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Making icing with butter that works and does not separate - Help
Posted: 28 February 2010 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello,

I bake a lot, have a baking website, but I cannot get one thing straight since years - icing with butter.  Once I mix the butter with the flour-milk mixture (French buttercream icing) the butter separates and the icing does not look good anymore.  I end up sprinkling the cake with grounded nuts or chocolate.  This happens also with other cr?mes, once I add just a bit of taste to the butter mixture, bam, it separates.  I also really pay attention to the temperatures - I cool off the cooked mixtures, take out the butter from the fridge early, what am I doing wrong?  Help?
Thank you for any insight,

Barbara from http://www.homemade-cake-recipe.com
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Posted: 28 February 2010 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Check out “The Cake Bible” for some excellent versions of buttercreams that taste good and do not separate. Rose gives very detailed directions for each type of buttercream. You will be delighted with the results.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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With you being in Germany, and having access to all kinds of great ingredients, I’m wondering if the butter you are using is the european high-fat type, which might be causing the separation.  Other factors can come into play as well and you are right in making sure that your flour-milk mixture is cool enough but I’m wondering if the fat content goes too high to support the emulsion with the type of butter you are using.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks
So what kind of butter should I use?  The butter here has 82% fat, is that too little or too much?
Did you ever made a cream where in the begingin you have to whipp egg yolks with sugar on a steam bath?  That also never came out right.  The eggs always separated ( there was some liquid on the bottom).  Ok, let me know if you can if that 82% fat content is alright.
Thank you,
Barbara

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Posted: 01 March 2010 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Fat content sounds fine, in fact, in the new book, Rose has suggested using higher fat butter for butter creams. Sometimes the butter can be a problem if it has too much water, but 82% should work fine. My first guess is that your butter is too cold. To remedy this if you’ve already incorporated it, you can heat the mixture slightly by placing it in the microwave for a few seconds or over a pan of simmering water—don’t over do it though! There are several threads and blog postings about this, so you can find more information on this site. Here is one for example showing the curdled texture that can develop initially:

http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2010/01/outcakes_buttercream_process_s_1.html

As far as your bases watering out, I have agree with Christine that maybe you should try some of Rose’s recipes. For example, her egg yolk base is formed with sugar syrup or corn syrup and is very thick—I couldn’t imagine it ever watering out. I think the flour base is fairly unusual in America—I have only seen one recipe for it.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Just looked at the flour recipe from Rose, and it says that if the pastry cream is cold or if you over beat, it will separate. I could also imagine an egg white buttercream watering out if the syrup was not cooked hot enough.  Here is one of Rose’s recipes:

http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/recipes/RLB’s Neoclassic Buttercream.pdf

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Posted: 01 March 2010 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Wow, Matthew, great detective work!  I forgot about pastry cream, that you shouldn’t whisk it too much (or cook it too much) or it will thin and/or separate.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks,
I ordered the book on Amazon, should get it tomorrow.  Any other cream that works is better than what I tried.  Will make sure to take out the butter super early next time.  I hope that it works next time.
Barbara

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Posted: 01 March 2010 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I?m wondering if the butter you are using is the european high-fat type, which might be causing the separation.

I’m astonished that the above thought from a baker of Jeanne’s experience and calibre has been glossed over with a casual reference to the new book. Unfortunately, this ignores Rose’s own very careful work with high fat butter. For one thing, temperature is crucial as she notes in the Strawberry Mousseline on p 94. For another, she compensated for the use of high fat butter by using less in each and every new mousseline recipe. They are carefully crafted, in other words, to offset the extra fat.

I’ve been meaning to post the results of my analysis ever since RHC came out. Sometimes Rose made the adjustment in the butter added directly to the meringue. For example, 42 grams less butter in the Vanilla Mousseline p 147 RHC which, at half TCB recipe p 244 should have been 227 grams. Sometimes the adjustment is made in two places - in the buttercream itself and in the amount of fruit or curd butter added. She never uses them interchangeably - the same amount ounce for ounce, gram for gram - in the new mousseline as she does in the old. When she’s talking about high fat butters helping with emulsification, she’s also very careful to let us know that they’re not all created equal.  See p 442 RHC. Last but not least, I refer you to her saying on page 1 RHC to use standard fat content butter unless high butterfat is called for in the recipe.

The new buttercream recipes are wonderful, and I will use them as written when I want that particular result. But for a tried and true mousseline that works without fail - one that I can pretty much flavour at will - I’ll go to the Cake Bible every time. And I’ll use standard North American unsalted butter.

As some of you know, I had a run-in with high fat butter. I now treat it with respect. If you’ve had success without making any special adjustments, more power to you.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hector shared his own analysis of this with me a few weeks ago. I hope he won’t mind if I mention them here. The case on page 147 is very different because it is following that bakery’s particular recipe. For the others (including the cake bible), the range of butter is always 52-53% of the recipe. I think the slight differences can be attributed to making simpler volume measurements.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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So how much fat content does standard American butter have?

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Posted: 01 March 2010 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The case on page 147 is very different because it is following that bakery?s particular recipe.

The bakery’s “particular recipe” for the buttercream is from The Cake Bible, modified as I described.

For the others (including the cake bible), the range of butter is always 52-53% of the recipe.

Not sure what that sentence means, Matthew.

Hage9a, the % butterfat in standard North American butter is 80 to 81%.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Carolita - 01 March 2010 10:28 PM

The case on page 147 is very different because it is following that bakery?s particular recipe.

The bakery’s “particular recipe” for the buttercream is from The Cake Bible, modified as I described.

For the others (including the cake bible), the range of butter is always 52-53% of the recipe.

Not sure what that sentence means, Matthew.

Hage9a, the % butterfat in standard North American butter is 80 to 81%.

Hector analyzed all the mousseline buttercreams in the old and new books, and they are all 52-53% butter. The one exception is modified as you describe, but my point was that the reason for the modification is because that is the practice at that particular bakery.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks for passing that on, Matthew.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The original poster didn’t say she was making a meringue buttercream; but a french buttercream with a cooked milk and flour base.  In many of those type of recipes, if the mixture is not sufficiently cool when the butter is added, it can melt the butter and cause separation.  She said she was adequately cooling the recipe so I wondered about the butter fat of what she was using since she is in Germany and not in the US where things are pretty standardized.  When making pastry cream (or even a cornstarch pudding) if you overstir when the mixture is warm, it will thin out and never properly thicken, which wasn’t the issue I thought the original poster was having.  I also thought it was a little unusual for yolks to weep when beaten, that hasn’t happened to me and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes over the years but I wasn’t thinking about the yolks being a potential source of the buttercream separating.

Higher fat butter in a meringue buttercream is not a problem.  Once I got several cases of Plugra instead of my regular butter (at the regular butter price!!!!!) due to an error at the distributor; I mentioned it to the driver, but he said this is what he was given and I was out of butter so .....  boy were things wonderful that week! smile

Anyway; it’s just my two cents.

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Posted: 01 March 2010 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Jeanne, thanks for the reminder of your Plugra windfall. I remember your describing the incident and that as a result, I rethought my experience with high fat butter last summer. Clearly, that butter was the problem with my cake. Rose concurred. But the first and only failure I’ve ever had with mousseline could have been a result of over-beating the egg whites. Might have to let the high fat butter off the hook there. smile

Thanks again to you, too, Matthew. Especially for explaining Hector’s point a little more clearly. He may be on to something.

I’ve got a little too much on my plate at the moment. Sorry if I took this thread temporarily off on a tangent. Hope you get the answer to your dilemma, Hage9a!

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