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Discussion Forum

Topic: cornstarch in buttercream?
sweetgrandma 08/31/2010 8:02 AM
My granddaughter and dil took a decorating class last night and the instructor said to put cornstarch in the bc frosting to make it hold up better. Anyone else do that? Does it work?
MARIE J 08/31/2010 10:36 AM
I use cornstarch, BUT ONLY to help to thicken the buttercream !! (I guess that helps to stabilize it then !! )

Here's my thoughts on why - it is heat activated - my hands get very, very hot !! Even if the buttercream wants to melt, the cornstarch will help to keep it together !!
It thickens as it heats - that is good for the buttercream !!
You don't need very much of it to thicken the buttercream - just enough to thicken it slightly - it will work as you hold the buttercream in the bag !!
It's cheaper than the other options - powdered sugar, aor meringue powder !!
Sugar Pie 08/31/2010 11:43 AM
I use cornstarch quite often in my buttercream. It really comes in useful when you need to make flowers with stand up petals. I love to use it when I'm making my roses. It's also quite helpful if you get your icing too thin. Start by adding small amounts ~ maybe a heaping spoonful to begin with. You won't be able to taste it either.
Cornstarch is an ingredient listed on the powdered sugar bag.
The instructor gave them a very useful tip!

I've been dying to share a tip concerning the powdered sugar bags, so I might as well tell about it in this thread.
Instead of wrapping my cakes with Saran wrap or foil, I split the empty bag down the side and across the top and bottom, making it a flat piece. I then lay the inside of the bag on top on my cake. If I have double layers, I do the same thing to the other cake, and flip them over where the tops meet. I then wrap them in clean plastic bags and put them in the refridgerator/freezer. You can use the bags for your cake scraps as well ~ just cut the top of the bag only, fold it down, seal it, and you're done. The powdered sugar residue from the inside of the bag prevents the bag from adhering to your cake. When I'm using these, I don't have to use a lot of zip-lock bags. You can also use the cake mix box as a support between your cake layers when you are storing them in the refridgerator/freezer. Just make sure they don't touch your cake. You'll be surprised at the things you can do with these! My husband just shakes his head when I reach for a powdered sugar bag.
I recycle all of my cake mix boxes. I usually have quite the stack when I show up at the recycling center.

Barbara1212 08/31/2010 6:44 PM
My instructor also told us to use cornstarch. I always use it to make my icing the right consistency for decorating. I also think it makes the icing more smooth.
sweetgrandma 09/01/2010 8:19 AM
I wonder if adding cornstarch had anything to do with a problem they had with the flowers they made in class. The color faded at the top and seemed to settle at the bottom of the roses. I've never had that happen and can't imagine what caused it...any ideas?
mavsgirl 09/02/2010 3:03 PM
Marie much do you typically add to a normal BC recipe??
whoknew? 09/04/2010 12:02 AM
I took all 4 Wilton classes earlier this year and my darling Kansas cousin, Ricki, sent me her BC recipe which has cornstarch. She has used it for 30+ years and does fabulous buttercream cakes (she doesn't do any fondant). I've used Ricki's recipe with success. (I've also tried IndyDebi's BC recipe which doesn't have any cornstarch: Can't really tell a huge difference myself -- both are good.

Here's Cousin Ricki's Buttercream:
Single Batch: (I always make a double batch)
½ cup + 2 TBSP (10 TBSP) water
1 cup Crisco
¼ tsp popcorn salt
½ tsp butter flavor
½ tsp almond extract
1 tsp clear vanilla
4 tsp meringue powder
2 TBSP cake flour
½ cup corn starch
2 lb. C&H powdered sugar

When I was starting out I was calling Ricki every 5 minutes with questions. The first time I made her BC, I told her it looked really odd, so I kept beating and beating and beating. Well, I finally called her and when she reviewed the ingredients, I realized I'd forgotten the water. Oops...... Called her back about 5 min later and said it looked just fine now..... she laughed and laughed.
hunnybee 09/04/2010 7:47 AM
I add cornstarch to buttercream to stiffen up for the dam. I just add the cornstarch until I get the right consistency.
MARIE J 09/04/2010 8:41 AM
mavsgirl - I don't measure it - sorry I generally add just enought to thicken it slightly !! {maybe about a TBSP for a whole batch ??!!}

I use the end of one of my spatula's to add it - just put it into the container, & put it into my buttercream. Sometimes I have to do that a couple of times !!
MARIE J 09/04/2010 8:44 AM
sweetgrandma - I've never had that happen with my buttercream color - unless I wanted it to do that{or something similar !! LOL} !!

Did they mix the buttercream enough, so that the color was fully incorporated? Was the tip clean, or from another color and wasn't cleaned ? !! {I've done this more times than I want to count !! LOL} Were there lumps of powdered sugar in the mix ? which also may not have been fully incorporated into the mix !!
sweetgrandma 09/04/2010 2:25 PM
the instructor furnished the frosting already made up so I don't know if it was mixed thoroughly but granddaughter said the flowers were the right color at first but the next day the color had begun to fade at the top and after a few more days all the color was gone. I believe they were using the instructors tips too but not sure about that. She has another class Monday and she's going to see if the other students flowers did the same thing.

thanks for posting that recipe. I'm making a copy of it to add to "recipes I plan to make" It sounds interesting. I also have an old Wilton book that has a recipe for buttercream that you cook and it has 5 egg yollks. I'm anxious to give it a try!