I'm extremely new to this, meaning I baked my first "real" cake yesterday which was a disaster right down to the icing! I'm attempting to make my son's smash cake for his first birthday and I have about a month to perfect this. I used the Wilton's standard buttercream (followed it to a T) and used this back around easter for cupcakes and it came out fine. The problem this time is that the color wasn't taking correctly. I'm trying to get a bright blue (I bought royal blue dye) and it just wouldn't get primary bright, it looked more marble-y/pearl and you could see white flecks/swirls all throughout the icing. It was also too oily and slick to do anything with it-- sliding off my cake!
Is this typical of their recipe with the blue? Is there any other recipes that will work better for that color and maybe even less sweet/greasy-- I'll mainly be using a bright white for the actual cake? Also curious if cane sugar makes a big difference? I've used powdered sugar and didn't realize there would be a difference until googling.
I only use C&H pure cane sugar. Some store brands are actually beet sugar. Second what kind of shortening do you use? I don't use Crisco because since they removed the trans fat your liquids don't mix well and colors will separate. I use only Hi ratio shortening. Once you try it you will never go back to regular shortening again. Takes colors and makes a nice creamy frosting. I use two pounds powdered sugar, one stick salted butter, 2 tablespoons clear vanilla and 1/3 cup water. Whip until fluffy. If you have a cake supply store in town they should sell Hi ratio. I get mine for 2.49 a pound. If you can't find hi ratio then purchase a store brand shortening that contains trans fat. Are you using gel colors?
I saw this happen at a Wilton class I was taking. The color was separating. I think the instructor said it had something to do with the gel paste being water based and the frosting being oil based.
But not everybody had this problem. I think it is a process problem. How do you make your icing? You need to really pulverize that icing before you add anything to it. Mamawrobin on here says she lets it go for 15 minutes before she adds anything so that it is the consistency of sour cream. Plus you can try Indydeb's recipe on here. It is tastier than the Wilton icing. Indydeb's recipe adds Dream Whip which has the trans fat you need to blend the colors.
You can try using Candy colors vs. gel paste colors. They are oil based and will work better. Wilton makes them. I found them at Michaels. They are limited in color. I know they have a blue, but I can't remember what shade it is. I bought mine to color candy melts.
And the sugar will make a difference on how well it mixes with the Crisco. Ditto everything Sweettreat said. Plus try sifting you sugar, although I don't. Dominos works fine for me. Powdered Sugar naturally has corn starch no matter what brand you buy. It avoids the clumping. But the store brands usually have more than the name brands. That's why they are cheaper , they pad it with cornstarch.
If you can get it you can try fondant sugar. It is powdered sugar without the cornstarch. It is rare and you might not be able to find it. I have a local bakery supply/spice place that mills flour and sugar. They have fondant sugar. I haven't tried it yet. What I said is just based on my research.
If you add alot of coloring to get dark colors then your icing can seperate. When I have this problem I just add some corn starch in with the icing and mix it up. It absorbs the excess liquid and thickens the icing back up. I don't measure it, just dump in a spoon or so. I'm sure you could also use powder sugar as well.
The same thing happens if you get your icing too thin, you will have a clear/milky liquid, if it isn't colored, and a colored milky liquid if it is, and some white parts that are sperated out.