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Whipped Cream for Cakes

Asked by Surbhi. Answered on 19th January 2012

Full question

Hi! In India, there is only standard cream that is readily available. There isn't another category of whipped or heavy cream easily available. The problem I have is that when I whip the cream it gets get thick, but not thick enough. I've tried adding gelatin, but at best it reaches a soft mousse texture. As a result, the icing is mostly always dripping, and doesn't even set when refrigerated. Is there anything that I am doing wrong or something I can add or substitute for the non-heavy cream available here? I've tried all the usual tips of using fridge cold cream and beating over an ice bath. Thanks alot!

Our answer

For cream to whip successfully it needs to have at least 30% fat content and usually the fat content is between 30% and 50%. If your standard cream has a fat content below this then it will not whip properly and some of the whipping creams at the lower end of the fat range need to be used immediatey after whipping as they start to liquefy again if they stand for too long. Most foods now have nutritional information of the side of the packaging so you should be able to work out the fat content from there.

If your cream is at the lower end of the fat content range then make sure that you don't add any flavourings or sugar until after the cream has been whipped. However if your cream is just not suitable for whipping, and you can't find an alternative, then we would suggest trying creme patissiere for filling cakes instead.

Creme patissiere, or pastry cream, is a custard made with eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour and cream or milk. Sometimes whipped cream can be folded in to lighten the texture. Nigella has a recipe for creme patissiere on p22 of Domestic Goddess (as part of the Boston Crem Pie recipe). There are also several classic recipes available on-line. As the creme patissiere contains egg and you live in a warm country then we would recommend that it is refrigerated quickly after making and is stored in the fridge.

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