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HELP! Color issues with my buttercream... - Page 2

post #16 of 21
I stand corrected on the matter of the lactose. It is casein (milk protein, and if I'm not mistaken, one of the things one removes from melted butter when clarifying it) that acts as an emulsifier, forming micelle-like structures that keep the fat dispersed in milk. But while that certainly explains why an all-butter buttercream is less likely to break than one made with shortening, I see no reason to believe that heavy cream -- which already has all the fat it can hold -- would make a shortening-based buttercream more stable than 1% (or even skim) milk, given that they don't already have all the fat they can hold.

Incidentally, my normal procedure for mixing cold-process buttercream is to start with the specified amount of powdered sugar and butter (and jam, for my strawberry recipe), and stir with an ordinary dinner fork until the "cottage cheese" appearance goes away completely, leaving a completely homogeneous product, then add any flavorings (extracts, spices, and/or maple syrup), and only then add the milk, treating the specified amount as a maximum, until it is thinned to the needed consistency (and I like it considerably thicker for piping than for spreading).

James H. H. Lampert
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Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

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James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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post #17 of 21
Those of us who use electric mixers of any power know that you should whip a buttercream (butter or shortening or margarine) after you add liquid, and that the emulsification does NOT depend on this fictitious idea of casein blah blah blah. You can get a perfect emulsion using orange juice.

Basically, a buttercream is an emulsion of saturated sugar syrup and fat. Beating promotes the emulsification. Cream having less water and more fat promotes a stable emulsion. Heavy cream can even support a lot of air being added to the structure.
post #18 of 21
1. "an emulsion of saturated sugar syrup and fat" is a textbook definition of a hot-process buttercream (such as the one Alton Brown demonstrated in an episode of Good Eats.

2. There is nothing fictitious about casein forming micelle-like structures, and without such structures, an emulsion is unstable (although extremely high viscosity, as in a cold-process buttercream, can render the frosting stable enough that it will likely go bad before it falls apart)

3. "Buttercream" covers an extremely wide range of frostings, some mixed hot, and some mixed cold; some based on a cooked simple syrup, and some based on powdered sugar; and not all of which are whipped. About the only things they all have in common are butter and sugar. And personally, I have always preferred a thin layer of a dense, candy-like frosting to a thick layer of whipped frosting, which is why I've always preferred homemade cakes to bakery cakes. (And one of these days, I'm going to try fondant).

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Could having softened my butter in the microwave been the problem? If so, is there any way to fix the problem, such as refridgerating it?
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl

1. "an emulsion of saturated sugar syrup and fat" is a textbook definition of a hot-process buttercream (such as the one Alton Brown demonstrated in an episode of Good Eats



In fact the definition also applies to cold buttercream.

I don't know why you don't like being told facts. I came to the physical chemistry of icings after 20+ years of baking experience where it was a familiar process to make a buttercream with butter, powdered sugar, and any liquid that included straight rum, straight juice, and syrup but NO milk or cream.

There is ONLY ONE explanation for the common success factor--you beat the stuff long enough for the 20% water content of the butter to dissolve the sugar. Then you add a small additional amount of water to carry the flavour and adjust the consistency. The fact that excess liquid breaks cold buttercream is proof that it is an emulsion in its ideal state.

And regular shortening contains no water and therefore the sugar cannot dissolve until you start adding liquid. And hi-ratio shortening has water in it..so it makes better icing. And using a machine (including a blender and a food processor) improves the emulsion.
post #21 of 21
........Could having softened my butter in the microwave been the problem? If so, is there any way to fix the problem, such as refridgerating it? ......

In my opinion it does matter. I almost never softened my butter...just let it sit at room temp for 15-30 minutes.
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