This first part of this free Craftsy Modern Buttercream class was worth watching, especially for people who don't work with buttercream too much (all of you fondant junkies out there) or for people who are beginners to smoothing techniques. I don't know what it really had to do with "modern buttercream," but ignore that part of it.
Joshua John Russell taught this class, and I liked his teaching style. He talks a lot faster than the other instructors whose classes I've watched so far, so I didn't feel like he was wasting time. He also seems very comfortable in front of the camera, so there wasn't a lot of Uh...uh...uh...kind of stuff.
He shows how to make a modified Swiss Meringue buttercream, how to smooth it and how to do a basic rustic icing look. Then in the second part there was some junk about making a butterfly, but I skipped most of that. (I heard from a couple of people that he shakes the cutters a lot and it's annoying, but I didn't see enough of that to put me off. I tend to be a hand talker myself, though, so waving your hands around violently to make a point IS TOTALLY NORMAL and should be accepted as part of natural discourse.)
One thing to mention, though...The balance of ingredients in his recipe might be slightly off. I'd try it with 5 egg whites, not 8. Maybe if you're using pasteurized they don't whip up as much and you need more, but that's a large of whites to sugar ratio.
Also, he said that a lot of people think that an Italian meringue buttercream is harder to do, but I make that all the time and it's easier because you don't have to do so much whisking, IMO.
He also showed a weird stacking technique that used about ten too many bubble tea straws to support a 6" tier. Talk about making Swiss cheese out of your cake...My editorial remark is that for a small 4-6-8" tiered cake you really don't need twelve dowels and a center dowel, for Pete's sake. If you transport a cake when it's cold it's not going to go anywhere unless you really try to slam it around.
The good thing about watching the videos on a PC is that you can see the sidebar that has questions that are being asked by people who are watching the video (I can't see it on the iPad). Some of those show how confused people are, and I felt compelled to answer some of them even though I usually try to stay out of that kind of thing.
Skill Level: Beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: Turntable, stand mixer, bench scraper or another flat blade to smooth the tier.
Sleep-Inducing Level: Not bad, but I skipped through most of the butterfly part.
What it Assumes You Already Know: Not a lot
Unnecessary Difficulty of Methods Demonstrated: Nothing other than using an exacto knife to cut out something that should be cut out with a cutter. But that kind of plastic cutter tends to give you a raggedy edge, so I see why he did that.
Annoying Host Habits: None! I know, it's a miracle! Everyone annoys me somehow, I even get annoyed at my own videos, but I wasn't annoyed here other than too many dowels and that wasn't a personal habit on his part. The hand waving thing annoyed some people but I let it slide since I do that too so it can't be THAT annoying, hahaha!
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Zero for me, but the first part would be good for buttercream beginners.
Final Verdict: Hey. it's free. Also, good for showing how to smooth buttercream and level a cake. Dowelling, not so much.
(FYI- watching Craftsy classes on a PC allows you to see the questions that have been asked by other students. Mobile devices don't always show those.)
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and is an Craftsy affiliate.