I'm A Buttercream Flunky.

Decorating By Libberator3000 Updated 12 Aug 2009 , 11:40pm by varika

Libberator3000 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:25pm
post #1 of 14

OK, so I used to try to decorate cakes, and then I gave up because my buttercream always flopped. It would get that melted look with color...almost like the fat is separating and the color gets all grainy...Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

So, I recently got all pumped up watching food network and decided I'd give a go at fondant cakes because it looks so cool. And I wowed my friends with my first two cakes, and it was really fun....so I'm getting all cocky thinking I can do this....

Then I made my third cake, which wasn't all fondant. It needed green buttercream for grass. So far, I'd been using toedna's method for buttercream, and it had been turning out fine, because I wasn't tinting it...just using it white under my fondant.

But when I went to color it green, it did that old thing again!! It got all glossy and melted looking with the color, and my leaf tip didnt work. The leaf came out in three parts. I tried adding more powdered sugar to firm it up, and got the same result again. Don't know if I added enough.

The other thing it did was...it did not crust! Not only did it not crust, but it was all slimy, and when I went to put another coat on, the bottom coat would wipe out of the way. I couldn't ice on it or touch it at all. I used the Americolor gels to tint.

Should I quit cakes again, or is there hope for me? The youtube videos I've been watching say that you can keep adding sugar and water to get the consistency you want. Is that true? What did the color do to it?

Deflated... icon_cry.gif

13 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:30pm
post #2 of 14

It sounds like the recipe you are using is not good for your climate etc.I use Americolor gels all the time and have never had a problem.If you icing is slimy it is too thin....you need more icing sugar.How old is your colors? You may have to get rid of them and buy new ones...Sometimes you can get a bad batch of coloring also.Another thing is your hands may be to hot and literally melting the icing inside the piping bag..some decoraters have that issue also..it causes the icing to get runny....Try to refridgerate your bags with icing in it so they are super cold and not to handle them too much.HTH

Libberator3000 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:40pm
post #3 of 14

Thanks, Kiddiekakes. My color was brand new. Just bought it two days before. And the icing looked weird in the bowl already as soon as I tinted, so I don' think it was hand heat....

Just remembered, though, that I used half butter this time. Could have been the butter. And then when I went to pipe I made a "just shortening" batch and tinted it green. It was the batch that wouldn't work in my leaf tip, but it wasn't necessarily slimy like the butter batch.

Lib

JanH Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:40pm
post #4 of 14

Really odd problem that you're having.

What type and brand of coloring are you using? (Unfortunately, they're not all created equal.)

What type of frosting are you using? Can you provide a link to the recipe?

Kiddiekakes Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:44pm
post #5 of 14

If you use 1/2 butter which I take as to mean 2 things..The butter itself is half fat and not full fat butter or you used 1/2 of the recipe needed...If it was a 1/2 fat issue of course the icing will get runny.The other half is water so I would go back to using full fat butter.It is like melting butter and then margarine..The margarine is watery...If you used half the recipe amount you need to add all the butter...

Libberator3000 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:48pm
post #6 of 14

Oh, sorry. I meant half butter and half shortening...but the butter was normal butter. icon_smile.gif

And, JanH, I kinda winged my recipe this time... But I was trying to do the 1 part fat to 4 to 5 parts powdered sugar thing...

Kiddiekakes Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 9:51pm
post #7 of 14

Hmmm...I am stumped....

lillermom Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 10:22pm
post #8 of 14

Have you tried the Wilton recipe for BC? I think trying out a recipe with all shortening (make sure its got trans fat in it!) and perhaps milk rather than water will resort in a stiffer icing. Try the Wilton recipe and follow it to a T and see if that helps. Also are you using a store brand of shortening? Are you whipping the shortening before adding the other ingredients?

MrsMcCoy28 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 10:30pm
post #9 of 14

I was just going to say... I've been using the Wilton buttercream recipe. The trans fat containing shortening works better, but I have also been able to get the new stuff to work. I do notice though, that if my shortening is more than a few months old it tends not to work anymore... may have something to do with the humidity in my area though.

Also... are you using coloring meant for icing or just food coloring? Food coloring is generally too thin for cake icing.

varika Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 10:52pm
post #10 of 14

Try creaming the butter with some of your liquid together first. Whip it up real good. I've found that has made for a better icing for me.

But if your icing has been working well for your crumb coat and not giving you issues, then the problem is somewhere with your coloring. Are you using gels, the watery McCormick's stuff, or powders? And could you be adding too much color? With the gels, you only need a very small ammount. A drop or two, with Americolors, is plenty for everything but the deepest reds and blacks.

The other thing is, are you mixing it adequately? How are you mixing it in? I use my spatula, and it takes me a good five or six minutes to be sure it's mixed in properly. But you don't want to mix it for too LONG, either, which may be exactly what your problem is, because it sounds like you're breaking your fat emulsion...

jlsheik Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 11:15pm
post #11 of 14

It sounds like a trans fat issue....even wilton has changed their recipes. Try adding in a full fat milk instead of water or 1/2 n 1/2...To add back in some of the fats you are lacking . Oil and water (or shortening) don't mix! ....Or try indydebi's BC recipe. It adds in dream whip to help....I have never had it seperate. It's in the recipe section.

mjk350 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 11:26pm
post #12 of 14

Indydebis Buttercream crusts well and holds up to heat and humidity. Tastes good too. Here is the link.
http://www.cakecentral.com/cake_recipe-6992-0-Indydebis-Crisco-Based-Buttercream-Icing.html

Libberator3000 Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 11:27pm
post #13 of 14

Hmmm...Good sleuthing. To answer some of the points above:

The shortening was new...and I did buy the off brand kind with trans fat because I've been researching this a little.. I used Americolor gel icing instead of the powder because I needed a dark green and they didn't have it in the powder. Someone suggested that maybe I put too much in, and I did squeeze a fair amount in. I put in a little first, but didn't get the dark forest green I wanted, so I kept squeezing until I got it dark enough. It actually still wasn't dark enough when I was done. Is that bad?

Also, I have tried the Wilton buttercream recipe before and had the same result with gels... that's why I gave up making cakes before...

Oh, and I used a kitchen aid mixer. I creamed the shortening first (and the butter and shortening first in the other batch) before adding the sugar.

varika Posted 12 Aug 2009 , 11:40pm
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Libberator3000

Hmmm...Good sleuthing. To answer some of the points above:

The shortening was new...and I did buy the off brand kind with trans fat because I've been researching this a little.. I used Americolor gel icing instead of the powder because I needed a dark green and they didn't have it in the powder. Someone suggested that maybe I put too much in, and I did squeeze a fair amount in. I put in a little first, but didn't get the dark forest green I wanted, so I kept squeezing until I got it dark enough. It actually still wasn't dark enough when I was done. Is that bad?

Also, I have tried the Wilton buttercream recipe before and had the same result with gels... that's why I gave up making cakes before...

Oh, and I used a kitchen aid mixer. I creamed the shortening first (and the butter and shortening first in the other batch) before adding the sugar.




If you want a nice really dark green with Americolors, I usually use about four drops of forest green, two drops of navy blue, and two drops of black. If that's not dark enough, I use another three or four drops of the green and one of the black. If you're coloring it in the mixer, use LOW speed to mix it in; I tend to do it by hand so I can just stop when it's mixed enough. And then set the icing aside for a while and let the color ripen. It always, always, always will.

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