whisperingmadcow Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 9:45pm

I was making a cake that has gray icing. I first started with americolor black, but it looked kind of purple. So I added some wilton black. I iced the cake and when I came back to it some time later there were blue spots mixed into the icing.

What went wrong?

26 replies
deah Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 3:53pm

Is there salt in your BC? If so, did you disolve it before you added it to your mix?

whisperingmadcow Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 5:14pm

Nope, no salt.

deah Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 5:21pm

hmmmm.... interesting. The last time I made gray icing I used wilton black and before it turned gray it appeared blue. I wonder if wilton colors don't mix well with americolors in high concentrations? Just a thought....

pvcat2000 Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 5:44pm

When I use Wilton black I always add in a small amount of premium cocoa powder. The icing stays black and does not change to purple or blue. I do this for fondant work and so far it has not changed color from black. It would probably work for grey icing too. I can't remember where I learned this from, possibly from my wilton instructor. You could try mixing a small amount of icing and let it sit for awhile to see if it works.

TexasSugar Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 6:25pm

Hmmm, this is the first time I have heard of spots in gray but it happens in purple, pink, and sometimes blue.

I don't believe it is the salt, I believe it is actually the colors reacting to the chemicals in the water. A plus is that once the icing spots you can stir it and mix them in and they do not respot. That of course doesn't help once you have it on a cake.

KathysCC Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 6:29pm

I've noticed this before. Since black is really just a combination of almost all the colors this can happen. I've seen it happen when the coloring is old and not quite smooth, refrigerated or has not been mixed in enough.

One trick is to mix the color into the icing, let it sit for several hours and then stir it really well again. Any undissolved colors will have had time to dissolve and will be mixed into the icing instead of showing up after it sits a while on the cake.

And yes, undissolved salt can do this too.

deah Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 7:05pm

Thanks ladies! I knew someone would have an answer.

whisperingmadcow Posted 6 Apr 2010 , 7:09pm

KathyCC, do you let all your colors sit?

I have never had this happen before. I was thinking maybe it got sprayed with something once the cake was iced, but the icing that was left over in the bag had the same thing happen.

Again, this is a first for me. I know the chocolate icing can streaks in it if its not mixed correctly, but I have never seen icing develop spots before!

KathysCC Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 4:07am

I usually mix all the colors that I will need at the start of my decorating. Then, when it is time to put them in the decorating bag, I stir them again.

The spots of color don't happen all the time. I had a container of Wilton purple that had spotting problems every time I used it. I decided it was old and got another container and the problems were gone.

Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. Look closely at the top of this cake, above the "om" in my watermark. The white spots are what I think is undissolved salt. Now I put my salt in with the liquids not the dry so it has time to dissolve.

Here is a cake with red dots in my pink icing.

I'm always learning. icon_lol.gif

whisperingmadcow Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 1:08pm

KathyCC - Are you using wilton colors? Because I used both my wilton black and my americolor black, I don't know which one to through out! What a pain!

Cute cakes by the way! Has anyone seen the wilton pillow pans? I was at my local cake shop yesterday and I say a set of three different sizes. It was really really tempting, but I was on a small budget and I needed boxes and boards. Maybe next time!

KathysCC Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 3:09pm

I do use Wilton colors most of the time. Is your Wilton black a little runny or is it more like a paste? Fresh Wilton black looks a little runny, shiny and smooth, a little thicker than syrup. If it gets old, it gets lumpy and thick. Those are the ones I've had trouble with spots.

No, I have not seen the pillow pans...going to look them up now. Sounds interesting!

TexasSugar Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 3:50pm

I never thought about the icing colors being old, but then again I have students that have new kits and colors that have the spots happen.

It is weird because I can have several people in the class with purple (this is the color I see it most often with) and maybe only one or two have the spots, that is why I believe it is more a reaction with the water, but I can see the older colors doing it too.

Learn something new every day.

KathysCC Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 9:40pm

Yes, TexasSugar, it could be how they are making the coloring. Maybe there are batches that have hard to dissolve "chunks" of color. I never thought of that either. I just always assumed I got an old bottle. They don't have dates on them so there is no way to know.

JulieMN Posted 7 Apr 2010 , 11:58pm
Originally Posted by TexasSugar

A plus is that once the icing spots you can stir it and mix them in and they do not respot. That of course doesn't help once you have it on a cake.

I had this happen with a purple icing for a border and flowers...the night I applied it everything looked fine. The next day the icing was blotchy with 1/2 purple and 1/2 light blue. The following day, the icing the day after that it was all blue. The purple by itself was fine and the blue by itself was fine...but if I had needed to serve/deliver the cake on the day when it was purple and blue.....yikes!

TexasSugar Posted 8 Apr 2010 , 1:51pm

Julie, that maybe a seperate issue. Purple has a tendency to also fade or bleach out. It will often go light blue or gray if left in sunlight or florescent lights.

Kathy, I just looked at the cake pictures. The one on the blue is what I see alot, that sort of bleached out spot. It will do a white spot in pink too and purple it is almost a bright blue spot. 75% of the time salt wasn't used so that is why I usually rule that one out.

The one factor that everyone does use is water, and where we are our water varies from place to place. Such as my water comes from a different place than those in town. I had some neighbors in the class that had the blue spotting but the rest of the class didn't.

On the pink cake I do believe that could be the icing color that didn't mix in all the way.

Most of the spots I see in class, and occasionally on my cakes are the larger sorta bleached out spots. But I will be sure to look into the age of the icing color next time someone comes in with it.

whisperingmadcow Posted 8 Apr 2010 , 8:11pm

Are we thinking this is a wilton problem or have people had problems with the americolor too? I know that it will fade in the sun, but this cake wasn't anywere near a window.

TexasSugar Posted 8 Apr 2010 , 9:19pm

Fading purple (not spotting) is an universal problem. IndyDebi has a good explantion about it. It has to do with the red food coloring they use now. I do think there is one brand that is less prone to fading and maybe powder colors.

As far as the spotting, I'm not sure. I don't get alot of it at home myself but I do see it in class, and they are using Wilton there.

JulieMN Posted 11 Apr 2010 , 5:56pm


whisperingmadcow Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 1:59am

So I was making pink last night and I had the same thing happen. The cake was all pink last night and spotted this morning. I was a wilton color that I was using. I am wondering if its something either in the mix bowl as in maybe it wasn't cleaned well or maybe its my shortening. I have no clue at this point. <<pout>> oh well.

KathysCC Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 2:36am
Originally Posted by whisperingmadcow

So I was making pink last night and I had the same thing happen. The cake was all pink last night and spotted this morning. I was a wilton color that I was using. I am wondering if its something either in the mix bowl as in maybe it wasn't cleaned well or maybe its my shortening. I have no clue at this point. <<pout>> oh well.

Well, if you read this whole thread, we gave lots of theories but we all seem to think that certain Wilton colors, whether old or possibly problems in production, may do this occasionally. The rest of the thread also has some pointers on how to avoid it.

whisperingmadcow Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 2:56am

KathyCC - Thank you so much for your kind words.

As I am the one who started the thread, I have indeed read the complete thread. As I can not control was it in the water and the color that I was using last night was brand new, that takes those two possiblities out. I can make my colors in advance, but there has to be some answer to this. I don't think its the colors. Why would it go from pink to white? What would cause that? Acid? I don't know alot about the ingredients in food gels, but I would think that if it was something in it, then it would be such a small amount that it couldn't effect the whole batch of icing.

I have mixed up a couple batchs for cake box mix before I made this icing. I had also made some yellow icing a little further into the night and had no problems with it.

I just want to figure it out and make it stop happening.

KathysCC Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 3:08am

Duh me...I didn't notice that you were the same person. Sorry about that. icon_lol.gif

I just saw another thread posted on this same subject. It may always be a mystery...little icing goblins come stick their fingers in the icing while we aren't looking or something like that... icon_lol.gif

Just out of curiosity, were the spots you had in the pink white spots or pink spots?

whisperingmadcow Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 4:22am

The icing was suppose to be pink and the spots where white.

KathysCC Posted 25 Apr 2010 , 1:09pm

Do you whip your shortening first? I always whip my shortening/butter until it is creamy in texture, then I add my salt and flavorings and whip it a bit more, then I slowly incorporate my milk. The powdered sugar, which I always sift, comes last. I never have white spots and I use Wilton colors. Again, I realized my white spots were probably undissolved salt and that is why I add the salt early in my recipe but maybe yours could be chunks of shortening that aren't getting incorporated.

TexasSugar Posted 26 Apr 2010 , 6:55pm
Originally Posted by whisperingmadcow

As I can not control was it in the water and the color that I was using last night was brand new, that takes those two possiblities out.

I'm sorry but just because you dont think you can control the water, that doesn't take that out of the running for what is causing the issue. Yes I know you get your water for what ever source you get it from and you can't change that, besides buying water, but it could still be the problem. And there are other liquids you can use in your icing besides water.

I make icing at home, using the same things I use in class. At home I don't get spotting. I've brought icing home that I made from class, using the water at the store, and guess what, spotting. Other than a change of location and the water nothing else was different. Oh Ill take that back I use salt at home but do not use it in class, so it cant be causing the spotting in my class made icing.

While I can't say that salt (usually the first question people ask) doesn't play a factor into the some spotting issues, when asked most people said they didn't use it, which tells me that isnt always the underlying cause.

I also have trouble with the lumps of powder sugar or Crisco in the icing, because then why wouldnt it happen to all colors made with that batch of icing and not just a select few?

Why do some colors do things that other colors dont? Why do pink and purple have a tendency to bleach out of fade when sitting in sunlight or under florescent lights? It is in the mixture they make to get the colors. So why couldnt those same things be effect by the chemicals/minerals in water too?

Ive heard (never tested it out) that milk can help keeping purple from fading. Since you know you have the spotting issue then I would experiment a little. Why not try making purple or pink icing from bottled water or milk (cream, half and half, coffee creamer) and seeing if you still have spotting then? If you dont, then it is possible it really was the water causing the problem.

If changing the liquid doesnt help, then I guess the only other option is trying different brands or making your icing ahead of time.

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