Friday, January 29, 2010

You Can Make It: Sugar Mama's Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

I'm a self taught baker and cake designer. Everything I've learned is from books, TV, videos and trial & error...alot of error; but the things I do well I'm more than happy to share and believe me, if I can make it...
You Can Make It: Sugar Mama's Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

It's no secret that I love Swiss meringue butter cream and so do my clients. When I started using it in all my cakes a few months ago the difference was felt immediately. The cakes looked better and also tasted better. this a small sample of the yummy flavors you can create with this recipe

It's so good that our office manager, Hillary eats it with a spoon like ice cream. This recipe contains 4 lbs of butter so I wouldn't recommend it on a daily basis but once in while, stick a bowl full in the freezer and try it! It does not dissapoint.
This is my favorite butter cream to make and use in cakes; especially the 3D sculpted kind for many reasons:
  • It's smooth, creamy & delicious; so you don't have the gritty texture of butter creams made with confectioner's sugar.
  • When it sets up it makes cakes extra sturdy for sculpting and holding heavy fondant. You don't get those funky lines from your filling trying to escape from between layers of cake.
  • You can make it almost any flavor without changing it's properties in minutes... coffee, cream cheese, chocolate, strawberry....mmmmm!
  • The name sounds extra fancy, so when you tell you guests the name of the filling they'll think you were in the kitchen all day!
  • Whenever I make it, I feel like a real pastry chef although I've never set foot in a culinary school.
I tried a few different recipes and tweaked them to create the one I use. This is closest to recipes found in Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes and Elisa Strauss' Confetti Cakes. Try it and let me know what you think!

* This recipe yields about 12 cups of frosting or enough to fill and crumb coat at least 3 8" three layered cakes.
* I like to always make a fresh batch and use it right away but you can store SMBC in the fridge for up to two weeks. I've heard you can freeze it for two months, but I've never tried it. If any of you do; let me know how it turns out.
* I have halved this recipe and gotten great results. I've even done a fourth of the recipe for tastings. The key is to keep an eye on the egg whites in the stand mixer. Don't over beat (or whip, technically)!
And now with out further ado...

Sugar Mama's Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

2 cups of water
12 large egg whites
3 cups of sugar
8 sticks of salted butter (room temperature)
8 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoon of vanilla extract (you can change the extract to whatever you want)

mixing bowls, measuring cups & spoons
knife & cutting board
Hand Whisk
Stand Mixer, Mixing Bowl & Whisk Attachment
Rubber Spatula

Place 2 cups of water in saucepan on a medium flame. While waiting for the water to boil, start separating eggs. I recommend using a egg separator; Wilton makes a good one, but if you don't have one you can rinse off the eggs prior to doing the back & forth egg shell method to reduce the risk of salmonella. Add the egg whites and sugar to the mixing bowl.

Hopefully, by this time the water is boiling. After reducing the water to simmer, set the mixing bowl over the water and continually hand whisk. Continue to do this until all of the sugar has melted but do not cook the eggs.

Attach the sugar/egg mix to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and set on med/high speed for 10-15 minutes. The sides of the bowl will be cooler and the mixture will appear white, fluffy and form stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whip. When you pull the whisk out it should form what looks like a birds beak.

While you're waiting for the white, fluffy magic to happen you can chop your 1 sticks of butter into tablespoons. That's roughly 8 pieces of butter per stick. Don't worry about mixing the salted and unsalted. It's all going to the same place. A note about warming your butter to room temperature: The longer you leave food out between the temps of 40 - 140 f. the more at risk your food is for contamination. So be careful.

Once you've gotten your birds beak, lower the speed of your mixer to med/low speed and add the butter one table spoon at a time making sure each piece is incorporated before you add the next. This can actually become a fun game. There's something oddly satisfying about tossing the butter in mix and watching it disappear. You could also try to hit the back of the bowl without getting intercepted by mixer.

When you first start adding the butter you'll see the mixture start to deflate and think you've ruined the recipe somehow. Then about half way through adding the butter it will start to thicken and actually look like butter cream. Once you've added all of the butter, stop the mixer, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom and poke out any chunks of butter that may be stuck in the whisk attachment. Mix again on low/med speed for another minute or two to be sure all the butter is incorporated.

Ta-Da! Sugar Mama's Swiss Meringue Butter Cream!

Let's play a little if & then:
if your frosting ends up to loose or soupy, then you over whipped or you added the butter too early. Sometimes if you refrigerate the buttercream it's salvageable.
if your frosting is grainy or crunchy, then the sugar wasn't completely melted before you whipped it. There really isn't a way to fix it. Sometimes mixing the BC on low speed for a few minutes will help.
if you have big chunks of butter in your finished frosting, then your butter was too cold or the frosting wasn't finished. Keep whipping on med/low until it's smooth.
Unfortunately, these are the only mistakes I've made and know how to fix. If anyone else has tips I will gladly update them.

Well it's "bake" to work for me.
Thanks for tuning in. Until Next Time!
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