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Buttercream melting while piping icing on cake

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi there icon_biggrin.gif

This is my very first post! I am hoping to learn lots and lots from all the professionals here icon_biggrin.gif I am fairly new to cake/cupcake decorating....well not totally new...I've been doing it for years but never professionally. I am now getting more into decorating cakes using buttercream only because I can't stand the taste of fondant...it looks nice but tastes gross! LOL!

Anyway, I was decorating a cake the other day for my sister's birthday and thought I would try my hands at the basket weave design for the sides of the cake. I checked out Youtube to find videos and off I went! Everything was going extremely well and it was looking really great until around the last quarter of the cake! I guess holding the icing bag started to melt the buttercream and the last section of the basket weave design wasnt as detailed at the rest. I am wondering if there is a way to prevent this from happening? Should I be wearing gloves maybe? Or maybe I should have refrigerated the icing in the bag before decorating? I live in Vancouver, BC where the weather does not really get all that hot and even if we are lucky enough to get good weather we have central air conditioning so I know that the temperature on the day I made the cake is not a factor. I must have really hot hands or something! LOL!

Thanks in advance!

JPepper
post #2 of 9
Use a spare bag when the first gets too warm.
post #3 of 9
Are you using an all butter butter cream? I have hot hands too. I keep an ice cold soda can next to me when I decorate (unopened) to cool my hands. The recipe I use has 1/2 cup salted butter and 1 1/2 cups shortening. Butter melts at lower temperatures than shortening making butter creams with shortening more heat stable.
post #4 of 9
Try two things. 1.) put a little icing in the bag at a time. This way when you refill - you'll be refilling with cool buttercream. 2.) keep a bag of frozen veggies next to you and stop every so often - place both the bag and your hand on the frozen veggies for a count of 10 to cool your hand off. P.S. I love peas, because they're like little beans in a bean bag and fit the contour of your hand beautifully.
post #5 of 9
......2.) keep a bag of frozen veggies next to you........
A cold, wet washcloth will do the sameicon_smile.gif You can fz it for about 10 minutes before you start or while you are doing the 1st amount of piping.

Definately use 2 bags OR put smaller amounts in one bag & refill often.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! Sometimes I use all butter buttercream and other times I add a little shortening to it, depending on what flavour I am making. Most of the time, though, I am using mostly salted butter (3/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup shortening) with a tad shortening which is what I did in the cake I was referring to in my OP. I like the two bag idea because then I can keep one in the fridge while working with the other and I can also alternate them on a warm day. I have to admit that I like to fill the bag right up with icing because it takes too much time having to keep stopping to fill the bag. I'm always looking for the most efficient way to do things! LOL!

Another question just popped into my head and rather than start another thread, maybe I can just ask it here?? It's still a buttercream question! LOL! Going on the theory that shortening has a higher melting point than butter, does it matter how much shortening I use when mixing it with butter to actually have an effect on the melting point? I hope that makes sense! LOL! I ALWAYS use butter in my buttercream and have always added a little bit of shortening thinking that it would raise the melting point of the icing but with what I experienced the other day with the icing melting during decorating I am now doubting what I have always done. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 9
I prefere to use 1/2 & 1/2. I don't have hot hands so it's not the a melting problem for me.
post #8 of 9
JPepper: Adding a tiny bit of shortening will make your BC only a tiny bit heat-stable. Similarly, BC that is entirely shortening (no butter) would be more heat-stable than 50% butter/50% shortening. It's all about proportion.

(Bear in mind, I am not endorsing the use of any particular amount of one or the other... I've been on CC long enough to stay out've that hornet's nest! LOL)
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you BabyGerald for the explanation. In Vancouver, BC Canada we dont get high temperatures like you do in CA so using 50/50 or all shortening doesnt make sense out here unless it is mid summer. And shortening isnt really much cheaper than butter, at least buying it at the grocery store or Walmart it isnt. Butter = $2.97/lb and shortening = $2.50/lb

I'm still learning all the 'scientific' parts about baking so your reply is very useful to me and very much appreciated.
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