Buttercream to blow your mind

What do Hello Kitty, Spiderman and Peppa Pig have in common?

Apart from the fact that they are all popular requests for FCFK Hackney cakes, the answer is: we can recreate them in buttercream like pros. And we’ll let you into a secret: we most certainly aren’t pros!

So how to we do it? Well, it’s all down to the humble fridge-freezer. All hail the star of the show, the fridge-freezer!

Confused? You soon won’t be. Grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake and settle down for a masterclass. Don’t say we never give you anything!


(Full disclosure: we didn’t come up with this ourselves; we are not that awesome and don’t have those skillz. This was taught to us at our Christmas bakers’ social by Super Jess of Cakes 4 Fun fame; she is that awesome and does have those skillz.)

IMG_20140223_223650You will need:
– The image that you would like to adorn your cake with printed/drawn on to a piece of paper. (If it matters which way round the image is, ie. if it includes lettering, then you will need the image in reverse, ie. a mirror image of the true image. Still following?!)
– Some wax paper, or grease proof paper should do the job.
– Some piping bags. Disposable ones are great – you can cut the hole in the end to whatever size you want and a nozzle isn’t necessary.
– Buttercream dyed in as many colours as you want to feature in your image. Note: you don’t want your buttercream too sloppy so go steady if you use milk to loosen it. Also, top tip! If you want black, it’s easier to start with a chocolate buttercream. Yum yum!
– A freezer, and maybe a baking sheet or something stiff and flat and freezer-proof.
– And a cake. Never, ever forget the cake!

What you do:
– Get your printed/drawn image and cover it with your wax paper. If you put a tiny blob of buttercream between the two sheets it can stop them moving around and mucking up your design.
– Fill each of your piping bags with the separate colours of buttercream; twist the ends down; and cut the tips off. Note: you can always cut off more if you need more buttercream to come out, but you can’t stick it back on. Less is more. Didn’t your parents tell you that?!
– Take the piping bag of buttercream colour you’d like to outline your image in. If we’re using the example of Peppa Pig, we’d use a dark pink as the outline.
– Carefully, with as steady hand as possible, trace the outline of your image.
– Build up the rest of your image, using other colours where necessary. Peppa, for example, likes a nice rosy pink cheek, a dark pink smile and black dots in white eyes. Remember that your iced image will eventually be turned out so you need to build it up in layers from the outside in. This would mean doing the black pupil of the eye first and then piping over the top with white.
– Once you’ve created your outlines, you can pipe to fill in the design. Back to Peppa and we’d be using pale pink to fill. To get a nice flat design, or a slightly more 3D image, you can pipe over the entire back of your image.
– Then you just need to pop the wax paper with icing on into your freezer. (This is where a baking sheet might come in handy.) And wait for it to set hard.
– And then? Get it out the freezer; peel the buttercream away from the wax paper; place it carefully on your (iced) cake; and step back and admire your handiwork. You are a pro; queen (or king) of the buttercream; give yourself a pat on the back; you’ve earned your place in the FBCT (frozen buttercream transfer to those not in the know!) crew!

Here’s Hello Kitty (in miniature) step-by-step form (but do bear in mind that the larger the image, the easier it would be, unless you are a Borrower):

IMG_20131206_214750And if all that sounds as clear as mud, go and Google videos of frozen buttercream transfer techniques made by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

But do trust us on this one!

We may suck at writing instructions, but the icing itself really is relatively easy to do and the results are pretty spectacular, as demonstrated by the Spiderman face on this cake made by one of our bakers for one of our Hackney children shortly after she learnt the technique at our workshop. See! It’s so good that you’ll want to try it out immediately!

FBCT FTW say FCFK Hackney!

Ittt’sss Chrrriiissstttmas!

Hello all you lovely people! Are you ready for Christmas? Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall … or are you leaving that to Slade? Whether you like it or not, the big day is nearly upon us and what better way to get involved in the festivities than to share the details of our Christmas social for our bakers with you. It actually took place in November, but hey, we’re busy people and we had mince pies to eat in December, so November worked better for us.

First things first – a bow of gratitude to Debora who once again let us borrow her gorgeous kitchen in which to host our little soiree. And, sorry, we’re first in the queue if Debora decides to adopt anyone. Idyllic is the word. Idyllic. When we grow up we want to have kitchens like Debora’s; houses like Debora’s; screw it, we want to be Debora.

Moving on …

We are indebted to Jess, who shall from now on be referred to as Super Jess, and who knows pretty much everything there is to know about buttercream. She works at Cakes 4 Fun in Putney, which is a little bit of a trek from Hackney, but it would totally be worth the journey to roll icing with Super Jess. She used to work in the kitchens of the Berkeley Hotel producing their incredible Pret-a-Porteas. Need we say more?

So there was Super Jess and there was mulled wine (of course!) …

FCFK - christmas jessFCFK - christmas mulled wine

… and as we slurped the hot spicy stuff and nibbled on a spread to put any Boxing Day buffet to shame, Super Jess taught us how to crumb coat and ice a cake like a professional; how to make the perfect bear with perfect little ears made from a small flattened round of icing halved (who knew?!); how to create a magnificently pleated bow from decorators paste; and how to buttercream with the best of them – piping it, freezing it, then transferring it onto cakes.

FCFK - christmas pipingFCFK - christmas bearFCFK - christmas bow

Some of us were better than others when it came to having a go ourselves (and by others we mean the committee!), but you couldn’t fault the enthusiasm and concentration in the room. Tongues poked out of mouths, lost in the moment, as shaky hands gripped piping bags. A+ for effort, and the mulled wine probably helped us to become pros!

We will be sharing a couple of the masterclasses on here in the new year as best as we can so do keep coming back. It’s been an incredible year for FCFK Hackney and the party really topped it off for us so thank you to the bakers who came and celebrated with us …

FCFK - christmas group

… and HAPPY CHRISTMAS, everyone. We can’t wait until 2014 already. xxx