I'm new to cake decorating and to your wonderful forum, but let me say I love it! <3
I baked a couple of huge batches of cupcakes for Christmas and decorated them to give to my family and workmates, and have since had a family friend approach me about making a cake and some cupcakes for her son's birthday. Now, she's not someone I know, so I'm (hopefully understandably) rather nervous. I've decorated a couple of full-size cakes and a few batches of cupcakes, but nothing ever for money.
She wants a pirate-themed cake and cupcakes. My thoughts were to try and make a pirate ship for the cake itself, then frost all the cupcakes as if they were one large cake (as best I can, anyway) to look like the ocean surrounding it, then add some little fondant toppers like sharks fins, sea monsters, drowning pirates, stuff like that. I've had a go at making the toppers out of some left over fondant I had just for practice, and that seemed to go okay, and I've found the recipe on here for a really sturdy, carveable pound cake that should work for the ship, my only real worry now is the frosting.
The main thing I need is a frosting that will hold its shape well enough to form the peaks needed for the waves, and won't droop down too much into the small gaps there will inevitably be between the cupcakes. I understand a little droopage is most likely going to happen, because it won't have anything underneath it holding it up, but the few attempts at frosting I've made in the past have seemed thick enough in the bowl, but turned out to be far too runny once I've started piping.
Does anyone know of a tried-and-tested recipe for nice, firm frosting, bearing in mind that I don't own a stand mixer? I normally just use a wooden spoon, strength and patience, but if it's absolutely necessary then I might be persuaded to invest in another handheld electric mixer (my last one died a death after only being used a few times, and not for anything too taxing).
The customer also wants chocolate cake, and as I'm so new to all of this I'm not sure which kinds of frosting go best on chocolate cake? I was thinking of using a white chocolate frosting, unless it would affect the consistency badly.
My other question would be if there's a really tasty recipe for chocolate frosting (for the ship itself). I've made a couple recently from different recipes, but they all seem to use a lot of cocoa powder, which I personally can't stand the taste of. I'm not sure if this is because I'm just not a fan of chocolate cake/frosting, or if I'm using bad recipes. I've even bought a BC chocolate frosting (I'm in the UK, in case that makes a difference), and found it was far too rich and cocoa-y for me.
Any suggestions? Any help or ideas would be much appreciated at this point!
If you search the recipe section of this site there are many, many icing recipes.
The main thing to look for is a recipe that does not use much or any liquid.
This is one I like: 2 of everything. It is a non-crusting icing but can be adjusted to crust.
2 cups butter
2 cups Crisco
2 pounds powder sugar
2 Tablespoons flavoring*
Whip the butter & Crisco until light and fluffy (about 7 minutes). Add about 1/3 of the sugar; mix very well (about 5-7 minutes); add another 1/3 of the sugar along w/the flavoring & mix another 5-7 minutes; add remaining sugar and mix *on low speed* for 10 minutes.
*NOTE: flavoring can be only vanilla or any combination of flavors such as vanilla, butter & almond - it's totally a personal preference.
If you want this icing to crust use 1 cup Crisco OR 1 cup butter OR reduce both by 1/2 cup.