Thursday, March 3, 2011

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Who is in love with buttercream?  Not me, I never appreciate butter.  Give me any dairy products, I'll gladly reject.  It was only in recent years, when I started baking, that got me more exposed to dairy products and learn to be more appreciative.

There are many buttercream recipes, American, Italian, Swiss and French.  I've read and understand that to get a more stable buttercream, eggs (some using egg whites, some using whole eggs) are used.  I don't feel much comfortable using eggs in my buttercream (yes, I'm afraid of salmonella), especially when I don't have a thermometer.  However I did bookmark a few recipes, getting ready for that one day that I've convinced myself it's ok.

The first Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) I've bookmarked was from Tartelette.  I kept going back to her blog to admire her beautiful macarons.  I saw the same recipe in Wendy's blog last year but still, wasn't tempted to do it.  I just don't feel comfortable.

With no dairy cream on hand (I don't usually stock up on this one) and plenty of butter in my freezer, plus a last minute's decision to bake a cake for DD3's birthday, buttercream was my only option.  The debate then was between an IMBC (Italian) and SMBC.  Decided it might be safer to go along with SMBC since the eggs will be cooked in a water bath method.

This SMBC, no doubt taste better than bakeries buttercream, I'm still not a convert, yet.  Maybe because I'm a non cream lover.  Whatever cream I have on the cake, I scraped it away :P  My kids however love cream, and they licked up every single bit on the plate.  I suppose I'll be making this again since I don't have to buy a litre of whipping cream and try to finish up the cream for other purposes.  Dairy whipping cream has a lifespan of only 3 days when it's opened.  I usually keep the balance in my freezer and use it for cream pasta recipes.  But sometimes, I forgot about the frozen cream and it sits in my freezer for months, and I end up dumping it.  What a waste.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe adapted here with some modifications.
Enough for a 7" round, 2 layers with some leftovers, see here.

60gm egg white (about 2 large whites)
100gm sugar
170gm unsalted butter (taken out from fridge and cut into 10-12 small pieces just before you start to heat the egg whites)


Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
I did mine for about 5 minutes as I left it alone on a few occassions to attend to my squabbling kids.

Tip: Do not attempt to make this if you are home alone with young children.  You need all the attention on this, no distractions welcomed.

The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.
Mine was nothing like marshmallow cream as I didn't whisk the egg/sugar mixture constantly.  That explains why the batter was flat.  The trick is to do the mojo workout here and beat the hell out of it .

Pour the mixture into a bowl. Put the bowl into a basin of water. The water should feel cold, like tap water on a rainy day. Do not use very cold water. Beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes.
I didn't bother to transfer the mixture into a bowl but placed it over a bigger mixing bowl filled with water and some ice cubes.  My mixture was thick but not fluffy (my egg whites were flat in the water bath). 

Add in butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth.
It curdled at one point but I continued to beat and after a few minutes, they combined again.  That night, I googled and found out that it is normal to curdle/separate/lumpy, they will come together again.  So don't worry, you are still on the right track.

Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
I only beat for another 3 - 4 minutes to get this consistency as I was planning to add in Nutella to beat somemore.  Yes, I beat with the mixer, didn't fold.

You may add in some melted chocolate, coffee or lemon curd for flavours.  I added 2 tablespoons of Nutella.  I thought the SMBC tasted slightly too sweet due to the Nutella but my kids love it.  My best pal, SL, on the other hand claimed it's not sweet enough.  So, this is really subjective and if you do not  have a sweet tooth like me, 2 tablespoon is the maximum you should add (too little will give you a pale chocolate colour).
I only saw this video by Dyann Bakes after I was done with my SMBC.  She calls it "1, 2, 3 SMBC" because it's easy and it goes with the proportion of ingredients, eg 1oz egg white, 2oz sugar, 3oz butter.

Sharing some of her tips here:
Tip 1
Add some salt to break up the protein in the egg whites.

Tip 2
Keep whipping to prevent the egg whites to turn flat.

Tip 3
You don't need a thermometer to do this, just rub the mixture between your fingers and if it is still grainy, it means the sugar has not melted. For the sugar to melt, it needs a higher temperature than the eggs. So, your eggs are pasteurized and it's safe for consumption.


WendyinKK said...

Oh... now I see the meringue. You should've whipped it longer for it to look really fluffy.
Most of my family prefer this cream now as we are all dairy lovers. Glad your kids licked off all the cream.

NEL, the batter baker said...

Yours turned out really nice and smooth. Oooh, and nutella sounds delicious! My husband would love it. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is so much better than conventional buttercream. It has a whole lot less sugar. Still has a lot of butter, but it's more 'durable' than whipped cream, which needs to be chilled. Your tips are great - thanks!

busygran said...

Good tips! I am like you, not fond of buttercream. I seldom use eggs in my buttercream. I will share what I use one day. Thanks for sharing!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

This is a buttercream that I wanted to try too, will try soon. Thanks for sharing.

Bakertan said...

hey blessed homemaker,

SWB is good stuff. I prefer it to italian buttercream since there is no need for a thermometer. Have made SWB on several occasions.

for the part on getting the sugar to melt, I find that there is no need to beat the mixture furiously. Just stir constantly to keep the egg whites from coagulating will do. Cos if they do coagulate, the whites wont whip into meringue properly and its time to dump the whites.

I do find the sugar content for SWB recipes to be sweet and I always try to cut down on the sugar.

Edith said...

Yes the sugar part is always the tricky part. Need to devote 100% attention.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Oh wow, thanks for posting this! I am looking for a good buttercream recipe. I did attempt it last year but it was almost melting when I brought the cake to a friend's place...not very stable. Hopefully I'll have more success with yours. ;)

Blessed Homemaker said...

You think it's under-whipped? I think the egg whites turned flat. Hmm... let me try this again, next birthday ;-)

Unknown said...

I am happy to hear that I found some one who doesnt like cream on cakes. My family members say I am weird cause cream is the best part of the cake to them. I think that's because they never attempted baking and dont know what's in the cakes. Haha. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more great posts from you. First time here, but will come back for more :)

Blessed Homemaker said...

Thanks for visiting!

A person's meat is another person's poison. So their meat is now my poison! Hahaha!

WendyinKK said...

I just saw the part about melted sugar in the meringue.
IMPO: graininess doesn't determine the temperature. When we make chffon cakes, we also beat the whites with sugar, and it's smooth, no graininess. But is it at 65C? Egg whites contain water and sugar melts upon contact with water. Whisking helps to quicken the melting but the melting doesn't mean it's at the safe temp.

Anonymous said...

This is good! Truly good. I'm not a butter fan but this is the only buttercream I'll eat. Thanks for showing the steps too, it helped me in m preparation.