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Can anyone tell me what I can add to Buttercream frosting that doesn't include shortening and will still allow me to keep the cake at room temperature?

I hate the taste of shortening

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I'm not a fan of the taste of shortening on its own, but if you add enough vanilla (or other flavoring) and sugar into the icing, you shouldn't have the shortening taste coming through. –  Joe Mar 21 at 16:13

3 Answers 3

Whip butter, and then add whipped egg whites

Then blend in sugar which has been boiled to "soft ball" state (115°C or 240°F)

Should be plenty of recipes on the web

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There are several different types of icing that are referred to as buttercream, none of which require the use of shortening, including:

  • American Buttercream -- Butter, powdered sugar, perhaps some milk, and flavoring such as vanilla beaten together. While some recipes call for shortening, using actual butter gives a better flavor. See a sample recipe from Savory Sweet Life.

  • French Buttercream -- Egg yolks are beaten and cooked by adding hot sugar syrup (at the softball stage). The yolk mixture is then beaten until it is cool, and butter and then butter and flavoring is beaten in. See sample recipe from Chicago Tribune.

  • Italian Buttercream -- An Italian Meringue (egg whites beaten with hot sugar syrup) is prepared and then cooled, and butter and flavoring beaten in. See sample recipe from Martha Stewart.

Any of these are stable at room temperature for a day or two, but like most perishable foods, should not be held indefinitely.

In addition to buttercreams, you may wish to consider other frostings which don't contain shortening, including ganache (chocolate melted with hot cream and cooled), whipped ganache (ganache that has been beaten until it is foamy), and Seven Minute Frosting (essentially a meringue frosting).

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All these are safe enough for a day or two at room temperature, but when the cake is decorated elaborately, the fine details melt slightly. Roses but, petals droop, hanging ribbons might fall off. This is why buttercream decorated cakes are held in the fridge, especially in warmer climate. Shortening, with its different melting pattern, is safe. –  rumtscho Mar 21 at 8:32
    
@rumtscho Sure, and truly elaborate decorations are done wit royal icing which has all of the good flavor of plaster of paris, but also its fine structural properties. The OP did not mention decorations, though. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 21 at 10:16

Buttercream frosting is kept in the fridge because the butter softens too much at room temperature. Decorations lose their definition, and many people prefer the firmer texture for the taste.

There is no way to change the properties of butter, so you will have to work with another fat if you can't refrigerate. The problem is that all solid fats bring their own taste into the frosting. You can have frosting which tastes of butter and is safe to eat for 1-2 days outside of the fridge, but turns soft. (If that's what you want, SAJ's answer is great). You can have frosting which tastes like something else and keeps firm. But you can't have both at once.

If you want a firm frosting, shortening is usually the best choice, because it has the most neutral taste. But if you are for some reason sensitive to the taste, you can use other firm fats, which will change the taste. A good choice which will probably harmonize well with many cakes is coconut fat. It is very firm at room temperature (unless you live in the tropics), and cocos taste is frequently associated with sweet pastries. Palm fat could be another alternative, but I guess that more people will have an aversion to an unexpected palm fat taste in cake than to an unexpected cocos taste in cake.

A different solution might be cocoa butter softened with dairy butter. Cocoa butter on its own is too hard, but carefully mixing it should give you a more spreadable result slightly reminiscent of soft white chocolate. The problem (beside the expense) is that no standard recipe for buttercream will work with such a mixture. If you haven't done standard chocolate work before (truffles, guanduja etc. from scratch), I wouldn't recommend going that way, as it is really very finicky. But it might be worth a try if you have previous experience in conditoring.

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You're forgetting about 'butter flavored shortening' ... which will fool most people, especially when you cover it up with vanilla and sugar. (but there's no fun in hiding it, because I love the expression on people's faces when they tell you how great the icing is, and then you tell 'em it's whipped crisco). (crisco == a brand of shortening in the US) –  Joe Mar 21 at 16:11
    
@joe I believe you, but I don't think I could that for my own pride... I would know. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 22 at 10:12

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