Thursday, 18 July 2013

Baileys Buttercream

I'd be lying if I claimed this was a result of my own genius. This was an experiment. I saw a recipe for a Baileys flavoured pastry cream and thought 'why not try that with buttercream?' I thought it'd be magic with the chocolate sponge layer I'm making for the wedding cake. It was a good call. Sweet, American style buttercream isn't for everyone, made of just butter and icing sugar it takes on a number of flavours very well, but it's very rich. I love it though. Icings are the best parts of cakes.

So I decided to give this a whirl. I never really measure quantities when making fillings, it's easier just to eye them, and to get the final product to a consistency/taste that you like. But, as a guideline, I used about a quarter pack of butter, left over from the Welsh Cake extravaganza, and about the same amount of margarine. This made it slightly less calorie-tastic, but not much. To that I gradually added about a box and a half of icing sugar, and a good few splashes of Baileys (well, the Lidl's equivalent anyway). If you use less Baileys you'll need less icing sugar, and vice versa. I appreciate this isn't a very helpful recipe, but buttercream is difficult to mess up and is easily salvaged by the addition of more butter or icing. If you want a plain buttercream, thin with milk instead of Baileys, and leave plain or add a splash of vanilla extract or even some vanilla bean seeds if you're feeling fancy.

To avoid lumps I wanted to sift the icing sugar, but sifting into a kitchenaid bowl is quite difficult and can be very messy because of the actual mixing part. Luckily, I came across this cool little vintage thing. I don't know whether it was intended for sifting, it looks like some kind of flour duster or something, but it worked okay for a while. Until I realised I didn't care that much about lumps, and I ditched it, swapping to just spooning in the sugar from the box. This was much quicker and there were fewer lumps than I expected, but when it comes to the real thing I expect I'll be triple sifting everything to look pro.

Bear in mind that I was making a HUGE quantity, to fill 2 thick layers, so please scale this recipe down for home use. This would be magic with a chocolate sponge. I'd say the amount I ended up with would be enough to ice about 30 large cupcakes with a good sized swirl, maybe even more. Take into account that, even though you might think you're starting with a small amount of butter/margarine, you're amount of icing is going to increase quickly when you start adding the icing sugar. Start with a little bit. Less is more. It's easy to add but impossible to take away, otherwise you'll just have to keep on adding icing sugar until you reach a spreadable consistency. You can always add more butter and icing sugar accordingly, but start small.

I probably ended up with too much. But can you have too much of a good thing? If there's any left after the weekend I'll probably make some cupcakes, ice them with this, and take them to an 18th next week. I may or may not have adulterated one of the left over yoghurt brownies with this earlier. I know, I know, that totally cancels out any of the fat and sugar I saved myself from in the brownies. But I don't even care. I have no regrets.

Baileys Buttercream

Butter/margarine, softened (you can use all butter or all margarine, but butter with give you a richer flavour)
Icing sugar (have a couple of boxes ready in preparation)
Baileys (you can use milk instead if you want)

1. Beat your butter with a mixer to get it really soft and workable.
2. Gradually add icing sugar, a few tablespoons at a time so you don't create huge puffy clouds, and mix on low speed.
3. Once you reach a smooth, pipeable consistency, start to dribble in your Baileys. Go easy, too much and you'll water the mix down too much and you'll have to add 4 boxes of icing sugar to compensate.
4. If you want to increase the volume of your icing, add more softened butter and icing sugar until you reach the amount you require.

Keep any leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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