I’ve never attempted buttercream decorations before (my piping skills go as far as cupcake icing and dotting decorative blobs on my cakes) and so I was excited to tackle a buttercream piping technique course. I signed up to learn how to make cosmos roses and peonies.
For the courses you’ll need to prepare a batch of icing (the recipe will be provided) and have the correct piping nozzles and bags to prepare the flowers. I would recommend setting aside a good hour or two to watch the tutorial video and practice the techniques. Whilst the thought of making a buttercream flower seemed daunting to me at first Grace simplifies the process and explains each step clearly. I started with the cosmos roses. When I started piping I soon realised that I had made my icing a little too thick, but once I’d fixed that and practised the piping technique a couple of times it wasn’t too difficult at all! In fact, once I’d got the hang of it I found it quite relaxing and meditative to make them.
In the peonies course Grace teaches you how make three different peonies. I have only attempted one of the three so far as I ran out of time on the day, but I’m looking forward to going back and learning the rest.
Of course, with all of these lovely buttercream decorations lying around I just had to make a cake to put them on! I decided to go for a simple but very delicious vanilla and orange cake, and Grace has kindly shared her go-to buttercream icing recipe to go with that. I’m so excited that I now have some more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to decorating our celebration cakes at home.
The great news is that you have a chance to win a Grace Stevens course of your choice (baking or decorating)! Head over to my Instagram page to get the details and enter. You can also find more details about the courses HERE. (They make great foodie gifts!)
VANILLA AND ORANGE CAKE
For the cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 375ml (1½ cups) castor sugar
- 180ml (¾ cup) sunflower oil
- 180ml (¾ cup) warm milk
- 150ml fresh orange juice
- 15ml (1 tbsp) finely grated orange zest
- 7.5ml (1½ tsp) vanilla extract
- 560ml (2¼ cups) flour
- 15ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
- pinch of salt
Grace’s go-to buttercream icing
- 250g butter
- 500g icing sugar
- 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
- 15-30ml (1-2 tbsp) milk
1.) Preheat your oven to 170ºC. Grease and line three 20cm round cake tins.
2.) Beat the eggs and castor sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale and thick. Add the sunflower oil, milk, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
3.) Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Mix gently to combine.
4.) Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool completely.
5.) Next, prepare the icing. Cream the butter until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and beat again until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the milk gradually until you have a spreading consistency. (You may not need all of it.)
6.) Place one of the cake layers on a plate and spread a thin layer of vanilla icing on top. Add a second cake layer and layer of icing. Top with the third cake layer and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired.