Monday, April 23, 2012

Cake Series: Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I’m in a cake mood.  It’s probably because I just sent off these cranival-themed cupcakes this morning.

Buttered popcorn and sprinkles--can't go wrong!

And I’m mulling over how I’m going to make a rocket ship cake for the boys this week.  I’ll update you on that one once it all comes together.

So I thought I’d do another installment in our cake series.

A little over a month ago, Kimiko posted her smooth and creamy buttercream.  The Swiss meringue buttercream I want to share today is almost the same.  Hers is a bit sweeter and I start with cartoned egg whites rather than whole eggs.  But I thought I’d throw in some technique tips for those who haven’t made it before.  It can be a bit tricky and frustrating if you’ve never done it before.

Kimiko's mint buttercream!

This is a very time-consuming frosting.  It takes me about 30 minutes from start to finish.  But it is so worth it!!  It tastes delicious, spreads smooth, and pipes great!

Spreads smooth...

...but also adds fabulous texture.

Why cartoned egg whites?  I make LOTS of frosting.  Saving the time it would take me to separate eggs is worth paying a little extra, especially since I can charge my customers the difference.  And I never need to worry about contamination.  And I don’t need to figure out what to do with all those yolks.

No separating--just measure.

Simple:  butter, sugar,
egg whites, and vanilla
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
2 lb. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
1¾ c. egg whites (about 10 egg whites)
1½ Tbsp. vanilla

Place large saucepan with 1-2” water over medium-high heat to bring to simmer.  Meanwhile, fill a large mixing bowl with cold water; set aside.

I use my 5-qt. Pyrex.

In heat-proof mixer bowl, combine sugar and egg whites.  Place bowl over pan of simmering water and whisk continually.  You may need to turn down the heat if it goes beyond a simmer.  Continue to whisk until egg whites are just about too hot to touch.  Don't let the eggs cook!  If you end up with bits of cooked egg in your mixture, just run it through a strainer.

Immediately place mixing bowl in cold water.  Add ice cubes to water.  Keep egg white mixture in water bath until completely cool, may take 15 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, with paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Set aside.  (Note: if you only have one mixer bowl, you’ll want to do this before heating the eggs.  Transfer beaten butter to another dish and wash bowl thoroughly before continuing with eggs.)

Once egg whites are cool, whip on high with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.  Reduce speed to medium and add butter a few tablespoons at a time, allowing sufficient mixing time between additions.

A little at a time!

At some point during this step, the buttercream will probably separate and look curdled---keep going!  This is normal.  Eventually it will start to come together and get smooth; this may take 15 minutes or more.

I know, this looks scary and like it's a failure.  Keep going!
Notice the liquid on the side of the bowl.

Add vanilla and mix in thoroughly.  Be sure there is no more liquid clinging to the side of the mixing bowl.

The curdled mess turned into this smooth deliciousness!

No more liquid!

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, in the refrigerator for a week, or in the freezer for a lot longer (I’ve used it months later and it’s still been great).  One batch will just about fill a gallon zip-top bag.  Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using.


Jen W said...

I'm going to try this ASAP! How big a cake or how many cupcakes will a gallon bag frost?

Sumiko said...

One batch will frost 24-27 cupcakes with piped swirls. You could do 2-3 times more if you are spreading a more responsible amount on each one. =-) I think one batch will dam, frost, and lightly decorate a 3-4"-high 10" round cake. Happy frosting!!

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