Fudge Frosting and Frosty Feelings about Frosted Roses

I always thought I loved that white bakery icing. Seriously loved it. Of course, I would rarely allow myself to have it, because the sweetness sent my blood sugar into overdrive. But I think I’m over it…really over it, as in don’t care if I ever eat any again. Reason? I took a cake decorating class. For four weeks I played with the sweet icing, putting it on a practice board and then cookies, cupcakes and finally cakes.


Each week I had to:
make a gigantic batch of the shortening icing,
divide icing into containers of different colors and thickness,
load the 6-8 containers into a suitcase,
load the rest of the equipment, towels, apron, paper towels, tape, glue stick, scissors, and bits of waxed paper.

Finally, I would bake the practice cake or cupcakes and then haul it all into a store. For two hours I would be covered in sticky icing and then I’d load it all back into the suitcase and head for home. Once home I had to clean dozens of tiny tips, couplers, piping bags and other sundry supplies. What a production!

cabbage roses

star borders

peace cake

For the last class, I decided to frost the cake with my favorite fudge frosting, instead of the standard “butter cream icing” which has no butter in it. At least I knew I would enjoy part of the cake that way. In our final class we learned how to make a ribbon rose, only mine became a “cabbage rose.” And we were to learn how to “write with frosting.” My normal handwriting looks like that of a serial killers; writing in frosting was about the same.

But here’s what I really learned – this is not my thing, and I’m OK with that. There were other women in the class who dreamed up exotic designs and handled their piping bags with panache. I was so happy for them. But I took my cake home, ate a tiny (well, ok, small. no, medium-sized) piece and divided it up and gave the rest away. The best part was my fudge frosting, which I’m sharing.
Fudge Frosting Ingredients
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup butter
½ cup milk
2 TBS light corn syrup
1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.
Add the butter, milk and corn syrup and bring to a boil.
Boil for two minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat and set the pan in cold water.
When you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pan, the syrup is cool enough.
Use a small mixer to blend in the vanilla and powdered sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread. If it’s too thin, add more sugar. If it’s too thick, add milk, a tablespoon at a time.
The frosting should hold its’ shape, but still be creamy enough to spread.

my piece of the peace cake

And I guess that means you could put this frosting into a piping bag, if you want to practice shells,roses and stars. Perhaps someday this will come in handy, if I can stand the sticky mess.

Tips for Two Layer Cakes

Monday was our second cake decorating class. We had to bake a cake and stir up some frosting to bring to class. So homework! It’s a tough life. Naturally, I chose to bring a dark chocolate cake and I admit, I used a mix – Duncan Hines, which was rich and moist.
Before class, I did a bit of assembly.

slice of heaven

First, I trimmed off the rounded top of one of my 9 inch layers. You can buy a wire gadget, but I just used a long serrated knife.
I’ve always loved the look of a rounded top layer, but the bottom has to be leveled or the cake won’t be stable. (And we can’t have unstable cakes because there’s enough instability in the world! Glad I got that off my chest.)

slice off top

muffin top

bead of icing to keep jam inside

hasty stars

a slice to share

Cutting off that “muffin top” allows you to taste the cake to be sure it’s safe for consumption. Of course, if you eat too much, you’ll develop another type of muffin top. Trust me on this one.

My favorite tip so far in cake dec class has been to run a bead of stiff frosting around the edge of the bottom layer and then fill the center with pudding or jam or pie filling. The bead of frosting keeps the other filling from gushing out. Cool! I used some of my homemade raspberry jam and it added a surprising burst of flavor. YUM.

After you create magic on the bottom layer, place the top layer, flat side down, onto the frosted bottom layer.
Then ice the cake with a thin frosting that can easily be spread. Because I used chocolate cake, I put a quick thin “crumb coat” of the frosting over the cake to contain all the crumbs. Then I added another layer of icing over that.

In class we practiced stars and swirls and zig zags on little practice boards. Then we’d scrape off the icing and try again. When we finally got to ice our cakes, time was short, the store was closing and we were about to be thrown into the street! Not wanting to show up at home with a naked cake, I hastily added a lopsided border and some odd-looking stars. Our instructor, Robin, told us the icing in the can is stretchier than the icing we made at home, so that’s why the stars have little peaks on them. Good to know.

Back at home, I sliced a few pieces of cake, dabbed an extra bit of jam on them and we enjoyed them under the real stars outside on the deck. My neighbor Ed was just finishing his yard work, so I quickly cut a few pieces for him to enjoy with his wife.
Then I realized I had to get the rest of the cake out of the house, so I ran up and down the block handing out cake to unsuspecting neighbors. A huge chunk for the family of five, one to another neighbor and problem solved!
Whew! Share the love. That’s what baking’s all about.
Next week: cupcakes.
Hope you’re enjoying your spring.
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