I made my first batch of buttercream in hopes of using the VIVA paper towel method to smooth it out. Well, the buttercreams consistancy is not at all what I expected. I used the recipe on this site from Gourmetcakes:
It's delicious, but the texture is sort of gritty and when I try to smooth it out is doesn't smooth and the paper towel sticks. I've tried letting it sit to crust first, and that didn't help. Is there anything I can do to make the texture smoother? Can I add some more whipping cream?? Would that help? I don't want to ruin it.
That recipe sounds like it has a bit too much fat in it and maybe too much liquid for a crusting b'cream.
How long did you let it crust?
Is it hot &/or humid where you live? That will effect how long it takes to crust.
Another recipe that is great is SugarShacks....have you tried it? There are many, many posts about it w/all kinds of hints and tips for making & using.
I agree... it could be that the recipe you used isn't intended to crust. Try a recipe by Serious Cakes... I found it on youtube and am spreading the word everywhere. I live on Guam, where it is AMAZINGLY humid and this recipe crusted perfectly! And it's delicious too!
Actually, that's a pretty standard crusting American b/c recipe....1 cup fat to 1# of powdered sugar.
Here's a link to your other, similar post:
(With crusting American b/c recipes using the same proportions of fat to powdered sugar.)
Def. try Sugarshacks, it's a great recipe....tastes yummy and very easy to smooth.
I have found that some of those "cheap" brands of powdered sugar are sometimes "gritty". Try using Domino. I think it makes a big difference.
I also notice if I'm in a rush and I don't allow the BC to mix long enough it is more gritty.
What works great for me is I never put my KA any higher than 2 when I'm mixing it (this helps you have very few if any air bubbles), and I let it mix for quite a while (10 - 15 min. ) When I follow these simple steps it smooths out a lot better than if I'm rushing it along.
I was recently told that beet sugar tends to "grit" more than cane sugar; that it doesn't break down the same or something. Maybe try using a PS made with cane sugar for your next batch and see if that makes a difference?
Also, are you using a shortening with zero transfats? There's been much discussion whether that really makes a difference or not, but I'm of the firm belief that it does. I made the SugarShack's BC with the new Crisco, couldn't get it to crust at all and it was definitely gritty. I can't say 100% that it was from the Crisco as the PS I used was in a storage container so I don't know if it was cane or beet sugar, but I've made a few other recipes lately with the new Crisco and def. cane sugar and still had grit. Then I made a batch with a store brand shortening (w/trans fats) and it's been both the best taste and texture I've gotten so far.
crusting is the result of the ratio of fat to sugar. My recipe that I've used for 25 years ( http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-6992-Indydebis-Crisco-Based-Buttercream-Icing.html ) is 1-1/3 cups shortening to 2 cups p.sugar. I never had a problem with zero-trans crisco. It crusts and holds up great in 90+ degree outdoor heat and heavy humidity.
Thanks Indydebi; I just printed off your recipe and that will be the next one I try! I'm sure my family will love it; they don't like BC with actual butter (I do though!). Thanks for the info about the sugar to fat ratio also......I'm not giving up on the SugarShack recipe yet either; maybe I got too much shortening, or not not enough PS trying to cut the recipe down. It's nice to have a couple to choose from though.
Have you tried the water trick? I always use a small, fine mist pray bottle (I found mine at the craft store in the painting supply area) to spray the cake sides with, then smooth with an offside spatula. After the sides are done, I spray the top and work from the outside edges, in.
You don't want to overspray, but allow enough so that the spaula "hydroplanes" on your buttercream to help get a smooth finish. Even if the consistency of your buttercream is gritty, it may help getting it smoother.
After I get it as smooth as I can, I refrigerate to get the frosting really set and then sometimes use the paper towel method if it needs it.
If you haven't tried smoothing with water or a wet spatula, you may want to give it a shot. My Wilton instructor taught us that way and it usually works well.
I love, love, love Indydebi's buttercream recipe. It crusts great, you can smooth it with the Viva method or a hot spatula. I like using the spatula, but here in Louisiana (humidity capitol of the world- LOL!) it crusts in about 5 minutes and I can smooth it easily.
Thank you all for your suggestions and posts, I really appreciate it! I think I'm going to try to save this batch by trying to smooth it out with some hot water like someone suggested.
Mandyfri, I know all about the humidity capitol of the world, because I live there too LOL. I'm in Baton Rouge. Where are you??