Assis Toi: Remembering Rose

The whole time I was working on this story, all I could to was think of this song by the B-52’s. And no, you’re not about to click on Rock Lobster.

This time “Assis Toi” heads off to visit Crystal Ross from Gateaux Rose. Gateaux Rose isn’t a bricks-and-mortar cake shop, it’s a side project that Ross does on her off hours to keep her sanity. Or maybe her day job functions to fund Gateaux Rose. In any case, Ross was kind enough to sit down with me to teach me how to make a proper buttercream. Not that stuff you find on cupcakes, which is just butter whipped with sugar and flavourings. No, we’re talking whipped egg whites, sugar syrup and flavours that sing, rather than scream.

You can stream the episode from Information Morning Nova Scotia’s website, or you can download the podcast here.

On a personal note, I once tried to make this very same recipe and totally screwed it up. I then took a class with Ross where I discovered my fatal flaw: I hadn’t read the instructions properly and tried to use cold butter. Room temperature butter is a must to make this work. Otherwise, expect to whip your buttercream into oblivion before it reaches the right consistency.

Ross flavouring some buttercream. Image courtesy of Michelle Doucette/Gateaux Rose's blog

Ross flavouring some buttercream. Image courtesy of Michelle Doucette/Gateaux Rose

The recipe is essentially the one you will find in Rose Levy Berenbaum‘s lovely The Cake Bible, a MUST for your cookbook shelf if you are at all interested in cake baking. Ross has made this recipe so many times she no longer needs to look at her copy to know how to prepare it, but here it is for you, with thanks to Ross.


– Unsalted butter at room temperature : 2 cups :: 1 pound

– White Granulated Sugar: 1 1/2 cup :: 300 grams

– Water 1/3 cups

– Egg whites: roughly 5 large egg whites :: 150 grams

– Cream of Tartar :: 1/2 teaspoon

Optional flavourings: Strawberry Freezer Jam: to taste (roughly half to three quarter cups)


1.) In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, add 1 cup / 200 grams of sugar, and water. Brush all sugar away from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and water.

2.) Heat the sugar mixture to a rolling boil. Monitor it carefully as it begins to thicken, remove from heat before it turns to caramel – your thermometer should read 250F

3.) While the sugar is coming to a boil, whip egg whites in a stand mixer until frothy. Add cream of tartar.

4.) Continue whipping whites, and slowly tap in remaining 1/2 cup sugar into whites. Whip until firm glossy peaks form.

5.) Turn beaters down to medium speed, and pour hot sugar mixture @250F in a slow stream along the side of your bowl, being careful not to let the sugar hit the beaters.

6.) Continue whipping meringue mixture until it cools. 5-10 minutes.

7.) Incorporate butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Continue beating until mixture comes together into a beautiful, fluffy frosting. If it happens to curdle, continue whipping for several minutes, and it should come back to life.

8.) Add flavourings to taste.