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Lumpy Buttercream

Feb 23, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

AMANDA QUESTION

I made my first chocolate buttercream icing for my son's 1st birthday. It was a disaster! The final product wasn't smooth or spreadable. It was clumpy. I practically lumped it on and patted it thin. Below were the called for ingredients:

3 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 3/4 c sifted confectioners' sugar

I think the only mistake possible was I didn't sift the confectioners' sugar. Could that have been the problem?

Buttercream Help!
Amanda

ROSE REPLY

It's been years since I made confectioners sugar buttercream. I much prefer chocolate ganache which is even easier to make, especially if you use the food processor. I seem to remember that you need a bit of liquid for confectioners sugar buttercream. If you prefer making this kind of buttercream, and it's lumpy, try beating in a little milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Sifting the confectioners sugar may not be necessary unless its lumpy, but sifting the cocoa is a good idea.

Comments

Hi Rose,
Is the first time I made buttercream today, I follow exactly your mousseline buttercream and it's PERFECT!!!! Wonderful texture, smooth, silky and most important, YUM. I just follow your instruction in Cake Bible and there is no fail, thanks for the recipe. What's more, I also made golden butter cream cake which the steps are very new to me, however the cake came out perfect, very melt in the mouth. I will definitely follow all of your recipes ;)

REPLY

Wendy, many people absolutely love this buttercream because it isn't overly sweet, and because it is so much smoother and creamier than anything with powdered sugar could ever be.

The "tastes like butter" issue- you didn't use salted butter, did you? Did you make a flavored version, or taste it before flavoring went in? Flavorings such as chocolate or fruit purees will balance the butter. Also, remember that the buttercream will be eaten on a cake, not by itself.

To check that all the sugar made it into the buttercream, did you:
-carefully weigh or measure the sugar,
-weigh/measure the corn syrup with a greased cup,
-scrape all the sugar syrup out of the pot with a spatula?

It's a beautiful buttercream, I hope you enjoy it!

REPLY

I made the Neoclassic Buttercream for the first time tonight (2/3 recipe to be exact). I made the syrup, boiled, added to egg yolks, beat while cooling... added butter. And it tasted... like BUTTER. It was yellow and wasn't sweet to me at all. I might as well have just eaten straight butter. I think it was stable enough to use - when I was beating it, it wasn't running back together, but because it wasn't sweet - I added confectioner's sugar (quite a bit, over a cup). What could have happened?

REPLY

Patrincia, yes, when I got my first seat of 'measuring cup-s' I called them 'measuring spoons in the size of cups!'

Haven't read the rest of this blog thread, but really, everyone needs to be aware, that NOW, electronic kitchen scales are plentiful and so inexpensive, compared to a few years ago, therefore.......... measure by weight!

REPLY

Yep, most Americans really do measure solid and dry ingredients in pre-measured graduated "dry measure" cups - sizes are usually 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup. Liquid ingredients are measured in "liquid measure" cups - sizes are usually 1-cup, 2-cups, 4-cups, 8-cups.

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Anonymous, I am from the UK, Wales in fact, and I too find measurements of ingredients confusing, but if you use Rose's books you will find she not only uses measurement but weights also which will teach you all you need to know about equivalents, etc. The only problem you'll have then is converting the various flours and ingredients to ourbrands! But we are even solving that problem, read the thread on "Kate Flour" and you will see what I mean! Another thing, you will receive lots of help on this site, from other forum members and even from the lady herself, it's wonderful.

REPLY

Dear anonymous:
Butter in the US comes in a "stick"...sort of like a rectangular cube. It is usually wrapped in wax paper and marked off in tablespoons. A stick of butter=8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup and weighs four ounces. I weigh everything...but many american bakers just cut off a piece of butter, the amount they need, based on the tablespoon markers on the wax paper wrapper.

REPLY

sticks are another mystery to me... do you butter in 'sticks' there are so many recipies i would love to try but the measurments seem so complicated!

REPLY

thank you so much for your comments bill and patrincia ... there seem to be so many causes i honestly dont know what the problem is, its only started recently but i dont know what im doing diferently! I'm from ireland and as you know we don't measure in 'cups' can i just ask, do you literally measure butter and other solid ingredients in a cup? if so is that not more difficult than weighing or is there a weight equivalent to 1cup??

REPLY

Great tip Hector.

REPLY

If the sugar is used in syrup, like for Mousseline, granulated vs superfine won't make a difference.

For egg white whipping it may. Although I firmly believe if you are using a KA stand mixer or such with planetary action and motion, the granulated will dissolve just fine.

I always use superfine sugar for all my cakes and buttercreams. Home made superfine that is, by running granulated sugar in the food processor until the sides of the work bowl start to look dusty white.

REPLY

Amanda Stewart:
The separation of cupcakes from their liners has been a question of some discussion...and no one is certain why it is happening. I have noticed that it happens when some of the batter is touching both the pan and the paper liner. In this spot, the paper sticks to the pan and then when the cake cools and shrinks, it pulls the cake away from the liner, which is stuck to the pan. Also, handling the cupcakes too much when they are warm seems to make the papers separate more. I cool them in the pan for 10 minutes, turn them out onto a wire rack, and upright them gently.

REPLY

Silvia:
I've had a problem with granulated sugar not dissolving in eggwhite...but only once. I'm not sure why that happened...every other time I've made this kind of recipe, the sugar dissolved just fine.

REPLY

Silvia:
I've had a problem with granulated sugar not dissolving in eggwhite...but only once. I'm not sure why that happened...every other time I've made this kind of recipe, the sugar dissolved just fine.

REPLY

Ok, thanks for your help!

REPLY

Granlated sugar should dissolve just fine during the whipping of the egg whites, but if you're uneasy with using granulated sugar, do like Matthew suggested and use superfine sugar, it's exactly the same, only "finer". (it's so fine it's Superfine) :)

REPLY

Thanks for the answer, patrincia and Bill. Won´t the buttercream be too grainy, if I use granulated?

REPLY

Thanks for the answer, patrincia and Bill. Won´t the buttercream be too grainy, if I use granulated?

REPLY

If you are referring to the one that uses raw egg whites, super fine would probably be a good choice, otherwise it can be a bit gritty, but granulated works just fine too.

REPLY

for the chocolate buttercream that uses egg whites, what kind of sugar do you need, granulated, ground, caster...?

REPLY

By cases do you mean the paper liners? If so, this seems to be one of the great baking mysteries.

I haven't had it happen using any of Rose's recipes (or any recipe for that matter), but there are many, many, many others who have. If you do a search on this sight, you'll bring up lots of hits on the subject.

REPLY

amanda stewart
amanda stewart
11/28/2007 10:33 AM

Hi! does anyone know why when i have been making cupcakes recently, the cases have been falling off at the sides, not so much with vanilla but when i'm adding additional ingredients...are they too dry, they dont taste dry but i cant think of any other reason!thanks!

REPLY

Marie, glad it worked, with practice you will develop a natural instinct on how to handle the mousseline. It is temperature temperamental, but we have weapons to keep things under control!

REPLY

Marie Phenix
Marie Phenix
09/27/2007 07:15 PM

Thank Hector for the wonderful information, it worked and I saved my mousseline with heat.

Still, I never had this problem before. The temperature of my kitchen this summer was probably making a difference.

REPLY

Marthya Jewel
Marthya Jewel
09/27/2007 04:19 PM

I am looking for a recipe for a frosting or glaze,that, when you put it on top of my apricot walnut bread or cinnamon rolls will not crack and fall of.

Thanks

REPLY

Marie, it is the temperature of your meringue or the temperature of the butter.

1- Be sure the meringue is cool, no longer hot, before adding the butter.

2- Be sure the butter is soft, but still pretty cool. The exact temperature is noted in TCB.

You can salvage a 'cottage cheese' mousseline buttercream, by applying heat or cold, whatever is your case. If it is a soupy cottage cheese, then you need to apply cold by putting it in the fridge 10 minutes at a time and re whip until the right consistency is achieved. If it is a crumbly, grainy, hardy butter pieces cottage cheese, then you need to apply heat, turn your mixer to top speed and with a blow drier heat your bowl.

It takes a few times to master the mousseline buttercream, but after that, it is just easy and there is just no better buttercream!

REPLY

Marie,
I doubt it is your mixer because I used a hand mixer to make this and I have good results. Problems in texture usually have something to do with temperature--perhaps your butter is too cold.

REPLY

Marie Phenix
Marie Phenix
09/24/2007 11:35 AM

Hi Rose, your mousseline buttercream is the best. But, since I change my mixer, I burned the motor of the other one and I have now a Kitchenaid, I am not able to do this wonderfull recepe. Is it because of the mixer? The recepe can be compare to cottage cheese at the end. I successfully made that recepe dozens of time with à mixer with 2 paddle.

Please help!

REPLY

thank you cathy--so happy to get your feedback!

REPLY

I have to chime in. Rose, these are the best buttercreams I've ever had and anyone who has tasted the cakes I make (yours!) have ever tasted. I can't tell you how many comments I have had from recipients of these tastes of art saying they have never liked icing before but absolutely love this one.

I too was very intimidated when I first looked at the recipes, but because I knew your other cake recipes had turned out perfectly and could count on excellence from you, I was determined to go for it! And then after making it, found it not to be too complicated at all.

Thank you, Rose, not just for being a woman of excellence in your profession, but for sharing all your hard work so freely with us.

REPLY

Daphne - you're going to love each one!

REPLY

Hi Rose and Patricia - you can't tell how pleased I am not to have to use icing sugar for the buttercream. I hate having to sift the stuff. Immediately after tasting the cake I went back to The Cake Bible to check out all the different buttercream variations, and you can be sure I will be trying a few others including the silk meringue and mousseline versions. I've had this book for more than 10 years now, that's how long it's taken me to try buttercream!

REPLY

Hi Daphne - Neoclassic buttercream was the first real buttercream I ever tried and I was instantly hooked the moment I tasted it. I'd like to encourage you to continue experimenting and increasing your buttercream repertoire.... the others are even better if you can imagine!

Btw, I've successfully used the Checkerboard Fantasy recipe to make a lovely marble cake - it was very good.

REPLY

i no longer cry easily but have to report that your posting brought tears to my eyes. what could be more pleasing than sharing this baking joy with others!

REPLY

For the longest time I've been intimidated by the thought of making buttercream, but yesterday I finally plucked up the courage (motivated by the need to practise before my son's birthday in November) and was surprised and delighted by how easy it is to make the Neoclassic Buttercream. I made the chocolate version and it was delicious. I used it to frost the Fantasy Checkerboard Cake, made without the special pans but using a 6" cake ring and a 3" cookie cutter placed inside my 9" pans. It made a fabulous cake, and I am writing this to thank Rose for a stunning (and relatively quick) cake recipe that I can now add to my repertoire for those occasions that need something a little special but not too fancy.

REPLY

Louisa Morris
Louisa Morris
07/10/2007 06:16 AM

I use this butter frosting for wedding & birthday cakes, fillings for melting moments, cup cakes etc...
250 grams soft Cultured unsalted butter
500 grams Pure icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
up to 1/4 cup warm water not boiling to soften mix.
Beat butter with k beater on medium speed, scrape down. Add half of icing sugar, beat for arrox 3 min. Turn off mixer, add the rest of icing along with the vanilla & salt. Beat on low while slowly adding warm water.
The cultured butter is beautiful in frostings. It has a nice flavour.
If using for a biscuit filling dont add any water water.
Chocolate frosting, add 60 grams - 80 grams of 22 % cocoa solids cocoa powder, sifted, at the end. Soften with warm water to make a smooth spreading icing. This is only nice for biscuit fillings. I prefer the dark chocolate ganache for frosting a chocolate cake or any cake, anyday!

REPLY

Hi Johanna - Rose is away at the moment, but I've made the Neoclassic Buttercream many many times... Let's try to figure out what happened. Do you mind answering some questions?

1. Did you measure/weigh the all the ingredients carefully?

2. Did your sugar/corn syrup mixture come to a full boil (large bubbles covering the entire surface) before adding it to the egg yolk/sugar mixture?

3. Did you allow the egg yolk/sugar mixture to cool completely, while whipping, before you added the butter?

4. What was the buttercream's consistency was when you first put it into the refrigerator?

Okay, that should be good for now. I have a few follow-up questions once you answer these. I look forward to hearing from you.

REPLY

For my daughter's softball barbeque I made a sour cream pound cake shaped like a baseball, covered in fondant sitting on the main cake "home plate". I chose the neoclassic buttercream for its color to frost the main cake. I made the buttercream frosting at 6 am, refrigerated it, and attempted to use it at noon. It seemed cool. It was runny. I tried to 10x sugar to stiffen it but this did not help. I ended up scraping it off and making a more stable buttercream that is not so tasty and uses crisco to save the cake.

I refrigerated the remaining neoclassic buttercream to see if it would be more stable the next day. At first it seemed firmer but after frosting the caske it sagged and ran. It yielded the same results. Please let me know what I can do to improve the consistency next time. The frosting was delicious but not usable. Any tips for stiffening runny neoclassic buttercream?

REPLY

sorry, typo! www.mirabellecatering.com

REPLY

Dear Deborah, There is a gal who may be able to help. I have looked at her cakes through this site. She has written into Rose before. The cakes are gorgeous and she probably will have an answer for you or know what to do. Her name is Heidi and her site is
www.mirabelle.catering.com
Hope this helps as Rose is skiing I hope!

REPLY

Deborah (please email your answer in case I miss it online )
Deborah (please email your answer in case I miss it online )
03/15/2007 01:25 PM

PLEASE HELP!

I want to make a lamb cake *[stand up mold] in an OLD, thick, 2 piece aluminum mold..real heavy duty one at least 30 years old. I want to mail it, frosted, and decorated like in Italian pastry shoppes, without it breaking or falling apart.

How can I make a flavorful but quite firm frosting or fondant to take shape and not dry out, crack, fall off, or go bad [for safely mailing]? Also, is a pound cake box mix the firmest most reliable cake for the tensile strength needed for this edible centerpiece cake, or is there one with a smaller firmer crumb less likely to dry out and burn?

I have tried many recipes written for Lamb Mold, but none thus far have worked..the neck breaks/nose burns.
(My stove is fine, and I'm not in high altitude either, but maybe the baking temp for a thicker mold is different than the thinner molds?)

Making and mailing means time is of the essence! This is an endearing memory that will bring tears of joy to my 86 year old parents [hundreds of miles away]. I'll need a kind heart to share precise "how to" information. They will likely display it for a week or two after Easter, and then dig in.. Can we pull this off?

My grateful thanks for your assistance in helping me
to bring to life their childhood memories.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU x 1,000

* The mold is 7" tall X 9 1/2" wide, and hold 3 cups of liquid if batter half of mold is filled to the brim.
(I measured with water)...mine is the traditional old world model lamb mold w/ pointy nose (that either falls off or burns to a crisp, sticks to the mold no matter how much I grease it. I've even tried putting a toothpick in the batter to hold it together to no avail.....aaaahhh!!!). This mold does NOT look like the new ones that Wilton makes with fatter headed lambs, (and look cartoonlike).
To see the OLD WORLD version I have found a website with a photo so you can get the idea of what I wish mine could look like. Once at the website, scroll down halfway.
http://www.northendmarkettours.com/html/recipestips/recipestips_2005_easter.html

REPLY

thanks for being so considerate. it's fine to refrigerate but please please keep in mind that if it's cold when beating it will curdle hopelessly. it has to come to room temp. good luck and report back!

REPLY

Hello again, Rose. Wedding test cake #2 was a huge success, and I'm headed toward the final stretch for the March 24 event. I have one last question, and please only reply if you have time. I'm using the mousseline (which received RAVE reviews each time I've made it), and am wondering about longevity. If I make the frosting and decorate on Friday morning and refrigerate until Saturday afternoon, will everything still be ok for Saturday night? I usually make the frosting the day I serve the cake, so am just a little nervous about doing it the day before. Thanks much! You are a real inspiration.

REPLY

i think i describedthem best in the headnotes but essentially, the mousseline is much lighter in texture, the neoclassic more dense and buttery but a lot quicker and easier to make.

REPLY

For a party I'm giving, I would like to make a raspberry cake and frost it with a buttercream frosting flavored with your Raspberry Sauce. Can you possibly tell me the differences between your Mousseline and Neoclassic buttercreams, and the pros/cons of them?

Thank you.

REPLY

it's so wonderfully wise that you're doing a test cake. my grandmother from the old country (russia) told me as a little girl that in her home town prospective brides were given a fine string full of knots and told that if they didn't have the patience to untie them they wouldn't have the patience for marriage! i think making your own wedding cake makes you an excellent candidate for a wonderful marriage!

by the way,i've found with the wcwhisper cake in wedding cake size that you need to use a little less than all the batter in the pan bc the white choc. causes it to rise so well. using a little of the batter for cupcakes you may get a superior texture with a little less batter in the pan.

re the mousseline--you guessed right--the syrup will not reach 248 with that amount of cornsyrup. maybe i should work out a way to do it using a higher proportion of sugar to cornsyrup (thanks for the idea) and send photos in march!

REPLY

I'm preparing to bake the cake for my March wedding. I've done one test cake so far with the White Chocolate Whisper Cake filled with Lemon and Raspberry Mousseline Buttercreams. I am thrilled with the results! I have one technique question related to the Mousseline. Is it possible to use the sugar/corn syrup technique from the Neoclassic Buttercream recipe with the Mousseline? Or would that prevent the syrup from reaching the 248 degree stage? Thanks much.

REPLY

i'm not sure what you mean by greasy. butter is fat and fat is sort of synonomous with grease. maybe you just don't like buttercream! seriously. it sounds like it was a success, i.e. the way it's supposed to be.

REPLY

kasey hayden
kasey hayden
07/27/2006 04:02 PM

I made an italian merigue buttercream frosting and it turned out greasy. It still had body and held together and was smooth, but it was greasy to the touch and just tasted like butter. I remembered to whip my whites unitl stiff, but not dry, i cooked the syrup to 248 degrees and slowly added, i whipped the meringue to let it cool to room temp. and then i added the butter that was softened but was still slightly cool (may have been a little too warm--it was on the edge). It curdled and then when i whipped it a few minutes it came together and was creamy and smooth, but greasy. Do you know why?

thanks!

REPLY

thanks rondi for you helpful suggestions!

REPLY

Rondi Potts
Rondi Potts
07/18/2006 08:16 PM

When I make buttercream, I use one stick of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup cocoa, 3-1/2 to 4 cups of 10X sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt, and milk by the teaspoon as needed. Add the milk sparingly one teaspoon at a time. I live in Houston and if the humidity is extremely high, I add a little cornstarch to keep the icing pliable. It seems to help to make the frosting a little "softer" than you need it to be, as it tends to stiffen upon sitting. The final secret is beat, beat, beat. Real butter works better than margarine.

REPLY

marie freeman
marie freeman
04/ 5/2006 04:42 PM

well I just made strawberry frosting, using 10X confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup butter and strawberries. I DID sift the sugar, mixed with mixer, and it is still full of ugly white sugar lumps.Suggestions? Thanx

REPLY

in answer to your question about letting a buttercream frosted cake sit at room temperature, if it's not a hot kitchen, I would let it sit covered with the cake dome or large bowl for maximum 24 hours.

Alternatively, you can store the frosted cake in the refrigerator and either let the pieces come to room temperature, or let the entire cake come to room temperature before serving. Be sure to keep the cut sides of the pieces covered with plastic wrap so they don't dry.

REPLY

john santa cruz
john santa cruz
02/27/2006 09:33 PM

To smoothen your lumpy buttercream aside from Rose's suggestion is to process your buttercream in a food processor for a couple of minutes then add a little of lukewarm milk, a tablespoon or so but this is optional. Next time, better sift your confectioners sugar and cocoa together to prevent undissolved cocoa in your icing. Happy Baking!!!

REPLY

I have another buttercream question... This may be an insane question, but it's been bothering me for awhile. How long can a cake frosted with buttercream sit at room temperature? I haven't felt comfortable leaving it out for very long. I tried storing the cake in the fridge, but that was like snacking on a stick of butter. Recently, I've been frosting cakes at the very last minute, then sending all the left-overs home with guests so that it becomes their dilemma. That has been MUCH better for my diet, but not so great for my schedule. To sum all that up: Are there any food safety concerns with leaving a cake frosted with buttercream covered at room temperature?

REPLY

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