Curdled buttercream is an all too common problem especially in the world of vegan buttercream.
The number one culprit is vegan butter.
Vegan butter has a higher amount of moisture content than cow butter
Thus throwing off the already delicate balance of this fragile emulsion
What is an Emulsion:
A mixture of two or more liquids that do not easily mix together (think oil and water) which has the the tendency for a liquid-liquid phase separation
Meaning Seepage, Weeping, Curdling or Breaking
#1 Vegan Butter
Here in the USA I prefer Earth Balance Butter for all my buttercream recipes *not sponsored
I find it has the lowest moisture content and it also gets hard in the refrigerator which is always a plus.
I have not had much success with coconut oil based butters including my own homemade vegan butter as it literally disintegrates into a soupy mess once it makes contact with the meringue
In the case of an Aquafaba Swiss or Italian Meringue style buttercream recipe.
Adding butter that is too warm or soft as well as adding butter that iss too cold
This problem more often occurs at the point of re-whipping buttercream after it has been in the refrigerator
If you are trying to remix your buttercream straight out of the refrigerator chances are you are going to have a broken, curdled mess in your bowl.
This is simply due to the fact that the entire mixture is too cold thus prohibiting a homogeneous mix
Not to mention condensation from going from a cold refrigerator to a warm room adds moisture to the already chaotic mix!
By bringing your bowl of buttercream to room temperature first you will have a much better time of whipping back to a smooth silky workable cream in no time
If you cannot wait the hour or so to get the entire bowl back to room temperature, you can commission the use of your trusty blow torch to help the process along faster!
CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO TUTORIAL SHOWING YOU HOW TO RE WHIP A COLD BUTTERCREAM
Agitation in combination with the right temperature is going to give you the best buttercream results so understanding this is the key to success
Again, think Oil and Water.
What do you have to do to get those two unlikely liquids to meld together?
Shake it up vigorously!
So whether you are making the Swiss Buttercream, the American Style Buttercream or the Italian Meringue Buttercream the following video shows you first hand what happens when the buttercream breaks upon mixing
CLICK HERE FOR HOW TO SAVE A FAILED BUTTERCREAM!
#4 Adding Flavors
Adding flavoring your buttercream recipes can also be a culprit and cause for breakage
I try to as much as possible stay away from adding more liquids to an already unstable emulsion
Click through to the next article that talks all about the best way to flavor your buttercream recipes!
CLICK HERE FOR HOW TO FLAVOR YOUR BUTTERCREAM RECIPES
Thanks for your wonderful video on re-whipping buttercream!!!
I have a question about American buttercream
How do you not get the ‘grittiness’?
I whip the butter until it is pale and creamy – then add pure icing sugar a little at a time – but still it is gritty in your mouth.
Thanks! and you are welcome too! I have found the brand of sugar is important to find on that is not gritty. I do well with Domino brand and I sift it two times before adding it to the recipe.
For those who are sensitive to the slightest hint of grit, may gravitate towards a swiss buttercream since the sugar is dissolved in the first step, and you can also omit the confectioners sugar to ensure there is not grittiness to that recipe either.
Thank you for this! I tried the Italian BC recipe and it whipped up beautifully, including through the addition of the hot sugar syrup. Then when I added the vegan buttery sticks, 1 tablespoon at a time, it turned in to a liquidy mess. I kept whipping hoping that it would re-fluffify but after 10 minutes I gave up. Any ideas what went wrong?
I just have to say it, I love you! And thank you for sharing your knowledge and talent!
Would whipping the butter prior to adding it to the meringue be helpful with preventing the mixture from breaking up, or would it make it worse because the butter would be less cold? Also, can maple syrup and or rice syrup be substituted for some of the sugars? I try to use the least processed ingredients and less sweeteners in my baking.
Hey there! Whipping butter first would be fine to add it in, but either way you just dont want it too cold or too “melt-y”
I have used stevia in my swiss meringue for the granulated sugar part, but then added confectioners to the last part. SO it was sort of “half” bad for me! LOL
AS for the liquid sweeteners, not great here because all that excess liquid will definitely break the emulsion. The powdered sugar acts as a stabilizer while adding sweetness
Fabulous tutorial. Thanks Gretchen!
what should be the actual room temp and shortening and meringue temp for RIGHT BEFORE mixing them together? i’ve tried all the above ideas but still get a broken buttercream. thank you.
When pressed it should give slightly but it should still hold its shape. Butter should be flexible, you should be able to bend it without breaking or cracking. Room temperature butter is about 67F
Hi!im a vegan newbie baker I have a very small vegan baking business,I’m making my first vegan three tier wedding cake June 24th?My question is what’s the best white buttercream to use?its going to be a textured finish ?Thanks.xx
Hi Angela! Sure thing, CLICK HERE FOR MORE
Could you add lemon juice or zest to make a lemon buttercream? And at what stage would you add it?
Yes you could, with an addition of lemon zest will give you a light lemon flavor, but depending on what buttercream recipe you are using (the swiss & italian are very tricky on thier own let alone adding more liquid ingrediets like lemon juice)
All that said CLICK HERE for more information
Oh but before I go…. you would add any flavorings at the last stage- along with the vanilla
I got your book for Christmas and was excited about the flax mucilage as my son has a legume allergy and we can’t do Aquafaba. I tried to make this frosting and got the aquaflaxa to whip up to glossy, stuff peaks. Not surprisingly once I added the Earth Balance Soy Free butter (in 1 T increments), the frosting broke. So, I watched the videos and kept whipping it on high in my KitchenAid and 20 minutes later it was still not emulsified. I’d call it more like soft marshmallow fluff. I used Spectrum Organic palm oil shortening. This has happened to me before when I tried to veganize a cooked flour frosting but I chalked it up to using the EB and Spectrum. You’ve probably put all of your tricks into your videos but I figured I’d ask anyway as I really want to make this work for my kid. I’ve successfully made non-vegan Swiss buttercream before but emulsified vegan frosting is apparently my Everest.
Hi Thank you for the support and buying my book!
Yes you are right about the Spectrum, I do not use that anymore since it is just too soft and super UN stable! The whole point of shortening in the first place is for stability, so why bother putting something into a recipe that is just going to make is NOT stable!?
The buttercream does have a more likely chance (almost 100%) of breaking when adding the fat compared to an egg white buttercream, but you can come out of this (as you did by watching the save the failed BC video)
I have resorted back to crisco for the shortening, since it is the most stable and makes it really great for piping and decorating and holding up in all temps.
Hey Gretchen, I attempted the Italian meringue buttercream recipe but it just turned into soup. No amount of mixing was able to save this mixture. I made sure the syrup was added slowly and the meringue was cool before adding the butter. Where did I go wrong here? I’ve made traditional IMB so I’m familiar with the process, I’ve just never had this experience before.
Hi Im sorry this happened to you, I am sure you watched the video for this post – since you are posting here I assume you found your way because of this. The vegan butter definitely is more troublesome than regular butter and I find that it will almost always “break” when mixing it in versus regular buttercream which is much more forgiving. The type of vegan butter you are using may be a factor since they are essentially oils after all, and they vary in moisture contents. This could be a reason your failed and did not come back, however I find that even the worst ones can come back when continuing to whip for a few minutes after the disaster occurs!
Hi Gretchen! I don’t know if you will get this on time or even see it soon but I’m on the verge of tears. I’m decorating a vegan carrot cake (3 tiered) and my frosting keeps breaking Will I’m putting it on the cake. Is it because my cakes are cooled? I have a 8 inch tiered partly coated but it’s not a smooth finish and every time I try to put more in the buttercream is falling off and curdling! I hope you can help soon!
Hi Linette, I am sorry to hear this and I am probably too late to help. It would not be because your cakes are cooled, you cannot ice a cake unless it is completely cooled or COLD.
It’s hard to say exactly where you went wrong, as I’m not sure #1 which recipe you used. #2 different brands of Vegan Butter can play a role in curdling since they all vary in moisture content, the more moisture the more chance of curdling.
Hello Gretchen, I have just started making vegan delights. I am not vegan and was quite surprised. The Aquafaba Buttercream frosting is pretty impressive. I have had the WORST vegan cupcakes in countless bakeries around L.A. This recipe is great and delicious. Thank you!
Hi Thank you! I am so happy you tried the recipes! Yes vegan baking has sure come a long way & most of the time you can do better at home than what you would buy at a store! Sadly….
How many “flax egg whites” is this recipe?
The entire recipe for Aquaflaxa is HERE