Friday, 18 July 2014

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This is an overdue post. Life has been hectic that sometimes we all need some buttercream in our lives and to just "STOP!" and smell the roses literally... The first thing I made with my Kitchenaid was this super smooth, light & airy, melt-in-your-mouth and dreamy textured buttercream. Although it was my first attempt at making buttercream, it turned out well. Yippee! (Skipping happily). This was like 15 months ago, when I got this stand mixer as a gift to celebrate the birth of my daughter.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I revisited this recipe for a baking session with some friends and I fell in love again with this sure-win recipe that is so easy to do. I even took a short cut from the original recipe and it still turned out superb.

Now, you may be wondering what is this "Swiss Meringue" Buttercream? There are a few types of buttercream and the most traditional type is the greasy, brightly colored and incredibly sweet ones we had on our birthday cakes when we were kids (I am an early Gen Y-er if you must guess my age). This type of buttercream is usually skimmed off the cake, often not eaten and oh-don't-get-me-started-on-how-annoying it is to wash the plate after-that...

However, the SMB is totally different! It is not too sweet, but so light that you can even eat it on its own. I swear I am NOT exaggerating. Trust me, this makes up for the washing time later. It's still greasy, people. Light, but butter is after all butter. At least the buttercream sorts of "float", a testament to it's "airiness" ;)

What makes a SMB a SMB is that it uses warmed egg whites with sugar and lastly cool butter. Just 3 simple ingredients and I am sure most of us have these in our kitchen. So, here's a step-by-step on how the heavenly buttercream is made.

Firstly, you should separate the egg whites from the yolks and it is easier to do this when the egg is cool, straight out from the fridge. Break the first egg into a clean and grease-free bowl to ensure the egg white is separated properly and then with a second bowl, do the same with the second egg. Combine the second egg white with the first egg's white after making sure the second egg is fresh and separated properly.  In case one of the eggs is not fresh or you accidentally break the yolk, you do not need to waste the first egg. 

Then, add in the caster sugar and over a pot of simmering water (Do not boil the water) and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the batter is foamy and all the sugar is melted. To confirm this, rub a bit of the batter in between your fingers and it should feel smooth and not grainy at all. If you can still feel the grains, then whisk for a little while more and repeat this test. 


After this, whip the egg white batter using the whisk attachment, starting with slow speed and then medium to high speed until stiff peaks form for about 5 minutes. To know if you have stiff peaks, the meringue (this is what you call the glossy, firm, whipped egg white+ sugar) should hold its shape and stick to the bowl even if you turn the bowl upside down. By this time, the meringue should have cooled down and the mixing bowl will not be hot to touch anymore. 

Then, add the still cool butter (cubed to more or less equal sizes) one cube at a time and mix on a low speed. To know if the butter is ready or not, you would be able to leave a thumb imprint into the butter, but the butter is cool to the touch. Ensure that the batter is well mixed after each cube of butter. Keep mixing after the last cube of butter has been added until a point where the batter becomes some what curdled. Oh my God! You may think this is not good... Hehe! But don't worry. This is what we want!


Then, just scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the batter is in the middle of the bowl and then continue to mix on a low speed, and look carefully at the mixture to see the MAGIC happen... It will magically turn into a glossy and shiny texture in front of your eyes. It's simply wonderful! 


See?! Can you see the subtle but sure change in the texture of the buttercream? So lovely, right?


There you have it, your Swiss Meringue Buttercream, all ready to be piped onto cupcakes & cakes or just eaten with cookies or bread and whatever you fancy. :) My 3 year old calls this "Ice cream!" and his eyes would literally light up when I make this. He would be waiting eagerly for this "ice cream" and at every bite proclaim, "Hmmmmm, yummmmy...". He really knows how to make his mother happy. :)

Try this out and let me know OK?!

Recipe was adapted from here.

Ingredients:
100g egg white (3 large eggs)
135g caster sugar 
227g unsalted butter, soft but still cold, cut into small equal size of cubes 

Directions: 
1. Bring butter to almost room temperature and cut into small equal sized cubes, set aside. 
2. Separate egg white from the yolk.
3. Lightly whisk egg whites in a mixing bowl by placing over a pot of simmering water (like a double boiler).
4. Add in sugar in 3 batches and whisk sugar and egg whites until all the sugar is fully dissolved (rub some mixture with your fingers, it should be smooth). This takes about 2-3 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and whisk for about 5 minutes till peaks are stiff, thick and glossy. Start with low speed and increase to medium to high speed.
6. At this point, the mixing bowl should be cool to the touch. 
7. With the mixer at low speed, add in the butter cube one at a time, ensuring that each addition is well incorporated before adding the next one.
8. Mix till mixture starts to curdle. Stop the mixer and using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides to get all the mixture in the middle of the bowl. 
9. Continue to mix on low speed until mixture become creamy and shiny. 
10.  Add colouring if desired and mix till the color is even. 

Notes:
  • Ensure your mixer bowl, whisk attachment are grease-free. Any oil stains may prevent the egg white from being whipped properly to it's full height and glory. So, you can wipe the utensils with vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any grease stains, rinse thoroughly and air dry. I use a super effective dish wash, so I didn't do this. But you can do this, just in case...
  • Egg separates easier while it's cold, but whips better at room temperature.
  • You can use icing sugar instead of caster sugar. This will cut down the time the egg white is over the simmering water and it dissolves very quickly. Just whisk until the egg white is foamy and NEVER take your hands off the whisk. 
  • The SMB is very stable even in our hot and humid temperature. So, you can frost ahead of time of your party or event and there is no need chill the cupcakes or cake after piping. I have kept a sample in room temperature for one week with no change of shape or color. Do however ensure your cake is completely cool before you start frosting.
  • It keeps well in the fridge for a week or so, and can be kept for a month if you freeze it in an air-tight container. 

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