Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The PERFECT icing recipe
Mmmm....icing. Corner piece, anyone?
I grew up on good old fashioned, crisco ladened, buttercream icing. For me, it must be buttercream. Not royal. Not cream cheese. Buttercream. And lots of it.
However...since I have given up shortening (for reasons, see my rant on trans fats in this post), I have had to tweak the Wilton recipe I grew to love.
So...after many, many bowls of icing...and many failed (well, I mean we still ate it) attempts, my sister and I have perfected the buttercream recipe. The key ingredient? You guessed it- more butter!
Here's what we do:
2 sticks of butter (softened)
5-6 cups of powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla (or almond extract, depending on your taste)
1/4 c milk
Cream the butter. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup or so at a time, alternating with the milk. If you are feeling really decadent, you can use cream instead of milk.
If the icing is too stiff, add more milk. Too thin, add more sugar. I have found that it really depends on the humidity outside. Sometimes only 4.5 cups works, but most of the time I use 5 cups of sugar. The key is to keep it soft enough that you can spread it, while stiff enough that it will keep it's shape when piping icing into stars or other shapes. I usually opt for thicker and then dip my spreader or icing tip into warm water to make it easier to work with.
That's all there is to it. YUM.
Note: You can use Spectrum Shortening, but I find that the taste is not as good. It does hold it's shape really well, though. I have also used coconut oil, but again I prefer the taste of good old fashioned butter.
Now for food coloring. After happening upon this book in the library on food allergies and behavior problems by accident, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try out the suggested elimination diet and allergy test with my girls. I was amazed at the results. The two main culprits affecting their behavior: sugar and red dye. It was really eye opening. My kiddos don't really have behavior problems, but after seeing the affects of sugar and dyes, I became more vigilant about minimizing both in our diet.
Well, I'm no Grinch.
Actually, I did go through a phase of making very healthy, very yucky cakes with too little sugar- sorry Julie!- before finding my happy place with sugar for special occasions and these natural dyes. I really like them, and they work well for pastel colors.
The India Tree dyes don't make a blue enough icing for Julie's boys' Thomas trains, but I have found this natural coloring kit that is supposed to make a spectacular blue. I plan to buy this pack next.