I'm usually a huge fan of butter, but smearing your cake with butter mixed with powdered sugar . . . kinda seems gross to me. This is Pumpkin Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It's not like regular buttercream. It's silkier, and lighter tasting, because of the meringue replacing most of the butter. Sure, you have to make meringue, which takes a little longer, but the end result is totally worth it. Trust me.
I use Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe. Well, the Baking Handbook version of it, which is easier to halve for the 6-inch cake (but the link recipe is excellent too). I highly recommend purchasing Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, because it's an amazing reference. To make the buttercream pumpkin, I added about 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin to the finished buttercream.
This (see picture) is where we left off with the syrup. I have used some of my buttercream as the filling between the cakes.
Now, a word about frosting a cake. I take about a third of my frosting into a separate bowl, to be my crumb coat. "What's a crumb coat?" you ask. Excellent question. It's a first coat of frosting, to make sure there are no crumb in your final coat of frosting. If you've ever painted, think of it as primer. You separate a third of your frosting, because crumbs might get into your bowl. It happens. It's why you're doing this. It doesn't have to pretty (see picture), but this is your chance to even up your sides and smooth out your top. Once it's on, refrigerate the cake for about 10-15 minutes.
After 10 minutes, you'll notice your crumb coat is kinda hard. Good. Then it won't smoosh into your final coat, transferring crumbs. Now it's time for the final coat, and you'll notice how much easier it is to frost because of the crumb coat. If you're going for a smooth look, dipping your spatula in a glass of water really helps. If you just don't think you can manage a smooth look, just frost it like I recommend in the Chocolate Raspberry Cake.
Then it's time for finishing touches. I . . . am not good at piping frosting. Really not good. So I just pipe little circular blobs of frosting around the top and bottom edges. It's easy. It looks pretty okay. And I add fondant stuff to it, so you don't notice how bad my piping is anyway. You'll see that in the next post.