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We all love buttercream, but sometimes it can be hard to decide what the ratio of butter to vegetable shortening should be. I mean does it really even make a difference? Short answer, yes, it can make a huge difference! In this post, I’ll be showing you some of the things I discovered in this Buttercream Experiment. We will cover flavor, how much the icing separates, how heat resistant the frosting is and more!
I made five batches of a basic (powdered sugar, flavorings, butter/vegetable shortening, water) buttercream. One was made with all butter, one with 2/3 butter 1/3 Crisco, one was half butter and half Crisco, one was 2/3 Crisco 1/3 butter, and the last was all Crisco. Nothing else in the recipe was changed, just what kind of fat was used.
Let’s tackle taste first. I’m sure this will come as no shock to you, but the all butter buttercream tasted best! Oddly, the half & half buttercream was the next runner up for flavor, with the 2/3 vegetable shortening coming in a close third. The all Crisco buttercream was okay but not nearly as good as the all butter frosting.
Next, let’s cover mouthfeel. That might be a new word for some people “mouthfeel” but it simply means the how did the food feel in your mouth. Some examples would be “this beef roast is dry” or “I have a greasy feeling in my mouth.” That’s mouthfeel. So, which had the best mouthfeel of these five buttercreams? You guessed it the all butter frosting won! It had a lovely melt-in-your-mouth feeling. The half & half buttercream was a close second followed by the 2/3 vegetable shortening frosting. Not too surprisingly the all Crisco frosting left a greasy feel in your mouth and took a while to melt, not great but not horrible.
I also did a check to see if there was any difference in color absorption from one buttercream to the next, but it all seemed about the same. So, that is good to know. As a side note if you want red, do not use Wilton’s “Christmas Red” paste color, it comes out flamingo pink!! See for yourself in the picture below.
Next, in this Buttercream Experiment I tested heat resistance. Why would you want to know that? Well suppose you need to make a cake for an outdoor event, it’s summer time and hot. Do you know which buttercream will hold up best in the heat? Well, take a look this is after just half an hour in the sun on an 81F day.
A half hour later and things are really getting melty!
After an hour and a half the all butter buttercream is a puddle, so much for your beautifully decorated cake, it’s a melted mess!
But get a load of the all Crisco buttercream it looks exactly the same! Still holding its shape. Warm to the touch but not a melted puddle.
What about separation? Well the all butter separated pretty bad.
The 2/3 Crisco had some crazy separation stuff going on with colored as well as clear oil separating from it!
The others had some separation, but the all Crisco had no separation going on at all after three days! Pretty impressive.
In a nut shell if all you need is flavor all butter is great, if you need heat resistance and no seperation then all Crisco is the way to go, or perhaps you need a bit of both, don’t hesitate to use a combination of fats!
What would you like me to experiments with next? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Original Experiment By: Rilla Banks (A.K.A. Epic Sweet)