How To Fix Broken Meringue Buttercream When It Looks Curdled

When you’re making any type of meringue buttercream, whether it’s Swiss, French, or Italian meringue, you need to equalize the temperatures between the hot sugar syrup and the cold butter.

If you have too much of a difference between them, the heat can melt the butter, or the cold butter can break into small pieces and create what looks like cottage cheese.

how to fix broken meringue buttercream

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I always make Italian meringue, but every now and then I get impatient and the frosting ends up separating into what looks like cottage cheese.

It’s not too difficult to fix this when it happens, so read on for some tips.

broken meringue buttercream

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What causes a meringue buttercream to separate?

If the ingredients aren’t the same temperature, it will keep the icing from emulsifying, which is where the water and the oil in it are balanced and form a smooth mix.

If you see that your buttercream is separating and turning into what’s called a “broken” or “split” buttercream, you can save the icing by equalizing the temperature, but it won’t be the same consistency that it would have been if it worked the first time.

If you end up having to fix a broken meringue buttercream the texture will probably be thicker and less fluffy than a correctly-made buttercream would be, so it might be harder to smooth it onto the cake.

You can still flavor it and use it for fillings, but it might not work for the icing on the outside of the cake.

(For an article about what happens if you get egg yolk in your meringue, click here!)

The trick to fixing a broken buttercream is to warm it up if it’s too cold, or to cool it off if it’s too soft and soupy.

The easiest way to do this is to wrap the mixer bowl with either a warm cloth or with cold ones, or ice packs, to either heat up or cool off the mixer bowl while you whip the buttercream.

How to fix a curdled-looking buttercream.

For a broken buttercream that looks curdled, you’ll want to wrap the bowl of a stand mixer with warm cloths and keep changing them if they cool off.

Patience is key here, because it takes time to warm up the butter enough to basically melt it slowly as the whip attachment in the mixer is moving in the bowl and combining the icing together.

Run hot water over a dishcloth, wrap it around the bowl, and turn the mixer on high with the whisk attachment.

Keep adding hot water to the cloths as they cool off and eventually the buttercream will smooth out and you’ll be able to use it.

How to fix a melted buttercream

The opposite principle can be used if the buttercream is soupy, which means that it was too hot.

Just cool it off for a bit in the fridge then whip it, or pack cold cloths or ice packs around the mixer bowl while you whip it.

This usually takes longer than a curdled buttercream to fix because the heat from the beater will work against the cooling of the cold water or ice.

Sometimes it’s fastest to put the mixer bowl in the fridge, then rewhip it when it cools down a little.

You don’t want it to get totally solid, though, then you’ll end up with the same problem of it being too cold to whip. You just want to cool it down to room temperature.

meringue buttercream

Any buttercream that you have to fix this way is going to be a little thicker than icing that worked the first time, so you could have trouble smoothing it out on a cake.

I used to use broken buttercream as fillings because those don’t need to be as smoothable on the outside of the cake.
Here’s a video that I did of how to fix a broken or soupy buttercream:

This was an Italian meringue, but the principles are the same for any kind of meringue buttercream that can separate if the butter is too cold.

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