Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Adapt Recipes to Container Sizes (a case study in Frosting)

From the BO Archives... (with prices updated and recipe moved to a separate link.)

If there is a recipe that you make very often, it is worth some time to adapt the proportions to fit the size of container of ingredients that are most difficult/time-consuming to measure. This principle has saved me so much money, time and effort! A perfect example is frosting...

I modified the standard Wilton cake-decorating course frosting recipe to fit the sizes of ingredient containers available, such that I don't have to sift or even measure the confection sugar (really!) or the shortening. I buy the shortening in "sticks". Each stick of shortening is 1 cup. The confection sugar comes in 2 lb. bags from Costco. (1lb bags are available at the supermarket.) I combined all of the liquids into one measurement.

The result is a recipe that is super fast and easy, with only one measuring spoon, the mixer and a liquid measuring cup to rinse clean.

Simplifying from 8 or more involved steps to one 5-ingredient doubled recipe, I always make enough for more than a whole cake. A single recipe often left me working too hard to try to make all the colors have enough frosting. Using disposable pastry bags, I keep the extra or leftover colors in full bags in the freezer (or refrigerator) so that I always have a few colors left over on hand for the "cake emergency". Every so often, (or to clear out before Passover) I take all of the frostings in stock and use them to make a rainbow of cupcakes. Or, allow the children to use all the colors in the bags to decorate cupcakes for a messy but fun playdate.

I use the disposables because they allow me to have as many colors stocked as I'd like, without having to wash and reclaim the bag between steps. If you decide to do this, storing the bags with the frosting will keep the tip coupler in use, so get a bunch of extra couplers to save your sanity. (I have at least 15 couplers.)

Even with disposable bags and sticks of shortening, this is a very inexpensive frosting that keeps forever. All together, it costs me about $2.50 for enough frost a pair of cakes. (sugar = $0.95, extracts and powder = $0.25, shortening sticks = $1.10, pastry bag = $0.15 - less if bought in bulk, frosting colors = ???) Using reusable bags (or ziplocks - haven't tried that yet!) and measuring the shortening by weight from a canister would probably save up to a dollar, but I have found that the easy clean-up has made me so much more motivated to make cakes!

So here's the recipe

This should be stiff enough to make simple flowers, etc. For softer frosting (or if you are in a rush to get a cake covered!) add more liquid. For lots of writing, add corn syrup. (1/4 cup of frosting to 2T corn syrup flows very nicely.)


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