I just made the pineapple neoclassic today and it looks slightly curdled like cottage cheese. More beating did not help. I was able to make a perfectly smooth and thick neoclassic, and the buttercream was still fine after beating in one cup pineapple puree. Then I tasted it and thought it needed more intensity. Instead of adding in 2 Tb rum or kirsch like Rose suggests, I added 2 Tb lemon juice. That curdled it. I don’t understand why. It’s the same amount of liquid. Was it the acidity? The lemon classic buttercream uses 1/4 c. lemon juice though, twice the amount I used.
The buttercream still looks useable to me. It’s thick enough to spread onto cake—just not smooth. However, I will be freezing the buttercream and defrosting it at the end of the month to complete a cake. I am worried that, in its current slightly curdled state, it will only get worse when I defrost. Is there some way to fix the buttercream?
There’s actually a big difference between adding a watery liquid and a liqueur. I don’t think it was the acidity of the juice, but rather the water. The water-based liquid is capable of breaking the emulsion of the buttercream, while alcohol does the opposite and helps the emulsion.
With a full cup of pineapple puree, this buttercream is pretty close to the breaking point, and I think you mentioned that you saw what happened with my neoclassic pineapple. I was able to fix my emulsion with a tablespoon of gold rum, but I’m sure that if I had added water it would have worsened.
If you want to try helping the emulsion with alcohol, you could take a little of the buttercream and beat some rum (or kirsch) into it and see what happens. Then if it doesn’t work, at least you haven’t worsened the entire batch.
I was just reading up on buttercreams in Shirley Corriher’s books and now realize that buttercreams are water in oil emulsions. It makes sense that alcohol would help, because it has both water-like and fat-like properties. Miraculously, my buttercream smoothed out when I chilled it in the fridge, thawed it, and rebeat it by hand. I added another tablespoon of softened butter and it seemed to take the addition well, with no perceptible change in flavor. I divided the buttercream in three portions, so I’ll resmooth the other two when it comes time to assemble the cake. Maybe I’ll get a bottle of rum just in case. I think my problem was adding in cold pineapple puree, which stiffened the butter so it couldn’t take the addition of lemon juice well.
Glad it smoothed out for you, sounds like it wasn’t the emulsion, but rather temperature- a cool or cold buttercream is likely to curdle when beaten.
Am a little worried about your re-smoothing a cake that has already been frosted. This buttercream (like most) turns spongy (softer) after sitting for a while, and then needs to be re-beaten to restore its texture. If that has happened on your cakes, it may be diffiicult to re-smooth. You might try chilling the cakes and spreading a thin layer of additional buttercream over what’s already there.
Ah..I haven’t actually frosted the cakes yet. I just made the buttercream and put it in the freezer. I currently have about 1.5 cups of smooth pineapple buttercream and 4 cups of curdled, but I’ll smooth the curdled batches out later.
Julie, near the end of April, I have a birthday for which I’m going to make a coconut cake frosted with strawberry mousseline and then patted with coconut. As you (probably) know, I normally compose then freeze my cakes. I’m wondering if I can’t do that in this case. If I did do so, when the cake is defrosted (first in the fridge, then counter to room temp), you say it’s possible that the mousseline might be spongy—what does this ‘mean’? If it just means softer (as mentioned below), I’m okay with that (unless it’s runny or something like that)—but it doesn’t get “funky” in any way, does it, or just “yuk” in some way?
Most buttercreams, though not all, will get what Rose calls “spongy” after sitting for a while. This bascially means softer, which makes it more pleasant and delicious to eat, yet they still hold their shape. However, if you are trying to spread it on a cake or pipe with it, it won’t work very well and would need to be re-beaten to restore its working texture. It’s totally fine to refrigerate or freeze the finished cake, as the sponginess is desireable.
The sponginess thing means that you should re-beat a buttercream that has been made ahead before frosting/piping on a cake, and once the cake is frosted you shouldn’t go back later and try to re-smooth the frosting. If you do, the frosting will deflate, be difficult (too soft) to work with, and look darker in spots because the air bubbles have been pressed out (voice of experience…).
Ha Ha! Thanks, Charles T! Likely, Hector’s and Julies contain high proportions of useful information, whereas I tend to run my mouth rather indiscriminately, so I likely have a high blather-to-info ratio!