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Major Problem: sugar syrup crystalizes b4 i can mix it into egg whites
Posted: 05 December 2008 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello Fellow Bakers,

I’m new at this. Rose has inspired me to learn and I’ve been baking for about one year now. I am having major trouble making buttercream and mousseline buttercream frosting. It has to do with incorporating the water/sugar or corn syrup misture after boiling it into the beaten egg whites. I combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat. i stir just until the sugar has mixed in then i stop stirring. i let the mixture heat and biil til it gets to the 248 degrees that is called for using my candy thermometer. i meediately pour the mixture into a measuring cup that is sprayed with oil. the egg whites are already beaten. this is where the problem arises. i start pouring the sugar/water mixture into the egg whites as i mix w/ a hand beater. 2 things happen at this pt. 1. much of the syrup mixture ends up solidifiying and falling to the bottom of the mixing bowl and b4 i can finish pouring the syrup, its solidifies in the measuring cup.

i have tried several times to make buttercream frosting or mousseline, but each time, i run into trouble at this point in the recipe with the sugar syrup hardening b4 it mixes in w/t he beaten egg whites and solidifying in the measuring cup b4 i can finish pouring.

what am i doing wrong? i thought it cld be that the thermometer is off and maybe the syrup is too hot. i just don’t know.

can anyone help?

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Posted: 05 December 2008 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Steve,

It is just cooling off too soon, you need to work faster to get all of the syrup in while hot.  It takes a few times making it to get the right rhythm.  I know that some people skip the measuring cup step and pour it directly from the pan.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Steve - Welcome!  Here are some tips - don’t add your candy thermometer until you are certain all the sugar has dissolved in the water.  And definitely feel free to wash down any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush - I keep my pastry brush in a cup of water right next to the stove and do this as often as needed.  A few of us on this site slowly pour the sugar syrup straight from the sauce pan into the mixing bowl, omitting the glass measuring cup completely.  Don’t give up - you’ll be so happy when you finally get it!

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Posted: 05 December 2008 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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since you are using a hand mixer you shouldn’t have to stop pouring the sugar, which helps. the main reason to transfer the sugar is so that it stops cooking, but you are obviously not having a problem with the sugar being too hot so, as suggested don’t transfer. pour the sugar straight from the sauce pan.

secondly, the whites will actually support the sugar if you pour it right onto the eggs. i suggest you pour the whites in a steady stream in a sort of spiral around the bowl. follow with your beater hand so that the sugar will be incorporated right away.

third, i suggest that you only cook the syrup to 248 degrees F not the 250 you can go up to .

good luck
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Posted: 05 December 2008 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Another quick tip for you Steve - find out what temperature water boils at your location and “test” your thermometer to see if it registers the proper temperature when a pot of water starts to boil.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 08:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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that is a very good idea. you might be over cooking the sugar, in which case, it will be getting harder, quicker.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hi Steve, and welcome! 

I’ll chime in with the others- the first time I made mousseline the same thing happened, hardened globs of syrup in the bowl.  What solved the problem for me is to go straight from the pan to pouring into the whites as soon as the syrup hits 248.  Run the beater on high and as close to the stream of syrup as possible so that the syrup is incorporated while still liquid.  As the syrup approaches 248, lower the heat so you don’t overshoot, this is especially important if you’re skipping the glass measure.

As Patrincia suggests, definitely check the accuracy of your thermometer with boiling water, and you might also try leaving the thermometer in the pan while you remove it from the heat/pour into the bowl, so you can see whether the temperature continues to increase (if it does, you’ll need to go back to using the glass measure to stop the cooking).

If your syrup does overshoot the 250 temp, add a little water, swirl to incorporate, and bring back to 248.

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Posted: 06 December 2008 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks everyone,

I will try to work on this over this weekend.

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Posted: 06 December 2008 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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this is a coomon issue and worth discussing.  I am certain the syrup is going ove 248oF

triple check the accuracy of your thermometer.  another practical solution is to keep doing what you do but bill only till 246 or 240oF with your same thermometer or method.

a good way to train and really know what the consistency should look and feel like, is to NOT use a thermometer and use the glass of water test until you actually see the differences between the soft/hard/etc sugar ball stages.  I could not afford a thermometer 20 years ago, so you know!

hope you keep your courage and succeed, there is no better buttercream to work with and actualy eat it, than the mouseline or sister silk meringue.

my uncle turns 60 on the 21st and I have just been asked to make cake.  He is a well known architect in Hawaii and the father of my cousin Keith who recently graduated in civil engineering with my bridge cake!  I have not committed to my uncle’s 60 cake yet!  party is for 20 people, just our direct family, so I may say yes.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks Everyone. I think the thermometer was the problem. I bought a new one this weekend and tried it again. it worked better. its still not perfect. i got some thick stuff on the bottom of my mixing bowl that was hard to get to mix in when i added the butter. i mixed in the syrup and it appeared to mix in w/ no trouble this time. as the recipe said, i kept mixing until the bowl felt cool. this is where i’m not sure if i am doing it right. i mixed in the syrup using a hand mixer on high speed. once that was mixed in, i switched the bowl back to the stand mixer and kept mixing on high until the bowl felt cool. most of the bowl was cool, but the very bottom was a little warmer than the rest of the bowl which was cool to the touch. i had been mixing for 15 mins straight at that pt. so i figured i’d put incorporate the butter a bit at a time.

did i not wait long enogh b4 incorporating the butter?

how much butter shd i add each time? the recipe takes 2 cups?

i made teh neoclassic buttercream and then added 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a touch of lemon extract.  i mixed it until the consistency looked right. the butter cream tastes a little too buttery.

i’m almost there, but i need to taste a perfectly done buttercream to know what mine shd taste like.

i find that no one in nyc makes fresh buttercream. most used confectioners sugar and the taste is just sweet w/ no real flavor.

any suggestions?

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Posted: 08 December 2008 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I am so glad you have many questions because it indicates dedication!  you will be happy you take the time to learn these which are miles ahead of confectioner sugar ones.

r u using unsalted butter?  you must

I never wait till meringue is cooled, yes takes me about 15 min.  Once lukewarm,  start applying the butter.  My butter has been previously soften and whipped, then placed back in the fridge till it reaches 60oF which is when butter has just became solid again.  It will soften fast again in the lukewarm meringue.  But don’t cool the butter all the way to 40.  The first thing I do is soft, whip, and but the butter back in the fridge.  When my italian meringue is done, the butter has just cooled right.

My favorite bc is mousseline.  It is on the lighter side bc doesn’t have yolks and it flavors very well with many fruit, chocolate, coffee, as I did on my 12 flavor / tier Hawaii Way cake!

Also, ever since I started a couple of internship jobs, the mousseline or its cousins are the BEST texture and consistency, pipes like a dream, so smooth and so fluid.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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usually when BC tastes too buttery it’s because you’re not using unsalted butter, as hector mentioned. if you are using unsalted and it is still too buttery try adding a tsp of vanilla at the end. i find this sweetens the taste just enough.

for lemon BC you are going to get a stronger flavor from the extract than the juice. try adding some of the zest as this has the stronger lemon oil. just the yellow none of the white.

if you have a stand mixer i recommend using it for adding the sugar to your meringue. instead of adding and then mixing just add your syrup in a slow steady stream.  i add the butter almost immediately in large tablespoons full

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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i also prefer using the stand mixer when adding the sugar.  as the recipe says, turn off the mixer, add 1/3 of the syrup at once w/o touching the beater, do this fast, then turn the mixer back on, and I run it to top speed.  I helps ‘dissolving’ mild sugar solidification issues.

adding the suggested alcohol also helps take away the buttery taste and greasy feeling.  it also improves emulsification turning the mousseline into the best buttercream in the world to pipe.  my take is to serve the cake 24 to 48 hours later, alcohol should have diminished to a point of been legal.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’m definitely using unsalted butter. since i started baking, i only buy unsalted butter. do you all use the flat paddle or whisk attachment to beat the buttercream? i’m using the whisk. i just want to make sure that’s the best attachment to get the best results. 

i made the neoclassic buttercream this weekend. i’m going to try the mousseline tonight. i have an office christmas party. so i’m being prety ambitious. i’m going to try rose’s white chocolate whisper cake made with egg whites and white chocolate. i want to frost it with lemon mousseline. if the mousseline isn’t perfect, i can always go w/ the white choc buttercream frosting instead. that always turns out well. any other suggestions?

i made one layer of the white chocolate whisper cake this weekend and it was very good. i think the next time around i will process the sugar b4 adding it to the cake batter to get an even smoother texture cake.

thanks for all the feedback.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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use superfine sugar (run regular sugar in the food processor until you start seeing sugar dust).

the white chocolate whisper cake frosted with the lemon neoclassic bc is ULTIMATE.  It is the base for Rose’s Swan Lake cake and the 1 cake out of 7 cakes where guests wanted to have second servings at my cousin’s 7-cake wedding!  Make the winter blueberry pool, it is fairly simple to do, and pairs so well with everything.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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i also noticed that once i added in the butter, the butter cream got very a bit liquidty while mixing and then after further mixing, it firmed back up. i know this is supposed to happe with mousseline, i didn’t know it wld happen with neoclassic buttercream as well. i didn’t check the temp of my butter. i left it out overnite so it was soft. i will definitely keep in mind to check the temp to make sure its aorund 60 degrees F. the butter was soft, but not liquid. it was still holding its shape.

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