Baking a cake that tastes great is only half the challenge. It has to look amazing, too. It's up to the frosting to make that happen. You want your cake (or cupcakes) adorned with pleasing swirls that have defined edges and mimic shapes and patterns found in nature. Usually, these are floral, like the leaves and petals of a flower. Piping the frosting is how you achieve those double-take-worthy details.
However, not every type of buttercream frosting is ideal for piping is ideal for piping. The frosting must have certain qualities to ensure successful application. For example, the best frosting will have a soft texture devoid of lumps and air bubbles. Not only will it go on smoothly, but it should stiffen upon exposure to air. If that doesn't happen, those intricate details that you worked so hard to create won't hold up, and your design will lose its edge. American buttercream has all of these essential traits.
Why American Buttercream Is Different
While not everyone agrees on how many types of buttercream frosting there are, there are at least seven. However, even those seven can change depending on a baker's experience and definition of what makes a buttercream frosting. The consensus is that, for piping, American buttercream is the best option.
American buttercream stands out because of its simple and, admittedly, not-so-healthy recipe. American buttercream frosting is made with butter, shortening, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract. It's just fat and sugar with a little flavoring. Still, these ingredients make it smooth, so it is ideal for piping. Plus, when exposed to air, the frosting stiffens to hold those delicate details.
Aside from being uniquely suited for piping, American buttercream has a couple of other important traits that make it desirable. First, American buttercream holds color very well, making it easy to tint. You can get the precise color you need — no matter what that may be. Second, you can flavor it however you'd like. If you don't want vanilla, you can have lemon, orange, chocolate, peanut butter, mint, and more.
Read the original article on Mashed.