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Building Buttercream Skills - FAQ

Our students ask great questions! Here are the questions (and answers) that come up most often.

What is the difference between wet and dry measuring cups and why is it important to use the correct one?

Liquid is best measured by using a clear measuring cup with marking on the side so it can be viewed at eye level accurately. Liquid measuring cups will have a pour spout. Dry ingredients are best measured in cups that hold the specific amount; overfill the cup then level off at the top for accuracy.

What is the difference between buttercream and royal icing? When do you use each?

Buttercream icing is used to ice and decorate cakes and remains soft. Royal icing dries hard and can be used to make flowers and other decoration that can be made ahead and applied to the cake.

How long will buttercream icing last? Does it need to be refrigerated?

Buttercream icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for two weeks. Before using, bring icing to room temperature and stir with a spatula or re-whip with a mixer. Iced cakes store at room temperature for two to three days.

I don't like the taste of the icing. Is there another recipe I can use?

Wilton's Class Buttercream Icing is used in class to insure success for the students. More experienced decorators may prefer to use other recipes found on the Wilton website.

Can I use a cream cheese icing to pipe a rose and do these decorations?

Most cream cheese icing recipes are too soft to pipe roses. More experienced decorators may be able to accomplish this if they can make the icing firm enough.

Can I get the lesson plan book before class so I can see everything I will learn and all the supplies I will need?

Some of our retail partners sell the lesson plan book and ask students to purchase it and bring it to the first lesson. Others include the lesson plan in the cost of the tuition and it is given to students during the first class session. If your local store does not sell the lesson plan book, you can check out the lesson by lesson list under the Additional Resources link for each course on this website.

Do I have to use the icing recipe in the Course 1 lesson plan book?

Yes, you will have the most successful experience using this recipe. Your instructor will be better able to identify any issue you are having because she will know that it is not a result of the icing.

Why does my purple icing have blue dots in it?

If your buttercream icing has not been mixed properly, there will be fat (butter or shortening) pieces, that will most likely not be visible but don't have as much sugar and other ingredients incorporated into them. These fat pieces pull in the icing color differently than the pieces with more sugar, etc. in them. For most icing colors is not a problem, but purple is a somewhat unstable color combination (that's why it fades to blue so quickly), causing the blue dots to appear.

What else do I need that wasn't included in the kit?

Refer to the "Getting Ready" page at the end of each lesson for a complete supply list. You can also check out the lesson by lesson list under the Additional Resources link for each course on this website.

What supplies do I need for next week?

Refer to the "Getting Ready" page at the end of each lesson for a complete supply list. You can also check out the lesson by lesson list under the Additional Resources link for each course on this website.

Why is the flower nail in the kits plastic and not metal? My store sells the metal ones separately.

Most new decorators find the design of the stem on the Plastic Flower Nails is more comfortable in your hand as you rotate the nail.

I already own everything that is in the kit except for the practice board. Can I buy a practice board separately like the one in the kit?

Yes, the practice board is sold separately in some retailers. It is also available at Practice sheets for each current course can be printed from the Additional Resources section for each course on this website.

Why do Wilton couplers have a notch?

The notch in Wilton couplers is there to accommodate the wire that is in the center of some of our Drop Flower Tips.

What causes white spots in my icing?

White spots may be caused by a couple of things. If you live in a hard-water area and use tap water to make your icing that might be the problem. Try using purified water to make your icing. If you use salt in your icing that could cause the white spots also. Try dissolving the salt in the liquid instead of adding it directly to your icing.

Why does Wilton recommend icing the cake top first, before the sides?

By icing the cake top first, any loose cake crumb will be sealed to the cake top or pushed off the cake before the sides are iced. If the sides are iced first, loose cake crumbs from the top might end up in the icing already on the sides of the cake.

I am concerned about tracing the pattern for pattern transfer with a pen or a pencil and then outlining with Piping Gel. Is there anything else I can use so I am sure it is food safe?

One option would be to turn the Parchment Paper over after you trace the design; then outline with piping gel on the back side of the Parchment Paper. Another easy, food-safe solution is to use the Wilton FoodWriters to trace patterns on to Parchment Paper for Pattern transfer. Be aware that the FoodWriters do not create a solid line and may tend to puddle.

Why is salt an optional ingredient in the icing recipe?

Class Buttercream Icing may be made with or without salt without affecting the properties of the icing. Salt enhances the flavor and some people say it reduces the sweetness of the icing; others choose not to use it due to dietary restrictions.

Why is it that sometimes there are tiny colored dots in my colored Icing?

Sometime the dyes in the Icing Color don't seem to mix in at the same rate, and a little while after you color your icing little spots appear. It is best to color your icing ahead of time and let it set for a little while before you use it. Be sure to stir your Icing Color with a toothpick before you use it to color your icing. Use a clean toothpick every time you add more color to your icing. Always stir the icing with your spatula before you put it in the decorating bag to insure even color distribution.

I have a family member who is allergic to eggs. Do I have to use Meringue Powder in my icing?

No, you may omit the Meringue Powder if necessary. Meringue Powder acts as a stabilizer in Buttercream Icing and also helps the icing on your cake form a crust so it can be smoothed with Parchment Paper. You will still be able to decorate with the icing even if it does not have Meringue Powder in it.

How can I keep my violet and pink icing from fading?

Violet and pink icing will hold its color better if you make your icing with milk rather that water. Adding rose icing color to violet icing will help it retain a truer violet color.