, you frosted it with buttercream icing. period.

so, here you are, jen - mom's recipe for buttercream icing, and in her own handwriting to boot! you can make it chocolate, just add cocoa powder to taste (mom would have used Hershey's, but you can get fancy and use Scharfenberger).

and don't forget to make extra, there's nothing worse than an anemically frosted cake, except perhaps an unfrosted cake, and really, what's the point? cake, after all, is just a conduit for frosting.

Janie's Buttercream Icing

1 stick of butter, soft (mom has margarine there, but she never used it)
2-3 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla
dash of salt

1 egg yolk
1-2 T light karo syrup
(mom indicates that these are optional. i think the egg yolk is gross, and i don't ever remember her using either. if the frosting is a little too thick, add a little milk. but don't add too much. it should be spreadable, but substantial.)

Cream the butter. Add half the sugar and vanilla, beat. Add remainder of sugar, add milk to make it the proper consistency.

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