Theirs is a story not unlike “2 Broke Girls’” Max and Caroline.
From working the odd jobs and living in a tiny flat to sending email blasts and selling cupcakes in public parks, Valeri Valeriano and Christina Ong seem to have coincidentally taken a page out of the popular 2011 sitcom’s script to turn it into their own kind of reality. Like the exuberant on-screen duo, Valeriano and Ong’s road to success was never a cake walk. But that’s where the similarities end.
The London-based duo originally flew to the United Kingdom in 2008 to find jobs as nurses but like anyone moving abroad, they had to start from the bottom, which included babysitting and cleaning homes. They eventually became nurses but it wasn’t until they were assigned to two families when a random cupcake gift idea turned out to be a stroke of genius. With zero experience under their belts, Valeriano and Ong taught themselves to decorate using buttercream.
“One of them told us to turn this into a business because it’s such a unique idea,” says Valeriano. Four years later, the twosome’s company Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes has established itself as a growing brand, teaching students the delicate art of decorating around the world. “100 Buttercream Flowers,” available in seven languages and sold globally, is the second book they have written that intends to teach anyone who wants to learn to create beautiful buttercream flowers for any kind of cake.
“What we did is narrow down the techniques to 10 major piping strokes. Master those and you’d be able to create all these 100 buttercream flowers,” says Valeriano.
“You may add milk, but if you do you can only keep your buttercream for two to four days as milk has a shorter shelf life. If you use water, you will be able to keep it for longer, around five to 10 days.”
“Add paste colors a little at a time using a toothpick, and never reuse it. Or tint a small amount of buttercream to create a strong color, then use that to add to your bigger batch of buttercream so that you can control the strength of color gradually.”
Feel the pressure
“In flower piping, if you squeeze lightly, this can result in the edges of the petals breaking. If you squeeze too hard, there is the tendency for the petals to curl or create a rather wavy effect, and a rather thick-looking petal.”
Originally published in F&B Report July-August 2015