Smoothing Cold Swiss Meringue Buttercream-Problem

Decorating By springlakecake Updated 30 Mar 2016 , 5:54pm by imagenthatnj

springlakecake Posted 9 Oct 2011 , 1:40pm
post #1 of 67

I asked this question once. Anyway, a few months back I saw a video where the swiss meringue was chilled and then scraped away for a perfectly smooth finish. Genius! Anyway I have been using this technique for a few months but there is a problem. After the icing comes back to room temp. hundreds of tiny(non broken) air bubbles form on the cake. It looks terrible! It's fine if under fondant cakes, but not for buttercream only. It appears as if the cake has acne!

So my theory is that as your are smoothing the cold cake, you smooth over tiny air pockets and airbubbles sealing tiny bits of air inside. When the cake comes back to room temp, the air trapped inside expands causing the airbubble to form.

When I asked this question before, the other person said they did not have this problem, so I don't know what I could be doing wrong! Just curious if anyone else uses this technique or experience the cake acne? Would love to solve this problem!! thanks for any advice

66 replies
crushed Posted 9 Oct 2011 , 6:22pm
post #2 of 67

I am curious about this too. I also find that if the SMBC is tinted in any way, the color looks awful too. I'll be watching to see if anyone has any ideas how to stop this from happening.

jolle100 Posted 9 Oct 2011 , 6:30pm
post #3 of 67

is it possible that you incorporated more air into your buttercream when mixing in the butter? Kind of like a sponge cake vs. a mud cake?

cakestyles Posted 9 Oct 2011 , 8:58pm
post #4 of 67

To smooth out those air bubbles I keep a pot of simmering water nearby to dip my spatula or bench scraper in.


I allow the tool to become very hot, I wipe it dry and then sweep it over the surface and sides of the cake.

To color SMBC or IMBC I have good luck using Crystal colors mixed with a bit of glycerin and then add to the buttercream.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 12:34pm
post #5 of 67

The problem I have is that the air bubbles form several hours after the cake is iced. It looks great and smooth at first. I guess I am thinking that tiny bits of cold air gets trapped when smoothing and then expands once it warms up. the bubbles arent broken, but it looks more like blisters. It's weird. I might have to dump this technique altogether if I can't figure out a solution. It's addicting though to smooth the cake while its cold. I tried it with a hot scraper (on the cold buttercream) too, but the bubbles still formed later.

As for the color, I think if you work the buttercream a lot or you use a hot knife it can melt it. That makes the color streaky. even with uncolored buttercream it can yellow if you use too much heat.

tsal Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 12:43pm
post #6 of 67

I have yet to find a solution. The hot knife/spatula on cold smbc does not work as it melts the butter which results in streaking (this is my experience). It does not change back once it comes to room temp (as I was told). It's just a streaky mess. The cake is incredibly smooth, but looks awful. Fine if it's going under fondant, not so much if not.

cakestyles Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 12:47pm
post #7 of 67

That's weird, I've never had the streaks from the butter after using the hot spatula...maybe it's the type of butter I'm using.

The butter I use isn't very yellow at all, so maybe that's why I don't have that issue.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 12:58pm
post #8 of 67

I personally don't have too much problems with the streaking (unless it's overworked) I am still curious about the bubbles. Wish I had a photo.

AnnieCahill Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 1:12pm
post #9 of 67

Mine definitely streaks. You can kind of see it in the fall cake photo in my pictures. I use Land O Lakes butter and it gets kind of brown and blotchy if I use the hot spatula on it. I haven't tried scraping it down while it's cold. I just put on a tremendous amount and remove the excess.

Interestingly enough, if I use American buttercream (with a higher ratio of butter to shortening) I don't have the streaking problem when using a hot tool.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 2:28pm
post #10 of 67

No no no, you don't have to chill the icing to smooth it. Put it on, smooth, then take a hot bench scraper to that, while it's still soft, and finish it off then. If you have to, you can do it again when it's cold, but it's not necessary.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 2:31pm
post #11 of 67

Also, after you think you're done mixing your icing, turn the beater to the lowest setting and let it turn around slowly in the bowl for a few minutes, so it works all the air out. When I do that, I rarely ever ever need to use a hot bench scraper.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 3:15pm
post #13 of 67

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I don't think anyone seems to have experienced what I am talking about though. It's not the streaking, it's not that the buttercream is bubbly when its made...just when you use the technique of smoothing/scraping the buttercream when it's cold. It's so unbelieveably smooth when it's done...only later do the bubbles form. I'll have to take a photo sometime to post.

cakestyles Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 4:43pm
post #14 of 67

Do you mean like a blowout or air pocket?

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 4:59pm
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by springlakecake

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I don't think anyone seems to have experienced what I am talking about though. It's not the streaking, it's not that the buttercream is bubbly when its made...just when you use the technique of smoothing/scraping the buttercream when it's cold. It's so unbelieveably smooth when it's done...only later do the bubbles form. I'll have to take a photo sometime to post.


Well, I'm lost then. icon_sad.gif

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:03pm
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by crushed

I am curious about this too. I also find that if the SMBC is tinted in any way, the color looks awful too. I'll be watching to see if anyone has any ideas how to stop this from happening.




You have to color it with oil based food coloring, such as the kind they use for candy. It'll blend better and give a truer color. BUT keep in mind, you'll only get but so vibrant of colors, because of the butter.

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:04pm
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by crushed

I am curious about this too. I also find that if the SMBC is tinted in any way, the color looks awful too. I'll be watching to see if anyone has any ideas how to stop this from happening.




You have to color it with oil based food coloring, such as the kind they use for candy. It'll blend better and give a truer color. BUT keep in mind, you'll only get but so vibrant of colors, because of the butter.

kmstreepey Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:05pm
post #18 of 67

I think I know what you are talking about - little tiny bumps all over the buttercream that appear awhile after you are done icing/smoothing. It almost looked like condensation on the surface of the cake, but it was just the icing itself. Is that it?

This happened to me last week and was the first time. I used swiss meringue buttercream and it went on well. I smoothed with a hot bench scraper and it looked great. A couple of hours later (sitting at room temp), the little bumps appeared. I couldn't tell if they were air bubbles or not, but I attributed it to the temperature in my house that day. The air conditioning had been turned off for a few weeks but last week it got a lot warmer outside again here. I didn't turn the air back on and so it was warmer in my kitchen than normal. I thought maybe the warmth (and a little humidity?) caused the SMBC to get bumpy. I'm wondering if I had put it back into the refrigerator if that would have helped.

I'm sorry I don't know exactly what causes these strange little bumps, but maybe my experience will help figure it out! Did you "pop" any of yours? I just left mine alone because this particular cake was just for my family. Was it air in there? I think your theory makes sense, but I'm not sure how to fix it. Also, I've used this method for awhile now and this was the first time these little bubbles appeared. The only difference I could think of was the room temp. I always use the same recipe and same method.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 5:57pm
post #19 of 67

Oil based and powdered colors, yes.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:00pm
post #20 of 67

sorry this happened to you also, but at least I don't feel alone! LOL. Yes, it is air. The only time this happens is when I use this technique. It is somewhat minimized if I do a good job getting it very smooth before doing a final smoothing after it has been cold.

It sort of is like a blowout, only they are teeny tiny airbubbles, not like in a blowout situation. It's just on the surface as opposed to a blowout that seems between the icing and the cake. But similar I guess.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:10pm
post #21 of 67

Are these air bubbles that have popped, and are more closely described as little craters? Like a teeny little person with a teeny melon baller scooped out teeny little scoops of icing off the surface of your cake? Please let me be right....

AnnieCahill Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 6:12pm
post #22 of 67

That's kind of what I was thinking too Maria. But of course my description wouldn't have been as cool as yours haha. Kind of like little pits or pock marks...

kmstreepey Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:20pm
post #23 of 67

Mine were more like little bumps than holes or pock marks.

As for the color, I have started using only candy colors (oil based) in my SMBC and have not had any problems since with streaking or with the colors in general.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 7:21pm
post #24 of 67

lol, no sorry. Unpopped.

mariacakestoo Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 8:55pm
post #25 of 67

Well crap. Get some good close up pictures then, cause I'm intrigued.

springlakecake Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 9:00pm
post #26 of 67

It's a mystery I guess. It's probably not a common technique, therefore not too many people have noticed this problem. Next time I'll be sure to take a photo.

FromScratchSF Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 2:07am
post #27 of 67

I have never seen what you are talking about! I always pop my cakes in the freezer and then scrape them down. I never leave them in the freezer for longer then 15 minutes though, just long enough to
shock the buttercream. Are you maybe refrigerating the cake cold or something?

But yes, please post pictures!

Wilton sucks in SMBC. Americolor is OK, candy colors are the best. I just tried a trick where I took about 1 tsp of buttercream and added color, then melted it in the micro. Let it cool then added it to color my SMBC. Worked pretty well for a color I know would have looked grainy otherwise.

kmstreepey Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 2:24am
post #28 of 67

You can see it in this picture if you look closely at the white right in the front. I know there is also a bigger air bubble to the right, but that isn't the "bumps" that we are talking about. Is this what yours looked like, Springlakecake? (If the link doesn't work, it's the orange and white cake in my photos. You can see the bumps better in the close-up picture.)

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2177462/2177463

mariacakestoo Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 2:55am
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmstreepey

You can see it in this picture if you look closely at the white right in the front. I know there is also a bigger air bubble to the right, but that isn't the "bumps" that we are talking about. Is this what yours looked like, Springlakecake? (If the link doesn't work, it's the orange and white cake in my photos. You can see the bumps better in the close-up picture.)

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2177462/2177463


Aha! Another Misobaker! Love her challenges. NICE edges by the way, beautiful, beautiful. I get those little "chicken bumps" on mine too sometimes, and it's honestly not something I give much of a rat's butt about. Most of the time, I'm covering in fondant, so I really don't care, but my hot bench scraper makes short work of those bumps you speak of.

But I think OP said hers actually come up and pop on her. Like some weird smbc air bubble monster.

springlakecake Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 11:47am
post #30 of 67

yes, I think the bumps in the photo are similar to what I am talking about! thank you icon_smile.gif Sometimes they are worse than other times. It bugged me enough this weekend that on Saturday morning last weekend I took apart a 3 tiered wedding cake, scraped all the buttercream off and did it again without doing the cold scraping.

No, mine don't pop either. I also do put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes, so I think my technique is similar to FromScratch.

I would love to solve this mystery!!!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%