Help In Identifying Frosting And Or Buttercream!

Decorating By Kromom Updated 8 Nov 2023 , 8:09pm by MBalaska

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Kromom Posted 25 Oct 2023 , 5:07pm
post #1 of 5

There used to be a woman in her 60s lovingly called the “Cake Lady” in our town growing up in the 1980s. She made the absolute best frosting I’ve ever had. Ever. I have tried to re-create it many times over the years, and while close a few times, never exactly. I was hoping to list the attributes I remember, with my notes, so others might make suggestions. Thank you in advance!

Not too sweet or gritty in the slightest. I’m thinking no powdered sugar used. I hate sweet frostings, but could eat this by the bucket.

A hint of vanilla ice cream flavor - no bean specks French and German buttercreams seem to be more along the flavor profile. So maybe custard/pastry cream based? Were there a lot of flavorings or extracts available in the 1980’s? I always assumed the flavor came from her method, not a special extract - could be wrong.

Stayed soft while cold. Makes me think it wasn’t pure buttercream - maybe margarine or Hi ratio shortening mix?  I don’t think it was a stabilized whipped cream or diplomat, could be wrong.

Had no greasy mouth feel. Stable, soft, fluffy, silky - but not greasy.

Held up well in heat. She made my graduation cake. It sat out in a hot, humid Michigan summer day by a lake with no shade and it still looked beautiful. 

Piped beautifully! She made the most gorgeous, realistic roses.

Had a yellow tinge. The whitest I seen her use was an ivory color. It may have been by choice, not sure. She seemed to work in dusty pastels. 

Had a shine/gloss - maybe used corn syrup? Could corn syrup help keep it soft while cold?

Thanks again!

4 replies
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ReginaCoeliB Posted 25 Oct 2023 , 6:16pm
post #2 of 5

That sounds like too much perfection... Where is "our town"? That might be a helpful hint for some...

My best guess is Toba Garrett's vanilla buttercream, here is a link with the recipe...Good luck!

French Vanilla Buttercream | CraftyBaking | Formerly Baking911

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ASimpleBaker Posted 26 Oct 2023 , 1:58pm
post #3 of 5

Hmmm Meringue buttercreams, Ermine buttercream, and Condensed Milk buttercreams do not use powdered sugar.  The stability noted is interesting, since most all butter buttercreams will soften and melt. If it does not harden in the fridge, that would indicate usually not a butter based buttercream, perhaps using low to no butter, which could mean shortening or shortening blend. The yellow tint would usually mean butter is in use, but what you note doesn't jive with that.  Maybe she used a butter flavored shortening, and that would tint as well, since it is normally yellow to look like butter. And back in that time, Crisco had trans fats, so it could have been American buttercream whipped really well. Having trans fats then, means it acted like Hi Ratio Shortening is known to do today. So it takes in flavorings well and doesn't taste greasy.  Additionally,  if you beat the ever living crud out of that, it would make a very smooth frosting without grit.  And it would remain soft even cold. And American buttercream with shortening can withstand heat the best.  It could also have been something like Frosting Pride or Bettercream, and if I remember correctly they can sit at room temp for quite a bit. I do know there are lots of variations for Bettercreme posted here in the past. And I know that Frosting Pride has been around for years and years.  Just my thoughts. I do the same thing, experiment until I hit the flavor profile I am seeking. I hope you crack it!

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kakeladi Posted 29 Oct 2023 , 7:56pm
post #4 of 5

Pastry/Frostin Pride melts at 80-90 degrees in the sun so I don't think it's that unless she added something to it - like melted white chocolate?    Not sure if it was available back in the 1980s.   I started using it I think in late 1980 or 90s when my ex helped put in a plant they built in Orange, CA.  The suggestion to look up anything you can find in your town newspapers etc might yield something.   Maybe try posting on a local internet board if anyone was around back then that might know something.   You were a teenager back then  there must  still be some people still alive that might have know her - maybe even a relative of hers.  As for flavoring/extracts........combination of several  could be the answer.   Have you tried mixing some together?  This is one that I have used for years:  one part (can be tablespoons, cups, gallons whatever you want) vanilla; 1/2 part butter extract and 1/4 part almond  extract.   You'd be surprised at the difference playing around w/flavors can make.   Some of my students didn't like the almond and used try changing the flavors to see if you come up with want you want.

One last point:  As we age our taste buds dull/change.  What you are tasting now might actually be what it was back then seeing as some have come close. 

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MBalaska Posted 8 Nov 2023 , 8:09pm
post #5 of 5

In the old Wilton books there was a recipe for a cooked meringue buttercream like that. It was really shiny. I don't have but about 50 books left. I can't find the really old one with that recipe.

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