Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

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asked January 16th 2015

Why does my buttercream or royal icing melt while I am piping?

When I use butter cream or royal icing to make flowers or to pipe on to my cake they melt in my hands in the piping bag is there anything i can do to fix this

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Hello jakobpspmod

Buttercream melts from the warmth of your hands as you're piping along. Trick is to keep your hands as cool as possible or have two bags so they can be swapped over as one begins to soften. Keep the bags cool. Royal icing doesn't melt in the same way as buttericing because it's just sugar and egg whites. Moisture will make it very slack so it's possible you are piping in a humid environment or it may not have been to the correct piping consistency. Another reason may be that the mixing bowl could have had a little grease residue or even a tiny speck of egg shell. In which case it will have affected the egg whites from developing a good strong consistency. To ensure all grease residue is removed from royal icing making equipment, scorch utensils with boiling water, use kitchen paper towels to wipe everything down with either some white wine vinegar or lemon juice. Clean fabric towels can still hold greasy fibres so best avoided if possible. Keep an eye out for tiny specks of egg shell. I remove specks of egg shells by filtering the egg white through a small plastic tea strainer which has never been used for any other purpose, or just use fresh whites. I'm sure other members have their own methods of removing egg shells which they will share.
If you use a lot of egg whites you could buy pasteurised whites in cartons from the supermarket. This would eliminate wasting yolks or having to use them up in other recipes.
Hope this helps.

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I am using merigue powder not egg whites does this make a difference

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Meringue powder is dried egg whites, so yes, even a hint of grease will still affect your royal icing.
Hope this helps.