As food tourism and general gourmet culture become more mainstream, having a an event cake that is simply pretty no longer fits the bill. Neither can one expect sophisticated customers to be happy with the old style buttercream decorated cake one might cringe at when happening upon wedding pictures from the 1980s. Luckily, there are a number of talented decorators who are on the forefront of this exact aesthetic challenge, and Ms. Valeriano and Ms. Ong are among them. The founders of Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes in the UK, they work only with buttercream!
Previously, Ms. Valeriano and Ms. Ong published The Contemporary Buttercream Bible also with David & Charles/F+W, a tome which offers a number of modern buttercream iced and decorated cakes using bold colors and motifs. The techniques taught within are simple standards that proficient cake decorators should already be comfortable with, but used to new and innovative ends. Piping textures to achieve effects normally in the realm of fondant is no small feat. But doing it with heavily pigmented buttercream is doubly challenging. Herein there are tips and tricks for getting rich colors in icing and mixing to keep the constancy correct.
But where The Contemporary Buttercream Bible covered a wide range of designs, 100 Buttercream Flowers is, as one might expect, all about the flora. Here too the authors discuss mixing and maintaining consistency while working with bright pigments, and there are some finishing techniques within, as well. But the main focus of the book is piping brilliant and detailed flowers.
When I say detailed flowers, I do mean detailed. The book quickly transitions from daisies and cherry blossoms to protea and chrysanthemums. While there are a few flowers I do differently, this is certainly a wonderful encyclopedia that can be used as reference or jumping off point for the experienced decorator as well as an all-in-one resources for intermediate or even ambitious beginners.
The directions are clear and concise and the full color photographs are opulent while still easy to follow. The color mixing guide, full explanation of tips and the petals they create, and a section on filling piping bags for special effects are worth the cover price alone. Overall a valuable addition to any decorator or chef interested in expanding their high-end decorating to the realm buttercream.
Book: 100 Buttercream Flowers
Skill Level: Advanced/ Beginner/ Intermediate
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Anna is a classically trained sculptor and illustrator who started her career in cake decorating with Ron Ben Israel in 2000. Since then she has worked for a number of well known cake studios in the New York area doing complex sugar work and design. Her specialties include freehand painting,...