Have you ever heard of Copha? If you live in a hot climate somewhere in Australia and make cakes, Copha will be your saviour! This will help your buttercream or frosting hold off better in extreme temperatures. It also makes a whiter buttercream. Copha is a close equivalent to shortening (hydrogenated vegetable oil) and is used for similar properties. Shortening is not widely available in Australia and it can cost up to twice the price of Copha. Keep reading if you want to learn my tips on how to use Copha. Click here for my best buttercream recipe using Copa.
Also, just to let you know I haven’t been paid by a company to write this! I just want to share my knowledge on the topic! Second note, you might not notice but the photos on this blog are watermarked with “Quote My Cake”. This is another business I once had, but no longer active. And I’m too lazy to change the photos, so there you go! Anyhow, the information here are valuable for any amateur or professional decorator!
What is Copha?
Copha is hydrogenated coconut oil manufactured by Peerlees Foods in Australia. It’s flavourless, odourless and 100% fat. Copha can be found in the refrigerators with the butters and margarines at the supermarket. It retails at $2.80 at Coles and $2.85 at Woolworths for a block of 250g (price in 2020). You can also find hydrogenated coconut oil in other countries such as New Zealand (called Kremelta), in Germany (called Palmin) and in France (called Végétaline). Palmin is also available in European deli in North America and on Amazon.
Why Copha will make a better frosting in warm climates?
First of all, you need to know that Copha is extremely solid at fridge temperature. Copha is 100% fat compared to butter which is 80% fat. This means Copha doesn’t contain water making it more solid than butter.
Butter melting point (temperature at which it becomes liquid) is 32–35°C (90–95°F). This means that a frosting made exclusively of butter when the temperature is close to 30°C will not hold and piping with it will be very difficult. Copha’s melting point is higher, 36–40°C (97–104°F). This gives you a few extra degrees for your frosting to hold! If you live in a place where the temperature is above 40°C, maybe you better stay inside with your cake and crank the air con!
Enough with the technical stuff, let’s get to the practical information!
How to use Copha?
There isn’t much info about it when you google “How to use Copha”. Maybe you have tried to use Copha in the past without success, following some advices in forum. It didn’t work out great the first time I’ve used it either! Since then, I have been perfecting my technic for over 4 years and I will share my tips with you.
1. Get the Copha soft but do not melt it
The first and most important step about Copha is to soften it. But do not to melt it if it will be used for a frosting. If you do, it will become grainy when you add the icing sugar.
a. Bench Method
Just like butter, you can leave it a room temperature but it will take longer as the melting point is higher. Leave it on the bench at least 12-24 hours, or even 48 hours. The higher the temperature, the quicker and softer it will get. If it’s not hot enough, the Copha won’t get soft enough only at room temperature. Follow the steps in section 3 to make it softer.
b. Grating Method
If you try to soften Copha during colder months of the year, it won’t work by only leaving it at room temperature. If it’s colder in your kitchen or you want to soften it in a hurry, you can grate it and spread it on a baking sheet. Then, put it in the oven with ONLY THE LIGHT ON. Get your muscles out because it’s a bit of a work out to go through the 250g block! Don’t leave it in the oven for too long. Keep checking it every 5-10 minutes. If it becomes translucent, it means it’s close to melt so it’t time to take it out. Remember, we don’t want to melt it.
c. Cutting Method
You can also cut the block in 5 or 6 slices and place them on a plate and leave it in the oven with only the light on. To do this cutting method, you will need to have your Copha soften a little bit beforehand as its really hard to cut it with a knife straight from the fridge.
I prefer the cutting method if my Copha ins’t soft enough when I need to use it. If you grate it, you can end up with little harder pieces in it. The cutting method gives you a texture more uniform. You can try to microwave it by small increments, but I personally don’t like this technic as the outside end up softer than the middle.
2. Beat up the Copha alone
To make your frosting for warm climates, you will either mix it with butter (50/50) or use 100% Copha when the temperature is really high. If you mix it with butter, you need to beat up the Copha by itself first. I repeat: BEAT THE COPHA BY ITSELF FIRST. It’s really important to wait before you add the butter, trust me. Because butter and Copha have different melting points, they have different consistency. If you try to beat up both at the same time, you will end up with little chunks of hard Copha. Not very nice in a frosting!
3. Make sure the Copha is soft enough and fluffy
If the weather is hot enough and the Copha is soft enough, it will become opaque white, uniform and fluffy after a few minutes of mixing. If it’s still too hard and you see chunks of Copha, you will need to soften it a bit more. The best way to do it is to run hot water on the outside of your mixing bowl until the Copha starts sliding off the edge, but without melting. Wipe off the water on the outside of the bowl and scrape the Copha off the sides with a spatula.
Mix again the Copha until it becomes opaque white. You might have this step one or 2 more times before you get the right consistency.
4. Mix it with the butter
Once the Copha is soft and fluffy, it’s time to add the butter! If you beat the Copha and butter at high speed for about 5 minutes, your buttercream will be whiter.
You can also use only Copha for your frosting. This will give you a stable frosting with a sparkling white colour but keep in mind the taste won’t be the same without butter!
Now you are ready to make our best buttercream recipe using Copha!