Baking is not something that happens often in the little kitchen. We’re not particularly skilled in that department. There are a couple of things I do well – pecan pie and tea biscuits mostly – but the rest I am painstakingly average at.There is a lemon meringue pie that was once made for Nick’s birthday. It will be remembered as an epic non-setting meltdown with really beautiful meringue made from a week of research on the subject. Also to be remembered by old friends is the marble cake meltdown of 2009.
While I’ve had a couple of meltdowns that have effectively ended my relationships with the instigating desserts, every now and then, I get on a baking kick and I get a little better at it. There’s also been some serious conversations about bread-making in the little kitchen recently as there is an upcoming Modernist Cuisine cookbook focusing on the subject. We’re really considering getting better at baking.
Most recently, I tackled the task of mastering buttercream icing. I’ve never enjoyed my own icing. I’ve always found something about it I dislike. But this works. It’s especially handy since I moved 30 hours away from my buttercream connection. I’m kind of on my own with icing now.
I discovered icing recipes often include lard. For my own health, I can’t be trusted to have the knowledge to make lard delicious. I sought a recipe that used an alternative to lard. The other popular option are shortening and butter, both of which leave you with taste and texture issues. Alas, I stumbled upon a post on Life, Love and Sugar and it’s exactly what I was looking for – half salted butter for the buttery taste and half shortening. Thankfully, somebody did the leg work to find the balance I was hoping for. #grateful I absolutely cannot wait to convert this to chocolate, mint, and all the other good extract flavours.
- Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer with whisk attachments
- Salted Butter – 1/2 cup (115g)
- Shortening – 1/2 cup (95g)
- Icing Sugar – 4 cups (480g)
- Milk – 2-3 tbsp (30 -45 ml)*
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
*I used lactose-free milk and you can use water in substitute.
- Combine butter and shortening with mixer until smooth.
- Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, continue mixing until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract and measured to milk and mix until smooth.
- Add remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. The mixture will be smooth, but heavy.
- Add additional milk/water by the tablespoon while mixing until desired consistency is achieved. Mix each tablespoon before adding any additional liquid.*
*At this stage, I also added the slightest touch of vanilla with the additional milk. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.
Any additional icing should be stored in the fridge and can also be frozen for short periods of time.