Thanks to all who suffered with me in my quest. The anniversary party is behind me and the four - tiered cake has been baked, frosted, decorated, transported, displayed, photograhed, cut and consumed. It could not have gone better. Those of you who associate my posts w/ some disaster story, either complete, or narrowly avoided, will be shocked.
Silk Meringue Buttercream from Rose L-B's Cake Bible is the bomb. If you've followed my cake-related ramblings, you know I did a test run with this frosting a month or so ago. At that time, I found it to be good, but slightly loose and not sweet enough, and wound up beating in some powdered sugar.
This time, I increased the sugar just a bit in both the creme anglais component and the Italian Meringue. The result was perfection. I'm not sure if it was stiffer because of the additional sugar, or if I did something else better than before. Possibly the fact that I took the butter out of the fridge the night before made the difference (I will ALWAYS do that in the future). I made two double batches (4 lbs of butter total) and the batches turned out identical. Fluffy, creamy, stiff, very easy to pipe, non-greasy, and STABLE. After frosting the entire cake, I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. When I returned to do the detail decoration, the frosting was so "set-up" that I was able to wipe away mistakes with a finger without disturbing the frosting. Yet when we ate it (about 2 hours of room temp) it was creamy and delicious(flavored w/ almond and grand marnier), not that hard stuff you often get.
I refridgerated the completed cake for about 24 hours, turned the a/c on full blast in the car, and transported that rascal 17 miles to the party venue. Stashed it in their fridge for another 4-5 hours. It sat at room temp ( a/c, but still rather hot since there were 75 people and they kept leaving the double doors open) for 3 hours without a problem. And the remnants have sat at room temp for the last 2 days with no ill effects.
I'm beside myself with relief, and had hoped never to see the inside of my kitchen again, or at least no time soon, when I got an email yesterday from a friend who wants to pay me to make a cake for her. Can any of you tell me what wedding cakes go for these days? The one I just completed was 4 tiers of two layers, chocolate cake w/ buttercream, and decorated w/ shells, dots, some (rather amatuerish) scroll work and fluer de lis.
I hope to post some pics, assuming when I go to the venue at lunch today, I can find my camera that I left there *doh!* Thanks for reading.