Made a cake one week ago before going on vacation.  They wanted 5 shades of brown, lightest on the top to very dark on the bottom.  The cake looked fine Friday night. The next day after it went out, there were spots that formed on various tiers.  Any idea what could have happened?  I used Wilton colors, brown, black, ivory and moss green.  I broke down the colors into small portions of the Italian buttercream before mixing it back into the rest of the butttercream, so there wouldn't be any chunks of color in the buttercream, but I am guessing that maybe I missed a few pieces? The black and moss green were thicker than the brown and harder to break down.  They wanted really dark color on the bottom tier and I used almost 3 jars of brown color on the bottom tier alone, plus varying amounts of the other colors to match the shade they wanted.  Does anyone know of a better brand of color to buy and where to get it?  I've attached a pic of the before cake, but haven't seen a pic of the "after" cake.  Thoughts?

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Don't use Wilton colours, the quality is terrible.  I use Cake Craft gel and powders, I get a lot better product from powders and the cost is less than gels.  I'm not sure the brand of powders I use though but I used several and never had one complaint.  Too bad you didn't have an after picture!

It would be auesome to see the finished picture to identify the spots. Can you find anything online that looks similar, or can you reproduce what you had again? The photo will be the only way to definately tell whats happening.


I've gotten "spots" where someone or something has touched the the cooler. Like a finger or a drip (condensation) can darken spots on your frosting. Also using a heated knive to smooth your frosting can bring out any undeveloped/undisolved bits of coloring paste in your frosting. It becomes more accentuated as the frosting warms up from being in the cooler.


I still like Wilton colors.....their flavorless and dense. Americolor has a really bad taste when you need a heavily saturated color.


Different buttercream recipes take color differently. The last place I worked at, their buttercream recipe wouldn't take color at all......... it required way more paste then other frostings I've used!!

Sometimes adding some xxxsugar can change the absorbtion of the color into your buttercream. If you add some salt too it counter balances the sweetness the xxxsugar has.

Another thing I've come across with some Witlton paste colors is they clot weird as they dry, with-in the paste jar over time in storage. Like their moss green always has tiny bits/clots of the coloring,

Last point, try not to use a blended mix of colors when your gradating frosting from light to darkness. It doesn't work as well a one straight color does in Wilton paste. Always start with you darkest color. Get that perfect, then add white frosting to each layer to lighten the shade with-out changing the hue. Most people work the opposite........but it's not as successful.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have a photo of the spotted cake, and from what I am told, it was the event planner who was upset, not the bride, so I have no idea how bad it was or if the bride noticed.  I have heard talk from my employees about areas that were patched up, so I wonder if it was touched in spots like you said, that then needed repairs.  As far as going from dark to light, I wasn't randomly making colors, I had specific paint swatches from Lowes that the planner required me to match.  I even had to do a color matching meeting weeks before the event to show I could match the colors.  So I couldn't start with the darkest and work backwards as you suggested.  Sounds like a good idea though.  The other thing, one of my employees did the initial tasting for the couple, and they said that the cakes were dry.  I did a second tasting, not even knowing it was a second tasting or that they weren't happy with the first tasting. I did my normal cake and they were really happy.  Two days prior to the wedding, I was told that if the cakes were dry, they would want a full refund.  I soaked the cakes a little more than normal, so now I am also wondering if cake syrup discolored the buttercream.  Should have just done my normal moist cake.  Will probably never know the problem if a picture doesn't surface though.  Maybe I can get with the bride's photographer. 
There's a reason why I don't do weddings anymore...hehe

If there really was a problem on your end, I promise you a photo will show up! You know how that goes.....


Sorry about the whole color swatching's like nut allergies....who can guarentee perfection ...all you can do is your best. Some factors are out of your control.


They seem like problem customers, the kind of people who would find a problem; even if there wasn't one. The only thing I can say is I hate having an important product land at a time or day when I'm not there personally. It's like Murphys Law something will happen then.

When you're using an all butter buttercream, you can't really avoid having darker areas in some places as you smooth it out; especially if you are very careful when you first apply it then try to go back over it to do any kind of touch-up; no matter how careful you are.  That's where the buttercream color will darken and you can't do anything about it.  As Wendy mentions, I've even seen some places whom I know use vegetable shortening (as well as butter) in their frostings have a similar issue.  Sometimes people say it's the salt in that kind of buttercream that makes it happen, but I have no idea. But you can see tiny pin dot spots in the frosting; and you can see where someone went over it to smooth it out.  Kind of like when you rub a piece of velvet cloth - the nap changes and you get two colors (lighter and darker).  You have two different shades of colored frosting.

I agree with Wendy; Wilton colors are not wonderful; I like to use a gel-paste color (Americolor or Chefmaster) but still, you aren't going to get an exact match, and color changes over time.  Even in my cooler, where purple will fade to blue or blue fades to something awful and don't get me started on black.  Depending on whether the manufacturer uses green as a base color for black or something else, that's what you'll end up with.  With the Americolor Warm Brown, I can guarantee it will be pink in the morning!

If the spotting was like tiny pin dots in the frosting, I've seen that happen when the egg whites are beaten too much - I can see it when the buttercream has no color in it! (The Italian Meringue kind, I mean) and if you add a color to the frosting it is much more noticeable.


I use a French buttercream (except when the client wants something blue) and have never had a problem with colours changing, I'm not sure if I've just been lucky over the years or if it's the egg yolks v. egg whites or the brand of food colouring.  I also don't use salt in my buttercream <gasp - I know>.

HI John-


We just added Pur Colour to our line of products. They come from Couture Confections in Colorado. The are all natural colorants. I think the Dry Powdered Colorant would work best for you, want to try it? The dry colorants are for fondant, batter, whipped cream and frosting. We have brown. Let me know- I can send you a sample to try to see if it works for you. Or you can just order one- they come in 4 oz bags- goes a long way! Let me know- love to help! 

Just a thought. Have you tried Printing different shades of brown onto Photofrost sheets and wrapping thre cake that way to show layers? I recently did that with a baby shower cake and it worked. Best of luck to you. I know it is frustrating to spend alot of time on some thing only to have it fail . : (




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