Pastry chefs--what's up with Vreamay?
April 3, 2013 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting married soon, and the baker making the cake sez they use Vreamay, a vegetable-derived shortening, in the icing. I was expecting good ole buttercream, so I'm a bit skeeved out about the Vreamay--we eat pretty low-down on the food chain normally, and Vreamay has trans-fats. Any professionals, or clever amateurs, out there want to weigh in on how this stuff tastes and what, in fact, it is? I suppose Vreamay is cheaper... but why else is it used instead of butter?
posted by Zerowensboring to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a manufacturer's page - looks like it's cheaper (you need less icing) and more stable (higher temperature range) which might be nice at a summer wedding.
posted by maryr at 6:38 PM on April 3, 2013

I'd guess it's the stability, mostly. Wedding cakes need a lot of structural integrity, all those little icing decorations too. And if the buttercream goes a little melty on a regular layer cake, eh, it looks kind of gross, but on a big wedding cake it can cause a frosting avalanche.

You would get a better-tasting cake with butter, but it would be a riskier and/or less attractive cake (personally I would prefer to have the simpler/riskier butter cake). I wouldn't worry too much about the health risks - ideally, wedding cake is not something you're going to be eating very often.
posted by mskyle at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Vegetable shortening is white. Butter is yellow. This can screw with icing colours unless you happen to want a yellow colour, so mostly decorators use shortening to get the colours right, and it would be a pain to switch to butter just for the yellow cakes. It's also more stable, but the decorators I know have all mentioned that the colour is a major factor.
posted by jeather at 6:58 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay... Butter is yellow. I won't argue that. I won't say that you can't make a white butter-cream though. If you doubt? Look at this. Jacques was recommended to me by a friend for my wedding, I've had pastry chef friends that have interned there, and I've enjoyed their cakes for probably 10-15 separate events. Some of their stuff is indeed fondant, but generally they're working with butter-cream and pulling flowers from fondant.

Is it easy to make a stable butter-cream that looks white if you don't normally work with it? No. So if this place using Vreamy is the only place in town, this is a moot discussion; however, if you have a choice - they're offering you cheap crap.

With that said, I do believe in using high ratio shortenings in the crumb its self - but never the icing.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:11 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

My grandmother made wedding cakes as a small business in the 1980s, so I can say for certain that until a very short time ago, wedding cakes were made with real buttercream, and not with FOOD SCIENCE!

So though it is likely more stable, less likely to melt, and most certainly cheaper, there's no way in hell that it's impossible to make your cake with buttercream icing. I'd insist, or find another baker. There's no real reason why you can't have real food on your wedding day.
posted by Miko at 7:19 PM on April 3, 2013 [12 favorites]

What Miko said.

I know a couple of people who bake wedding cakes, and I just texted and asked them about this Vreamay stuff. Both answers were a resounding 'NO', and 'baker is cheaping out'.
posted by Salamander at 7:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't know if they are necessarily cheaping out, but I have many friends who are wedding cake bakers and sometimes it's hard to please wedding clients. They want the perfect look of fondant but the taste and texture of buttercream. They want it to be sitting outside of a barn in the hot sun for five hours. Bakeries use high ratio shortening because it makes icing come out very smooth and creamy, can withstand wider temperature ranges, some people think it tastes "cleaner" or that it doesn't have a flavor of its own, and it doesn't have the greasy taste of products like Crisco (which can also sometimes leave white streaks or spots in the buttercream) -- things clients want. Some use part butter/part shortening for the butter taste.

That being said, nothing beats an all-butter swiss meringue buttercream, IMO.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 9:28 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree that its not just about being cheap. Yes its cheaper but more likely, most clients are concerned with a look more than the slight difference in taste and once you start doing all your work with one product, ordering that one product in bulk you tend to stick to that same product unless a client really pushes for something different.

Vreamay is about achieving a look. The cakes you've seen from your baker were made with it because it's built to last. The reality is that a cake is more about the tradition of cutting the cake and smooshing it in your partner's face while pictures are taken than it is about eating dessert so even good bakers will focus on the look over taste.

If taste and ingredients are the more important part of the cake to you, then either insist you get a less professional but tastier/healthier cake from your baker or find another pro who can give you what you want.
posted by GilvearSt at 4:31 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

If the gf doesn't chime in here, I will answer for her and she can elaborate later. She just took a cake decorating class and apparently shortening-based frostings are much easier to work with than buttercream - all those pretty rosettes and decorative borders and things are all shortening frostings. Buttercream is just too "loose" and doesn't hold its shape well enough.

We've had a lot of frosting in the house over the past couple months. Buttercream tastes much, much better. Shortening gives you that sickly sweet "frosting" taste that you remember from supermarket birthday cakes. Buttercream does not form flowers well.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:26 AM on April 4, 2013

l those pretty rosettes and decorative borders and things are all shortening frostings

Not necessarily - fake icing has become ubiquitous, but there's nothing you can do with shortening-based frosting, technically, that can't be done and didn't used to always be done with buttercream. As I said, I saw my grandmother do it - roses, apple blossoms, piping, basket-weaving, the whole gig, magazine-ready cakes. It's probably indeed much easier to work with a stiffer shortening that resists melting/softening, but I wouldn't want you to think you can't have the visual effects of "wedding cake" with buttercream, because you can.
posted by Miko at 5:41 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

> So though it is likely more stable, less likely to melt, and most certainly cheaper, there's no way in hell that it's impossible to make your cake with buttercream icing

Proof! One attractive wedding cake (mine) with buttercream frosting. It didn't rely on frosting for most of the decorations, so we could have our cake and want to eat it, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:44 PM on April 4, 2013

« Older What can I do with three pounds of canned tuna?   |   Something wrong with the wife's computer. But... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.