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Buttercream Flowers


Wendy DeBord
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Ok so I'll admit I've done my best over the years to avoid making buttercream flowers. Mainly because I wasn't seeing any designs using them that I really loved and it just never occured to me to figure out how to use them better. I LOVE the way http://www.cupcakecafe.com uses their buttercream flowers. To me, they take them into another dimension that really excites me!

Yesterday I had a bride ask me to make a cake that is very similar to Cupcake Cafe's style. The photo she showed me didn't have any credits on it, but I'd definately guess it's their cake.

So I need to learn how to make buttercream flowers like they do and it's something I've longed to really learn. The frosting I use just won't let me pipe out such 3d flowers. Can someone suggest a recipe they have that definately will hold?

Also I'm seeking any advice and tips you all might have on doing similar designs/flowers as that bakery. When I look at their photos the depth they achieve on their flowers seems exceptional and exceptionally heavy to place on the edge of your cake. I know using my frosting the only way that weight would hold is if it remained cold, the minute it warmed to room temp. I'd have a avalanche.

Do you think they are piping a base under their flowers to add to the depth of appearance they get on their borders?

How do I pipe out flowers and get the bends they do? For example they have daisy's that look folded in half to squeeze into their arrangements. It almost appears as if they piped them dirrectly on the cake..........but I don't think I could hold my bag at the angles they achieve doing that.

How about their mums............look at that great dimension they get........how can I achieve that?

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Here's the buttercream recipe from the Cupcake Cafe cookbook (Their directions go on and on -- I've "tersified" them to save typing and avoid copyright issues):

4 cups sugar

1 cup water

6 eggs, room temperature

2 ½ pounds unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water, bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Cover 5 minutes. Insert candy thermometer and bring syrup to 236F without stirring.

Beat eggs a bit, then add sugar syrup a bit at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Cover and let cool to room temperature.

Beat butter, add the egg “goop” a bit at a time until it’s all incorporated. Add vanilla.

That's pretty much the recipe I use for my basic buttercream. I use the more traditional method of adding the butter to the egg mix instead of adding the egg mix to the butter. I've done it both ways, and haven't found a real advantage to one over the other. The consistency is great, but I'd probably find it awfully soft for piping flowers (but then I don't pipe many flowers). Could be that their method of beating the butter and adding the egg goop makes a firmer icing -- it's been a while since I did it that way, so I really don't remember.

There aren't many photos in the book, but the few in the decorating section show them piping all the flowers directly onto the cake. For most, they make a mound of icing, then pipe the flower (roses included) onto the mound right on the cake surface. that's how they get the interesting petal angles. Limber up your wrists! :raz:

I'd say just make sure to keep the buttercream cool, and beat it right before use for best results.

HTH

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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Hi Wendy, I have done a lot of buttercream flowers over the years. Looking at the Cupcake Cafe site I didn't see any reference to real butter being used in their icing, so I'm guessing it is made with high ratio shortening (sweetex, etc). You need a pretty thick icing to get the flowers to stand up and salute. I usually use a lot of sweetex, powdered sugar and very little liquid for these type of flowers. They all appear to have been piped directly on the cakes. I used to make a lei decoration that is similar to the cakes with the flowers hanging off the sides, to get that effect I would pipe a thick rope with a large round tip around the top edge of the cake then pipe the flowers over it. Woriking around in a circle I would finish each inch before moving on. In other words I would pipe three or four flowers from the inside of the cake over the rope to the outside then move on to the next area to the right. Some people might like to go to the left, it doesn't matter. You have to angle the tips on your pastry bag to acheive the standing up of the petals, also they are probably using tips like numbers 60, 61, 79,80,81 you can see a picture of these tips on the Sugarcraft site under standard metal tips. the 60 and 61 tips are probably what they are using for the daisies, and the 79,80,81 for the mums. When I make mums I pipe a ball of icing then cover it with petals, you can start at the center and work out or from the outside and work in to the center, you need to change the angle of the tip so the petals stand away from the ones below and above. The daisy is piped similar with just one row going around the center then the stamens are piped in the center. If this isn't clear enough try to get an older Wilton catalogue or book, they used to have instructions for these flowers. Most were made on nails with wax paper pieces under and let set to dry, but you can do them directly on a cake. If you have any other questions I'll be happy to try and help, mostly the things you need are the thick icing, the correct tips and patience to practice. You can practice on overturned cake pans, then scrape off the icing and try again until it gets comfortable for you. Hope this helps, Marilyn

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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For bended daisies, use a crusting decorators BC (I used to have B. Van Norstrand's recipe, but palm crashed and it's gone; now I use Winbecklers) and pipe the daisy on a waxed paper square on top of flower nail. But don't pipe the whole daisy; just do 3/4 of it. Fold the wax paper into a cone-like shape. It's hard to describe in words; pinch two perpendicular sides together, and use the sides where the flower is not complete. Then put the paper on a sheet pan and put something heavy on the paper to hold it in place while it dries. When the flower is dry, peel the paper away very carefully and place the daisy on the cake.

You can also place daisies, either complete or partially formed, into flower formers and dry, then place on the cake when dry for a more 3D effect than piped-on flowers.

You can tuck these into hard-to-reach places and they look very cute. I don't bother with them most of the time because of how much longer they take, but for a wedding cake, they would look great.

I've heard the cupcake cafe uses a french buttercream, and the pictures in the book look shinier than a shortening buttercream, but eating massive gobs of the french buttercream sounds really unappealing to me. Make sure your bride likes this stuff; when I've used italian or french bc for customers not expecting it, they are disappointed not to get a sugary bakery buttercream.

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Wendy,

An Italian bc will provide the stiffness you need, and if you incorporate 10% shortening, it won't melt as easily in your bag.

I've had their cakes, and as I recall, it looked piped directly on, with a good tasting icing. If you want more dimension, why not pipe a bit underneath the flowers. Play around; it doesn't need to completely COPY their cakes, and you'll get a real feel for it, while using your own sense of style.

I've done similar types of cakes:

http://www.cakesuite.com/portfolio/image.p...tionid=3&page=1

and they're easier than you think!

You WILL end up with more icing on your cake than people will want to eat, but that's okay, they can scrape off what they don't want, and all the yummy cake inside will make up for the excess icing. I think that it's inevitable with this kind of design.

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Wendy,

I have the Cupcake Cafe book and I was always intrigued with their flowers too.

In the Wilton method of teaching, they use flower formers to give the flowers curves and when I taught this is how I instructed my students. Whether it was pansies, daisies etc. we always use the flower former to let the flowers dry.

When I learned a few years ago another instructor had us pipe a bit of frosting on the cake and then place the flowers to give the height and dimension to the flowers. I still follow that for my cakes today.

Believe, Laugh, Love

Lydia (aka celenes)

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I am so glad to see this thread.

Lately, I was so inspired by cupcakecafe's flowers.

I am considering taking wilton's cake decoration class.

Is there any other way to learn this kind of skill other than wilton class?

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Maybe I'm alone on this, but I see a diifference between Cupcake Cafe's flowers and Wiltons. They each pipe out flowers, but the length/ height/structure/3D depth of Cupcake Cafe's buttercream petals are exceptional to Wiltons.

I've been practicing piping flowers dirrectly on my cakes and I haven't figured out how they do this so well. I can't seem to contort my tip and bag to achieve the angles they get on the backside of their flowers. Making a rose with-out being able to turn the rose in your hand is pretty difficult. I can't make my right hand work in every angle. It's really hard for me to believe they pipe all their flowers right on the cake..........maybe only the 2D ones?

MkFradin are you saying dry buttercream flowers in shape?

Mukbo, you can try to learn thru books on your own.......... and theres many private cake decorators that teach from their studios if your looking for a source other the Wilton.

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Wendy, you are not alone. Those flowers on cupcake cafe's cakes are amazing. I do think that part of it is the overall design and the colors they use, but am not sure with just a cursory look. I wish you luck and time to practice, I think those are the two key factors.

On a side note, on Sat. I was offering to make a wedding cake for a casual wedding, now I am shaking in my boots! If they take me up on it, I'm going to need a lot of advice !

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Hi Wendy!

Hey, here's a wild thought. Their website says they don't ship. Perhaps you can call them and explain your situation and ask them how they do it. Is this type of information generally proprietary?

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I can't figure out how it's humanly possible to pipe flowers like that directly onto the cake. My wrists hurt just thinking about it. I think they have a bunch of nimble, double-jointed, little elves decorating in the middle of the night.

EDIT: I think this requires an investigative field trip on my part to see if I can sneak some peaks into their kitchen. I've never been to the Cupcake Cafe before.

Edited by sherribabee (log)
Sherri A. Jackson
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Wendy,

Thank you for the advise.

I wish you good luck.

Regarding cake decoration classes and books,

Now I am gathering information as much as possible, so any comment will be appreciated.

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Check your local library for a copy of Martha Stewarts video on Cake Decorating--Ann Warren, the owner of Cupcake Cafe, appeared and did a demo on making her style of flowers(they are piped directly on the cake). HTH! :smile:

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Check your local library for a copy of Martha Stewarts video on Cake Decorating--Ann Warren, the owner of Cupcake Cafe, appeared and did a demo on making her style of flowers(they are piped directly on the cake). HTH!  :smile:

Thanks for that tip! I'll certainly look for it.

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Hi Wendy, You are right when you say the Wilton flowers look different from the

Cupcake Cafe's flowers, but they are essentially the same. I suggested the Wilton books so you could learn the process of making the flowers. The difference is how a person interprets them. The Cupcake Cafe does larger flowers probably using larger tip sizes. When I make piped roses I don't use a number 104 tip very often, only when I am making very small roses or buds I usually use a 127 and I make the center double tall to begin with so there is lots of room for many petals. Also the Cupcake Cafe pipes the petals of their roses straight up and just curves them around each other instead of piping them angeling out. Last week after I read your original post I had a cake order for a birthday with just flowers, lately I have been using fondant to make ribbon roses and other simple flowers, but I got inspired to make a cake similar to theirs. I used a recipe that is on Sarah's Baking 911 site for Italian buttercream that has some powdered sugar worked in and it worked great for the flowers, the cake sat in my area for about 4 hours before it was taken out to the party and it held up great, no drooping petals or anything. I piped the rope of icing like I described in my above post and also added some blobs in a few places to get more height. I piped on leaves, and daisies and small five petal no name flowers , some roses etc. I also made some larger roses on my nail and moved them on to the cake with my small spatula where I wanted more definition. The cake looked pretty much like theirs. You can also pipe daisies, mums and the generic five petal flowers on your nail by piping a ball of icing on the nail making the flower on top of it and moving it with your spatula to tuck into spaces, if you turn your nail carefully sideways as you set the flower on the cake you can make the flower face sideways instead of sitting facing straight up. If you know how to pipe the flowers already you just need to use your imagination and creativity to make it look like you want. You can also pipe part of a flower on your nail, move it to the cake and add more petals right on the cake to get the tucked in appearance. Hope this is some help to you. Marilyn

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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Here's the buttercream recipe from the Cupcake Cafe cookbook (Their directions go on and on -- I've "tersified" them to save typing and avoid copyright issues):

Here's a link to the entire recipe. There are also some interesting links at the bottom of the page.

Di

Edited by DiH (log)
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I got inspired to make a cake similar to theirs.  I used a recipe that is on Sarah's Baking 911 site for Italian buttercream that has some powdered sugar worked in and it worked great for the flowers, the cake sat in my area for about 4 hours before it was taken out to the party and it held up great, no drooping petals or anything.

Did you get a picture of it that you can post? I'd love to see it!

Di

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What's the deal with buttercream? (bear with me, I'm Dnish and have not grown up with the stuff) Most of the recipes I've seen in run-of-the-mill cookbooks look disgusting (lots of shortening and artificial flavouring), so I stopped after one attempt, because a mouthful of sweet, chemical tasting grease does nothing for me. Also having cheap, commercial buttercream-covered cakes when visiting the States put me off a fair bit.

Whenever I've needed to decorate a cake it's either been with royal icing (incl. flowers or other), rolled fondant, marcipan, ganache or simply whipped cream. This thread has got me all curious to try again with buttercream, as the Cupcake cafe recipe looks a bit more palatable. But how does the stuff handle - what happens once the cake is covered and the flowers piped? Does it set? Does it keep? Does the hot syrup cook the yolks, or should I use pasturized yolks? Any other recommendations regarding recipes? I'm all keen to get experimenting and piping flowers, even if most Danes think they are a bit naff.

Thanks

/Mette

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MkFradin are you saying dry buttercream flowers in shape?

Yes. Betty Van Norstrand's bc recipe was high in confectioners' sugar and dried stiff after 24 hours at room temp, so decorations could be made ahead and placed on the cake when needed. the best part was that the flowers, even when dried, would absorb some moisture from the cake and not be crunchy like royal. It was the best of both worlds. If anyone took her class at the CIA and can post the recipe (assuming it's OK with BVN), it was a nice recipe; firm, without being too dry.

Other buttercream recipes with meringue powder or high proportions of conf. sugar will also dry firm enough to peel paper away or make shapes in advance. Obviously, none of these contain real butter!

To get petals to curve around, can you try using a curved leaf tip instead of the 104 or 103 (I don't use them, so I don't know the numbers)? In the alternative, you can try piping he flowers from the outside in, pipe the outside petals first and go inwards, or else pipe the center on a nail and place it inside the outline of outside flowers.

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What's the deal with buttercream? (bear with me, I'm Dnish and have not grown up with the stuff) Most of the recipes I've seen in run-of-the-mill cookbooks look disgusting (lots of shortening and artificial flavouring), so I stopped after one attempt, because a mouthful of sweet, chemical tasting grease does nothing for me. Also having cheap, commercial buttercream-covered cakes when visiting the States put me off a fair bit.

Whenever I've needed to decorate a cake it's either been with royal icing (incl. flowers or other), rolled fondant, marcipan, ganache or simply whipped cream. This thread has got me all curious to try again with buttercream, as the Cupcake cafe recipe looks a bit more palatable. But how does the stuff handle - what happens once the cake is covered and the flowers piped? Does it set? Does it keep? Does the hot syrup cook the yolks, or should I use pasturized yolks? Any other recommendations regarding recipes? I'm all keen to get experimenting and piping flowers, even if most Danes think they are a bit naff.

Thanks

/Mette

Hey Mette,

I had most wonderful cakes and bread in Denmark.

In the bakery called Gracier (I am not sure) had really really good cakes and cookies.

I really really miss them.

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Maybe I'm alone on this, but I see a diifference between Cupcake Cafe's flowers and Wiltons. They each pipe out flowers, but the length/ height/structure/3D depth of Cupcake Cafe's buttercream petals are exceptional to Wiltons.

I've been practicing piping flowers dirrectly on my cakes and I haven't figured out how they do this so well. I can't seem to contort my tip and bag to achieve the angles they get on the backside of their flowers. Making a rose with-out being able to turn the rose in your hand is pretty difficult. I can't make my right hand work in every angle. It's really hard for me to believe they pipe all their flowers right on the cake..........maybe only the 2D ones?

MkFradin are you saying dry buttercream flowers in shape?

No, you're not alone... CC's flowers and Wilton's are worlds apart. I'm intrigued by them too so I've been squeezing in a bit of playtime during the past couple of days.

I know what you mean by not being able to achieve all the angles in order to pipe the flowers next to each other. The first flower goes on just fine... but piping the next flower smooshes the side petals of the first one, and so on and so on. There's gotta' be a way. Then again, if it was that easy we'd all be doing it.

Have you tried the CC recipe yet that BKeith had posted? Is it's consistency stiff enough to get the height of CC's taller and more slender petals, like on their zinnias? To me, that's the mystery... how to keep the height without having to turn my a/c down to 32 degrees. :sad:

Di

Edited by DiH (log)
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Have you tried the CC recipe yet that BKeith had posted?  Is it's consistency stiff enough to get the height of CC's taller and more slender petals, like on their zinnias?  To me, that's the mystery... how to keep the height without having to turn my a/c down to 32 degrees.  :sad:

I haven't had a chance yet to make any new frostings.

Mette........everything, every food comes down to personal taste and what your used to or attracted to. I could say the same thing about traditional Asian bean paste pastries.........I just don't really "get them" taste wise. But others love them and for them I'd make bean paste filled pastries. I think you get used to items tasting a particular way. What I'd choose myself to eat or put into my dessert cakes is different. Like you, I use ganches and whipped cream, etc... You won't see an item on my dessert menu that contains buttercream. I use buttercream frosting, pretty much only for 'decorated' cakes.

Back to the pastry tips.............yes, I agree that they must be using much larger tips in conjuction to a stiff frosting.

Pastrymama, I guess I should mention that I'm not new to decorating. I'm really talking about very specific little details that set one decorators skill set apart from anothers......or recipe that makes something easier or harder to handle. The color scheme I'm definately aware of. They do use beautiful palate choices! I've tried my whole life to be aware of that. "Also the Cupcake Cafe pipes the petals of their roses straight up and just curves them around each other instead of piping them angeling out." That's definately one of the finer details I want to observe.

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Wendy I realize you are not new to decorating, I have seen the work you have posted pictures of and it is very nice. You did say you didn't have much experience with buttercream flowers, so that is where my advice was coming from. We obviously can't tell you exactly how they do their cakes, only what it appears like to us. Unless of course we worked there or saw them working. I have been doing cakes since the 1970's and have had to change my style many times to keep up with the times, it takes a lot of practice to accomplish changing style because we get used to what we are doing. I would suggest you just keep practicing and work it into your own style. I offer my advice with an open heart and a wish to help others accomplish something they are trying to do. I hope it is taken that way and not a put-down to anyone.

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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"Also the Cupcake Cafe pipes the petals of their roses straight up and just curves them around each other instead of piping them angeling out." That's definately one of the finer details I want to observe.

We obviously can't tell you exactly how they do their cakes, only what it appears like to us.  Unless of course we worked there or saw them working.

Wendy, maybe you could contact Ann Warren/Cupcake Cafe and extend a personal invitation for her to join the eGForums... and give us a photo-tutorial. YESSSSS!!! :raz:

Di

Edited by DiH (log)
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"I used a recipe that is on Sarah's Baking 911 site for Italian buttercream that has some powdered sugar worked in and it worked great for the flowers, the cake sat in my area for about 4 hours before it was taken out to the party and it held up great, no drooping petals or anything."

Hi PastryMama,

When you work the 10x sugar into the Italian buttercream, does your resulting icing contain lots of air bubbles? I tried this approach for a birthday cake this week, and the resulting icing gave me the stiffness I needed for nice big roses, but the quantity of air bubbles was extreme. Have you had this problem?

Thanks!

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