Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To Get Smooth Icing On A Cake

By Theresa Happe

For beginner cake decorators, one of the hardest things to overcome is uneven icing. It takes some practice to attain a nice smooth finish to the buttercream on the cake.

Chill the cake before you start frosting. A warm cake is more apt to break apart. Chill before and after filling it. Often, if you frost the cake right after you fill it, later on the filling will bulge out of the middle of the cake. By chilling first, the cake has time to settle and anything that wants to squeeze out of the sides can be smoothed with the spatula.

It's very helpful to use a lazy suzan. It allows you to turn the cake continuously while icing so you have fewer lines from stopping and starting again. One way to ice to apply a crumb coat. This can either be a thin coat of buttercream or an apricot glaze. To use an apricot glaze, thin apricot jam with hot water and press it through a strainer. Then brush it on the cake with a pastry brush. Chill it and give it time to firm up.

A great way to save time is to use the #789 Wilton cake decorating tip. If you don't have this tip, then carefully place the icing on the cake and move the spatula back and forth without actually touching the cake. You will be pushing the icing from the middle outwards. If using the tip, you'll have to cut a large hole in your cake decorating bag, so that bag will be just for this tip. The buttercream should be medium consistency. That means not so thin that it runs and not thick enough to pull on the cake. Thick icing will pull crumbs into it or tear the cake.

Start piping the icing on the cake, starting from the base. Hold the tip against the cake so the lines are facing inward. Pipe all around the bottom and then start another line of icing all around the cake right above the last one. Continue all the way up the cake, going a little past the top of the cake. This extra overlap of icing at the top will help to make a cleaner edge on the cake. Now use either a metal spatula, a bowl scraper or a spackle knife held vertically against the side of the cake at a 45 degree angle to smooth the sides. Scrape off excess icing as you go. Continue going over the sides until they're pretty even.

Move on to piping lines of icing across the top of the cake. Starting from the outer edge, use your spatula to smooth the icing towards the middle. Scrape off any excess icing. Continue all around the edge of the cake this way. Now pull the spatula straight across the cake. Do this over the whole top of the cake, removing excess icing. Lift away any icing that's sticking past the edge of the cake.

If you've iced the cake with crusting buttercream, at this point you will now let it set for 15 minutes or so or until it feels firm to the touch. (When you touch it, no icing comes off on your finger). Next, you can either use a Viva paper towel, wax paper, or parchment paper. Place the paper towel against the side of the cake and smooth the spatula across it a few times. Move the paper towel over to the next spot and repeat the process. Continue doing this over the entire cake. This will completely smooth out the icing. The wax paper and parchment paper are not quite as flexible as the paper towel, but they will do the trick if you can't get Viva paper towels.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

How To Make Buttermilk From Milk

By Yc Sim

There are 2 ways to make buttermilk, and they will produce 2 different outcomes. The first outcome you will get is a substitute for buttermilk, which will taste equally great; however the texture will be slightly different. The second outcome will be of course, the real buttermilk, fresh and ready-made.

Since the 1st way is the easiest, I will start from it.

1st Recipe (To get a substitute for buttermilk)

Ingredients that you will need:

* 1 cup of milk * 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice

Material that you will need:

* 1 cup measuring cup

That's it! Only 2 ingredients & 1 material are needed and...

Let's start making!

1. Place the white vinegar or lemon juice into the measuring cup. 2. Pour the milk into the measuring cup (together with the white vinegar/lemon juice). 3. Wait for 5 minutes. 4. Your buttermilk substitute is done!

It is fairly easy isn't it? And it can be done in a few simple steps. Now you no longer need to worry if you ever ran out of buttermilk again!

2nd Recipe (To get the real, tasty buttermilk)

Ingredients that you will need:

* 6 - 8 ounces of active cultured buttermilk * 3 cups of whole milk

Material that you will need:

* 1 clean quart container (with a secure lid)

Hey! There are only 2 ingredients and 1 material needed to make this real buttermilk too! However you will need a much longer time to prepare it... And so...

Let's get making!

1. Pour the cultured buttermilk into the clean quart container. 2. Fill the rest of the container with the whole milk. 3. Screw the lid tightly and shake well. 4. Place the container in a warm corner of your house. 5. Wait for 24 hours. 6. The buttermilk will thicken and coat the glass of the container. 7. The buttermilk is now done and can be kept for weeks!

It will be advisable to put the date that your buttermilk was made on the container to serve as a note. And you will roughly know when the buttermilk will expire.

Comparing the 2nd recipe to the 1st. There is only an increase of 3 steps which means that both the substitute and the real buttermilk are not hard to make! However to get the real buttermilk, you will need 23 hours and 55 minutes longer to make it. But wait! That is only the waiting time.

If you are willing to wait just a little more, you can get the real buttermilk with the right taste and texture to go with your cooking. Wouldn't that be really great? Why not wait a little longer?

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Great Recipes For Every Dish

By Adriana Noton

Boring meals can come alive with new recipes. Or you can try a completely different one, for a change. Or they can be tucked away in your collection for a special meal in the future.

Two or more ingredients makes a recipe. But some are so involved, you wish you never began cooking them. The ingredients go on forever. Some are as easy as stirring two ingredients together, and others require a lot of concentration, coordination, and even some imagination if you do not have the proper cookware.

A lot of serious cooks have certain ingredients that they always have on hand. It is actually the flavor of many dishes they prepare. It could be a certain kind of onion, or other vegetables, certain herbs or types of pepper, and a collection of signature spices for their dishes. Then there are always the few items that were purchased for a special meal and never used again. In fact, they will probably never be used again, but it is difficult to make the decision to throw them out because the specialty ingredients are usually a bit expensive.

When you are ready to be daring and try recipes from other countries, you may find that you enjoy the challenge. Or you could just try to prepare something Cajun you might find in New Orleans, or a Tex-Mex meal.

When it comes right down to it, the biggest difference in cooking meals from other regions is the spices they use. Greeks like to sweeten their meat with nutmeg an cinnamon, while East Indians use a lot of turmeric. And an Italian meal would not be Italian without basil, garlic and oregano.

Cook books can, of course, help out when it comes to cooking French foods, or Mexican, and so forth. And you can add to this collection with so many other kinds of cook books, as well. There are those for just appetizers, and those for entertaining, there are barbeque cook books, books on how to cook fish, or how to cook on the grill, and the list goes on. And as far as magazines, there is no shortage of magazines about cooking, either.

There are entire encyclopedia type collections of cook books. And some people join clubs and get them monthly, putting them into a binder they also received as a bonus. You can find these sometimes in thrift stores, and at garage sales. There is nothing wrong with buying a second hand or used cook book. The only problem is that the best healthy recipes have the dirtiest pages. Then there are people who collect certain ones and then put them on four by six inch index cards. Although this could drive a person crazy, at least they do not need to worry about a cook book closing by itself while you are trying to follow a recipe.

One can fill entire shelves, and yes, even entire rooms with recipes. You will eventually have one on every kind of meal for every occasion. It is funny, though, that the cooks with the most talent never use them.

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