This is one question I am asked on a daily basis. I will explain to you what I do and what works for me.
I set aside Mondays as my prep day. I bake all of my cupcakes, 100’s sometimes depending on what orders I have already booked in, and allowing at least 50 extra for last minute orders. These are my bread and butter. I very rarely have loads of orders in the diary, people tend to order from me last minute. Yes I know some find this annoying but I never did. You don’t have time to fuss over what you are about to pipe you just get on with it. Customers stay loyal to you if you’ve helped them out of a tricky situation like forgetting their own mothers birthday (even if they have known for an entire year its their birthday).
Bake all of your cupcakes, take them straight out of the baking trays onto cooling racks and wait until they are completely cold. If they are not completely cold when you put them in the freezer the cupcake cases WILL peel. Load into large freezer bags. They will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. I pipe straight onto a frozen cupcake. This is a game changer in the summer months and if you suffer with hot hands. Don’t panic they will be defrosted by the time you hand them over to the customer. They take about 15 mins to defrost.
You can double freeze your cupcakes. If you are piping onto a frozen cupcake you can then put them back in the freezer, I have lots of students that do this. I don’t personally because I don’t feel the need. It does not alter the taste or texture of the cupcakes or buttercream. You can freezer an entire assembled cupcake bouquet. It does not affect the tissue paper or cellophane. This is only helpful for those that have large freezers but, is a game changer on big events like Mother’s Day, because you can complete half of your orders so you are not as stressed.
I am always asked why I only use American buttercream? Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! It works for me and I love working with it. It has never let me down.
Some do use SMBC Swiss meringue buttercream but from what my students say it is too soft for piping flowers, same goes for cream cheese icing!
My buttercream recipe is no secret it is absolutely everywhere, there are no secret ingredients. Its simply unsalted butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract. NO LIQUIDS added.
I make my buttercream at the beginning of the week. I make approximately 10 double batches so I’m prepped for the week ahead and because buttercream that is pre made is a much nicer consistency.. It allows the air bubbles to go and gives a gorgeous velvety texture. Which is amazing for piping flowers. Getting those beautiful smooth edges.
You can store your buttercream in a plastic container with a lid and pop it in the fridge. It will last in your fridge for as long as the expiry date on the packs of butter. NEVER throw away buttercream just pop it in the freezer.
When it comes to using the buttercream you simply take out what you need to pipe your first lot of flowers and pop it in the microwave on high for 2 second spurts until it is workable. When you think oh its almost there don’t put it back in the microwave. By the time you’ve added the colour it will be the perfect consistency.
WHAT’S THE PERFECT BUTTERCREAM CONSISTENCY?
The method I have shown you above for bringing back the buttercream from the fridge will always be the perfect consistency for all flowers.
Buttercream that it is too cold will be hard to pipe with, and your piping bag is likely to split. If this happens to you a lot this is probably the issue or you’ve overloaded your bag. If your piping bag feels really cold just rub the bag between your hands to warm up the buttercream.
If you have the opposite problem and your hands are too hot then I would recommend having two piping bags on the go so you can alternate the piping bags. You can also have ice packs (like you use for picnics) next to you so you can either lay your piping bags on them or your wrists. If you need to cool your hands down quickly run your wrists under the cold tap this will cool down your bloodstream.
There are certain flowers that are obnoxious and temperamental. Like the Russian tulip nozzles! They are so annoying and I still have days where I want to throw that nozzle straight out the window. I’ve been doing this 8 years now so don’t beat yourselves up if you’re struggling with them. That’s why I came with my Hand Piped Tulips, simple, easy and beautiful. Nothing temperamental about them!
Chrysanthemums and dahlias don’t necessarily need softer buttercream its more about the amount you put in your piping bag. You only need the smallest amount of buttercream so your hands will aromatically make it softer.
Other than these two all flowers use the same consistency.
COLOURING YOUR BUTTERCREAM
As you know I have my own range of gel colours now which are oil based and perfect for buttercream flowers. You MUST vigorously shake the bottle, because it is oil based it separates. There is no aftertaste and the colours you can achieve are amazing. Remember if you want a pale pink you add a tiny tiny amount of colour if you want a more vibrant pink you add more. This applies to all colours.
I have always coloured a small amount of my buttercream in a bowl and mixed with a spatula I never colour big batches of buttercream as I feel you never get the depth of colour that you are trying to achieve. Example, if I’m about to pipe 3 pale pink roses I would colour that amount of buttercream. Not a whole double batch.
TWO TONING YOUR BUTTERCREAM FLOWERS
This used to be such a laborious and messy job until I discovered a much easier way to two tone.
If I am about to pipe pink mini roses, I would add a small amount of the gel colour to the empty piping bag. Rub the bag between your hands making sure you have covered most of the bag. Then add your lighter coloured buttercream. Voila two toned flowers here we come! It’s so simple but so effective.
I hope this has helped you understand the world of buttercream.
Thanks Jane. The majority of my orders are last minute too. I really don’t have a problem with this either. I’ve taken on board all your advice, tips & tricks. Thank you for sharing all your experience & wisdom ❤️Xx
Thank you, so pleased my advise is helping you! Jane x
Fantastic . I did not know you can freeze .pipe and refreeze.. game changer unsure if I.will do it but options are good . Thankyou
Yes I don’t particularly either, but I would for big events. Jane x
Hi Jane, thank you for another helpful blog. It makes such a difference having everything prepared in advance and it does take the stress out of my week. I’ve been following your processes since I started my training and this has made the busy seasons like Christmas and Mother’s Day more manageable and in fact, quite enjoyable, so thank you so much xx
Hi Andrea, amazing to hear! Keep going, you are clearly smashing it! Jane x
Thank you for this post Jane. I have never made up that much buttercream ahead as I always thought it would be best made fresh, but I will most certainly do this now.
Hi Gail, I never use freshly made buttercream, too many air bubbles for me 😉 x Jane
Thank you Jane,
Thank you x
Thank you 😊
Thank you. x
Thank you for putting all of this advice in one place. While I’ve been doing this as a side job for almost two years, being reminded of the basics is incredibly helpful. Thank you for all you do! 🙂
Hi Laura, you are more than welcome, prep is key in this business! Jane x
Thank you x
Thank you for these wonderful tips on buttercream!
Thank you x x
I love you thank you so so so much for your help to understand what i should do…
Thank you for taking the time to comment! Jane x