Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe

I really cannot have my own blog and NOT mention Swiss Meringue Buttercream ("SMBC" in cake circles)...  It really is the most amazing frosting that ever was invented (I imagine that Italian Meringue Buttercream is similar, they just have different cooking methods).  This frosting is known as my "magic" frosting by certain family members... and really who can blame them?  The texture is light, fluffy, silky and just the right amount of sweetness!  Much less sweet than the shortening/powdered sugar based American Buttercram most are used to.  Really, it is the PERFECT frosting... even non-frosting lovers LOVE my Swiss Meringue Buttercream!

So, here it is, my recipe, super simple to make, it just takes a bit of patience, just be forewarned once you try SMBC you may never be able to eat American Buttercream again!


Ingredients
  • 8oz (by liquid measure) Egg Whites (I recommend using REAL eggs, not carton egg whites)
  • 2 Cups Sugar (granulated, NOT powdered sugar)
  • 6 Sticks Unsalted Butter (room temperature and YES, unsalted makes a difference)
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1-1.5 TBSP Pure Vanilla Extract (Or flavoring of your choice)

Hardware
  • Whisk
  • Double Boiler (aka, pot with water that you will place your mixer bowl on)
  • Stand Mixer (you can use your hand beaters, however your arm may fall off as a result)

Directions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer add your Egg Whites and a pinch of salt.  Whisk the eggs whites lightly to break them up, until they are lightly bubbly.
  2. Add your Sugar and whisk to combine.
  3. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water (use a pot that will give you a good seal) and whisk for 5-7 minutes.  What you are doing is cooking the eggs to kill off any bacteria!  You will know that your mixture is done when a small dribble of it on your finger no longer feels grainy.  Egg Whites cook at about 140 degrees, and sugar melts around 186 degress... so if the mixture is no longer grainy, your egg whites are cooked, the sugar is melted and it is safe for consumptions (Science!).
  4. Once the mixture is "cooked", put the bowl on your mixer and with the whisk attachment, whip your egg whites on high.  You are creating the meringue.  You want to whip the mixture until the bowl is no longer hot to the touch and the egg whites are at about room temperature.  I usually crack a window next to my counter and angle the mixer towards it.  It will take about 10 minutes to come down to the right temperature (but could be longer).
  5. After the meringue has reach "stiff peaks" and is room temperature (VERY important otherwise the butter will just melt and you will have a soupy mess!) stop the mixer and remove the whisk attachment (scrape off as much of that luscious meringue as possible)...
  6. Add your butter to the bowl.  If your butter is on the stiffer side of room temperature I would cut it into pieces first, otherwise you can add the soft sticks all at once.
  7. With your paddle attachment, mix the butter into the meringue on LOW speed, this process will take about 7-10 minutes.  You may see your mixture go through "stages" from curdled to soupy, but be patient!  It will come together, at the end you will have a lovely, smooth and silky Swiss Meringue Buttercream!
  8. When your SMBC has come together it is time to add your flavorings.  For Vanilla, add about 1-1.5 TBSP of Pure Vanilla Extract and mix on low until it is incorporated.
  9. That's it!  This recipe should yield you enough to frost and fill a 10" double layer, round cake or about 2 1/2 dozen standard cupcakes.

A Few Tips/Hints
  • While this frosting is delicious, it may not be suitable for every occasion... Because it is made of meringue and butter, SMBC has a relatively low melting point.  If your cake/cupcakes will be sitting in an environment warmer than 80-85 degrees, I would recommend NOT using this buttercream.  Butter melts to it's liquid state at around 90 degrees... so 85 might even be pushing it!
  • It is VERY important that you let your meringue cool sufficiently before adding the butter.  However, if you are impatient (like me) and brave, you can let your meringue be slightly warmer than room temp, if you add cold, or still very firm butter.  Take this advice at your own risk, it's a fine line between slightly warmer and so warm it will melt the butter...
  • If your buttercream is still too soupy, even after waiting patiently for it to come together, you may have added the butter when the meringue was till too warm.  Pop the bowl in the fridge for a bit, and once it is cooled try re-whipping it, it should come together (this frosting is light and fluffy and will never get as thick as American Buttercream).
  • Do not ever use salted butter in place of unsalted in this recipe... the added salt bring out the butter flavor far too much and your frosting will taste like whipped butter, no matter how much flavoring you add.
  • I'm always on the lookout for a bargain... but with a recipe like this quality is key!  I recommend using the freshest eggs, finest butter and best sugar you can get your hands on.  A recipe with so few ingredients should be done well! (I once tried using an organic "cultured" butter and I DO NOT recommend it, far too buttery)
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream is so versatile, you can have just about any flavor!  Have fun experimenting, try adding some melted (and cooled) chocolate, or Dulce de Leche (home made or a can of store-bought), any number of extracts available, jams or preserves, sauces, or a bit of Lorann Oil!  The possibilities are really only limited by your own creativity!
  • I would recommend chewing gum while you make this, or at least the moment it is done... to avoid eating it with a spoon!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my friends & family do!

Happy Caking :)

30 comments:

  1. Hi There,

    I found your video on youtube (great by the way!) and just had a question about freezing the icing.

    I'm going to be making cakes for a restaurant which I will bake on site on Saturdays and Sundays. The only problem is that if someone orders a cake for say the following Friday, I need to be able to freeze it so they can defrost it on the day.

    If I were to cover a cake in this buttercream, can I go ahead and freeze the whole finished cake until needed?

    Thanks in advance.

    x

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    1. Hmmmm... I've never tried freezing a finished cake before. I know you can freeze SMBC, but sometimes you need to stir it before you use it. And I have frozen cake before with no problems... so in theory it should work! My best advice is to just try it! Make a small sample and see how it does! Good Luck!!

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    2. hi this is first time using this recipe and for some reason the egg white and sugar is not going to a stiff peek and it feel like syrup...what should i do?

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  2. Hi,

    Thanks for your quick reply. I've just been oggling the lovely cakes on your website! They are gorgeous.

    I made up my first batch and it tastes AMAZING! How have I never made this before?! I was a little worried at first as it seemed a funny consistency once all the butter was in but I think it was OK, just different to normal buttercream, which I'm sure I'll get used to.

    I piped it onto a cake dummy and it pipes like a dream. I also covered a cake ball (which I use to make cake pops) and have put it in the freezer so will take out tomorrow and see how it looks and tastes. I'll let you know the outcome!

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  3. How did you get your buttercream so white? My was extremley yellow and seriously looks identical to butter.

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  4. I love SMBC, it would come out white and smooth after mixing and covering the cake, then it turns back to the color of butter when it comes to room temperature. Very frustrating. Any tips or ideas as to why this would be happening? I so much prefer this kind of icing as it tastes much better and has a better texture.

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  5. Is this icinG recipe stiff enough to make wilton roses? I saw your video on youtube on icing a smoothe cake and loved the consistancy of the icing!!

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    Replies
    1. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is rather soft, so usually does not hold up to piped roses. I can do some piped design, but when I've tried to make roses it just doesn't hold it's shape because it's not stiff enough. It might be a pain, but if you really want to ice your cake with SMBC you could just make a smaller batch of stiffer American buttercream for your flower decoration :)

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    2. Thanks for your response! I will try to make this icing for a birthday cake im making!

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  6. I ended up on this link from your recipe turtle cupcakes....in the turtle cupcake pic the icing is chocolate...is that SMBC...not sure how much bittersweet chocolate I'm suppose to add

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    1. Hi there! The icing pictured in my turtle cupcakes recipe is actually an American buttercream, just because that is what I had on hand. BUT, I highly recommend SMBC instead because the cupcakes are far too sweet (yet still delicious) with the American buttercream. As far as how much chocolate to add? It's really "to taste." For a single batch of I usually melt 1-1.5 Cups of Ghirardelli chips and tend to add most of is for a richer chocolate taste. That is just a suggestion, you can add more or less depending on what you like. Just make sure the melted chocolate isn't too warm so you don't melt the SMBC, and if it does get a little too soft, just let it sit a bit and it will stiffen up as the chocolate cools :)

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  7. I have tried to make SMBC a few times now and your recipe and technique yielded the best result BY FAR. Thank you for taking the time to share your talent with us. I am in the process of making a wedding cake for a girlfriend and can now sleep at night knowing that I have a foolproof icing recipe that tastes amazing and covers beautifully. I also didn't realize how seriously I should have taken your 'chew gum during the process tip'.

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  8. Hello, did you put the cake on the fridge after covering in fondant?

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Yes, I always refrigerate my cakes. A cold cake is sturdier for transportation, and I also find it easier to decorate a firm cake. I don't get terrible condensation, but the surface will become shiny and tacky with moisture. But just don't touch the surface (which would leave finger prints) and it dries up as the cake comes to temperature with no ill effect. I've also heard of people storing their cakes in boxes in the fridge and the cardboard absorbs the moisture preventing condensation from forming on the cake. Good Luck!

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  9. Must give this a go, it is similar to Italian the only difference is you cook the egg whites with boiled sugar and not over heat. How long does this keep for?

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  10. Is this icing sturdy enought to cover with fondant?

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  11. Help! I made this recipe with a hand mixer. I did everything mentioned on the site and mixed for a good 20 minutes! My meringue never formed a stiff peak! Could it have been over heating the egg whites? Cause I heated the whites for 7 minutes and it became white and syrupy. Eventually I gave up and just added the butter. I expected the icing to turn out differently but was just wondering how screwed up it is. The texture of the cream is very dense and very rich and buttery. It Is not at all airy. Can I still use it to ice a cake? It's so frustrating cause I'm making a cake for my whole family tomorrow! What did I do wrong? What can I do at this point to revive the icing? Please help :(

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    Replies
    1. I don't believe the problem would be over heating the egg whites, I heat my egg white/sugar mixture to 155°-160°F, which takes a good long while and I don't have a problem whipping my egg whites. The only thing I can think of is A) You likely had a tiny bit of grease/egg yolk in your mixture or on one of your utensils or bowl. or B) Everything was find and you just had to mix longer... It does take a good long while with a hand held mixer but should start to whip up pretty quickly. If the mixture stayed syrupy my guess is scenario A... Even the tiniest bit of grease or fat will completely ruin the recipe. In the kitchen I rent, there are even separate mixing bowls for egg whites only, just so no residue remains. The buttercream is dense and buttery because you are lacking the air and fluffiness from the meringue, so essentially it's just whipped butter at this point. Unfortunately I would not use the batch and would try again. It happens to me sometimes too, so don't feel too bad! You can add a tiny bit of cream of tartar (like 1/4 tsp) when whipping your meringue to help stabilize the mixture (not necessary if you don't have it). But, it really, REALLY important to make sure anything used in creating the meringue is spotless. I whip everything down with lemon juice, everytime, just to make sure. I have a video up on YouTube of this recipe demonstrating the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpNQj61ookU

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    2. That sucks. I think I'm just going to wait till I got a stand mixer before trying this again. Do you think I could at least use the whipped butter in baking? Instead of using butter I'll just use these and reduce the sugar called for in the recipe? Thanks.

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    3. I'm sorry, but I don't think baking with the mixture you've made would be a good idea. Not only do you have extra sugar, but extra protein from the eggs.... Baking is very sensitive to correct measurements and proportions, I'm not sure you would get the results you want without using ingredients as stated in your recipe.

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  12. I see. Then can I whip it with cream cheese to make spreadable frosting?

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  13. I do a lot of character cakes using buttercream icing..and do frozen buttercream transfers...Can you do this with this type of icing? Is this stiff enough to pipe?

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  14. Hi, I have never had SMBC but almost everyone seems to take it's side over the American version, so I'm going to try making it for a couple cakes I have coming up (this is a hobby and not a profession keep in mind, and I'm newer to it also). How far in advance can I make SMBC, will the recipe double ok or would I need to make one batch at a time. Also if it can be made in advance, what is the best way to store it and how long will it keep? Would there be any additional steps to preparing the SMBC for icing after being stored also. Sorry for all the questions, hope I'm not a bother. Thank you

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  16. Hi Renee!! Thank you for sharing the SM I am going to try it for a wedding cake. But, I want to know if I can do it in advance, like 2-3 days, so I will not be running on the wedding day?? Also, if I refrigerated, do I just mix until it comes soft again?? Or is better to do it the same day even if I am running??
    Sorry, I am really new on cake decoration....
    Thanks in advance for your help.

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    1. Hi there..
      Please help! Stuck on first step, why my eggyolk stil a bit grainny eventhough the temperature are perfect? The more i tried to make it dissolve, the more egg mixture become meringuee cosistency.
      Thank you

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  17. I would love to be able to pin this recipe!

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  19. Can you color this icing? If so, would you use an oil based color dye?

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  20. Hi Renee. I've seen your video on how to smooth buttercream without the hot knife method. I wanted to ask what kind of cake turntable are you using? It spins smoothly and effortlessly. Can you recommend to be the brand pls? I want to purchase one soon. Thank for your response.

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