For our three-year anniversary in February I decided to make my boyfriend a cake. Naturally, I decided it should have five tiers in order to fit moose decorations on the side of the cake. Five tiers’ worth of buttercream seemed a bit much, so instead I resolved that it was time to learn to make frosting. I chose Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Martha insisted that you need a stand mixer to do this, however, the Internet told me it was possible to make it with a hand mixer, it would just be very difficult. I grabbed onto the fact that it was technically possible and scorned at the idea of difficulty. It really couldn’t be that bad. After all I’ve watched Mrs. Patmore whip cream by hand.
I actually got blisters from holding the mixer, and I believe I may have done permanent damage to my wrists. I had to keep taking breaks as I could not physically hold onto the mixer anymore and my hand seized up in a grab position. It does, in fact, take hours to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream by hand. I doubt Mrs Patmore would ever have been foolish enough to attempt it. You whisk it over the stove, then you whisk peaks, then you add icing sugar and continue to whisk until the end of time. At one point the mixture curdled and despite Martha’s advice not to worry it would come together again, I found myself alone in the kitchen covered in sticky sugary semi-whipped egg whites screaming abuse at Martha.
After reading a lot of advice online, I did eventually manage to salvage the icing and produced a halfway decent cake. However, it was now clear that the hand mixer wasn’t going to cut it anymore: I needed a Kitchen Aid. Both of my sisters have Kitchen Aids, and my younger sister has been trying to convince me to get one since Christmas. Initially I ignored her advice but Swiss Meringue-gate had changed things.
For the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Kitchen Aids, indeed a couple of weeks ago my boyfriend practically had to drag me away from an Ice colored one during a late night Target visit. He kept telling me that the prices went down in May and I could look again then. Unusually I believed him. I should have known he did not actually know the Kitchen Aid sale schedule by heart; this is much more my type of knowledge. Unbeknownst to me, my wonderful Mummy had already told him that she was getting me one for my birthday. I had no idea and could not have had a better surprise when I opened the beautiful Ice colored mixer.
For my first Kitchen Aid experience I decided to make Party Ring cakes. Party Rings are my favorite English biscuit. For those Americans reading, they are small circular sugar cookies with a hole in the middle, covered in colored icing. They are a staple at English birthday parties, and were affectionately called finger-mice biscuits in my house as we wore them on our fingers before eating. Now that you can buy mini ones I tend to buy several packets when I’m home. I’ve wanted to try decorating cakes with them for ages, and the birthday Kitchen Aid’s maiden voyage seemed like perfect opportunity.
For the first few days, I just looked at the Kitchen Aid, stroking it occasionally, admiring its industrial beauty. When I finally drummed up the courage to get it dirty, the Kitchen Aid worked like a dream. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream only took about 20 minutes in the mixer and I watched in awe as the machine did all the work of whisking and whipping my icing. The mixture did curdle, but it seems Martha was right, if you leave it alone the Kitchen Aid does bring the mixture back together. I’m sorry I yelled at you last time, Martha. I shouldn’t have doubted you and blame the blistered hand and the curdled egg whites in my hair.Perhaps best of all, the arrival of the Kitchen Aid provided a fantastic storage problem and justified the purchase of another Ikea Raskog cart. The Kitchen Aid fits perfectly in the top shelf, and the additional shelves provided a welcome excuse to display all my other teal bakeware. My boyfriend, who was initially skeptical of the need for a new cart, now admits it is the perfect finishing touch for our kitchen.Since making these cakes, we’ve used the Kitchen Aid for whoopie pies, frosting, pie and pizza dough. It has even got the seal of approval from my bread-making boyfriend – high praise indeed. The two of us, both former vegetarians, have invested in sausage making attachments and casings and plan to finally have proper English sausages this side of the pond. Whether I can man up enough to use the meat grinder remains to be seen…. but at least I’ve mastered the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.