Welcome back my friends! In today's post I want to save you from some trouble. These tips and tricks are what I have discovered along the way since these problems occurred while starting out as a newbie baker. You don't have to fall into these pit falls yourself. Walk towards the light with me :)
- You will fail at least some of the times. DO NOT be discouraged. My first time making a failed batch of buttercream made me want to give away all my baking tools and find a new hobby. The good part about it was that while I was disheartened, my family was excited to see what was created. They even joined in with me with my sloppy buttercream piping.
- You will follow the recipe exactly as stated and it still DOES NOT come out as the recipe states. This is because your conditions are different. Back to my first buttercream disaster; in a hot climate I needed to reduce the amount of liquid added since heat quickly melts your butter so you want a more sturdy buttercream.
- This brings me to my favorite tip. In hot climates, DO NOT use an all butter buttercream recipe, use one with some shortening. It holds up much better. The taste may not be the same as using all butter but it will stand up to piping. Also it's always better to start with a stiffer buttercream since you can always add liquid but making it firm again is a bit tricky.
- DO NOT add in gritty or lumpy anything to your buttercream. This will cause your consistency to not be smooth for piping. Some examples; you must sift your icing sugar, trust me; there are always lumps in them. Also, when experimenting with flavors like coffee opt for a flavored extract or like in my case DO NOT use course instant coffee (like the original Nescafe). What seems to work better though is to pulverize them. Just place in a sandwich bag and beat them well. Sift in your batter to ensure all lumps are out. But there are some other brands of coffee that are very finely milled like Colcafe so you can use that instead or actually make a concentrated brew of coffee and add some of that liquid.
Take a look at the picture above; if you look at the swirls you maybe able to see specks of the coffee which made holes in the buttercream when piped.
- DO NOT add all your liquid at once. Most recipes will say like between 2 to 4 tablespoons of milk or whipping cream. Put in your essence/ extract before. But when adding the final liquids, just add one tablespoon at a time and watch how it changes the consistency of your buttercream. Too much liquid can make your buttercream soupy. It is way easier to add more liquid than to try to add more icing sugar to get it firm again. Be mindful of this fact when adding colorings as well. Opt for a gel coloring instead of a liquid.
- DO NOT add in cold butter. Make sure you remember to take out your butter at least 1-2 hours before use. Cold butter will be firmer and so take a longer time to beat up and may also result in clumps in your mixture.
- DO NOT overbeat your buttercream. This is linked to your cold butter or otherwise. This will pump too much air into your mixture causing it to look grainy. The piping would not give you clean edges but break on you.
- DO NOT forget to check the expiry dates. There is nothing worst than opening your butter and smelling it go bad or in some cases see the mold growing on it. Yuck. One of my worst experiences was opening a butter which was within 1 month of the expiry date and it was bad already. Opt for ingredients that still has at least 1 year to go before expiration. Remember also to store them as directed to ensure longevity.
- DO NOT use salted butter. Read that label before. Well you can use it but if its an all butter recipe chances are it will be too salty and wouldn't be very palatable. I prefer to adjust salt on my own but generally I just love my buttercream sweet.
- DO NOT freeze your buttercream and then try to use it. If you store left overs in the fridge or freeze, just make sure you bring back to room temperature, give it a good whip again in your mixer and then go ahead to pipe away. If frozen or chilled it's way more difficult to pipe or spread.
And that's all for now folks. Lessons like these learnt in the baking field ensure I DO NOT repeat them again! Happy Buttercream making!
Dell'amore e Della Bellezza