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Buttercream Frosting/Icing: The Topic


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#151 sanrensho

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 09:18 PM

The whites were at stiff peaks and then I added the syrup with the mixer stopped.  Then I turned it on for a few seconds, then added more sryup and then did the same thing.  Then, it seemed ok.  I started adding the room temp butter.  I had taken the lb of butter and put it in a seperate bowl and mixed it for a minute.  I started adding teaspoons.    It just never came together

and yes, that is a syrup at the bottom.


I'll defer to the opinions of others, but the syrup should have been added with the mixer running. That would explain the puddle of syrup at the bottom.

Also, I don't think you need to whip your butter before adding it to the meringue. At least, I never do.
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#152 freddurf

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:29 AM

Although RLB's recipe says to turn the mixer off when pouring in the syrup, I just pour in a steady stream with the mixer running. The Kitchen Aid mixer seems to have a little area at the bottom that doesn't want to blend, this could be what's causing the pooling.
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#153 Sugarella

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:33 AM

The whites were at stiff peaks and then I added the syrup with the mixer stopped.  Then I turned it on for a few seconds, then added more sryup and then did the same thing. 

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I think possibly you took too long adding all of the syrup, what with turning the mixer on and off again, and possibly by the end it was too cool to incorporate. I notice in picture #2 there seems to be some firmed up syrup stuck all around the sides of your bowl, which is a telltale sign that the syrup wasn't hot enough anymore to be incorporated into the mix, at least part of the time.

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now. :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.

As for that butter, just use it for something else. I'd smear it around the bowl first with a flexible rubber spatula to make sure there aren't any syrup crystals in it though, unless you don't mind crunchy butter. :smile:

As for whipping the butter prior to adding it.... I think this is in the same category as using room temperature butter....to each his/her own. My power went out one night and I had to make several batches of buttercream by hand, and cold chunks of butter worked just fine.

Edited by Sugarella, 06 April 2006 - 03:41 AM.


#154 SweetSide

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:45 AM

The whites were at stiff peaks and then I added the syrup with the mixer stopped.  Then I turned it on for a few seconds, then added more sryup and then did the same thing.  Then, it seemed ok.  I started adding the room temp butter.  I had taken the lb of butter and put it in a seperate bowl and mixed it for a minute.  I started adding teaspoons.    It just never came together

and yes, that is a syrup at the bottom.


I'll defer to the opinions of others, but the syrup should have been added with the mixer running. That would explain the puddle of syrup at the bottom.

Also, I don't think you need to whip your butter before adding it to the meringue. At least, I never do.

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I would agree with having the mixer running on a lower speed when adding the syrup. You have to find the "sweet spot" between the whip and the bowl so that you avoid both puddling and spinning the sugar around the sides of the bowl.

Also, you don't need to whip your butter before adding it to the meringue, but if you are new to making meringue buttercream, it helps to insure that the butter doesn't end up in chunks in the final buttercream, especially when adding butter that is too cold.

In looking closely at the picture, the liquid seems kind of yellow to me... As are the frosting clumps at the bottom of the bowl. Was the meringue cool when you added your butter? The bowl will start off scorching hot from the syrup. Don't start adding the butter until you can rest your hand on the bowl and have it feel body temperature. Otherwise, your butter will melt out.

Another thing, it doesn't look like you have much buttercream for the size of your mixer. As said in previous post, the smaller your batch, the harder it is to make. I see a lot of "stuff" stuck to the side of your bowl -- looks like syrup. What size mixer is that?

Stick with it -- once you get it, you won't go back to just butter and 10X!

ETA -- cross posted with Sugarella, so we are repeating ourselves here.

Edited by SweetSide, 06 April 2006 - 03:47 AM.

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#155 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 05:01 AM

I don't know if I can add anything to this. Everyones already given you great advice. I'll just highlight a few things in hopes it might help.

I agree, pour your syrup into stiffly beaten whites while the mixer is going.

Stopping to put your hot syrup into a pyrex is a wasted step and could be enough of a delay to cause you problems. Youv'e got sooo little hot syrup that there just isn't a need to cool it before pouring into the eggs. Anyway, you want it to cook the eggs so that's not helping. I'm not always even gentle when I pour my syrup in, I don't drizzle, I get it in there.

If the syrup is too hot/over-cooked it will form rocks that don't incorporate into your eggs. You might have done that from what you wrote. Remember that the sugar keeps cooking in the hot pot. I also think that explains the water in the bottom of your bowl too...........syrup was too hot and hardened too much instead of mixing in. If you have clumps of sugar in your meringue, don't continue, don't add your butter. Throw that out and start again. It's also very possible that your thermometer is off a couple degrees, that happens alot.

Don't add any butter until the cooked eggs are at room temp. in your bowl. Later as you get better at this, you can use hotter eggs and colder butter to speed things up, but don't get into that yet. If I was to make that small of a batch, I would pre-whip my butter before adding it to the egg. Again, you've got such a small amount it's a handicap.

When you first add your butter it might look like the curdy look in your photo, but that should whip out into a smooth light/aire buttercream.

You can probably use that butter. Melt it in the microwave and strain it. See if you've got lumps in it? If so, the sugar was over cooked. But then just use the butter in something else. Make some brownied that call for melted butter or some cookies with it. Or make some lemon curd or cream and use that butter to fold in at the end.

#156 sanrensho

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 10:27 AM

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now.  :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.


Just checked and RLB's instructions do say to mix in a steady stream with the mixer running, when using a hand-held mixer. Then she goes on to describe a stop-start technique when using a stand mixer.

I've always ignored the latter instructions and poured with the mixer running. I also dispense with the pyrex glass step mentioned by RLB and have never had a problem.

Here's another good, long thread on buttercream.

Edited by sanrensho, 06 April 2006 - 10:32 AM.

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#157 CaliPoutine

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:14 PM

The whites were at stiff peaks and then I added the syrup with the mixer stopped.  Then I turned it on for a few seconds, then added more sryup and then did the same thing. 

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I think possibly you took too long adding all of the syrup, what with turning the mixer on and off again, and possibly by the end it was too cool to incorporate. I notice in picture #2 there seems to be some firmed up syrup stuck all around the sides of your bowl, which is a telltale sign that the syrup wasn't hot enough anymore to be incorporated into the mix, at least part of the time.

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now. :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.

As for that butter, just use it for something else. I'd smear it around the bowl first with a flexible rubber spatula to make sure there aren't any syrup crystals in it though, unless you don't mind crunchy butter. :smile:

As for whipping the butter prior to adding it.... I think this is in the same category as using room temperature butter....to each his/her own. My power went out one night and I had to make several batches of buttercream by hand, and cold chunks of butter worked just fine.

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I think I need to clarify, that I took those pictures last night after I had the ruined mixture in the fridge since saturday. It didnt look like that after I made it on saturday. I couldnt deal with it at the moment so I just threw it in the fridge.

#158 CaliPoutine

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:15 PM

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now.  :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.


Just checked and RLB's instructions do say to mix in a steady stream with the mixer running, when using a hand-held mixer. Then she goes on to describe a stop-start technique when using a stand mixer.

I've always ignored the latter instructions and poured with the mixer running. I also dispense with the pyrex glass step mentioned by RLB and have never had a problem.

Here's another good, long thread on buttercream.

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The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

#159 sanrensho

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:24 PM

The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

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I'm really sorry to hear that the buttercream failed for you this time. Please keep at it. The results are well worth it. I'm sure your next try will work perfectly using the advice from this forum.
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#160 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now.  :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.


Just checked and RLB's instructions do say to mix in a steady stream with the mixer running, when using a hand-held mixer. Then she goes on to describe a stop-start technique when using a stand mixer.

I've always ignored the latter instructions and poured with the mixer running. I also dispense with the pyrex glass step mentioned by RLB and have never had a problem.

Here's another good, long thread on buttercream.

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The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

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Yes, Rose Levy Beranbaum's Mousseline Recipe is posted on baking911.com. She wrote the instructions for mixing her recipe. If her recipe instruction's failed, then RLB's instructions are faulty.

Here's what Rose Levy Beranbaum wrote as HER TECHNIQUE for making HER mouselline recipe: "If using a hand held mixer beat the syrup into the whites in a steady stream..... If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the whites with the mixer off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds...." excerpted from The Cake Bible, page 244.

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database! Other meingue based buttercream recipes on my site do NOT use this stopping and starting technique....Thanks for the information.....I will retest the recipe AGAIN myself to see if there is a problem with it....I think her intent for turning off the stand mixer was because so many people splattered the syrup on the beaters; she thought that this would solve it. But, you have a split second in which to stop the mixer, pour the syrup and turn on the mixer, again. It may not work all of the time for some of us because most of us aren't fast enough. (But, maybe something else caused RLB's Mouselline Buttercream to curdle in this case???..... )

There are recipes that baker's have posted on my Ask Sarah Message Board asking me why they haven't worked. When I looked at the recipe, the professional chef simply didn't allow enough time for the recipe-user to take the pot off the stove, and the caramel burned. There are plenty of recipes by well-known chefs in cookbooks that shave the timing so close that home bakers have had a lot of problems with them......And, I can name many.....Not for me to act like an upity-person, but just to point out that RLB's tecbnique may be ok, but just not well-suited for the mass market! So, what works for RLB because her timing is so fast, may not work for many of us because we are a lot slower on how we react and do culinary tasks!

Because my audience on baking911.com is home-bakers, I find you have to look at recipes and cookbooks in a different light versus the egullet audience, which seems to be professional bakers, which has a whole different attitude and way of looking at something. One technique may be perfect for the professional world and may not work in the home, mass-market world.....I know because I have seen it happen so many times.... (And, then there are those techniques that don't work at all....lol!!)

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 06 April 2006 - 02:44 PM.

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#161 rickster

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:39 PM

FWIW, I'm an amateur baker who's made a lot of buttercream in a stand mixer, and I've never done the turn on off technique or used the pyrex cup and I've rarely had a problem.

#162 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:45 PM

FWIW, I'm an amateur baker who's made a lot of buttercream in a stand mixer, and I've never done the turn on off technique or used the pyrex cup and I've rarely had a problem.

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I agree! I never turn the mixer on and off or use a pyrex cup and have never had a problem, either!
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#163 JeanneCake

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:27 PM

A very, very long time ago, before I went to school, I used The Cake Bible to make my own wedding cake. I followed her instructions to the letter and used the start/stop technique (and the pyrex cup!). It was 15 years later that I went to school and learned that you don't have to beat the butter before hand, you add the syrup in a steady stream; if your sugar is ready before the whites are, you add more water to slow it down and buy yourself more time. Plus, you don't have to add any liquor to the buttercream when it's done, it's fine the way it is.

The part that's missing from these Cake Bible instructions is that you're supposed to be working quickly. With this method, there shouldn't be any lag time in adding the syrup, turning on the mixer etc. It should take about 30 seconds to add the syrup. Sarah, maybe you could put a "baker's note" or "Sarah's Suggestion" in about this instead of removing the recipe from your site....

#164 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

A very, very long time ago, before I went to school, I used The Cake Bible to make my own wedding cake.  I followed her instructions to the letter and used the start/stop technique (and the pyrex cup!).  It was 15 years later that I went to school and learned that you don't have to beat the butter before hand, you add the syrup in a steady stream; if your sugar is ready before the whites are, you add more water to slow it down and buy yourself more time.  Plus, you don't have to add any liquor to the buttercream when it's done, it's fine the way it is. 

The part that's missing from these Cake Bible instructions is that you're supposed to be working quickly.  With this method, there shouldn't be any lag time in adding the syrup, turning on the mixer etc.  It should take about 30 seconds to add the syrup.    Sarah, maybe you could put a "baker's note" or "Sarah's Suggestion" in about this instead of removing the recipe from your site....

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See! Just what I was talking about before! It's not RLB's technique that's at fault.... ...RLB is used to speedy work, and the typical baker doesn't use the same quick timing...As I said before, I have seen lots of recipes fail in cookbooks written from professional chefs where their timing is much different from a home baker's....The technique is fine, but the recipe does not have as much success as it should in a mass market application because of the difference between the two "culture's timing" and understanding of how things work!.....I am NOT saying all of the time -- but, in my opinion and observations, a great deal of the time, based upon the nature of the emails and posts I get on my website. I've been talking with consumer's and answering questions for almost 20 years, now...There is a definite pattern and a split between the two "cultures"!

I will put a Sarah's Says note with the recipe! Excellent suggestion! Thanks, JeanneCake!

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 06 April 2006 - 05:06 PM.

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#165 RuthWells

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 07:38 AM

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database!


I don't think RLB's technique is faulty, it's just tricky to get the hang of. Italian meringue buttercream is a bit finicky, and it can take a few tries before you learn how to cope with the various ways it can go wrong!

#166 Patrick S

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 06:17 PM

Don't be too discouraged, Randi! The thrill of victory is worth the agony of defeat. You'll nail it next time. Just to try to summarize some of the advice:

1. Have the butter whipped and at ~65F.

2. Try not to let any of the syrup sit in the whites for more than a couple of seconds without mixing.

3. After all the syrup has been added, beat on medium for 2 minutes, and then beat on low speed for as long as it takes to become completely cool. RLB italicizes the word "completely" in her book. I think it took about 5 minutes or so before the mixer bowl didnt feel warm anymore.

4. When you start adding the butter, if the mixture looks like its starting to curdle, increase the speed and wait for it to smooth out before adding more butter.

Apparently whipping the butter is optional, but perhaps it would be a good idea if your kitchen is warmer than 70F, because it will help keep the temperature of the butter homogenous. What I did was whip the butter just till it was creamy, and then folded it with a spatula every few minutes. That way the whole mass of butter reached 65 at the same time.
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#167 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 10:06 AM

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database!


I don't think RLB's technique is faulty, it's just tricky to get the hang of. Italian meringue buttercream is a bit finicky, and it can take a few tries before you learn how to cope with the various ways it can go wrong!

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Ruth,

RLB could have included more descriptive information with her recipe's instructions: http://baking911.com..._mousseline.htm JeanneCake sugggested I add it as a tip, which I did. RLB's technique was not necessarily faulty; I was discussing my observation is that what happens in a lot of cookbooks from professionals is that their timing is a lot quicker than others, and because of it, their techniques of "turning off the mixer, adding the syrup and turning on the mixer" may not work for the mass market, which is slower at performing tasks because most of us don't do it everyday! So, i enhanced the RLB's recipe by adding more information.

There are lots of recipes from professionals that homebakers have asked me why they don't work -- it's because professionals assume that the mass market performs the task with the same quickness of hand that the professional does, which is critical to the success of the recipe....and, the real world does not work with the same timing, 89.9% of the time....So, recipes have a higher chance of failing...

I find Patrick S' information very helpful, too! Thanks.

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 08 April 2006 - 10:13 AM.

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#168 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 07:51 PM

I have a question about an Italian buttercream I made the other day. 

I used the recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking, but I cut it in half. 

I used
2 1/2 egg whites
1/2 plus 1/8 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups butter
1/4 cup plus 1tbls corn syrup. 

Everything seemed to go ok, I dribbled in the sryup after whipping the whites.  Then I incorporated the butter and added some vanilla paste and then at the last minute I added some homeade vanilla extract.

So then I tried to pipe it on my cupcake's using a star tip and it wasnt that stiff.  Ok, no problem.  I stuck the entire pastry bag in a glass and back in the freezer.  I was able to pipe it, but it still wasnt that thick and it was flat.

I threw the rest in a tupperware and pulled it out that evening to frost a couple more and it looked really unattractive, it totally separated.   

The client did hire me and I have to frost 60 cupcakes for a cupcake tree.  Should I give up on the Italian buttercream and just go with a regular butter/powdered sugar deal or does anyone have a better suggestion?

Thanks!!

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I tried this recipe today, except the whole quantity and am very happy with how it turned out. I watched the video on finecooking.com before making it since you had problems with it and I know you bake quite a bit. In the video she brings the sugar mixture to a full rolling boil before pouring it into the whites but in the recipe it says to bring it "just to the boil". I don't know if this would make a difference but it worked for me. It's a bit sweeter than RLB's and it looks a bit more like marshmallows before you add the butter but the texture and flavour of the finished product are good.

Edited by CanadianBakin', 29 April 2006 - 07:52 PM.

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#169 RuthWells

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:46 AM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

#170 CaliPoutine

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:52 AM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

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yes, yes, yes!!!

#171 Tweety69bird

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 12:41 PM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

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yes, yes, yes!!!

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I second that!
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#172 Kim Shook

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 05:31 PM

I have some buttercream in my fridge and am wondering how long it is good for. Also - do I just need to let it sit out and whip it up a little bit to spreading consistancy or does it need something added to it? Ta!

#173 Qui

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 05:48 PM

Just let it soften at room temp, then beat it till smooth and spreadable consistency.

#174 Sugarella

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 05:50 PM

What kind of buttercream is it? The original ingredients will determine the shelf life.

As for using it, bring back to room temp and just blend it. Don't whip; otherwise you'll whip more air into it and it won't be the spreadable consistency you're looking for.

#175 Kim Shook

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 06:53 PM

What kind of buttercream is it? The original ingredients will determine the shelf life.

As for using it, bring back to room temp and just blend it. Don't whip; otherwise you'll whip more air into it and it won't be the spreadable consistency you're looking for.

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butter, 10x, milk, vanilla

#176 Sugarella

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 08:04 PM

butter, 10x, milk, vanilla

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That's fine for a couple of weeks, provided the milk wasn't close to expiry when you used it.

#177 Kim Shook

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 08:09 PM

butter, 10x, milk, vanilla

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That's fine for a couple of weeks, provided the milk wasn't close to expiry when you used it.

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I think its actually a little older than that. I tasted a little bit and it doesn't taste 'off' but it tastes much sweeter than I remember - nauseatingly so. Thanks, Sugarella - I think I'd better toss it.

#178 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 08:55 PM

You could just cover it tightly with a layer of fondant and call it a wedding cake. Everyone else does. :wink:
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#179 Dailey

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 10:37 AM

every time i've tried to make buttercream that requires boiling the sugar/water and pouring into the egg mixture i always mess it up. :sad: i've tried RBL's neoclassic BC, which i heard was easier and ruined 2 batches. yesterday, i made the BC from the pastry queen and, of course, no luck. i make smbc all the time and was wondering...can i just add a couple egg yolks to my 5 egg whites/sugar and cook over stove like usual or will it not work? i'm thinking no but thought i'd ask first. :blush: thanks

#180 Sera F

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:18 AM

every time i've tried to make buttercream that requires boiling the sugar/water and pouring into the egg mixture i always mess it up. :sad:  i've tried RBL's neoclassic BC, which i heard was easier and ruined 2 batches.  yesterday, i made the BC from the pastry queen and, of course, no luck.  i make smbc all the time and was wondering...can i just add a couple egg yolks to my 5 egg whites/sugar and cook over stove like usual or will it not work?  i'm thinking no but thought i'd ask first. :blush:  thanks

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please tell me step by step how you are making your buttercream and exactly what the buttercream looks like after you've made it!
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