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Buttercream FAILED big time - Page 3

post #31 of 40

I was gong on the assumption that a high ratio shortening was used, I don't use shortening so I'm not all that knowledgeable about it... but if it's not 100% veg fats, I can see how curdling could happen from that as well.

Regular shortening could lack the emulsifiers needed to absorb enough liquid, and cause a curdling effect. Or maybe I'm just over tired. lol :P


I do know for certain that adding acid to milk, as OP proved with her tests, will curdle, but it does seem strange that it happened on such a large scale.

post #32 of 40
Yes she said that she used a high ratio shortening but reading the ingredients on my high ratio shortening its made with soybean and cottonseed oils not vegetable oil but was wondering if the orange oil would have the same affect on the high ratio shortening.
post #33 of 40
Thread Starter 

I checked my shortening once again and it is soybean cottonseed and is the kind that has transfat...but it is not the specific type called hi ratio from bakery supply.  I read a while back that I could use shortening that was not yet changed to be 0 trans fat and get a similar result or that it was the same as.


I've used this same brand of shortening for several years and no problem.  I've used orange oil with no problem.  The only thing different was that I added milk instead of water to this wilton recipe.  Unless my granddaughter is has to be something like the milk and orange oil.  And her Nana told her to do it.  LOL  She was so disappointed because we had used up all of our Frosting Pride from the day before and we didn't have enough sugar to make another batch before her Daddy picked her up.


I know when I did that test...if there was no reaction...there would have been nothing left in the strainer.  Clearly stuff was left in the strainer.  But why a bowl full of icing would clot up like this is for the food scientist I guess.  I thought at first maybe it was like when your adding butter to a SMBC and it will get lumpy then it will finally work out to a beautiful shiny satin.  This is like you stirred the ricotta too much and if you strain it without a butter muslin all your cheese will be lost down the drain.  Very fine curds.


I think tomorrow I will try using my food processor on a small amount.  I know with ricotta you can process it to almost a smooth texture if your making ricotta pie.  But I figure I'll be tossing it and will have to go to town for a lot of powdered sugar.  LOL!

post #34 of 40
Oh if your shortening is soybean and cottonseed and is high in fat than I think its high ratio shortening there is high ratio shortening called sweetex zero where it is either low in fat or no fat at all not sure about which one it is. Anyways I get my high ratio shortening at the cake supply store and its very expensive most people aren't willing to pay the amount that it cost. I use to use crisco but found out about high ratio shortening from Edna dela cruz the high ratio shortening makes a world of difference in making buttercream. It really is to bad that you probably will have to throw out a batch of buttercream especially if you paid alot for the shortening and its to bad that it happened to your grandauter hopefully she won't get to discouraged about it.

I use my high ratio shortening with heavy whipping cream and never have I had a problem with it so I'm not sure if it was the milk.
post #35 of 40
Thread Starter 


I had to throw away the failed suspected I would.  Nothing was gonna bring that back from the brink of disaster. GD made 2 more cakes today...and this is the one she made me. I'm now diabetic...which kept me from eating any of the 6 cakes she made this week.  But I will cut this in little slices and freeze them so I can have a tiny treat once in a while. 


Pretty darn good for 9 years old.  No help from her Nana other than video taping it.  She likes to "instruct" other kids on how she makes her cakes...LOL.  So Nana has tons of videos...which will be priceless memories. 


This week is the first time (other than in her decorating class) that she did it all without me helping her at all. 


Thanks all for the suggestions.  I will certainly NOT add orange oil at the same time milk is added. I'll leave the orange oil for my candy or soap creations and stick with orange extract or emulsions and avoid the possibility of a BC fail.

post #36 of 40

Wow!  Your granddaughter did an awesome job!!  She should be proud!



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post #37 of 40
Originally Posted by MsNeuropil View Post

Don't think it was the sugar since 1 lb of a bag was used yesterday to make royal icing without problems.  I had another bowl with 1 lb of another bag in it...and I combined 2   1/2 bag os C and H to make 2 lbs total.  If it was the sugar then the 1st lb of 1 bag would have been an issue for last cupcakes we did.  And the royal icing made with 1st lb of the 2nd bag is ok...smooth and just perfect.


I've had issues with generic brands of powdered sugar before...but mostly with puffy flowers due to the added cornstarch or sticky icings.  I live 30 miles N of Seattle on the edge of the Puget Sound.  Never a good idea to use anything but pure cane sugar up here because of the humidity.

It's your last line, here that jumps out at me. I live on an island, on the Outer Banks of N.C. I have had buttercream do the strangest things. Humidity is not my friend! Many times, I have to work in 80-90 degrees with 80% humidity. (Try stacking wedding cake in that weather!) I have had to learn to trouble shoot my buttercream until I have come up with a nice stable product. 

I am curious: What were the weather conditions when you made your icing? What was the humidity and I know this is going to blow you away, what was the barometric pressure. (was there a storm system/cold front) in the area? I have and the worst times decorating when we have low barometric pressure and when the humidity is high. Sugar acts weird in  high humidity. 


My advice to you would be to trouble shoot and find out exactly what went wrong.

Review the recipe. I know that if I multiply my recipe, or make it smaller, I need to double and triple check the recipe to make sure I get the measurements right. I have made mistakes like this before, and had to throw away a whole batch of buttercream. 

Double check your ingredients. Did you use the correct ingredients in the correct amount?


Temperature: What was the temperature where you are working? It has been chilly here (50 degrees) and my shop is not heated very well. I have to warm the mixing bowl before I start mixing or the butter and shortening turn lumpy. (they start to solidify again in the cold) I fill the mixing bowl 1/2 full with hot water and let it sit a few minutes, empty and dry the bowl and it has solved the problem. 


Additionally, you have had some good advice here. Not all sugar is alike. I purchase my sugar in 7 pound bags and switch back and forth between brands and there is a definite difference. 

I hope this helps.

post #38 of 40
WOW that cake is absolutely Beautiful she did great! I'm glad she didn't get so discouraged that she didn't want to continue. She sure did s great job.
post #39 of 40

She's talented!!  Making cakes will keep your granddaughter out of trouble.  Sorry about the buttercream!  

post #40 of 40
Thread Starter 

As far as the definitely does affect making candy up the point of major disasters.  But I have been making this particular recipe or the SWBC for many years whenever I want a decorator icing for flowers...although I prefer a SWBC.  But have learned that when the rivers are rising and's best to avoid the SWBC or any meringue...or pralines and never even think about peanut patties.  LOL! 


But it was actually warm 65 out and 75 inside (for NW of Seattle) and fairly that it only spitted a bit the previous 24 hrs.  I don't know what the pressure was...but there were storm clouds sitting over the closest just never made it over me. 


I live in an area well known for a being THE "convergence" zone N of Seattle...soooo barometric pressure changes would be common since I live on the mainland but there are islands just across W of me and mountains just east of me.  Which is why the most rain falls on me.


At least up here...70 degrees outside is WARM since average is usually 45-55 most of the year.  And much of the year we have daily rain of some sort...except August.  That is the only month you can be pretty sure your BBQ won't get rained on.


For 25 years now I have had almost no luck making pralines due to the weather. You can't even keep individually wrapped candy from getting gummy up here for long...even in a sealed jar. 


Whatever the case with the failed is now in the trash and I have just used up the last batch of BC (that I made the same night of the failed one after I ran to town and got 25 more lbs) and it went well.  No more 50 lb bags of pwd sugar for me!  Too hard to pour it out into bins.


The most precious thing that happened while my GD was icing her 2nd cake today and she was "instructing" her video, was that she grabbed a paper towel and started smoothing her 2nd cake with it...and I had only briefly shown her about how some people use it to smooth cakes.  She just went about it like she knew all about it and had done it many times.  (The pic of this cake is not the one she smoothed).  That made my heart so happy cause I know she is listening to me even when she appears not to be listening and doing her own thing.  I tend to talk to her when I am decorating...and bless her heart she is really listening.


After that I told her if she keeps practicing I will pay for her to take the Wilton classes for adults in a year or so if the instructor is willing.  She said, " I won't talk at all Nana, I will be good". 


She informed me that she wants to go to Culinary school.  Who knew?  I was hoping she'd be a RN like her Nana, but I baked breads for a large school many years before getting my degree. 


BTW...she is my sous chef.  Haha!

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