Spotted Buttercream - What The Heck Happened???

Baking By jimsgrrl1104 Updated 1 Oct 2009 , 5:56pm by jimsgrrl1104

jimsgrrl1104 Posted 26 Sep 2009 , 9:36pm
post #1 of 21

Just did a cake that needed some decorations in a "John Deere green" frosting. It mixed up fine and was the right color, but now that it's on the cake little white spots are showing up in the frosting. A little ashamed to say this has happened before, but this is the first cake I've done for someone outside the family and I'm embarrassed. It's too late to fix it now, but wonder what could be causing it. Most of the colors I use end up having some white spots show up later on. Could it be my water? I'm using the plain Wilton class buttercream that calls for shortening instead of butter.

Anyone else have this problem? Anyone managed to keep it from happening?


20 replies
G_Cakes Posted 26 Sep 2009 , 9:51pm
post #2 of 21

When you smotthed the BC did you use a spatula dipped in hot water? or was it near water (spray from sink etc)

This is what I call BC chicken pox. BC and cake are perfectly edible just looks off.

My Wilton instructor says this is common when water comes into contact with the butter cream either by not wiping a spatula completely dry after dipping in hot water or by water spray from kettle, sink etc.

You could just go over it with some gel color by hand and try to cover it, or try re frosting the cake again....


jimsgrrl1104 Posted 26 Sep 2009 , 11:24pm
post #3 of 21

The dark green was just for decorations, so we only smoothed it using some Viva paper towel (no water involved). The bags were disposable and had never been used before so no water there, and the tips were dry from the last time they'd been used (several days). And we were far from the sink.

Has anyone experienced this using the Wilton gel colors? I'm wondering if that could be responsible since it's happened when I used water from a different county as well.

Thanks for the suggestions!

adree313 Posted 26 Sep 2009 , 11:50pm
post #4 of 21

it happens a lot with my icing when i use wilton coloring (i've only been doing cakes for my immediate family and some family functions). my only thought is it has to be the wilton gel coloring, but i'm not 100% sure.

jen9936 Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:09am
post #5 of 21

I don't use the Wilton recipe, so I'm not sure if you use salt in your icing, but with my recipe, if the salt called for is not disolved completely in the liquid before adding, the color appears to sort of "separate" a bit. This causes some white looking spots.

traceyjade Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:24am
post #6 of 21

Sometimes the buttercream will have spots when you have a crisco based icing. Try if you haven't to use high ratio shortning. Hope this helps.[/u]

icer101 Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:25am
post #7 of 21

it happens also when i use some of the americolor gels.. different colors can do that.. violet is another one.. types of water you use.. or crisco not beaten in good enough. i have read this on internet.. i asked that question on home page and got this answer.. hth royal blue from wilton and americolor has done that on me..

jammjenks Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:37am
post #8 of 21

I was fortunate enough to have it happen to me for one of my class cakes in Wilton 1. My instructor says she has students bring in cakes like that often, but she had no idea what caused it.

I do still have it from time to time, but usually with dark colors. Wilton Violet seems to be the most notorious for me.

Could be salt as PP said. I do use a pinch of salt in all my icing, but it's odd that it only happens sometimes since I ALWAYS use salt.

brincess_b Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 9:00am
post #9 of 21

try using milk in your bc instead. when i use water, the colours are more likely to go funny and kind of separate. since using milk, the bc stays much more consistant with the colour.

jimsgrrl1104 Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 11:33am
post #10 of 21

Thanks, everyone - these are good ideas! I'm going to give them a try for the next cake!

Deb_ Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:27pm
post #11 of 21

Did the spots appear in just the green iced parts? Did you use a different brand of powdered sugar? Maybe the sugar wasn't sifted before you incorporated it into the icing.

I know a lot of people don't sift their powdered sugar, and I mostly don't unless I'll be coloring it a deep color. I found that when I don't sift, and I need to mix for example a deep red color.....I get white spots.

The darker colors are less forgiving and will show spots and streaks sometimes if not mixed in enough and allowed to rest.

I try to mix up all of my colors for the weekend, during the week. Allowing them time to "rest" lets you see exactly what you have to work with and if you need to make any final adjustments before they end up on the cake itself.

You'd be surprised what I've found in my sifter over the years after sifting powdered sugar......hard "rock like" things that would absolutely have ruined my icing if they ended up in it.


susgene Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 12:48pm
post #12 of 21

I've had this happen too while using the Wilton recipe. Ever since then I have disolved the salt totally in a little water and I haven't had the problem since!

drakegore Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 2:25pm
post #13 of 21

i believe what you dealing with is an absorption problem, and they get super noticeable when you use darker colors. i had this happen to me almost exactly as you describe each time i used dark colors.

for the darker colors, you can solve this problem by using a high ratio shortening, or using candy colors which are oil based.

i chose candy colors to solve this problem and ended up loving the candy colors because they are so vivid.


jimsgrrl1104 Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 9:20pm
post #14 of 21

Thanks for the new ideas! I will try dissolving the salt, sifting the powdered sugar, and will buy some candy colors in the future. I'm also going to try the high-ratio shortening at some point.

I love this board and all the helpful suggestions I get from everyone!

CutiePieCakes-Ontario Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 12:39am
post #15 of 21

I don't use salt in my Wilton BC and have never had this problem. Why do we need to put salt in BC anyway? icon_confused.gif

Deb_ Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 12:54am
post #16 of 21

Adding salt to buttercream helps to cut the sweetness.

jimsgrrl1104 Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 2:10pm
post #17 of 21

Cutiepie - I always use about 1/2 a tsp of salt in my BC. It cuts the sweetness just a tad and gives it a depth that other BC doesn't seem to have. It really brings out the flavorings that may otherwise get covered up in all the sugar. I didn't add salt in the beginning, but a friend of mine did and her BC was always SO much better than mine!

TexasSugar Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 8:28pm
post #18 of 21

As a WMI I get a chance to see alot of different people's icing and some have spots and other's don't. In my opinion the only common factor is water. Some have spots when they use or don't use salt, so we can't really blame the salt. I don't buy the lumps of powder sugar or crisco theory, because why wouldn't all the icing you made that round have them?

I fully believe it is a reaction between the coloring (certain colors) and the chemicals in the water. It is most commonly seen in purple, followed by pink and blue. If you have this issue alot, I'd say just use bottle water when you make your icing.

The good news is once the icing spots you can mix it up and it won't respot, so if you can remember which colors tend to spot for you and make them ahead of time so they have time to spot before you use them it can help.

lardbutt Posted 29 Sep 2009 , 4:05am
post #19 of 21

It used to happen to me, but only with darker colors.

I am positive for me, salt was the culprit! Since I switched to popcorn salt, I have not had the problem once....and it's been over a year.

HTH, Sherri

indydebi Posted 29 Sep 2009 , 10:16am
post #20 of 21

Just to add some add'l experiences: I can't recall that I've ever had spotting. I don't use salt. I use milk. I use crisco and beat it until it's totally pulverized (no fat particles left at all). Use Cake Craft or Amerigold coloring.

jimsgrrl1104 Posted 1 Oct 2009 , 5:56pm
post #21 of 21

Hello, all! Just thought I'd give a quick update to this post. I made 3 batches of BC - one that is made just like the Wilton recipe, 1 with the salt dissolved first, and 1 with the sugar sifted first - tinted all three with "sky blue" from Wilton. The only one that did not have ANY spotting in the color was the one where I dissolved the salt first.

So, if anyone else is having trouble with spots in their frosting - try dissolving your salt in the water/flavorings before adding it to the shortening. It worked wonders for me!

Thanks to all for your ideas and suggestions!

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