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Topic: Why did Buttercreme Icing came out gritty?
lettyrodriguez93 05/26/2011 2:58 AM
I'm a bit of newbie to cake decorating. I've taken Course 1 (Decorating Basics) and I just completed Course 2 (Flowers & Cake Design) of the Wilton Cake Decorating classes so I am familiar with how to make buttercreme icing. However, the batch I made yesterday morning for my course 2 final cake came out "gritty". Even my Wilton Instructor said the same thing. She didn't offer any particular reason why it turned out this way and only asked if I happened to use regular sugar instead of powdered sugar, to which my answer was no so now I'm left to wonder... I used the same ingredients as before and this was the first time it came out like this. It tasted good but it wasn't smooth. Any comments or suggestions as to why this may have occurred would be most helpful and appreciated?
ladycatisadiva 05/26/2011 6:52 AM
Welcome to the forum lettyrodriguez93,

Not sure as to why your BC came out gritty this time. I would have asked the same question as well....Did you use Regular Granulated Sugar! So, if you were my student my next question would be what brand did you use?

It could be a number of things. If you used Confectioners Sugar and it came out gritty, was the date expired? Was there a hole in the bag and air got to the powdered sugar? Did you mix it enough? The list could go on and on. If you did everything right I would just make another batch. If the next batch comes out okay then you know it was product error.

Again welcome......
char-lee 05/26/2011 7:04 AM
My guess is your confectionery sugar is not 100% cane sugar. It is either all beet sugar or mixed with cane. It makes for a gritty icing.
You can overcome this by after creaming your shortening and flavoring then add your sugar mixed with meringue powder (if using). heat your liquid until very hot and add to mixture as it is mixing. Your shortening will not melt and your icing is creamy. You can not use butter in this procedure. To get icing very smooth and no air bubbles, after mixing well, I always finish with my dough hook. It breaks down those air pockets and makes icing the consistency like Wilton's canned decorator icing.
This should help.
sweetgrandma 05/26/2011 7:40 AM
Letty....Welcome to the Wilton Cake site! Good to have you join us...
I made this post awhile back when my buttercream frosting (that I've made many many times perfectly) came out grainy. The reason was because I left my butter in the microwave too long and it was too soft...partly melted actually. I use Bunnywoman's buttercream.
here's the link:
char-lee 05/26/2011 7:45 AM
Can BC be made with granulated suger? If know I just HAVE to try it!
lettyrodriguez93 05/26/2011 8:56 AM
To All: Thank you so much for welcoming me to the forum and for your comments!

@ ladycatisadiva: I used the store brand confectioners' (powdered) sugar. I didn't check to see if it was expired but I do know that there weren't any holes in the bag. I used the same powdered sugar (a different pkg though) for the Royal Icing I made as well. That turned out fine. I'm thinking I may not have mixed it enough. I was in a bit of a hurry... =O)

@ char-lee: I don't recall if the pkg said anything about the sugar being, or not being, 100% confectionery sugar. But like I mentioned, I have used this product before and it was only this time that it came out this way. I did creme the shortening, butter flavoring AND water together before I added the meringue powder and sugar (same as I'd done before). I don't have a stand-up mixer so I used my hand-held but like I mentioned to "ladycatisadiva", I don't think I mixed it long enough.

@ sweetgrandma: You may be on to something about the butter being too soft! I left mine out to soften all day. I did use a different kind of butter this time, Land 'O Lakes Whipped Butter in a tub, whereas the times before I used regular sticks of butter. So maybe the "too soft" butter and not mixing the icing enough is what caused the gritty/grainy texture.

Thank you all again!!! I'm so glad I asked about this. Now I know what to keep an eye on and hopefully, this won't happen anymore!
ladycatisadiva 05/26/2011 9:27 AM
Char-lee, I have seen recipes that call for it, but it's one of those cook this, cook that. It might be delicious who knows, but I have never tried. I know you can't do it without the granulated sugar being broken down first.

At least not that I know of.
dottiepark 05/26/2011 10:01 AM
I think you have found your problem...whipped butter in the tub. Go back to using plain old pure butter in sticks. Whipped butter may have water or oil added and may not measure correctly.
ladycatisadiva 05/26/2011 10:09 AM
I'm with dottie now, whipped butter mabye the problem.
luvbakin 05/26/2011 12:57 PM
Welcome to the forum Letty

One way you can get rid of grainy BC is to always weigh your ingredients and make sure to sift your sugar...especially if you are buying store brand....even if it says that it is pre-sifted 10x.

I ran into the grainy BC the one and only time that I didn't sift my PS. Now I use Domino's pure cane sugar so I don't need to sift.

Hope this helped
Chewy Chunkies 05/26/2011 2:07 PM
I agree, I think its the softness of the butter... I made mine last night and it was super gritty.
I left my butter out, I don't usually, and it was so so soft. Normally my BC comes out just fine and I don't have problems with coloring it, the cake I made (luckily it was a 'cakewreck' joke cake) was basically melted by the time I got to the luncheon. I was a little embarrassed but then again, it was supposed to be bad.
lettyrodriguez93 05/26/2011 4:31 PM
Thanks again, everyone! And yes, ALL of your comments are a definite help!!! I'll leave out the whipped butter and start using the NAME BRAND confectioners' sugar the next time I make a batch as I am sure this will help...
NutMegBakes 11/07/2014 8:04 PM
What if I didn't use whipped butter (just regular sticks), didn't overly melt it, used powdered sugar (not granulated), sifted it, mixed it VERY thoroughly, almost too much in my opinion, and it's still gritty? I'm using the exact same perfect recipe that I used the other day, but this time it's different and I can't figure why. Help?
cakedujour 11/07/2014 8:18 PM
Welcome to the forum! Did you use 100% pure cane powdered sugar? If not that could be part of your problem. I also find that over beating can cause grittiness. I beat mine at speed 2-4 on my KA and stop beating pretty quickly after all the sugar is incorporated.
NutMegBakes 11/08/2014 5:56 PM
It is cane sugar, but it has tapioca powder in it too, don't know why or how it would effect the icing? Didn't seem to be a problem previously. I read somewhere that the organic PS from Whole Foods isn't good but I've never had a problem with myself until this batch. I think maybe I over beat it then. While I was making it (a triple batch), I realized that I hadn't added my third portion of butter/shortening, so I threw that in towards the end and then finished mixing in my sugar. Maybe the order things went into the bowl could be a cause? Last night I added 2 tsp. of hot milk and beat it for a few minutes, then today I added a few ounces of cream cheese and beat it about 8-9 minutes. It's smoother than it was, but it's still not really smooth. Anything else I could try to fix it with? I used some to mush into crumbs for cake pops (no one will know the difference in there ;) ) but I don't make cake pops enough to use up an entire triple batch of frosting... I'd like to remedy the rest of it if I can to frost cakes with.
Mickeebabe 11/10/2014 7:47 PM
I made some buttercream this weekend and it was finally not gritty. What I did differently was add just a little bit of powdered sugar at a time to the mixing bowl. It seemed to do the trick so I hope that I've finally figured out my problem. I used a half butter half shortening recipe.