Friday, July 14, 2017

How to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream



But then Chocolate.

Both so compulsory in the baking world. Both so pure and unique. Both so incredible on their own yet paired so well with an array of other flavours.

They have so much in common, being two of the most complex flavours and comprising of a multitude of different taste compounds. 

I love both, but today I bring you my BEST Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

Have you made Swiss Meringue Buttercream before? Maybe you've heard of it...

It's the queen of buttercreams.

Don't think about icing sugar, this doesn't need it.

DO think about egg whites because we need to make meringue.

You will certainly need a mixer (a stand mixer makes this job easy) for this recipe.

SMB is made by heating egg whites and sugar to make a syrup that gets whipped into meringue and cooled so it is ready to take on a whole heap of creamy butter.


First combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl like the metal bowl of your stand mixer. Place it over a saucepan with just 1-inch of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. It will thicken up and the sugar should be fully dissolved.

Attach this bowl to your mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Beat on HIGH speed for 7-10 minutes, until the bowl is completely cool. The meringue will pillow up into fluffy, white clouds. It should look like shaving cream.

In the meantime, have your butter ready. It should be at room temperature (NOT cold) and cut it into 1 tablespoon pieces. Slowly add this butter, one piece at a time, to the meringue while whipping on high or med-high speed. That pillowy cloudiness will collapse but just keep going with it. Once all of the butter is added the mixture will emulsify and any soupy, grainy-looking scene should turn into glossy thick cream.

If the mixture doesn't come together right away, try the following:
1. Keep whipping on max speed for a minute - physical stress will force the emulsion into place!
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons more butter.

If this still doesn't work then these could be the cause:
1. The balance of liquid to sugar is off - ie. too much egg white or too little sugar. Use a scale.
2. The egg whites were over-cooked. You may have to start again.

NOTE: use UNSALTED butter or you will have one salty salty buttercream.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes enough for one 8-inch cake or 18 cupcakes

4 large egg whites
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (227g) soft unsalted butter

In the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pot with ½-inch of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160°F (71°C), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until it is completely cooled. This will take 7-10 minutes and the mixture will appear white and fluffy like marshmallow or shaving cream.

Note, do not begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral (not warm).
Reduce speed to medium and add the butter slowly, one tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until creamy and smooth, 1-2 minutes. The mixture will go from looking grainy and soupy to smooth, silky and glossy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

To decorate cupcakes, fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized closed star tip (I use Ateco #844 with a 3/8-inch opening diameter) with buttercream and pipe rather generously in a spiral motion over the tops starting at the outer edges and working your way toward the center. When you come to the center, release pressure and pull the tip away gently but swiftly.
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