Holiday Edition: Swiss Meringue Buttercream!

    People, I cannot even begin to tell you how happy writing this post makes me. Have you ever been afraid of something silly? Bugs? Flying? Swiss Meringue is a legitimate phobia for me. Or was, anyway. Today, I attempted it and needless to say, I’m no longer afraid. Hopelessly in love with it, sure. But definitely not afraid!
    Before we begin, a few things to keep in mind:
  1. All the horror stories you hear about SMBC are true – everything MUST be at room temperature before you start including the butter, eggs etc. The correct temperature goes a long way in preserving the structure of the buttercream.
  2. Use GOOD unsalted butter. I used Elle De Vire (available in gourmet supermarkets and will cost an arm and leg) and there’s good reason too – butter is the primary flavor. The flavor isn’t masked by an essence etc. So its absolutely vital you use good butter.
  3. Worrying about eating raw eggs is a legitimate concern. So I’d urge you to use a candy thermometer – 1600F is enough to kill bacteria but not so that it cooks the egg. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, then try and rub the mixture between your fingers every now and then to see if it feels grainy (it shouldn’t). In fact, it should be smooth and slightly sticky. It took me about 6 – 7 minutes on medium-high heat.
  4. Wipe your stand mixer SPOTLESSLY clean. If it contains any trace of fats (like butter, yolks etc), your egg whites wont whip up to their full potential. Its best to thoroughly wash the bowl, wipe with a kitchen towel and then dab a little lemon juice/vinegar on some kitchen paper and wipe the bowl again.
  5. I’d say make the buttercream first – especially if you’re making it for an occasion, it should get some time to chill in refrigerator so it can hold shape. Also, SMBC is notoriously famous for melting quickly so ensure you take it out just before serving.
  6. Some super helpful resources I used before attempting:
  7. Swiss Meringue Buttercream
    Yields: 5 cups
    5 egg whites, at room temperature
    450g (1 lb) premium unsalted butter, at room temperature
    200g + 2 tbs caster sugar
    1 – 2 tsp vanilla essence
  8. Heat some water in a saucepan till it comes to a boil. Meanwhile, in an another saucepan, whisk together the egg whites and caster sugar till combined. Add the saucepan over the simmering water with candy thermometer attached. Whisk constantly and diligently till the mixture reads 160oF on a thermometer.
  9. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted and beat on medium high speed till thick, smooth and glossy – about 6 – 8 minutes. Check for stiff peaks by lifting up the whisk – it should form a definitive peak. Also, check to see if the base of the bowl feels just warm to touch. The egg whites should be at room temperature/considerably cool by now.
  10. Cut up the butter into 1 tbs pieces and switch to a paddle attachment. Add the butter ONE TABLESPOON at a time – any quicker and there may be a chance of curdling – till all of it is combined. If the mixture curdles, keep whipping at constant speed. It will come together. Once its looks glossy and combined, add essence and tint with color of your choice.
  11. SMBC keeps well for a week in an airtight container. Since the yield is quite a bit – it keeps well for week long cake projects. It can even be stored in the freezer, according to my research and kept for 2 months. I haven’t tried that yet. If you’re using from the freezer, make sure you thaw it and re-whip for a few minutes before using – ideal for Christmas baking or what?!


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