With more than 35 years in the industry, Pat Jacoby, TV decorator and owner of Patty-Cakes in Highland, IL, knows a thing or two about using buttercream. "We didn't use fondant, gumpaste and modeling chocolate 30 years ago," she says. "Everything was in buttercream."
If you're using the right kind of buttercream, and you're using it correctly, you can have just as much creative freedom as you can with any other medium. At Icing on the Cake—Mike Elder's charity cake show held in Kansas City on April 17—Jacoby demonstrated how to create a sculpted watering-can-and-flower-pot cake by using almost all buttercream. "You wouldn't believe you could do this with buttercream," she says.
First, you must be sure that you're using a crusting buttercream. There are hundreds of different crusting buttercream recipes that will work. You'll need to use extra Crisco to make it a little more firm.
Once you have the right kind of buttercream, and you can master your skills with it, the benefits are plentiful and the possibilities are endless. "I love working with buttercream because you don't have to stop and knead," Jacoby says. "I do a lot in fondant, too, but this is just easier to me. It's what I started with."
One easy tip Jacoby has for deisgning with buttercream is using Viva paper towels as a smoothing tool. Many different brands of paper towels will have different textures, such as quilted texture. But the texture of Viva brand lends itself best to smoothing buttercream.