Swiss Buttercream On A Wedding Cake Or Maker Problem?

Decorating By GimmiemoreCake Updated 31 Mar 2015 , 9:31pm by Sally Loda

GimmiemoreCake Posted 29 Mar 2015 , 4:01pm
post #1 of 13

Hello. I love to decorate cakes as a hobby and have done a few wedding cakes for friends, but I'm not well versed in the different types of icing, pros and cons. I tried a swiss buttercream using 2 parts butter and 1 part shortening for a wedding cake recently. I used Wilton Teal colouring as well. A few things happened that I don't understand and I am hoping someone can help. First, the icing colour seemed to separate or change when there was a change in temperature of the icing (out of the freezer between icing layers for example). Bad colour? No idea. Second, the swiss buttercream became really soft and glossy. A few hours after the cake was built and sitting in the reception hall, the icing melted causing the top tier to sink a bit (despite the several wooden dowels). Icing over whipped maybe? Room too hot? I have heard so many great things about swiss buttercream, but I'm not sure I'd use it again, unless I can figure out what happened. Any ideas?

I only used one cardboard cake circle for each tier. The tiers were quite heavy..3 one inch layers of vanilla cake plus filling. But, I used several wooden dowels for support. 

Feedback appreciated.

12 replies
Gingerlocks Posted 29 Mar 2015 , 10:35pm
post #2 of 13

I would re try making a SMBC with all butter and no shortening. I'm not 100% sure the shortening is the problem, but I use all butter SMBC and have never had any issues with separating or any of the other things you mentioned.  

GimmiemoreCake Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 12:24am
post #3 of 13

Thank you. I will try all butter. It's interesting; however, I have watched several videos (including Craftsy) where the decorator uses one part shortening to help stabilize the icing....


Gingerlocks Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 2:04pm
post #4 of 13


Quote by @GimmiemoreCake on 13 hours ago

Thank you. I will try all butter. It's interesting; however, I have watched several videos (including Craftsy) where the decorator uses one part shortening to help stabilize the icing....


I have heard of people using shortening; sometimes you will get advice from the experts or authorities in Caking and it just doesn't work for you; because of your climate or altitude or other factors. For me I find shortening butter creams don't produce great results; I've never tried it in an SMBC but I have tried others in the early days and it was always abysmal. It may also have been a case of not having the egg white and sugar emulsion hot enough or meringued enough. 

bakernoob Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 2:16pm
post #5 of 13

I also suggest all butter. Just like Gingerlocks I have never tried using shortening in SMBC so I can't be certain if that is the sole issue but I have never had an issue using all butter. I don't color my SMBC either other than making it a pale color. Gel colors never seem to blend fully. Again though there are some people that swear they use gel colors in it and it works just fine. Lastly was the hall warm? SMBC does not do well in heat and if the cake wasn't refrigerated before going there I could see where the frosting would melt if it were even a little warm. HTH

GimmiemoreCake Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 3:57pm
post #6 of 13

The cake was refrigerated, but the hall was also heated. I will try all butter and see if it makes a difference. I wonder if the egg white and sugar emulsion was an issue? I thought carton egg whites had to be heated only until the sugar melted and fresh till 160 degrees. I will also give no colour a shot. I had success once before with colouring the SMBC with a pink and burgundy. Perhaps, there was something wrong with the teal gel colour I used. Thanks all!

nancylee61 Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 4:15pm
post #7 of 13

HI,

Just wanted to say that a Swiss Buttercream is a very specific type of cooked buttercream, using butter, egg whites and sugar. Never shortening. You made a different type of frosting if you used shortening, but just to be specific, it wasn't swiss buttercream.

I haven't had any issues with Swiss Buttercream, even if it sits out, as long as the room is 90 degrees. I do deliver the cake cool, right from the fridge, if it will sit for more than an hour or two. 

nancylee61 Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 4:26pm
post #8 of 13

Sorry, I meant as long as the room isn't 90 degrees!!! And with a big cake like the one you made, I use more support than just dowels. They are talked about on here somewhere,

Nancy

GimmiemoreCake Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 4:42pm
post #9 of 13

nancylee61: it was a huge and heavy cake. I think the shortening was part of the problem. It's frustrating because I followed "the experts" advise - lol. Also, I contacted Wilton about the food colouring. The representative stated that putting the cake in the freezer in-between layers of icing and exposing to different types of light will alter icing colour. Funny, how do we add extra layers of icing to create smooth square cakes using butter cream if cooling it changes the colour? 

nancylee61 Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 5:16pm
post #10 of 13

HI,

I was just thinking of some of my other cakes that I used more food coloring in, and sometimes it seems to streak with the darker colors. Maybe that's why people use fondant!!! The light colors are fine, but I did an aqua cake and it looked streaky if you looked closely. Thankfully, it was for a friend, so no harm done!

I think I read here that you can use candy colors instead of the regular coloring for cakes, but hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I am will come along! 

Nancy

ellavanilla Posted 31 Mar 2015 , 1:38am
post #11 of 13


Quote by @GimmiemoreCake on 8 hours ago

nancylee61: it was a huge and heavy cake. I think the shortening was part of the problem. It's frustrating because I followed "the experts" advise - lol. Also, I contacted Wilton about the food colouring. The representative stated that putting the cake in the freezer in-between layers of icing and exposing to different types of light will alter icing colour. Funny, how do we add extra layers of icing to create smooth square cakes using butter cream if cooling it changes the colour?



Possibly the mix of two different fats caused the color to absorb unevenly, changing the color?

My question is, how tall were your tiers? If your tiers were over 5 inches high it could have caused sagging. Some cakes cannot support their own weight if you go taller than 5. 



CupcakeCali Posted 31 Mar 2015 , 2:59am
post #12 of 13

I'm a trained pastry chef from Paris and also a cake artist and the buttercream I use is always Swiss Meringue. When I did wedding cakes in Las Vegas, I would add a bit of shortening (not 1/3, maybe a few tablespoons to replace a portion of the butter) to make it a bit whiter and to stabilize it. It's still a SMBC with a bit of shortening. The name is derived from the cooking of the egg whites and the sugar over a bain marie until the sugar melts AND the mixture is hot enough to have tempered the whites without it turning them white. (You have to really watch it and stir it while it heats). If it starts to look like an egg white omelette, start over.

I've never heard of a color changing as the temp changes. I think you got someone who was making up stuff to feel important. lol

It is a bit more delicate than other icings and can separate if it gets too warm. I personally prefer to keep my SMBC whitish and if color is required, to use fondant instead. Fondant also helps hold a taller cake together especially when you're dealing with extreme temperature changes. 

A sturdier buttercream is to make a creme anglaise buttercream although it will be much more yellow in color because of the yolks being used instead of whites but it's also richer and more delicious IMO and tastes great under a fondant cake. 

Hope some of that helps!

Sally Loda Posted 31 Mar 2015 , 9:31pm
post #13 of 13

When I color my SMBC I use candy color.  It is oil base.  No streaking or darkening.  Same thing with white chocolate ganache.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%