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Buttercream Frosting/Icing: The Topic


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#181 Sera F

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:22 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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You probably are pouring the sugar mixture in too quickly. Generally, when I make it, I whip the egg yolks so they look thick like hollandaise and then pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream. I then add 1 tbsp increments of the butter. When you add your butter, make sure that you let each addition beat fully in before adding more so the mixture doesn't break on you.
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#182 sanrensho

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:24 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.


What exactly went wrong? I've made both RLB's classic and neoclassic BCs and didn't experience any problems. Perhaps the more experienced Egulleters can help troubleshoot what went wrong.
Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#183 Dailey

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:36 AM

ooops, i guess it would help if i explained what goes wrong for me! :blush: when i boil the sugar mixture ( i used a thermometer) and attempt to pour it into the egg yolks, it either pours out verrrry slowly or turns crunchy in my icing. plus, when the sugar is boiling, it always starts to form a "crust" of sugar aroound my saucepan. i don't think that's suppose to be happening? thanks again.

#184 sanrensho

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:43 AM

As far as the crystallization you're referring to, did you get the syrup to a high enough temp? RLB also advises against stirring after the syrup comes to a boil, to prevent crystallization.
Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#185 Sera F

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 12:00 PM

As far as the crystallization you're referring to, did you get the syrup to a high enough temp? RLB also advises against stirring after the syrup comes to a boil, to prevent crystallization.

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and also when your sugar syrup is boiling, with a very clean pastry brush, dip in water and gently brush down the sides of the pot so there are no sugar crystals there to encourage the recrystallization of sugar

this should help.
"You're only as good as the last dish you sent out"- Nigel Webber

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#186 stscam

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 12:42 PM

Like Sera F said, be sure to beat your yolks thoroughly (3-5 minutes on medium should do it). While the eggs are mixing, cook your sugar. Once it's boiling, keep a watchful eye on the thermometer. Let the temp go right up to 240F and remove the pot from the stove. If the temp drops and you cook again to 240, then you're probably going to get some crystallization on the surface.

Then, like Sera F says, pour in a steady, thin stream into the bowl with the eggs. It should take you 30-60 seconds for the pour (depending upon volume). Now, before you add the butter, continue to mix the egg/sugar until it is lukewarm to the touch. Only then should you add the butter - in chunks - mixing each in thoroughly before adding the next piece.

Don't give up. And let us know how you make out.

Cheers,

Steve
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#187 JeanneCake

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 01:14 PM

It would probably help to find out what's causing the crystallization, too. When you boil the sugar, keep the thermometer in the syrup, don't pull it out and return it to the syrup - it's this agitation that can cause crystallization, or if there are deep cracks or pits in the pan you're using, that gives the crystallization a place to start forming (try using a nonstick pan if you are at home).

The wet pastry brush tip is a good one. you could also keep a cover on the pot for a little while to use the condensation to wash down the sides.

With a french buttercream, the temp of the butter is also important. I have better luck with cool (not ice cold, but not soft either) butter - the buttercream is firmer and handles better. You want the yolks to be fluffy - I usually start the mixer at the same time I start the syrup (at least with RLB's neoclassic bcrm. I use pasteurized yolks which always handle differently than shell yolks) so I know the yolks are ready. Depending on the batch size, it can take 15-30 seconds or so to add the syrup.

#188 chefpeon

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:07 PM

A couple tips:
Use a pinch of cream of tartar in your sugar syrup and it will help prevent crystallizing.

When you pour your sugar syrup in, you need to have you beater moving at a good speed, but not so high that it whips the sugar syrup wildly back to the sides of the bowl, where it will harden and not mix in. Also be careful not to pour the syrup directly down the side of the bowl; add it between the bowl and the beater.

#189 RodneyCk

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:07 PM

As far as the crystallization you're referring to, did you get the syrup to a high enough temp? RLB also advises against stirring after the syrup comes to a boil, to prevent crystallization.

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and also when your sugar syrup is boiling, with a very clean pastry brush, dip in water and gently brush down the sides of the pot so there are no sugar crystals there to encourage the recrystallization of sugar

this should help.

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Another way is to put a lid on the pot as it boils and check it periodically. With the lid on, the moisture released turns back into water which washes the crystals away.

#190 RodneyCk

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:12 PM

One of the best items to buy is a "digital" instant read thermometer. I got this tip from Cook's Illustrated and it is a life, or in this case, pastry saver. No need to try and make sure the tip is far enough down or no waiting for the bloody candy thermometer to give you a reading. It is great for when things come up to temp fast and you are hurried, like with meringue buttercreams.

#191 JeanneCake

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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:57 PM

I've been using a probe digital thermometer - and I've gone through one a year for the last five years. The problem is if the "thread" part (which attaches the probe to the base) gets exposed to an open flame, or bent (the new ones are flexible silicone of some sort; the older ones are wire). I set the alarm at 244 or 246 so by the time I get the pot off the stove top and over to the mixer, the temp rises to 248. (My instructor had one for years because we had induction cookers in class so no risk of open flame.)

#192 SweetSide

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:16 AM

One of the best items to buy is a "digital" instant read thermometer.  I got this tip from Cook's Illustrated and it is a life, or in this case, pastry saver.  No need to try and make sure the tip is far enough down or no waiting for the bloody candy thermometer to give you a reading.  It is great for when things come up to temp fast and you are hurried, like with meringue buttercreams.

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I have this thermometer and just love it. Really can't say enough about it. And the best part is that it IS instant and there are no stupid wires to worry about!
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#193 Dailey

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 08:07 AM

wow, from what i just read from you all, i've been doing everything wrong! i stir the sugar/water constantly then scrape the sugar crystals that form on the side of pan back down into the syrup. :blush: i've also been using the wrong type of pan and i will definitely get a digital theromemeter, why didn't i think of that before? :wacko: i'm gonna give it another try, thanks so much everyone! :wub:

#194 chefpeon

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 09:35 AM

One of the best items to buy is a "digital" instant read thermometer.


I have all sorts of thermometers. I have two digital instant reads, I have the kind with the alarm
that goes off at a pre-determined temp, I have an infra-red, and I also have the regular old fashioned candy thermometer with the bulb that you clip on to the side of the pan.

When cooking sugar syrups, I like the old fashioned one best. I can easily see how fast my sugar
is coming up to temp without having to stick an instant read in the syrup all the time. Frequently
I am doing other things and don't have my hands free, so just a quick glance at my glass thermometer gives me all the info I need.

My second favorite is the one with the probe and the alarm, although I found I need to set the alarm to a few degrees BELOW the temp I want my syrup at, because I have found the alarm won't go off until AFTER it reaches the pre-determined temperature, not at, or before. As we all know, taking your sugar syrup off the heat AT the correct temperature can sometimes be too late, unless you know to shock the pan in an ice bath. Personally I take my syrup off heat at one or two degrees below the desired temp because the residual heat of the syrup will cook itself to the right temp even after it's off the fire. :wink:

#195 stscam

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 12:47 PM

You can leave an instant read digital in the sugar simply by using a "bulldog" clip that snaps onto the side of your pot and has holes in the handle the let you slide the probe through. Places like Staples will have them in the paper clip section.

And once your sugar is dissolved you don't need to stir it any more.

Cheers,

Steve
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#196 alanamoana

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:48 PM

You can leave an instant read digital in the sugar simply by using a "bulldog" clip that snaps onto the side of your pot and has holes in the handle the let you slide the probe through. Places like Staples will have them in the paper clip section.

And once your sugar is dissolved you don't need to stir it any more.

Cheers,

Steve

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a.k.a. binder clip

#197 SweetSide

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:32 PM

You can leave an instant read digital in the sugar simply by using a "bulldog" clip that snaps onto the side of your pot and has holes in the handle the let you slide the probe through. Places like Staples will have them in the paper clip section.

And once your sugar is dissolved you don't need to stir it any more.

Cheers,

Steve

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a.k.a. binder clip

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Thanks for that translation!
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#198 Dailey

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 06:41 PM

thanks again you all! :biggrin:

#199 stscam

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:12 PM

Binder clip. Bulldog clip. Spring Clip. Here's a photo to make all clear.

Posted Image

The bent thing on the right in the back is a piece of aluminum bar we "form engineered" and drilled a whole into. This allows us to use the digital probe on our big slant-sided jam pot (not shown here).

To keep the probe from touching the bottom of the pot, we use a second clip to secure it to the first one.

Cheers,

Steve

Edited by stscam, 11 September 2006 - 04:14 PM.

Steve Smith
Glacier Country

#200 Dailey

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:18 PM

thanks for posting the picture steve! :biggrin:

#201 doughgirl

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:23 PM

I just tried to make Ruth Wells Mousseline Buttercream, for the first time....twice. I am so disappointed that I couldn't make it work. I know it was probably foolish to try it without a candy thermometer, but I was so sure I could eyeball the syrup and know when it was ready, that I thought it would be easy. The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup. I have no idea what went wrong the second time. :sad:

Is there a buttercream I can make without a candy thermometer? One that will hold up well to piping? Or should I just drag myself to the store to replace my broken thermometer and try the Mousseline Buttercream again?

#202 miladyinsanity

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:30 PM

You can use the drop the sugar in cold water test. It's supposed to be more reliable than a thermometer.

I'm guessing that the first time, you cooked the sugar too long, and the second time you didn't cook the sugar long enough.
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#203 tillie baker

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:05 PM

I never use a thermometer. My recipe is 7 c. gran. sugar with enough water to make sand with a dash of cream of tarter. I boil until it looks thick, the bubbles will break slowly...i've even taken it until it just starts to carmelize and still haven't had any problems. Meanwhile I have 4 c. egg white whipping in a 20 qt. mixer with a splash of lemon juice and 4 c. granulated sugar. When the sugar on the stove is ready I slowly pour into white and beat until the bowl of the mixer is at room temp or slightly warm and then spat in 7# of butter. You can break this recipe down to smaller quantities. I hope it helps.

stacey

#204 naes

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:43 PM

The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup.  I have no idea what went wrong the second time.  :sad:


I have made a buttercream with caramelized sugar syrup, so I doubt the high temperature is what caused the "hard thready bits." Are you slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) pouring the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl as the paddle spins on medium speed? The syrup should hit the side of the mixing bowl first, not the egg whites, which helps cool it slightly before mixing. It is important that the syrup contact the side of the bowl as you slowly pour it in. With higher temperature syrups, you'll end up with more of it stuck to the side/top of the bowl, but it still works out in the end.

Sean

#205 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:46 PM

Yes, there is one in a past Fine Cooking issue made with a bit of corn syrup. I've made it and it's delicious! I don't have time to look it up right now but I know a few egulleters have tried it so hopefully one of them can post it for you. I couldn't find it on their site.
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#206 JeanneCake

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 06:43 PM

If you can buy or borrow The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, there is a recipe for Neoclassic buttercream. You boil corn syrup and sugar until it comes to a hard boil and add it to beaten egg yolks. Some people do not like using a recipe with yolks because the syrup is not hot enough to bring the yolks to a safe temp but you could use pasteurized yolks if you can get them.

Back to the mousseline buttercream, though: When pouring the syrup in, you want to hit the "sweet spot" just between the whip and the side of the bowl. If you hit the bowl too much/too often, you'll get a little sugar syrup dam eventually and have less buttercream at the end. If you hit the whip, it spins the sugar around the bowl and you could get those hard threads you mentioned earlier. When you add the syrup, you want the mixer at speed 6 (on a KA) or 8 depending on what you used to beat the whites with to begin.

Check out your local Home Goods or discount shop for a probe-type thermometer. I see them every so often for about $16 and buy them when I see them (that price is about what I pay from the restaurant supply) because if you let the probe thread come into contact with a flame, it fries it, thus rendering the probe useless.

#207 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 06:50 PM

I found the recipe and I've got a few minutes. I've edited the directions considerably but all the normal rules for buttercream apply including what JeanneCake has mentioned.

Vanilla Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
20 oz (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 Tbsp vanilla

In stand mixer beat egg whites on med-high till foamy. Gradually add 6 Tbsp sugar and beat on high to medium peaks. The peaks should curl a little.

Heat remaining sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) and cornsyrup over med-high, stir just at the beginning to dissolve sugar. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil.

Add to egg whites in a slow steady stream with mixer on med-high. Adjust to medium and continue beating for 5 - 7 minutes. Add butter a bit at a time. Add vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

Like other recipes you can flavour however you wish.

Edited by CanadianBakin', 15 March 2007 - 06:53 PM.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

#208 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:34 AM

The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup.  I have no idea what went wrong the second time.  :sad:


I have made a buttercream with caramelized sugar syrup, so I doubt the high temperature is what caused the "hard thready bits." Are you slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) pouring the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl as the paddle spins on medium speed? The syrup should hit the side of the mixing bowl first, not the egg whites, which helps cool it slightly before mixing. It is important that the syrup contact the side of the bowl as you slowly pour it in. With higher temperature syrups, you'll end up with more of it stuck to the side/top of the bowl, but it still works out in the end.

Sean

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you know what, that might have been the problem.....the syrup seemed to be thickening up so fast that I panicked a little and kind of just dumped it all in as fast as I could. I'm going to give it another go today and I'll take that into account. Practice makes perfect, right? Thank you so much for your help!

#209 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:35 AM

I found the recipe and I've got a few minutes. I've edited the directions considerably but all the normal rules for buttercream apply including what JeanneCake has mentioned.

Vanilla Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
20 oz (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 Tbsp vanilla

In stand mixer beat egg whites on med-high till foamy. Gradually add 6 Tbsp sugar and beat on high to medium peaks. The peaks should curl a little.

Heat remaining sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) and cornsyrup over med-high, stir just at the beginning to dissolve sugar. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil.

Add to egg whites in a slow steady stream with mixer on med-high. Adjust to medium and continue beating for 5 - 7 minutes. Add butter a bit at a time. Add vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

Like other recipes you can flavour however you wish.

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Thank you so much, I think I will go ahead and give this one a try today!

#210 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 12:38 PM

I did it!! Or at least, I think I did. I decided to give Ruth Well's IMBC one more try and I think it worked!

http://www.flickr.co...@N00/423334398/

http://www.flickr.co...@N00/423334401/

Does this look right? It tastes very buttery with just a hint of vanilla. (I used about 1.5 tsp of vanilla)

Now about storage, I can stick this in the fridge for a awhile right? I don't have anything planned, I just wanted to see if I could actually make it, so I think I might need a few hours to come up with a cake or something.

I saw on a foodblog someone stored their IMBC in ziploc bags...how hard do you think it would be to get it all out of one of those again? Too messy?

Thanks again for all you help!