Heatherly30 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 7:18pm
post #1 of

I used a crusting buttercream with shortening and butter. I notice some "lighter/whiter" spots on my cakes when I have colored the buttercream. Image

If you look above Phineas and Ferb in this photo, you may see what I am talking about. What causes this? Is it the butter? Is it my cheapo shortening? No one says anything about it, but it bothers me.

27 replies
Heatherly30 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 7:20pm
post #2 of

Ugh.. course the image doesn't show up...here's the link...



jones5cm Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 7:43pm
post #3 of

I use the 'cheapo shortening' too b/c of the transfat content; but I'm thinking that it may be the color you're using...what type do you use? gel, paste, powder?

Ashleyssweetdesigns Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 7:47pm
post #4 of

It seems like it might be the recipe do you mind posting it?

icer101 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 8:14pm
post #5 of

Hi, i googled the question and saw hundreds of answers. This is one of them


Heatherly30 Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 8:17pm
post #6 of

I used Americolor to tint.

My recipe is the Mock SugarShack Recipe:

2 cups Shortening (it contains 2.5 g TransFat per TB)
2 cups butter (Land o' Lakes)
3-4 TB flavoring (vanilla and Lorann Princess Emulsion)
1/3 c coffee creamer
1/3 c boiling water
1 tsp salt
4 lbs powdered sugar

jones5cm Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 8:32pm
post #7 of

Good find icer101...that make sense!!

Crazboutcakes Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 8:34pm
post #8 of
Originally Posted by Heatherly30

I used Americolor to tint.

My recipe is the Mock SugarShack Recipe:

2 cups Shortening (it contains 2.5 g TransFat per TB)
2 cups butter (Land o' Lakes)
3-4 TB flavoring (vanilla and Lorann Princess Emulsion)
1/3 c coffee creamer
1/3 c boiling water
1 tsp salt
4 lbs powdered sugar

From what you have in the recipe, I believe it was the salt, sometimes when it is not fully disolved and than color is added you get spots in the color. Just my guess.

kakeladi Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 9:08pm
post #9 of

There is NO real answer to your ? icon_sad.gif It has been kicked around for yrs already.
Please read, read, read all you can find.
When I was teaching Wilton classes this came up w/several of my students and I asked on here (yrs ago!) and tried all the suggestions. We 1st thought it might be the minerals in the local water supply as one of the students lived where the water was very hard - very bad. However, nothing we tried really solved the problem.
It could be any of what was mentioned in that link above.
I tend to think it mostly has to do w/not mixing/creaming the ingredients well.
It's interesting that over my 30+ yrs I don't remember it ever happening to me.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 9:32pm

Harrumph. My answer to every buttercream question is probably always going to be "cold process buttercream, the recipe that's been on the back of the powdered sugar box since before I was born." icon_wink.gif

It's cheap, it's easy to mix by hand, it takes additions and modifications well, and I've never heard of that stuff developing light spots.

(The only light spots I see in the picture are in the deep cyan surface behind the figures, just over their heads. Is that what we're talking about? Because they're the only ones I see, and if I weren't looking for light spots, I never would have noticed them.)

DeniseNH Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 10:39pm

Remember the old saying "oil and water don't mix" , well it's the same with icing. Use milk for your liquid in your colored icing and the spotting will disappear like magic.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 11:16pm

Aha! I thought water seemed an odd ingredient for buttercream!

Crazboutcakes Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 11:22pm
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl

Aha! I thought water seemed an odd ingredient for buttercream!

I always use milk with my buttercream and it is comes out great, sometimes use flavored creamers too.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 11:29pm

And the recipe that's been on the back of the powdered sugar box since before I was born specifically calls for (1) milk, and (2) salted butter.

My own maple variation calls for maple syrup in place of the milk (pref. Vermont Grade B, for its robustness of flavor; I generally prefer a 50/50 mix of "Fancy" and "A Medium" for table use), but then again, I don't generally put deep tints in that stuff; the maple (and a dash of cinnamon, if I remember right) provide enough color.

Sandylee05 Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 12:34am

I just got on here to ask this same exact question!! I realized that when I make a cake that has a lot of food color; white spots appear. I make a cake, but a few hours later it's covered with spots! I'm not sure if it's just certain colors. I was very happy to read the replies to this because I believe it's a hard water problem! I have a reverse osmosis water filter in the house, so I didn't have trouble until I started baking outside in the cake shop that my dh built a few years ago. I usually just use regular tap water out there. Our water is so hard, it is off the charts.

Yes, I use water in my icing recipe, I use a good hi-ratio shortening, I sift the powdered sugar, I thoroughly whip the hi ratio, mix in the butter very well, and I use high quality gel food color.
Thank you for this question; I really think it's the hard water. Do you have hard water??

KarolynAndrea Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 4:03am

Stop adding salt. I had that issue when I added salt. I use salted butter instead.

Sandylee05 Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 5:04am

I mixed two different shades of purple out of the same batch of icing. The dark purple did not get spots, but the lighter purple got little pink spots all over it. I used different shades of gel paste color. I think the color must have something to do with it. I will dissolve the salt in water before I add it (because I read that on the web) and I will use only filtered or bottled water. I'm also wondering about humidity with different colors.

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 5:37am

Most food colorings, like most fountain pen inks, are a mixture of several different dyes. This can best be demonstrated by a process called paper chromatography.

Cut a strip of either a white paper towel, or a white coffee filter. Put a small spot or streak of your food coloring or ink near one end, and then hang the strip over a small container of water, with the end nearest your spot or streak (but NOT the spot or streak itself) immersed in the water. As the water runs up the paper, it will carry the dyes with it, but they will likely move at different rates, forming distinct bands of color.

If you repeat this with oil, and with alcohol, the dyes will likely move at different rates than they do with water, and maybe even in a different order.

This phenomenon could explain the one shade of purple forming pink spots, but not the other.

Marianna46 Posted 28 Apr 2012 , 5:40am

I use water (distilled) in my buttercream recipe, too, and I've never had this problem. I think it's because I cream the living daylights out of my shortening (10-15 minutes at 4or 5 on the KA) before I add anything else. I also dissolve the salt in the water before adding it to the recipe, so that may help some, as well. I agree that the causes may be many and varied and very hard to pinpoint. It's probably a problem you will only solve by trial and error.

Sandylee05 Posted 5 May 2012 , 1:08pm

Someone said water and oil don't mix; you have to use milk. That can't be true because milk and oil don't mix either. Even the fat or cream always rises to the top of milk. Powder sugar binds the fat and the liquids.
I have been doing some tests, and I have narrowed it down to two possible causes. I think the big problem is the mineral content in hard water. I made the same color and type of icing using water from the reverse osmosis water filter (which filters out the minerals that make the water hard) and I also dissolved the salt in the water. The icing is perfect with no spots appearing!!! I really don't think it's the salt because most people don't have a problem with that.
So, if you have hard water, I think you should use filtered, bottled, distilled, or softened water. It may also help to dissolve the salt in the liquid.

Thank you for posting this question!!

yangers Posted 8 May 2012 , 10:33am

I posted this question several weeks ago and didn't get a reply at all. I'm so glad you did. I'm going to try buying bottled water now and see if that helps. I've got a wedding cake coming up in June that is black on white and I'm so afraid of the "spots" showing up on that cake. I'm like you I hate seeing those spots and giving a cake like that to my customers. No one has ever said anything to me either but it bugs me. Let me know what you think it is, please.


Sandylee05 Posted 8 May 2012 , 11:57am

Hi Amy,
Do you have hard water? Is it extremely hard ? Do you make your icing with water? Do you normally dissolve the salt before you add it to the icing?
Like you, I really need to find the answer. I really think it's the water.

cakelady2266 Posted 8 May 2012 , 3:25pm

Some colors do this more than others. Wilton brand colors are the worst. Back when I used them I had a great looking cake then came back later and had either white spots or dark specks.

This is something else that causes problems, over beating the icing will cause air bubbles that will result in bumpy icing with light colored spots.

Hard shortening that doesn't break down and smooth out while mixing will also cause streaking.

If it's not mixed well or if it's made with hard shortening then refrigerated it will spot up.

Just some thoughts, I hope they help.

yangers Posted 8 May 2012 , 6:31pm

Yes we have well water. I've never dissolved the salt either. I didn't know any of this could have been causing the problem. I have 2 cakes this weekend, I'll have to try both of these things to see if it helps.
I don't think hard shortening or overbeating is the problem. Thanks, Amy

Sandylee05 Posted 8 May 2012 , 6:36pm

These spots were not the result of overbeating or underbeating. The spots are not lumps or air bubbles. It may have something to do with the Wilton color or maybe how the different colors react with hard water.

cakelady2266 Posted 9 May 2012 , 3:29am

Sorry, maybe it's the flux capacator, I really don't know much about cake. icon_wink.gif

Sandylee05 Posted 9 May 2012 , 10:41am

LOL! icon_biggrin.gif Whoever knew that cake -making is a science. I like your quote, Cake Lady2266, I'm always telling my son that.

Marianna46 Posted 10 May 2012 , 12:33am

cakelady2266, you gave me a much needed laugh just now!

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