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asked January 24th 2013

Buttercream splitting when coloured??

Hoping someone can help me. Having a bit of a problem with buttercream separating after I add colour and I have no idea why. Mix ratio is 1:2 with a few drops full fat milk. I use butter, not trex. The mix starts off well but after about half an hour on cakes it appears almost marbled. The white of the butter cream shows through. Ive tried chilling it before using and also try to keep my hands as cool as possible when piping. What am I doing wrong and how can I prevent it?? All help appreciated

Thanks

Lou

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Thought I better come back with an update on my butter cream nightmare.
Decided to reduce the amount of butter used to change the consistency of the BC, once made I refrigerated it for about an hour before adding colour then leaving in fridge over night. Next day mixed it well ( by hand) when piping onto cake I used 2 piping bags, one in use one in fridge and alternated them, I also kept running my hands under the cold tap!! Result…no splitting!! Not sure if it was one or all of my methods that worked or if I just got lucky but I was happy and so was the birthday girl. Thanks miwl for all your help.
Lou

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Hi 1looby

I had the same problem with my teddy cake which I coloured hot pink. It appears the main problem lies with darker or more vibrant shades. The amount of colour which has to be used in a white base is huge so I guess that plays a factor in the balance of ingredients. I wasn’t able to rescue my buttercream and eventually had to make another batch. The only thing I did differently with the second batch was to omit the milk. I used oil based gel colours a little at a time until I was satisfied with the shade. The BC stayed stable and the colour developed. I may just have been lucky with the second try. At that time I searched scores of web sites and forums to try and get some sort of sensible answer, it seems no one has the same solution. One site suggested straining off the buttercream and re whisking. Really! I couldn’t be bothered to do that! although in hindsight perhaps I should have to see whether it worked. I don’t work with BC very often, I much favour ganache but if in future something turns up I’ll post. I know this doesn’t help you much now, this is just by way of a hug to say you’re not on your own on this one. I hope you can sort something out and perhaps other member will give us the benefit of their experience on this topic. x

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Thanks miwl, I’ve googled and re googled but got nothing!! Got a teddy to make tomorrow, fingers crossed it works this time. Might try chilling the BC for an hour or so before colouring this time, I’m convinced its something to do with the heat from my hands. Wish me luck!

Lou

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Hi Lou

No I don’t think it’s the heat of your hands. My hubby has tried to explain the science behind this ( he being the scientist) but I’m too dense to understand what he’s saying. Apparently it may have something to do with the high concentration of azo dyes used in bright and darker colours. The lighter, pastle shades don’t seem to react in the same way. The dyes react with the molecules that make the butter into an emulsion breaking down the structure. The solution might be to use powder colours rather than gels and certainly nothing which is water based. If I find more info I’ll let you know, meanwhile g’luck for tomorrow and pleeeese post with how you get on this time around. x

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Thank you so much Lou for taking the time to feedback. This information will really help other members, and you’re welcome xx

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