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Topic: So I really suck at making icing.  (Read 1141 times)
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infinitelyjen
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« on: July 28, 2011 08:40:10 PM »

So I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips?

I've tried making icing a few times, using fairly simple recipes that are pretty much milk, butter, and confectioner's sugar; and every time it turns out a little grainy, like the sugar isn't blended--the sugar actually manages to have a grittier texture than when it stared--I mean it's confectioner's sugar, that stuff is pretty smooth--and it starts melting pretty quickly whenever it's out of the refrigerator. And I've tried mixing both by hand and with an electric mixer, with pretty much the same results.

Are there any rookie mistakes that I might be making? If anyone could give me advice I would really appreciate it ^__^
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2011 12:33:47 AM »

Well, the melting quickly might have to do with the addition of milk. I never add milk to my buttercream icing, it will get very hard if you store it in a fridge, but let it come to room temperature again and it will spread easily. It's also possible that the milk is dissolving the sugar and it's crystallising out again when it gets cold in the fridge, which would be why you're getting the grittiness.

Unfortunately I don't know the proportions I use: it's a lump of butter to enough icing sugar til it looks right! <doh>.
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2011 02:08:26 PM »

Are you sifting the sugar?  I find confectioners sugar blends a little better after sifting.
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Marmish
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2011 03:10:51 PM »

I think American buttercream is always grainy tasting.  I don't think it's you. It's more work, but you could try Swiss or Italian buttercream.  They are sooo much better. My favorite is the mousseline buttercream from the Cake Bible.
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2011 03:43:15 PM »

To prevent melting, if you live in a warmer climate, you could try mixing half butter, half shortening.
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infinitelyjen
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2011 04:54:30 PM »

Well, the melting quickly might have to do with the addition of milk. I never add milk to my buttercream icing, it will get very hard if you store it in a fridge, but let it come to room temperature again and it will spread easily. It's also possible that the milk is dissolving the sugar and it's crystallising out again when it gets cold in the fridge, which would be why you're getting the grittiness.

Unfortunately I don't know the proportions I use: it's a lump of butter to enough icing sugar til it looks right! <doh>.
I guess that would explain the crystallization; I do wonder just what the icing would be like without milk, but it's worth a shot, and if I don't like it I can just add milk little by little til it works ^__^

I think American buttercream is always grainy tasting.  I don't think it's you. It's more work, but you could try Swiss or Italian buttercream.  They are sooo much better. My favorite is the mousseline buttercream from the Cake Bible.
I've looked at a couple of recipes for Swiss and Italian buttercream, but they look really good, and I think that it would be worth the extra effort. I've got plenty of time over the summer, before college starts and while I still have access to a private kitchen Tongue Thanks for the idea!
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2011 05:36:28 PM »

Milk or water are common additions. If you're adding more than a couple of tablespoons, it's probably too much. And the others are totally worth the extra work.
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2011 07:18:03 AM »

It only takes a slight drizzle of water in a bowl full of 10X sugar to make a glaze, so adding a Tbl liquid without testing the results is asking for trouble, especially if you're using vanilla extract, and if using margarine instead of butter it will add more liquid as well.
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011 04:25:52 AM »

Yep, most margarines are partly water, up to 50% - it's used as calorie-reduction. If you're using margarine, not butter, that can be hugely contributing to your problems. Personally, I use butter only - it tastes great, far far better than margarine could ever hope to taste.

My buttercream icing consists of

115 grams (1/2 cup) butter, softened
350 grams (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
7.5 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) vanilla
50 grams (1/2) cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for medium)

with the addition of a teaspoon or two of cream if necessary. I provided my quantities since you didn't say how much of what you're using in your icing, infinitelyjen.
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LoudHoward
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2011 02:17:15 AM »

I generally use 250g of softened butter and 500g of confectioners sugar. And a teaspoon of vanilla.
You can then add a touch of milk, or a little more sugar depending on the temperature where you live to get it to the right consistency.
And dont put it in the fridge, it should be the right consistency at room temp.
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