crusting vs noncrusting buttercream
Posted: 29 January 2013 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi everyone,

  I am a huge fan of Rose’s buttercreams for many reasons, but none of them are crusting buttercreams (at least none of the ones I am familiar with). One of the big reasons I like her buttercreams so much is that they are not overly sweet because of the ratio of sugar to butter in her recipes. Crusting buttercreams, on the other hand, are a little easier to work with in terms of piping and smoothing it over after it has been applied to the cake. Of course, it’s the fact that there is so much sugar (usually powdered sugar) in the crusting buttercreams that give rise to their crusting qualities and also makes them overly sweet and somewhat grainy in their texture. So, I have a few questions for you folks.

Is there ever a time you prefer a crusting buttercream to a noncrusting buttercream?

Is it possible to make a crusting buttercream that is not overly sweet and grainy in its texture?

Thanks,
MP

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Posted: 29 January 2013 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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MP - I thought the shortening in the crusting buttercreams also facilitated the crusting.  It is because of the shortening that I only using crusting buttercream to practice piping.  If I am right, shortening contributes to the crusting, wouldn’t decreasing the sugar and increasing the shortening make it less sweet?  For #2, I have no answer.  I would not even want to use crusting buttercream for piped roses (if I were any good at them) because someone might eat it.  I know I am a terrible snob on this….even tho’ I am not good at piping (yet).

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Posted: 29 January 2013 10:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My understanding was that it was the powdered sugar that crusted; shortening is creamy at room temperature, so I don’t see how it could crust.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It is the powdered sugar that crusts; the same thing happens with cream cheese frosting.

Whimsical Bakehouse has a “house” buttercream that is a mix of butter/shortening and confectioner’s sugar; it doesn’t crust and stays soft If you increase the amount of butter (decreasing the shortening) it isn’t bad - I really don’t care for vegetable shortening so I don’t like the sweeter buttercreams made with it - but this is ok.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So that is good to know, I guess the shortening is just for stability.  I just do not like shortening in frosting.  I am clearly biased.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks for the replies here, folks.

CRenee and Jeanne, I also share your aversion to shortening. I always find it weird when a frosting with shortening and absolutely no butter in it is referred to as a buttercream.

I suppose what I am looking for is the best of both worlds. I’d like a buttercream that is not sickeningly sweet and grainy in texture, yet somewhat stiff and easy to smooth over after applied to the cake. I have found that Rose’s mousseline buttercream pipes very nicely, but I have the darnedest time getting that perfectly smooth texture after frosting the cake.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have the darnedest time getting that perfectly smooth texture after frosting the cake.

Some folks freeze the cake for a few minutes to harden the buttercream, which allows them to “scrape on” a smoothing layer that sort of fills the gaps.

I haven’t tried this myself, though.

I’ve often wondered if you wrap the “barrell perminter” of the cake in waxed paper (or plastic wrap) and put a circle of it on the top and then pressed it just enough to stick, then refrigerated it until hard, if, when you peel it off you would have a smooth surface below.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Anne in NC - 30 January 2013 09:09 PM

I have the darnedest time getting that perfectly smooth texture after frosting the cake.

Some folks freeze the cake for a few minutes to harden the buttercream, which allows them to “scrape on” a smoothing layer that sort of fills the gaps.

I haven’t tried this myself, though.

I’ve often wondered if you wrap the “barrell perminter” of the cake in waxed paper (or plastic wrap) and put a circle of it on the top and then pressed it just enough to stick, then refrigerated it until hard, if, when you peel it off you would have a smooth surface below.

Hi Anne,

  I’ve tried all of these methods and while it definitely helps, I still don’t get that super smooth finish to my cakes. I’ve tried freezing the cake for a few minutes to stiffen the frosting and then placing a small sheet of parchment paper over it and then smoothing it with a fondant smoother. That hasn’t worked, either. The problem for me has been that freezing the cake also freezes the minor flaws and then they can’t be smoothed. Then, once it thaws a little I’m right back where I started and the frosting is slightly tacky, so smoothing it over becomes impossible (at least for me). The one thing I haven’t tried and I want to for my next cake is to freeze it, then warm my bench scraper and use it to smooth the buttercream.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I wonder if freezing it then using a warm bench scraper might cause water separation.  What about either (a) refrigerating it, then using a warm bench scraper or (b) just using a (slightly) warm bench scraper.

Note that I am not the voice of experience.  I am strickly a (1) swirl it or (2) coat-it-with-nuts-or-something girl!

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Posted: 30 January 2013 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Anne in NC - 30 January 2013 10:24 PM

I wonder if freezing it then using a warm bench scraper might cause water separation.  What about either (a) refrigerating it, then using a warm bench scraper or (b) just using a (slightly) warm bench scraper.

Note that I am not the voice of experience.  I am strickly a (1) swirl it or (2) coat-it-with-nuts-or-something girl!

That’s a good point, Anne. I never thought about that. I don’t remember where I read this, but I read about this tip somewhere else and it didn’t mention this. I’ll have to research this idea a little more before I try it. Thanks.

- MP

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Posted: 30 January 2013 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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We use IMBC as our house buttercream.  We bake on day 1, make buttercream and assemble cakes on day 2 and then on day 3, we crumb and finish coat (usually day 3 is also delivery or pick up day).  We wrap the assembled cakes in plastic so they are very firm the next day when we start working on them.  When it’s really busy, we’ve been known to build cakes all morning and then by the time everything is built, it’s 1 pm and we can start crumb coating the cakes we first assembled because they’ve been chilled for 4 or 5 hours and they’re pretty firm.

I allow about 45 minutes between the crumb coat and the finish coat(s).  I try to get the crumb coat to be smooth, but not absolutely perfect.  For wedding cakes that are a buttercream finish, I’ll let the butter get just a little softer than I would otherwise (we go through enough of it that I’ll use the freshest, last batch made for the final coat and during wedding season, I plan the work schedule so this happens - there’s a batch of buttercream just being finished when we start finish coats because this is when it is the most soft, most supple and easiest to work with.  The finish coats chill for 45 minutes and then I use a bench scraper or other straight edge to finesse it and take out the imperfections.  I am more concerned when I know the design is just plain sides, no piping, no nothing because even though in the photos, any imperfections are removed by the flash or the lighting, I know there’s nothing that is going to be strategically placed to avert your eyes from a “flaw”!  In my experience, it is easier to work with IMBC when it has added fat in the form of melted white chocolate or just a little more butter or even a bit of high-ratio shortening like FluidFlex.  The downside to the FluidFlex is that it stays soft and “scraping” isn’t really as effective as it is with either more butter or white chocolate.  Plus it’s expensive and I have to special order it so it’s not worth the trouble, but if you can get something similar, know that it’s an option.

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