Personally, I think the key to a memorable cake is the icing. A good cake helps, but it’s the icing that really makes the cake, not just visually but in the mouth. People remember a great tasting icing even if the cake is simply decorated.
My absolute favorite icing is the Neoclassic Icing from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. It might seem a little challenging because of the sugar syrup though if you’re careful and give yourself time, this icing will reward you with rave reviews at your next party.
I used this icing last year for a cute duckie cake I made for my youngest son’s 3 year old birthday party. I’m using it again for the cross-shaped cake that I made for my 8 year old son’s First Communion Party in 2 weeks.
Neoclassic Buttercream Icing
from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups unsalted butter, softened for 30 minutes
Set out butter to soften 30 minutes before starting the recipe.
Start beating the egg yolks in a mixer until the yolks turn yellow in color. According to Beranbaum, an electric mixer is preferable to a stand mixer, though I have never had an issue using my stand mixer.
While the egg yolks are beating, heat the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. The mixture will come to a rolling boil with the surface covered with large bubbles. Immediately pour the mixture into a heat proof glass measuring cup. I reuse the cup I used to measure the corn syrup. If the syrup does not come to a rolling boil, the icing will be too thin.
Turn off the mixer and add a small amount of the egg mixture to the egg yolks. Don’t drop any of the sugar mixture on the paddle or on the side of the bowl. Turn the mixer on for 5 seconds, and then turn it off again to add another small amount of sugar mixture. Continue adding small amounts and mixing for 5 seconds until the cup is empty. Use a spatula to remove the last bit of sugar mixture from the cup. Take your time doing this step to make sure the sugar mixture doesn’t get on the paddle or on the side of the bowl.
Continue beating the egg yolks with the sugar mixture until they are completely cooled. This also ensures that the egg yolks don’t cook in the sugar mixture.
When ready, beat in the butter gradually. I like to add a few tablespoons at a time. You can also add an additional flavoring if you want. I usually add about 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
To store the buttercream icing, you can freeze it in an airtight container for 8 months, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or at room temperature for 6 hours. When using frozen buttercream, allow it to come completely to room temperature and then mix the butter cream to get the right consistency and texture before spreading.
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