Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Saving Your Buttercream-Whip It Good!

When I was in culinary school, my cake instructor told us that every baker needed to know how to salvage a failed meringue buttercream as a basic skill.

curdled and sad

Sad to say, she was right. I've used the methods I learned then many times. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't save a failed buttercream.

Using Italian meringue as the example, it will curdle if the butter is too cold when you add it. It looks like cottage cheese, and you might think that you ruined it. But don't despair, just beat it on high while you wrap a hot dishtowel around the mixer bowl. Eventually it will warm up and emulsify into a beautiful fluffy icing once again.

The same icing after whipping it.
The other side of it would be if you add butter that's too soft to the meringue, or add the butter before the meringue has cooled down enough. If that happens you'll end up with soup instead of buttercream. The easiest thing to do is put the entire bowl in the fridge until it cools down, then rewhip it. It should combine and be fine once again.

And now, enjoy the best video ever made while you wait for your meringue to whip up. I think the lady in it is actually making a meringue, so it's appropriate.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


BellaLovesPink said...

Ever had the experience where you've overwhipped it and it got really thick and hard to spread? Kills me when that happens and not sure how to correct that.

Kara said...

The only times that I've noticed it being thicker were when I cooked the sugar hotter than usual so tht it would end up stiffer in general. Maybe warming it up would soften it if it wasn't supposed to be that way??? You could also just dilute it with some liquers or preserves, that could soften it up some.

Maybe that would be a good subject for another experiment.

Audric said...

I've always had the concern that Bella brought up - is it possible to overwhip the buttercream until it is over-deflated (especially with meringue buttercreams)?

Kara said...

I don't know for sure, never had it happen myself...Like I said, I always assumed that the temperature of the sugar would make the icing stiffer or softer, but I didn't give much thought to overwhipping it once the butter was added and how that would affect it. I'll make a batch tomorrow and whip it to within an inch of its life and report back.

BellaLovesPink said...

interested to see if you had any issues.

Kara said...

Okay, today I took some IMBC that I had made last week and had refrigerated. It was cold from being in the fridge, and I let it warm up a little then whipped it. It was pretty thick to begin with, and I let it go for about 10 minutes using the whick attachment on high speed.

It didn't get thicker at all, it actually warmed up and fluffed up from having all the extra air whipped into it. So I think that if you let it whip up it mgiht be helpful to buttercream that seems too thick.

The times that I've had trouble with it being too thick is usually when I've brought it out of the fridge and rewhipped it, it just never seems to have the same consistency as it did to begin with. I'll try letting it whip longer to fluff it up from now on.

Kara said...

Haha! I mean the "whisk" attachment, of course. I don't know what a whick attachment is.

Audric said...

Hello Kara,

Thanks for conducting that experiment! I will definitely be making a batch of buttercream in the near future to try it out.