Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cookie Gets Even Crustier

My best friend Cookie asked for another white-white birthday cake this year, and of course I vowed to deliver. I really wanted to master that damn crusty frosting she loves, and this year I was pretty sure I had finally, totally, figured it out.

cookie's birthday cake

April 15, 2009
Name of cake: Crusty, part three
Occasion: Cookie turns 30, yet again
Constituents: 2 layers, 9-inch white velvet butter cake filled and frosted with crusty white American buttercream

For those of you that need a refresher on the subject of Cookie and Crusting: Crusty, part one, and Crusty, part two.

Two years ago, when the quest for crusty frosting began, I discovered the website Baking 911, where I learned that (what I like to call) American buttercream tends to crust if certain precautions are not taken: you need to substitute shortening for part of the butter, and/or you need to use full-fat milk instead of low or non-fat milk. This keeps the crusting at bay.

Two years ago, I decided on a 50% shortening frosting, to make sure the frosting didn't crust so badly it would crack. Cookie said it could have been crustier. Last year, I used 100% butter but full-fat milk. Cookie said it was better, but it could have been even crustier. This year, I used 100% butter and low-fat milk. Cookie seemed impressed with the crusting. Finally.

The cake was, as always, really easy to put together. The cake is straight out of The Cake Bible, page 46. I can bust out this cake faster, it seems, than any other. And I love that!

the best i could do

We spent her birthday re-learning how to roller skate. Cookie has discovered her hidden talent and would like to take up rollerskating as a hobby. It was fun, but sometimes going around and around in circles can get a little monotonous. The roller rink is down in the Sellwood neighborhood at Oaks Park, our own little amusement park. I've never been there before and it looks like a fun place to spend a warm evening this summer eating cotton candy and riding the bumper cars. Portland just keeps getting more and more awesome.

dorky skating collage

As does Cookie. Have you all read about how she saved my eyeball from popping out of my head? We all are very lucky to have her as a friend, even if she does like crusty frosting.

birthday rose

Cookie-Approved Classic American Crusty Buttercream

This stuff kind of offends me, what with its ridiculously high proportion of powdered sugar, but most of us were raised on this stuff so it feels familiar. As a tribute to Cookie, I have decided to post the recipe.

makes 4 cups (enough to fill and frost a 2 layer 9-in cake)
  • softened butter, one cup
  • powdered sugar, a ton (4 cups)
  • vanilla extract, 1 tsp
  • low-fat milk, 2 tbsp (or more)
Beat the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 min. Reduce speed to low; slowly add the powdered sugar. Once incorporated, add vanilla and enough milk to thin out frosting to desired consistency. I prefer about 4-5 tbsp to get a nice spreadable consistency. Use immediately; it will begin to crust up after about 20 minutes. No need to refrigerate, but after a week at room temperature it starts to look not as good (but it won't be spoiled).