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).



  1. nice choice of flowers to go on top! Beautiful!

  2. Anonymous21/5/09 20:42

    I hate this comment thing...i can't seem to get it to work.

  3. Anonymous21/5/09 20:42

    ok now it works...i'll write what i meant to write a gallion times ago.

  4. Anonymous21/5/09 20:46

    I LOVED LOVED the cake. As with the frosting...the crustier I get the better I am!!!!!! I thought I posted this earlier, but obiviously did not, so I'll do it again for all the world to are now hell of a baker! white on white cake is fabalous...everyone should eat it! Thank you for my cake(s). BUT most of all THANK YOU for being my BFF.

  5. Victory! Yeah! Happy birthday Cookie... and to you too, Jen!
    The cake looked very pretty.

  6. Amanda, thanks! Red and yellow are her favorite colors.

    Cookie, poor dear, it seems that blogger technology got the best of you. I am glad you liked your white-white cake. Being your BFF is my pleasure, THANK YOU for being mine! (Cue golden Girls theme music now...) Love you!

    Melinda, thanks for the birthday wishes for me too!

  7. You other stooges are such cheeseballs!!! But I have to get in on the action...yes to white-white cakes, and yes to BFFs!

  8. That cakes looks super yummy. The flowers are beautiful. I think I need to get the cake bible you speak of. You are forever inspiring new cake ideas for me.

  9. Joelf, hey now, cheesy pouff, you'll be right there with us, in a caftan making us daquiris. Don't pretend you won't be. Love you too!

    Laurie, I highly recommend the Cake Bible! I have yet to find it's equal, and I don't expect to.

  10. ECL,
    Gorgeous cake! I'll be interested to hear what you think about Rose's new cake book when it comes out.
    Happy birthday to all!

  11. BBC, thank you! I can't wait for Rose's new cake book--all those fun new cakes to try!! I've put your new blog in my feed, too--can't wait to read about your cake adventures!!

  12. so it was really your birthday too? i hope it was happy.
    i checked out a doula book from the library today and plan to read it on vacation. thanks again for the advice!!

  13. Jini, yes, my birthday was May 27. Look for a birthday cake post next week!
    You are welcome for the advice! I hope you enjoy your doula book and your vacation!

  14. Hey Jenn--

    I just have to show off my birthday cake...cardamon flavored cake with lightly sweetened saffron-infused buttercream frosting. Check it out: