Swiss Versus Italian Buttercream Help!!!!!

Decorating By Miffy Updated 29 Apr 2014 , 9:13pm by MBalaska

Miffy Posted 7 Feb 2010 , 11:40am
post #1 of 51

Am doing my first wedding cake in 2 weeks (very nervous). The client doesn't like the taste of fondant and so wanted buttercream. Problem is she wants the icing a very pale pink. The version of buttercream that I make (and she likes) has a yellow tint due to the high level of butter and it makes it hard to get the pink colour she wants.

My question is should I use swiss or italian buttercream instead. If so which is better suited to getting a smooth finish. Also since it is summer here in Australia, it could be an extremely hot day. Lucky the reception is in the evening (but outdoors!!)

Would really like some advise as I am getting confused as to which is the better to handle and which tastes less sweet.

Thanks icon_confused.gif

50 replies
couturecakesms Posted 7 Feb 2010 , 12:14pm
post #2 of 51

There has been a lot of discussion on this topic regarding which "American" style of buttercream is best to use in the summertime in the South (I'm in Mississippi - USA). I LOVE both Swiss and Italian buttercreams, but I would never be brave enough to use either of them on a wedding cake in the summer-time. In the U.S., we predominantly use something called a "Crusting Buttercream". With this, you can use a high-density foam paint roller after you let the icing dry about 15 minutes, and you will achieve a smooth finish that most people will mistake for fondant because it is so smooth.

I use a ratio of half butter and half hi-ratio shortening (or just regular shortening if you can't get hi-ratio). Then add your choice of flavorings - typical here are vanilla and creme bouquet, which is a blend of citrus, almond and butter - I think. You can usually get it at a cake decorating store.

I use either whole (full fat) milk or cream to thin the icing, but many people have started using the refrigerated flavored liquid coffee creamers - French Vanilla is popular, and 10x powdered sugar. There are several good recipes for Crusting Butter Cream Icing under the recipe section here on Cake Central. Take a look there for an exact recipe.

As for Italian vs. Swiss buttercream. Italian is more stable because you heat the sugar syrup to a higher temperature before incorporating it into the egg whites (or yolks - depending on your recipe). Swiss buttercream is not as stable and will break down more easily with any little bit of heat in the room. You can add a little meringue powder to the egg whites before continuing with the recipe - about 1/2 tsp. per batch of icing - to help stabilize it. Don't add to much because it tastes nasty.

Try doing a "Google" search for Italian buttercream or Swiss buttercream. There should be some pastry chef forums somewhere on the web where the merits of these two icings are discussed in more depth.

Good luck!

Laina Smith

Miffy Posted 7 Feb 2010 , 12:24pm
post #3 of 51

Thanks Laina. Here in Australia we are not very big on using shortening in our icing. To tell you the truth I don't think I have ever eaten a cake iced using shortening. Does it taste good?? The buttercream recipe I use involves beating the butter till creamy then adding icing sugar (I think you call it powdered) a little bit of milk and then the flavour and/colour. This icing crusts and I really want to try the high density roller thing. But when I colour it pink it turns out orangy pink because of the butter.

Maybe I should give shortening a go!

Thanks again!
Emma

crazyladybaker Posted 8 Feb 2010 , 1:56am
post #4 of 51

I just made my first batch of Swiss and it is wonderful. I usually make Italian but I wanted to give the other a try. I prefer making the Italian but it seemed like the Swiss was a tiny bit "lighter".
They are both terrific tasting but I would be hesitant to use it in the heat like Laina mentioned I think I would try the crusting buttercream.

Can you try a batch of each and see how you like them?

I have a summer wedding cake as well and it is outside in July in SC....HOT and HUMID. I really wanted to use Italian buttercream but I will go with the high ratio shortening buttercream to be on the safe side.

Have a great night.

Miffy Posted 8 Feb 2010 , 5:05am
post #5 of 51

Thanks for your help. Still unsure about the taste of the buttercream using shortening. I keep reading comments about how it doesn't taste great!! To me taste is the most important part icon_smile.gif
Will make some and see how I go!

Cheers

LaBellaFlor Posted 8 Feb 2010 , 5:47am
post #6 of 51

My wedding was in hot 'ol August in the good 'ol South and was covered in SMBC. It was kept indoors, though people kept going in and out and there was no central air. There are no gurantees, but I've known people to use IMBC in August in Georgia of all places...outdoors! I think everyone should have the common sense not to put a SMBC in the heat...of course you may have to give a warning. And as far as creme bouqet. that is a personal preference. I do not like it at all. HTH icon_wink.gif

couturecakesms Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 6:55pm
post #7 of 51

Shortening is extremely disgusting and you certainly don't want to taste it in your icing. The whole point of putting in all the flavorings is to try and mask the flavor of the shortening and make it taste like you have used all butter when you haven't.

To get your icing white so you can add a touch of pink -
1) Try using Organic butter that doesn't have additional food coloring added to it to make it yellow.
2) Use the proportions I gave you before - half butter; half shortening or hi-ratio shortening
3) when adding vanilla flavoring - which is a MUST - make sure you use CLEAR VANILLA - if you use the brown colored vanilla, you will have a tan colored icing.

For a recipe of icing that fits in my 5 qt Kitchen Aid mixer, I use 2 cups of butter - (1 cup salted butter and 1 cup unsalted butter); 2 cups of shortening; 6 Tablespoons of milk or creamer; 3 Tablespoons of clear vanilla; 2 teaspoons of creme bouquet or wedding bouquet flavoring (if you can find it - if not, use 1 tsp. almond flavoring and 1 tsp. rum flavoring - or whatever your favorites are that are compatible). Then slowly add about 16 cups of powdered sugar (icing sugar), blending well after each addition. If you add it too fast or too much at one time, it will taste grainy. So, don't dump in a whole bunch and then mix it all at once. If it still tastes weird to you - like you're eating shortening out of a can instead of icing - add 1 tsp. of fresh lemon juice and blend. If that doesn't work, try adding 1 tsp. of clear butter flavoring. It's all a trick of adjusting your flavorings to mask the shortening taste. By putting in half butter instead of all shortening, it makes it much easier to accomplish this task. Good Luck!!! Make sure you have an arsenal of flavorings (all clear ones) and lemon juice on hand before you start. Don't add too much of anything when you're experimenting - you can always add more, but you can't take it back out. (learned that the hard way icon_sad.gif......)

You'll be amazed how much difference 1 tsp. to 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice can make in a whole batch of icing.

Let me know how it goes.

The vast majority of serious icing perfectionists on CC use buttercream that has NO butter in it at all. It's 100% hi-ratio shortening with flavorings and liquid coffee creamer. It's pretty good, but you can tell it doesn't have any butter in it at all. However, it looks amazing and you can get the most incredible results with it. That's what they use with the Viva paper towel method. Sharon Zambito - who has recipes and instructions on CC and You Tube for making the icing and the Viva method - uses all shortening. I've taken her classes and watched all her videos, and she's just amazing. I can't achieve those results with 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening icing, though, so I use the high density foam roller. I bought mine at the hardware store. It's the kind you use for painting wooden cabinets and furniture.

One more thing - the truest pink food coloring according to Nicholas Lodge - is a British brand called Sugarcraft. The color is just "Piink". It's pretty expensive. $6.99 U.S. dollars for a 25g jar. It's not supposed to fade if you use it in competition pieces (like gumpaste flowers and royal icing), and the color stays true if it has to sit for a while. You might want to give that a try if you can get it in time. Sometimes Wilton food coloring will mess up what I'm trying to achieve with my colors. Just my personal experience.

Laina

prterrell Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 8:52pm
post #8 of 51

Shortening doesn't melt at body temp. Butter does. As a result, shortening leaves a greasy feeling all over the mouth. Yuck!

That being said, if your butter is causing your icing to be yellow, switching to IMBC or SMBC isn't going to solve that problem. Sounds like you've got very yellow butter there! Try adding white food coloring or even a tiny bit of violet to tone down the yellow, or using a non-yellow butter.

maddie90 Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 9:19pm
post #9 of 51

If you can get a copy of The Cake Bible by Rose Beranbaum, try the Mousseline Buttercream. It does great in warmer temps. I believe it's an IMBC. It is the lightest shade of yellow and takes color very well. Very tasty and not overly sweet.

elliott1 Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 9:47pm
post #10 of 51

The BC recipe I use is easily tinted and no shortening taste:

1cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cake flour
Blend these ingredients together, then...

1/2 cup warm water; mixed with 1 teaspoon popcorn salt and 2 teaspoon of flavor of your choice (I use 1teaspoon butter and 1teaspoon clear vanilla mostly)

then I alternate adding 2lbs powder sugar and the water mixture.

this icing smoothes really well, and does not have the shortening taste to it but the gives the benefits of crusting.

good luck!

dsilbern Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 10:05pm
post #11 of 51

Could the whitener like wilton makes help? I've used it to get some "bucket" icing icon_surprised.gif at work white and it worked great. Please don't judge me harshly for the bucket icing - we aren't budgeted for a bake shop at this healthcare facility and sometime I have to really speed scratch to fit in some custom items for holidays, etc. icon_rolleyes.gif

juststarted Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 10:27pm
post #12 of 51

Laina, your post is so informative, I just wanted to thank you for your time and genorousity.

prterrell Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 11:34pm
post #13 of 51

elliot1 - I've never seen an icing recipe with flour that did not involve cooking the flour, which is done to remove the raw flour taste. I'm guessing that somehow this recipe doesn't have that taste even without cooking the flour?

juststarted Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 5:24am
post #14 of 51

I was wondering the samething about the raw flour icon_confused.gif

ceshell Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 10:11am
post #15 of 51

Add another vote for the Mousseline Buttercream. That is the only IMBC I use and it holds up fine in heat...however...I've never kept the cake OUTSIDE. I don't find it hard to get pink but again it depends on HOW pale you want it.

I just read another thread suggesting that you whip the butter first to lighten it in color. Ironically the Mousseline IMBC has whipping the butter as one of the steps! I always use real vanilla which is decidedly not clear, so yes, the icing is a very slight beige and I had a devil of a time getting it "light blue" for my last cake (I gave up and covered it w/fondant). But I HAVE managed to get it light blue, pink (but not PALE) and light green (well duh, green is easy due to the yellow).

Good luck with whatever route you go!

Evoir Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 11:13am
post #16 of 51

Hey there Miffy. I was asking a similar question re: the yellowness of our butter in SMBC the other day. Bobwonderbuns recommended whipping the butter till very pale before adding to the meringue.

Actually, a lot of decorators in Australia use what is called a 'buttercream base'. You can get it in regular and tropical strengths. The stuff I have used is called "SoLite Tropical" as I live in a subtropical region.

You need to beat it for 20 minutes with icing sugar, BEFORE adding flavours and milk or water to thin. When I have used it, I ALWAYS use 50/50 Solite/butter. If you like you can add clear vanilla, almond, rum or any other essence. Add colour at the end and blend in properly. You can tint this any colour.

I went looking at butters today at Woolworths, and while the organic butters were lighter than non-organic, its not a significant difference. NO butter sold in our supermarkets contains yellow (or any other colouring) its just cream, salt (if salted) and water.

Hope this helps a bit - ping me if you need more information. In your shoes I would definitely do more experimenting!!

icon_smile.gif

noahsmummy Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 11:23am
post #17 of 51

hey miffy;

i actually dont think that shortening in BC tastes that horrible.. im in aus. too, i usually do the wilton recipe and i use copha for the shortening. it colours pretty well. that being said, its not the best crusting recipe.. but yeah, just wanted to say that i dont think it tatses THAT horrible. agrree that you should do some experimenting though. =) let us know how you go.

also, i was reading a thread earlier today that said something about using "fairy margerine" in place of copha? apparently it has a nicer taste? maybe give that a try...

Miffy Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 12:16pm
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

Shortening doesn't melt at body temp. Butter does. As a result, shortening leaves a greasy feeling all over the mouth. Yuck!

That being said, if your butter is causing your icing to be yellow, switching to IMBC or SMBC isn't going to solve that problem. Sounds like you've got very yellow butter there! Try adding white food coloring or even a tiny bit of violet to tone down the yellow, or using a non-yellow butter.




Butter is VERY yellow here. Such a pain for making icing. That said I decided to attempt IMBC tonight. Was a very hot today 35 (I think that is about 95 for you guys) and is still about 25 (77). Have left the dummy cake I slapped some icing on out on the kitchen bench. Put some flowers on it as well, so hopefully it will hold up overnight and tomorrow.

I think if i beat the butter first it helps whiten it!! It tastes sooooo good, I actually feel sick from eating too much. LOL!!

Thanks for everyones help. Will keep experimenting.

Cheers
Emma

elliott1 Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 9:03pm
post #19 of 51

I've never had anyone complain about a flour taste. Maybe its because you're using "Cake Flour" and not a standard flour? It does smooth very nicely though!

Miffy Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 6:21am
post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by noahsmummy

hey miffy;

i actually dont think that shortening in BC tastes that horrible.. im in aus. too, i usually do the wilton recipe and i use copha for the shortening. it colours pretty well. that being said, its not the best crusting recipe.. but yeah, just wanted to say that i dont think it tatses THAT horrible. agrree that you should do some experimenting though. =) let us know how you go.

also, i was reading a thread earlier today that said something about using "fairy margerine" in place of copha? apparently it has a nicer taste? maybe give that a try...




I always wondered what Fairy Margerine was! Might give it a go.
Also do you have to use salt free butter when making IMBC? Just thought it lacked a little bit of something....maybe I just need to put in more vanilla. Off to the cake supply shop tomorrow!

Cant thank everyone enough for all the fantastic advice, will need to start another one off now about how to make cherry blossoms on a branch...I assume you just cover wire with fondant!

couturecakesms Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 6:51am
post #21 of 51

For those of you who recommended the Mousseline Buttercream from The Cake Bible - I have a couple of questions about it if you don't mind.

I've tried both the egg white based buttercream and the egg yolk based buttercream in the book. I've also used her recipe where she replaces part of the sugar with white corn syrup. I did notice that she (Rose Levy Beranbaum) said the Mousseline Buttercream would be her first choice if it was the only one she could have. She also said it was the most stable of all of the buttercreams.

Since I paid a lot of money for my professional license to argue with people and believe no one (ha ha - take a wild guess what I do for a living? - or used to - I'm in the process of opening a cupcake and custom cake store) I simply could not believe that a buttercream mixed with a custard would work. So, I haven't tried it yet. I suppose that should be next on my list, huh? Tell me about it if you have a few minutes. What's it like, and what types of cake is it best with. I'm sure it would have gourmet cupcake applications?

Thanks so much,
Laina

Mike1394 Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:03am
post #22 of 51

Try a choc pastry cream mixed with IMBC. You'll want to bathe in it LOLOL

Mike

ceshell Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:24am
post #23 of 51

Wait Laina, I'm confused, which one is the BC mixed with a custard? You referred to the Mousseline Buttercream but that one is not mixed w/a custard. I LOVE IMBC, total gourmet-type taste and goes great with everything. Last time I used it I put mint extract in it on top of dark choc. cupcakes. WOW. Just ate some out of the freezer today...soooogoooooood.

I liiiiiiiiiiike Mike's suggestion of choc pastry cream with IMBC. Mmm, never tried that. I *have* added ganache to make choco IMBC. Smoothest, silkiest chocolate icing I've ever eaten.

Miffy Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 9:33am
post #24 of 51

Can you had less butter to IMBC than recipe states. If so, would that make it less stable??

dalis4joe Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 7:20pm
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by elliott1

The BC recipe I use is easily tinted and no shortening taste:

1cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cake flour
Blend these ingredients together, then...

1/2 cup warm water; mixed with 1 teaspoon popcorn salt and 2 teaspoon of flavor of your choice (I use 1teaspoon butter and 1teaspoon clear vanilla mostly)

then I alternate adding 2lbs powder sugar and the water mixture.

this icing smoothes really well, and does not have the shortening taste to it but the gives the benefits of crusting.

good luck!




icon_confused.gif CAKE FLOUR????? can u please elaborate....

I know for a fact the to get the white white wedding buttercream.... it's done with all shortening

I have the same problem,my icing is never really white cause I use 50/50 ratio - HR Short to Butter, but it's cause of the butter and I don't want to switch to just shortening....

I thought the italian BC or French BC (not sure which one is which) came out super white, guess not...

prterrell Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 7:41pm
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalis4joe

I thought the italian BC or French BC (not sure which one is which) came out super white, guess not...




Not if your butter is super yellow, as apparently Australian butter is.

French BC uses egg yolks, so it will always have a more yellowy hue.

Italian and Swiss BC use just the egg whites, so they are not going to be as yellowy.

Any BC that uses real butter as opposed to all shortening is going to be at least slightly off white (not snow white) because of the butter.

* * *

What are they feeding your cows down there in Australia to make the butter so yellow?

Mike1394 Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 8:04pm
post #27 of 51

Especially if your mixing butter, and shortening beating them together will incorporate air. This incorporating will turn the butter whitish in color.

Mike

Evoir Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 10:32pm
post #28 of 51

Mike - I read that tip you posted about whipping the butter for SMBC before mixing into the meringue. Do you chill the whipped butter before adding it? Is it better to add it cold or room temp?

TIA Mike!

Mike1394 Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 10:46pm
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir

Mike - I read that tip you posted about whipping the butter for SMBC before mixing into the meringue. Do you chill the whipped butter before adding it? Is it better to add it cold or room temp?

TIA Mike!




For IM, and SM I add my fat to room temp merangue. The fat is room temp. I suppose you can chill the fat, but I don't.

Mike

Miffy Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 11:51pm
post #30 of 51

I have finally decided what I am going to do.....after making a batch of IMBC and testing how it held up on a dummy cake -(great), then making a test cake and smothering it in IMBC - (devine)

My wedding cake will be covered with IMBC. Thanks to Mike's suggestion of whipping the butter first I think I will get the result I am after. Still wanting to know if anyone ever makes it using salted butter versus unsalted?

Thanks everyone icon_smile.gif

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