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Buttercream w/ Cream of Tartar

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I've read where cream of Tartar added to buttercream will harden slightly more, but not as much as royal icing. Does anyone have a recipe? Thank you!
post #2 of 6
Yes, it is sometimes used in Royal Icing too and other icings where you want a bit of a crusting or setting action.
Well, no recipe but I would experiment with about 1/4 tsp. for every 4-6 cups of icing sugar in your recipe. This is a very old trick used to produce a more stable icing especially in areas of high humidity. It will help you icing roses and such firm up a wee bit and keep them from losing their shape. It has an air-drying effect.
I use about a pinch in whipping cream, again it is not as effective as piping gel and such for stabilizing whipping cream, but it helps somewhat. Also used in meringue toppings like for a lemon meringue pie. Again about a pinch but do not use it if you are whipping up egg whites in a copper bowl due to the chemical reaction of copper with cream of tartar.
It is also very useful in candy-making as it stops the sugar from crystalizing on the sides of the pot.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
post #3 of 6
Cream of tartar is used as a volumizer and stablilizer, mostly for whipped egg whites...in icings and in light, fluffy cakes that are egg-white based (like Chiffon or Angelfood cakes).

I don't think it is the cause of an icing hardening. I use Royal Icing everyday and if I run out of cream of tartar, the icing gets just as hard as if I had actually added it. I add it to buttercream during the stage when I whip my whites...and my buttercream could never be considered a "crusting" or "hard" recipe.

The Martha Stewart website recipe is amazing, silky and uses no shortening, just pure unsalted butter. It has a beautiful flavour! thumbs_up.gif
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by antonia74

Cream of tartar is used as a volumizer and stablilizer, mostly for whipped egg whites...in icings and in light, fluffy cakes that are egg-white based (like Chiffon or Angelfood cakes).

I don't think it is the cause of an icing hardening. I use Royal Icing everyday and if I run out of cream of tartar, the icing gets just as hard as if I had actually added it. I add it to buttercream during the stage when I whip my whites...and my buttercream could never be considered a "crusting" or "hard" recipe.

The Martha Stewart website recipe is amazing, silky and uses no shortening, just pure unsalted butter. It has a beautiful flavour! thumbs_up.gif


It is a hardening agent when used in Royal icing made with egg whites and not meringue powder, in particular in areas of high humidity. That is what folks have been using for about 50 years and why it was being used in addition to its volumizing effect..
It is to create a more stable icing in these areas.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
post #5 of 6
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar = 3 teaspoons of lemon juice = 3 teaspoons of vinegar

An acid added to egg whites relax their protein bonds, and become stronger, enabling you to make a higher meringue because they can stretch more.

Some Buttercream recipes with cream of tartar use it to maximize and stabilize a meringue. This is more to produce a light airy buttercream. This won't crust.

Acid (such as cream of tartar or lemon juice) in a sugar syrup breaks down sucrose into fine sugar crystals [invert sugar] which can be used to make a smooth "creamy" icing.

Some Buttercream recipes with cream of tartar are ones in which a invert sugar [sugar syrup plus tartar] is beaten into the eggs of the recipe. This mix is beaten to room temp then the butter is beaten in gradually. The purpose of the cream of tartar in the is to invert the sugar in the syrup to "creamy-up" the buttercream. This will not crust.

The consistency of Royal Icing is dependent upon how stiff the egg whites can be beaten. If an acid - cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar [acetic acid, actually] - is added to the egg whites and beaten stiff, it will absorb more powdered suger. It will harden more than if just whites and sugar.
post #6 of 6
Heehee, guess we will have to be careful about using the terms stabilize, set, crust.
When you make old fashioned Royal icing using egg whites, now mainly only used where there is no risk of it being eaten, strictly for decorative purposes, it will help stabilize the egg whites especially when the humidity is really high. Don't know if folks have had this experience, but I have. Sometimes the egg whites just want to separate shortly after they have been whipped up. Cream of tartar helps to keep them combined and stop this separating watering out action. Therefore your Royal Icing will crust or set or be more stable, whatever term folks want to use.
Until recently, I have only seen it called for in Meringe type toppings and icings and in whipping cream and such, never mind all of the other reasons it is used in baking, we are talking icing and toppings, haha! Anyway, recently it is appearing in regular old so called "American Buttercreams", the kind where no egg whites are used. So when I referred to crusting, perhaps I should have said stabilizing or setting and it does indeed have this action to some degree. It is again being recommended in areas of high humidity just as adding flour has been suggested in these climates.
I am usually careful to use these individual terms but I note that most folks tend to use them interchangably. For example people refer to icings using butter and shortening and cream as crusting whereas I find that in practice these icings set but do not "crust" at least not by the definition commonly employed, as is firm up or crust on the outside while remaining soft and creamy underneath.
I thought that this was the kind of recipe the original post was all about as meringue buttercream was not the term used. I too have seen it recommended to be used in regular buttercream recipes on several sites in several posts.
Since the standard amount added is 1/4 teaspoon, I would experiment with this amount to see if you find it makes a difference.
I have also found several posts where folks are recommending the addition of cornstarch to buttercream icings again as a setting or stabilizing effect in humid conditions.
If the original post was referring to these meringue buttercreams, I apologize for my misinterpretation.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
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