Thankyou, Buttercream Roses

Can anything be more flattering, than being asked to bake? Well, it is if you are as willingly kitchen bound and obsessed as I am. The luggage cake I made for the Hunters was recommendation enough for a request to bake for the PTA lunch at one of the American schools in Doha and I didn’t need to be asked twice.It was to be a thankyou cake, a simple, home baked style, rectangular cake and I had full reign on the flavours. There is something heady about hauling out my biggest cake tin for the  job, which measures a solid 15 x 11 inches. And for this, chocolate. It had to be chocolate. I used Cucina’s Extremely Naughty Fudge Cake recipe, doubled it up for each of the two layers and doubled up the buttercream to sandwich these cocoa brown coloured slabs with.

Cake layers baked, sandwiched with chocolate buttercream, levelled and crumb coated. The naked cake needed a fine topping. I am not a fan of the shell piped edges and the flower cornered buttercreamed roses, piped lettering, eighties look. I wanted something more modern and hopefully alluring, and bearing my dodgy piping skills (it’s all in the wrist apparently, haven’t quite mastered that yet!) it had to be fairly simple, yet effective.

There is another layer to the dilemma.

The forty degree plus heat in Doha is not kind to decorated cakes. The humidity and temperature makes sugar paste go tacky and shiny. Buttercream frosting starts losing it’s shape, the lines and edges of your hitherto, perfectly piped frosting disappears into an oily mound in front of your eyes. Also, I wanted a frosting that was either white or ivory or cream on the outside, so as to contrast with the dark chocolate brown colours. An innocent exterior hiding an unexpectedly, decadent heart.

Swiss Meringue Buttercreams have long been on my to-do list and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try them out. Plus, there was the added merit of it being an egg white base, which would be more stable while being transported to the venue, in the back of a car trying to impersonate an oven. Sweetapolita had a step-by-step, detailed, thorough post on Swiss Meringue Buttercream and I gave that one a go. I used carton egg whites, simply because fresh egg whites would have made the cost of this cake astronomical. Each stage too, took at least double the time she states on her post. There was no harm done however, because it all came together beautifully at the end (even after the totally panic inducing, curling-scrambled-egg stage). The motto when doing an SMB is to keep whisking on low speed. Just keep whisking.

Also note, that there will be at the very least, an ivory, cream tone if you use butter. A perfectly white frosting can only be achieved by using shortening. That goes sorely against the grain for me, so I stick with butter. Another feather to it’s cap, is that SMB can be made well in advance, only needing another beating before use. If your home/kitchen is cool enough, it can remain on your kitchen counter, covered, just fine overnight. I left my piped cake in the fridge as I wanted the butter to set as firm as it could thereby ensuring it would reach perfect room temperature by the time it was laid on the dessert table.

And this is an utter joy to pipe, I have never seen the like. The taste is of a fuller, richer, whipped double cream, smooth, silky and melting. Imagine the smoothness of an ice cream, without the teeth chill factor. I particularly like the fact, that there is no graininess that can sometimes be the case with buttercream. Really, once you have tasted and piped and worked with SMB you will find it very hard to go back to regular buttercream, it is that sensational.

For the final stage, I covered the cake lightly at the top, and thicker at the sides with my Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and smoothed it. Then, after a few practice runs, I started piping roses on top of the cake. The joy of buttercream is that you can scrape the work of and start again, and that did happen a few times. I just went round swirling and filling, scraping and piping. I think utter perfection is not absolutely required here, as the eye reads it as a whole, and I am desperately glad of it. Although I had smoothed out my sides, I didn’t like the plain look of it and wanted some texture, so I just ran my wee offset palette knife  along the length of the cake and I felt that it worked well with the curves of the roses. You are free to feel otherwise! A simple paper banner, attached to bamboo skewers, placed in the middle of the cake, was the last touch, along with a measured sprinkling of edible sparkle dust. For more ideas on rose piped cakes in every sort of guise imaginable, visit I am Baker. Make sure you have a few hours to spare!

All in all, I was pleased with it, and more importantly, so was my client. Even my brawny, man-man Scotsman, said it was a pretty cake. I would have loved to have had a shot of the cut cake …see the clean slice through the roses, and the deep, dark chocolate loveliness within. I felt too embarrassed to ask the client to take a picture, she was organising enough on the day, but am kicking myself for it now! I have learnt new things with this cake – a fabulous buttercream, cultivation of patience and the need to just go ahead,  feel stupid and ask for photos. Not too bad. Not bad at all.

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65 thoughts on “Thankyou, Buttercream Roses

  1. Jo Blogs

    I love seeing the top shot Carrie – I love how each of the roses is different and you resisted what I would have found an insurmountable temptation – to pipe them in straight lines! That, I feel, would have lead to misery as inevitably it would never be symmetrical enough but this, this – it looks so organic and an utter joy to let your eye fall over in swathes of silky soft roses. Sigh. Such beauty 😀

    P.s. I’m intrigued about your SMBC recipe – I’m off to click the link as I so surprised you needed so many eggs!

      1. Jo Blogs

        The proportions were different but not widely so from what I do (which in all honesty, I vary myself each time anyway). But 15 cups of frosting – oh my! No wonder you thought it was calorific! 😀

  2. Ann Koekepan

    oh waw. I must say, this is soo elegant and indeed not the old fashioned cake you see every day. You did well and bet it tasted just delicious.
    Lovely writing too. Love it

  3. Rushi!

    Sighhhhhh that’s one beautiful cake. Those roses are gawjus!!! Carrie what’s the nozzle and did you use a not chocolate buttercream for the crumb coat (I’m sorry for the 101 silly sounding questions) that you used to pipe the roses? I think I need to practice not just my wrist movements but find a way to control my mind to achieve something close to what you do, you have such talent.

    Will be dreaming of this cake 🙂

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thanks Rushi :D. I used an oversized pastry nozzle from a set I had bought from a British kitchenware store called Lakeland. It doesn’t have a number on it unfortunately. But for this large sized cake, an oversized rose swirl, zig zag cut shaped nozzle does the trick. I had a smaller one too, and used that to fill in gaps with swirls.

      I crumb coated with the chocolate buttercream, left to set until it could be touched without leavng a fingerprint and then went to work with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

      If I can do this Rushi, believe me, you can too 🙂

  4. Chatter Cakes

    What a gorgeous cake! I don’t know if it is just me, but at first glance the buttercream round the sides looked like a kind of crate box effect. Lovely stuff 🙂

  5. NickkiT

    Oh Caroline that is just gorgeous! The roses are so beautiful and I love the simple way you decorated the sides – it showcases the roses perfectly. I’m not a big fan of the 1980’s shell piping either. This looks so much better. Very modern and clean. I love your style!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Anna hun, thanks. I hadn’t tried SMBC before either, and it is more involved than traditional buttercream, but can you imagine a smooth, silky, buttery meringue (not cooked and crispy)? It’s perfection as far as texture goes and I would be hard pressed to not to do this for every cake I get to bake!

  6. Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

    Oooooh! Gorgeous! Loving the cream colored frosting on the rich dark cake. I’ve never made Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but thanks for noting the time difference. I’m with you on the butter, too — No Shortening!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Oh yeah, shortening does worry me! I don’t have issues with having it once in a year, when I make flaky mince pies for christmas or something like that, but the sheer amount of fat stipulated in the recipe meant that I couldn’t use shortening. The final texture though, is utterly amazing! And a dream to pipe.

  7. Allison

    Such a beautiful cake! I’ve never been so tempted by the sight of buttercream frosting. So creative and perfect-looking. Wow.

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Am with you Allison, I am not a frosting person myself, though i have learnt to accept it better because of the kids! However, this frosting – I could have dived into the mixer bowl, mouth open!

  8. Amrita aka Beetlebuggy

    I’ve always wanted to try Swiss Meringue Buttercream but never got off my lazy ass to finally make it. I would be thrilled with this cake if I was your client too! I love the thank you banner on top, very pretty.

  9. Rachel Logan

    Just so darn pretty! I love everything about it. Your layers were so perfectly straight and cut and that decoration is gorgeous. Great work!

  10. Rachel Logan

    Just so darn pretty! It’s really a stunning cake. I admire how level and straight those cake layers are. 🙂 Great work!

  11. oiyoufood

    Wow! I love this post. So pretty. Unfo I am in a hurry to go out right now. Will make it my business to read this properly when I get back home! Ta!

  12. NYinRome

    Complimenti! The cake, the buttercream roses and sides, the colors, the post all are absolutely top notch. I am ever so certain that the cake was very very delicious. I have made that cake and it is wonderful. I am sure whoever received or enjoyed a slice was blown off their feet. Beautiful work, bravissima 🙂

  13. NYinRome

    Oh and p.s. I agree about the buttercream tending to be grainy at times and also too sweet for my taste…have gotten a bit more tolerant for the kids. So I have marked and jotted down this recipe and am so glad you gave such details about it and of course the thumbs up. 😉

  14. eat, little bird

    As others have mentioned, this is such a beautiful and elegant cake. I’ve never contemplated trying to make a Swiss meringue buttercream but this post has me itching to give it a go! Except that this is a cake that you want to gaze at forever and not want to cut into. Really lovely, Carrie 🙂

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Aww thanks Thanh 🙂 I would really urge you to give SMBC a run, and Sweetapolita has superb, thorough, step by step directions. I am hard pressed to move from this at the moment 🙂 Once you get one trial run under your belt, yo’ll be doing this no bother!

  15. Pingback: A Sweet Thing for Sweet Things « The Patterned Plate

  16. Beth @ Decadent Dragon Bakery

    Gorgeous cake! SMB really is the best buttercream out there. My only concern: I’m doing a rose cake (with roses on the sides as well as top). Will the SMB roses hold up? Well, I’m about to find out! Let me know if you’ve tried it!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thank you! I think it definitely will. Keep things on the cool side to aid it further. SMB cakes can be kept in the fridge to harden and then brought to room temperature. I haven’t tried it myself but think it should be fine. I have seen ruffles piped on the sides with SMB so think you’ll be grand!

  17. Amanda

    What a Fun way to incorporate my Rose technique! When I created it in 2011 I had no idea bakers from around the world would embrace it like they have. 🙂

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Oh wheeee!!! Hello Amanda. Yes your rose cake has come up in all sorts of guises and I’m precious glad you did those tutorials. Especially the video as it made it look relatively easy enough to attempt. It fitted perfectly with this cake and am glad you approve!

  18. Nishka S

    The cake looks amazing and I’d love to give it a go – the link to the extremely chocolate cake doesn’t work – could you let me know where to find the recipe? Thanks!

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