By avery Strychasz, Staff Writer
It’s your birthday. You are serenaded with the melodic and slightly off-key tunes of “Happy Birthday” by your closest friends and family while you reminisce about all that the year has brought you. As the melody draws to a close, you prepare to make your special birthday wish and blow out your candles. Nothing could ruin this moment – or so you think.
You begin to portion out the triangular slices of heaven to your guests to commemorate your special day. You watch as they begin to tuck into their piece, and you bring your fork up to your mouth. Instantly something feels off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. As the vehicle of cake delivery enters your mouth, you know you have been the victim of a foul prank.
Instead of the saccharine sanctity of buttercream, some imbecile has put whipped icing on your cake – your year is ruined.
There is one thing in life that needs to remain constant, and that is the straight fact that buttercream is the superior frosting for cakes. The first point we will examine is the consistency.
One of the most important facets of a cake is the decoration. Whether it’s the standard grocery store sheet cake with balloons and ruffles or the more elaborate Bob the Builder or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse designs, there is one common denominator: buttercream.
Buttercream is the only frosting form that is structurally sound enough to form complex designs that maintain their shape. Not only does it have structural stability, but it can also withstand the food coloring process without fading or bleeding.
These properties are unique to buttercream and allow it to stand out among its competitors, such as whipped icing or ganache.
The second factor that proves that buttercream is the only choice for birthday cakes is nostalgia.
Many of us can remember strolling through our grocery chain of choice as a child and being drawn to the bakery section by the smell of sugary heaven. Upon entry, we’d see the pinnacle of our trip to the grocery store: the gleaming, glass-covered cake case.
From sheet cakes to cupcakes to cookie sandwiches decorated to look like turtles, buttercream has defined our childhoods for centuries. It is the frosting of youth, celebration, joy and dreams. There is no other substance on earth that can encompass the breadth of feelings like buttercream can.
Finally, the most important factor that solidifies buttercream’s supreme status is its taste. Whipped icing is waxy and leaves your mouth feeling like you’ve eaten a Yankee Candle. Ganache can overpower the delicate crumb of the cake itself. Cream cheese is a fair contender, but is not universal in its compatibility with different flavors of cake.
Buttercream defies all expectations of culinary critics. It is subtle enough to pair perfectly with every pastry, yet it still retains its distinct identity. The flavor notes of vanilla and sugar allow it to be so paradoxically simple yet complex.
In its purest form, buttercream is fantastic, but it can also be the base for other flavors to shine through, such as strawberry, chocolate or even lemon. This versatility contributes to the already strong case of superiority.
Perhaps the most compelling taste point is the overall “mouth feel” of buttercream. The silky-smooth consistency allows for a great experience at room temperature. Yet, one of the greatest unknown superpowers of the frosting comes when it is chilled. At this temperature the frosting becomes solid, and the combination of texture, temperature and taste transcends all gastronomical descriptions of flavor.
When you get the privilege to enjoy buttercream, you get the privilege to take part in an experience that is beyond the bounds of bakery. This is what makes buttercream the only option for me and for the rest of the confectionary community.