One of the basic skills which all pastry cooks must learn is how to ice a cake properly with buttercream frosting. It is challenging to do perfectly and quickly but with a little practice it becomes routine. Ironically, in my hands, the faster I do it, the better the result because I have a tendency to obsess about every little imperfection, become irrationally addicted to the pursuit of absolute smoothness, and futz around compulsively with my offset spatula. When the buttercream layer is just to mask a cake which will subsequently be covered with rolled fondant, perfection is less critical; however, when the buttercream is the final layer, my obsessive-compulsive traits are unparalleled. Luckily, I have learned to put down my spatula.
This 10 inch round carrot cake for an engagement party in the Okanagan was a joy to create. My carrot cake recipe from school produces an unusually light carrot cake, which was gently soaked with Cointreau simple syrup. Cream cheese frosting is a mandatory accompaniment. Because cream cheese has a much higher water content than butter, my cream cheese frosting is lovely and soft, making it a delicious filling but not ideal for decorating. Instead, I used regular Italian buttercream for the outer decorative layer. Fresh buttercream is actually very light and airy, giving a smooth but almost porous appearance when spread.
Letting go of each cake I make is still oddly poignant for me. I worry about how it will look after transport, how it will taste, will people like it etc. This cake will be travelling quite a distance so I wish it bon voyage et bon appétit!