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Cake Decorating: Buttercream Basics

Lesson 5 of 6

Writing with Buttercream

Lucinda Larson

Cake Decorating: Buttercream Basics

Lucinda Larson

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Lesson Info

5. Writing with Buttercream

Lesson Info

Writing with Buttercream

I teach an entire class two hours of nothing but how to write on cakes and your pastry students work for hours on how to write on something um some of your higher and restaurants we'll have an employee that that's her entire job is to do nothing but right on the plates and they work at making it perfect. I haven't spent quite that much time on it, but I have the principal down, so the first thing I want to do is I'm taking my turntable away and I'm putting it onto a flat surface a couple of reasons one is it's much easier to pipe on something that's not moving, then something that iss and too you want your cake to be lower than what you've been working on. You wanted to lower it down and when I am doing like full sheets or half sheets large cakes, you the lower the cake, the better you're going to get at writing those on those larger cakes. So if you are a short person in your counters pretty high, pull out a drawer and put your cake on that in order to write on it, you'll do have more...

success ok, so that's one of the first things take it off the turntable um I have an old cake decorating friend that says you're the laziest person on earth if you write in green sometimes writing and green is appropriate, but I'll go ahead and change the color so that you don't know I'm lazy or think I'm lazy and I'm going to use a tip I always use a tip when I'm writing I do not cut always use the tip and I'm going to use the number two, I would suggest using a number three if you're just starting, but do not start with the number one, no one is going to be very difficult to control that's a more advanced writing so that she was the number two going to stir my I seen so I have no bubbles, you want to make sure this is a fairly workable, so if you're icing is nice and stiff for flowers, this might be the time you want to pin it down and if I to tone it said some yellow here in that pink that will add interest to it. I also don't want to write on a white cake with yellow icing because I'm working too hard at my writing to have it not show I also don't want to write in black, especially on something that has he soft pastel colors and I wouldn't bring in a red to go with these, you have to have the color coordinate with whatever it is you're working with, okay, so here's, how we're going to do it when we write on paper we write with our hands and our wrists like this when we write with a cake we're going to hold our risk steady and we're going right at our elbow so all of our movement is is at her elbow ok, so my cake is on a flat surface that's not moving another trick is this if I'm writing something that I'm whatever it is I'm writing if you put that on paper in front of you so that when yours your writing you khun glance up quickly to see what the letters are because I am not oh paying attention to the words I'm writing I'm paying attention to where my tip is my body position my pressure control these air all the things that I'm paying attention to to the point where I literally have looked back at a photo to see that I misspelled my son's name on his birthday cake my son his birthday cake misspelled it because I'm not focusing on what it is I'm writing I'm focusing in on what I'm doing so if you write it in front of you that works to your advantage so you've got your thing written in front of you got your cake on a flat surface you've got your icing, the right consistency you've got everything is all set to go then I'm going to worry about my body position so I am standing with my feet at shoulder width apart I'm over the cake and I'm going to do the writing the next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to put my writing at an angle so that if it's not perfectly straight people can't tell ok the other thing and this is um six years of college paying off right here is that I'm going to make the first letter fancy and nice and then the next letters are going to be so my first little be here and then right rather than writing the next letters on this line I'm going to write him in the middle of that fancy letter and that's an advertising technique and you start looking at advertising print media you'll see that they actually do that fairly often so what's the most common thing we write happy birthday so let's do happy birthday feet shoulder width apart I'm over the cake I seems ready buildup the icing nice steady pressure clearly around happy is going to start right here in the middle bring it down piece so all my vertical lines are vertical the same vertical I don't have him going all this sick kid he's a kitty way and the one p is longer than the other p their little shorter same thing if I'm doing double f stubble teas, any letters that air doubles one is taller than the other ok were longer than the other and then we'll do birthday come back dot my I crossed my tea and I want to go in and point out the r they are has a sharp edge on it, same with an s no rounding weighty stuff sharp are sharp efs no loop de loops on my letters so my t is up and down a straightest possible dia's up and down straight as possible same with the h now if you kind of miss this up a little bit don't get all worried about it because most people when they're at a birthday party they know they're there for birthday party they know that says happy birthday they also know whose birthday it is usually and so you know, if you mess up on spilling something don't miss upon spelling somebody's name though it's really bad karma now one of the things that I can do is I can come back in and do a little cigs egg on my letters and build him up and make him look fancy and any time you are doing something like that, you always have thin crossing thick you don't have thick crossing thick, you can have thin crossing thin and thick crossing thin, but you can't have thick crossing thick, so I'm not going to come in and thinking up the cross bar okay, I can come in and thinking up this little downward thing I can add a couple little dots in here? I mean, you could just kind of have fun with whatever it is he working with, we can add these so you can come up and dress it up and have fun with it. Or you could just leave it plain is that helping? So a couple questions from the chat room that's, right? Um a c m eighty three would like to know when you're filling the bag. How much? How much do we fill the bag without it falling out of the bag? When we twisted shut about two thirds? Ok, yeah, we were about two thirds and do you ever question from earlier, why don't we ever cut the bag before us before we put in the? Because you almost always cut more than what you need, and then when you put the icing and tears out the bottom of the bag, ok, you'll replace a bag off to doing it that way. Yeah, and I'm like I said, I'm lazy, I don't want to have to redo a big and then raise angela's thinking the same thing I'm thinking, what if there are those of us that air handwriting challenged any any practice? Oh, I'm so glad you asked let's do let's do what we call I have customers that refer to this one as my dr seuss writing so let's let's do a dr seuss and I also wanted to do um some garlands so can I add the garlands first and then do the doctors who's ready? Ok it's your show it's my show I'm the boss that's so weird. Okay, so part of what was asked of me was to do garlands and garlands or one of those things were going to do it sitting down and I have these funky little tools that, uh these air garland markers not hear things garland workers um you can also use a paper that you've cut to the right side econ there's other garland markers out there that are made for each size a cake um these air pretty old school they've been around a long time they're still out there and this this one goes eight to nine inches and this one goes eight to ten inches. So one of the tricks that I've discovered over the years is that if I'm dealing with a wedding cake and say my wedding cake is eighteen inches if I divide eighteen inches in half, that is nine inches, right? So I found that my garland marker that's eight to nine inches works on that eighteen inch round cake if it's a if it's a sixteen inch cake and I divide that in half that's eight then my eight to ten inch might even numbers garland marker works and that was just through trial and air that I came up with that little formula that seems to work the other trick is is because when we had icing and we've got funded and all that stuff sometimes are eight inch cake is not really eight inches anymore it's more like nine or something like that depending on how much I see we have on it, sometimes it still doesn't work out very smooth, so one of the tricks is we always have a front and back to the cake and I'm going to say this is my front and one of the tricks that I do is I mark the front with a little a little mark if it's a wedding cake, I put a little dab of icing on either the board or say back here where I know there it won't show and then when I go to set the cake up, I set it up so my friends all line up and then I remove those little marks although I have some pictures that I've taken and as I'm taking the picture, I see the markets still there mike anyway, so this cake is an eight inch round cake, so that makes it easy it's innate in germany's my eight to ten marker so the reason I said the front is I'm going to mark my garland first in the very a front and you just kind of poke little holes in so you can see can you guys see that if I hold it like this and it's a little hard but they're just little marking so it's not big markings like I said if you don't have these fancy tools and then I'm just going to go from hold a hole and that's the front I do it to decide that I'm gonna go ahead and go the other direction so if it doesn't match up perfectly it's ok that is messed up in the back and if you'll notice it doesn't match up perfectly I'm a little off but I don't care if it's in the back okay? You always said, what is that thing? And you're trying to figure out how to put your hair up in it no that's what it's for ok, so now I'm going to take my decorating bag with the butter cream and I'm going to use can you guys see that I just smeared I seen all over my hand? I'm going to use a very small star tip this is a number five in the p m e with so it means it's probably about a fourteen star if I am doing a twenty inch wedding cake I probably will use more like a seventeen inch because again I want my star tips to cordon late or might the size of the cake and I'm going to start in the back I marked first in the front but I'm going to start decorating in the back and I'm going to hold the bag uh and about a forty five degree angle to the cake and I'm going to do zigs eggs, stars, shells and zigs eggs are about your three basic things that you're going to do and you can do a multitude of things beautiful things gorgeous things with stars, cigs, eggs and shelves okay, so I'm going to do a little star or little shells little things eggs have doing some little six eggs and then I'm going to get in boulder and as I get a boulder I'm gonna come back up and get him tiny again so that I have my garland then we're going to go ahead, start the next one do little tiny six eggs get larger, come back up I'm following my little dots now in the back my dotson matchup exactly so I'm kind of ad libbing I'm adjusting, I'm faking it. Yeah, I do a lot of faking it. You guys just think I'm a professional, I'm just mumbling through the best I can and then I'm just going to follow those little dots that I made along the way can you guys start to see how gorgeous and simple that is now I like doing the little six eggs especially if we're going to do any strange work on it because then if we're going to do any string work my string work transports better doesn't break otherwise we could have breakage big time okay oops I got a lump I hate lumps, lumps or bad crumbs air bad what else is bad lumps and crumbs and parking tickets one of my culinary students was applying for a job and they were having her do baking and she said I was so nervous and I'm trying to do this baking and she said all I could think of the chef larson going I'm sir bad thiss poor girl I probably traumatized her for life I want to clean up that edge a little bit okay, so now then I've got my basic little garland and at this point we could call that good I mean that's pretty and now if you could add a top on the bottom border and you're good to go but let's do a little over decorator itis because I'm good at and I'm going to use the color so you can see okay, I don't know if I would exactly use this color where's my friend I don't want to start my friend I want to start on my back and this is a number to tip with green and multicolored I see and I'm going to do a little touch touch my surface touch my surface pressure let that little loop drop groups and that one really dropped, so we very carefully removing that's the problem with string work is it will break and once it breaks it's broken if you're doing string work for a wedding cake and you're going to transport it further than two inches, you can add some royal icing to your piping. Jill hugs gus not to pipe in jail but to your butter cream and it will set up and it will transport easier. Now I know this looks a little goofy and green, but can you imagine how pretty this would be white on white or pink on pink and you know and because where you've attached it, it doesn't show blends in, whereas I'm showing every attachment I'm showing you every issue here the trick is you attach it, you play pressure, you pull away, you keep keep your pressure attached as you go. This is one of my favorite things because it can really look elegant and pretty and yet it's, not that tough see how it doesn't look that tough yet it looks kind of cool looks got a gold, isn't it? Yeah, because you're so quiet is this so ok, ok, now another part that we could d'oh depending on how over decorated you wanted that, then we can come in and add drop string garlands and it's the same thing you just attach it and drop it attach a nice steady pressure if your pressure's not nice like that one because I was talking it breaks and you very carefully remove it not quite so bad if it's the same colors the cake because then all the little parts don't show but you know if you're doing this in red or black for a wedding cake I gotta stop talking while I'm doing it keep breaking him okay let me do one without talking another a question your way sure while you're doing that um chassis would like to know um is the butter cream that you're using for the borders thicker than the butter cream that's on the cake itself notes out of the same bowl same exact stuff the only time I changed my buttercream consistency is when I am doing um figure piping for literally piping little figures or when I'm doing high end flowers such as roses orchids um irises that sort of thing because you needed a little stiffer so that all those ages stay up and stand up this is a little on the soft side I work with the very soft icing I like my hands I am probably the on ly cake decorator who's worked in butter cream for forty years that has not had carpal tunnel surgery I've had to wear braces for two years but I've never had to have surgery every other person I know every friend I have that's worked in the industry has had carpal tunnel surgery wow and josh, we would like to know how do you keep the icing from melting? Do you set the room at a certain temperature? My string started falling well, one thing with your stream work is your string work is going to probably need a little reinforcement so a little more mix a little royal icing with it or even doom and royal icing um the other thing is is that I'm in the pacific northwest so we normally get to work in a fairly cool environment but we are having nice warm weather now today we're working in a nice, cool room, but one of the things that you want to do is that a stabilizer to your butter cream and one of the stabilisers it's gonna work for you is meringue powder stir in simmering power and I don't mean stir when you're making your icing have it be a part of the powdered sugar makes it right in marine patter and you're in the mix depending on how warm it is you want to mix in is maybe as much as a quarter of a cup into a formula qu'est would like to know if any of your clients ever request of photographs on the cakes oh so like somebody's portrait something yeah, that would be untenable in image and you can do that that's kind of that's kind of old I haven't had anybody asset in a long time there are a lot of companies so it's to really major companies three that do um images that are printed on rice paper uh if you do any printing on rice paper or edible images you need to use an edible ink of to basically food color in an eight cartridges can buy him for your printer but it has to be that printer should be used only for that you cannot be swapping back and forth between paper ink and edible ink it's toxic um if this is something that people want check some of your local area should be surprised at how many bakeries have that equipment and we'll print a photo for you for five or six dollars um and they'll just do it for you and you can get those in various sizes so if you wanted to you could put him on cookies or cupcakes um this is good for logos that sort of thing yeah, you do a lot of stuff and there's a lot of them that are now online that you can download so if you have the equipment and that's what you're using yeah you could do that okay, so I'm gonna try this garland again I've got a lump sums are bad this is when you really hear about the lumps now I have a solution if we're piping along and all you're dealing with this lump after lump after lump you know those knee high stockings that are all over my bakery for my fondant if I put a knee high stocking over my hand fill that full of buttercream pull it off on yellow pouch full of butter cream in any high stocking strain that into my bag or something all the lumps come out no lumps then you can decorate with the number one tip or number ought or double ott and it just flows unlike what mine is doing now and I'm faking it now okay because it broke here and here and here and I'm not going to go back now then to finish this up I'm going to add a little loop on the corner that's base so your string work with a little dot and then I said I would do this writing is going to be so inappropriate for garland and string work but it's going the writing you'll enjoy it'll be fun those of you that say you can't write you'll go oh I can do that another trick about writing is if you're having trouble right on a fondant plaque and use a food grade marker and your food grade markers or things like crew crayola or some of the food come the food color companies have them crayola develops all their products for children to put in your mouth and suck on don't you know that? Ok, so this is what I call my doctor seuss writing and if you're writing on a plaque and it doesn't turn out right, you can wipe it off with a damp cloth but the plaque dry and do it again he that's a great trick guys ok, dr seuss writing remember when I told you vertical lines or I'll have to be vertical the same vertical and powers on on this I had all these rules right? We're gonna break every single one of those except him standing with my feet shoulder width apart and I'm bending at the elbow and not at the wrist ok, I'm going to build it up pull it down, build it up pull it down way go broke all the rules let's do it again now the the top of the b is always smaller than the bottom of the bay that just looks good this dr seuss writing is fun and you can change it. So say if I have a really small space see that I ran into a lump yeah love lumps I can mush those together and kind of crumpled mall up so I can fit it into a smaller space uh, dr seuss writing I love doing this kind of writing on children's cakes men's cakes I almost on lee do cursive writing mostly on on women's cakes and high end flowery birthday cakes and children in particular. For a long time I didn't do any cursive writing on a children's cake until they were about twelve or thirteen years old, but nowadays are kids aren't even learning cursive writing. They're not teaching it anymore. Everybody is typing and everybody is doing printing, so I must always do this on all children's cakes. The printing, the worst type of writing that there is to do is when you have to duplicate like the headline of a newspaper that, in my opinion, is the worst because you have to make sure every linus straight clean use a brushed think make things nice. If you have to do that, a good way to do it is do it in royal icing. Print out what you need with our printers. Print out what you need, put wax paper over, do it and royal icing. Use a brush to clean up all the little points and edges and straighten up lines and then once it's dry, peeled it off and put it on your cake that'll save you massive amounts of aggravation rays angel says omg! All in caps! Um, she said, we could use crayola markers yes, uh, you can write on your fund it with that because crayola develops all their products for children to put him in their mouth and suck on them they just know that a kid is going to put it in there and yeah um but there are company there you know the america lor and I'm trying to think of some other companies wilton wilton has a set of edible food markers that you can also do that with if you're really freaked out about it but truthfully crayola has been doing it for years so ok I'm going to finish this cake by adding a border I have a few minutes is there anything that we didn't cover that you guys are just dying to see your place yeah the other thing that I wanted to d'oh is I have um you often hear people say you cannot decorate a cake with a butter cream cake with gum paste this is a gum paste rose little gum paste daisy let's got several of those my only I only leaves I have a really huge way too big for my little throws but we'll put it on there just add had some of those so this is our next segment we'll be learning to do these daisies in the rose and I love working in again paste this is fun fun fun and they're gorgeous and people like oh that sugar you're like yes ok so let's do the shell border this whip it out here nice and fast what's sad I'm not going to go to fans here on the top because we just don't need to I'm going to go a little smaller on the shell just to make it look a little delicate okay so a little fancier border is let's do had that tiny shell border right or that tiny that chinese um started so with my tiny star tip I'm going to go around each shell with the cigs egg remember I told you we can create all kinds of gorgeous things with the zigzag a shell I turned table is fighting me stop fighting so I'm doing little tiny cigs eggs around each shelf how you guys doing over there I want to walk over and look at your cakes here in just a moment to feel like she does I heard that nervous a laugh from all of them too okay so added that little shell fighting my turntable and then I'm going to add that number two and this is one of those borders that you can build it up and out and up and out so I can do the zigzag guy can start with the number three then I can go toe a number to that and go to a number one and do each step of this and I can take it out on the board and I can take it up the side of the cake I'm just going to go out right now and zigzag over the top of that shell but I just did and I'm hitting lumps which is making me angry very angry listen to what do you eat on your birthday? You know read bill that cake used to be my favorite my mother would make me one once in a while my mother I love my mother my mother has incredible skills and talents but none of them are cooking or baking or housekeeping but she would always bake me a cake or once in a while would make me a red velvet cake um usually that's yeah, I don't really get really a very good deserved for my birthday I've kind of outgrown the red velvet to, um kind of moved on to other things I used to enjoy good terry miss sue, but your pastry chef and you teach thirty two students how to make terror massu and then you get to taste to thirty two different students terram issue in one night you kind of don't like terri missy you're either yeah it's amazing how quickly you can ruin does ruin a desert by teaching it to thirty two culinary pastry students then I'm going to come back and do another little zigzag on the outside of that first sigs egg and then I can come back and I can add all kinds of things I can add little florida lease I can add little teardrops the point is is that you just have to use your imagination and get creative and have fun with it and this is where I like to sit down on a stool maybe have my tv on in my bakery um have a nice, refreshing drink of some sort that you enjoy, you know and just enjoy it have fun with it this is the fun part and I usually have to rush through it okay real quick yes during that you're guiding here a pastry bag or your frosting bag with your figure I am applying pressure with my right hand because I'm right handed and I am guiding or steadying my tip with my left finger because I don't care how talented and how skilled you are when you squeeze, you're going to get some shaking and we're going to just come in with that left hand and steady it up our most talented piper's had that issue so just real quick I want to come over look up close have the camera coming oh you guys did cut awesome and I wouldn't have chosen your color combinations but they're working really well how fun beautiful and she had a little dots and blue and you had a sermon nice very nice ladies your string work practice yeah, it does string work is one of the more difficult things to do and you did okay on your writing good job, good job. I'm proud of you. Awesome. Good job.

Class Description

Buttercream is the baker’s best friend, but it can be fussy in both pastry bags and bad weather. Learn buttercream basics from the Buttercream Queen, Lucinda Larson and keep things friendly in the kitchen.

In this course Lucinda will take you through the steps of frosting a cake with buttercream so it is primed for decoration. She’ll offer tried and true troubleshooting tips for working with temperature changes and uncooperative climates and help you keep the cake and all of its embellishments together. You’ll also learn how to prep and use pastry bags using a variety of different tips. Lucinda will teach you techniques for writing, creating borders, adding drop flowers, and shaping leaves.

If you want to add a professional touch to the cakes you bake for your family and friends, join CreativeLive and Lucinda Larson and learn buttercream basics.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lucinda Larson - Buttercream Recipes.pdf

bonus material with enrollment

Lucinda Larson - Buttercream Supplies List.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

I enjoyed the classes themselves, but the lack of close ups of what Lucinda was doing so I could actually see what she was doing or the differences between the before & afters deters me from spending money on the videos. Thanks for the many hours of fun, Lucinda!


Yes, I did like it. Is simple and short. straight forward. Will try it. thanks.