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When is "buttercream" not buttercream?

I ordered a cake for my mom's birthday--and it was not very good. It was covered in what was supposed to be buttercream, but which bore no resemblance to any buttercream I have ever made or tasted. It was much more like Crisco whipped with powdered sugar. I could not detect any flavor of butter at all. Was this "buttercream" or "buttercreme"? Are there any rules about what can and cannot be called "buttercream?"

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  1. Ugh, you have my sympathies. Here we have a local chain of grocery stores and they make THE CAKE that seems to show up at every birthday, graduation, office party I attend. Everyone absolutely loves them. Their icing is just as you described and just horrible in my opinion, but its so popular they have started selling it in tubs, for what I don't know, to spoon directly into your pie-hole?!? I just wandered over to their site and looked at the cakes, they are calling that abomination buttercream, not even bothering with calling it buttercreme. The closest that icing gets to butter is that the bakery butts up against the dairy department. The sad thing is they make a really nice chocolate frosting, which they call "chocolate fudge" and a good pound cake too, but all anyone ever chooses is the so-called buttercream over their puffy, airy yellow batter cake. Again my sympathies, its sad day when you have cake in front of you and its not worth eating.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chromacosmic

      We have the same sort of thing where I live. There is a chain grocery store with a bakery and my family thinks their frosting is FABULOUS. I scrape it off. Luckily the cake is actually pretty good.

      1. re: chromacosmic

        Thank you for expressing so passionately the distaste I felt. Once one has had REAL buttercream, I can't imagine how one can settle for that sweetened oleaginous stuff. Admittedly, it is a better sculptural and painting medium, but by that token, we could sugar-glaze papermache.

        1. re: pilinut

          "OLEAGINOUS".......what a wonderful word!

      2. same problem in So Fl, Publix seem to make all the cakes around here that end up at office and friends birthdays and the 'buttercream' is just whipped muck. Homemade buttercream frosting or icing is wonderful. I make my own cakes for my kids birthdays and they taste like cake should.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smartie

          I don't know where chromacosmic is from but Publix sheet cakes came to mind. Not to dis Publix too much as most all the big chain grocery stores here make the same crisco icing.

        2. Ugh. At work we always referred to that stuff as "Criscocream." It's horrible stuff.

          1 Reply
          1. re: manraysky

            I got some icing on my fingers and tried to wash it off. It's pretty water resistant, and I think I've found a substitute hand cream

          2. When it comes out of a 5 gallon bucket.

            1. If it ain't butter, it ain't buttercream. Period.

              1. Hm, so I'm not dreaming when I thought some years back that I tasted a cake that said it had buttercream frosting and it had a hint of butter taste. And since then I've tasted a number which also say buttercream which had no discernible butter taste. The reality is, apparently, that they can say it's buttercream anyway, with no butter? But real buttercream should have butter? Wacky stuff.

                1. As a small child I could not understand why the 'buttercream' icing on my mother's cakes was so disgusting - after all I loved butter (and cream) - so what was going on? Then one year (I must have been about 7) I got to help make my brother's birthday cake, and my job was to make the icing. My mother handed me the margerine and sugar - and I was relieved that my tastebuds were not deceiving me.