I have found through reading the threads, Google searches and my own experiences that making buttercream can be a real witch. It is so finicky!
So, I have been making a truckload of cupcakes for a bridal shower and family reunion yesterday and today. I made my "go to" buttercream recipe without fail. It looked and tasted wonderful. This morning I was a little short on buttercream so I made a half batch (this was a first for me). The buttercream tasted wonderful, but it looked horrible and was ridiculously difficult to work with. I am really not sure what happened and I thought I would come to the Cake Gods & Goddesses of Cake Central for your thoughts.
As I said, it tasted wonderful. It was creamy, flavorful, and as buttercream should taste (as far as I am concerned). However, it seems thick, gritty, and almost curdled looking. And yet in the same respect it was coming out of the decorating bag/tip without pressure so it wasn't necessarily thick. It didn't taste gritty, and it certainly wasn't curdled although that is the best I can describe how it looked.
I did everything the same as I always do except the following and thus wondering if it is possible that it is one of these things. I made only half of the batch (which I don't normally do). I mixed two different brands of powder sugar (which I don't normally do, although they were both pure powder sugar). And one of the bags had been opened and shoved around for the last month, which makes me wonder if it got compacted and thus needed to be sifted. I never sift.
Basically my go-to buttercream recipe is as follows (not halved):
3 lbs Powder Sugar
2 Cups Vegetable Shortening
1 Cup Butter
1 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Water
So anyway... what do you think happened here? Anyone else ever encounter this texture looking problem but not flavor/taste?
I work with way less liquid in my recipe than that. I don't sift either (ain't nobody got time for that! LOLOLOL) but I tend to start on the very stiff side to incorporate fully, then back it down to whatever consistency I need.
When I am mixing a looser batch, I sometimes see this if my butter is not the same temp/consistency as my shortening. And sometimes it happens when I throw in my cold milk/cream.
I have found that the best solution for me is to just mix it stiff and then thin with either milk/cream or corn syrup.
You can sometimes fix it if you refrigerate and then let it come back to room temp (give it a good stirring).
I do think the gritty-ness is from different bags of PS. hth