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  • Nadine Wray

My flirty affair with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Scared to take the plunge into Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)? We have all been there! I was a pure American Buttercream (AB) girl until about a year ago and now I just can’t get enough of SMBC – I am calling it a flirty affair because I am yet to decide if it’s a trend or here to stay and whenever I do SMBC I feel like I am cheating on AM. For me American buttercream still has its place, for example, I wouldn’t mess with a Victoria Sponge. But for modern, lighter cakes, the SMBC is so light and silky, it tastes delicious on cakes and delivers a fabulous smooth finish that I can’t resist.


So what’s the difference? American Buttercream is made with butter and icing/powdered sugar making it super sweet – perfect for those that have a sweet tooth and love a classic cake. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made using egg whites and sugar…you create a meringue base which gives it a shine and it isn’t quite as sweet as AB which means you can indulge with cake and the lightness just melts in your mouth 😊. I am not the only one having this love affair, it seems to be the trend that cakes now come with SMBC as a standard. My boyfriend and friends also prefers my cakes with SMBC but for the older generation I got a resounding no – ‘’why would I mess with what they know and love as a buttercream’’ . But is this trend here to stay? Are other bakers out there going to all out to just selling cakes with SMBC? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments. I personal am not yet convinced, and so for now my cake business will still offer both types of buttercream.


If you want to try this flirty affair, see my recipe and method below. On first glance SMBC might look a little scary and more complex with more possibility for error but I can assure you that once you understand the method it is really straight forward, any issues can be easily be fixed to provide you with that perfect finish. Go on you know you want to try 😉


TIPS

Curdled Buttercream

This can often happen if you have had in the fridge. Just place it back on a bain-marie, warming slowly and keep whisking by hand until you get that silky texture again. Remove from the heat, let it cool and use as required.


Runny Buttercream

After you have added our butter does it look like you have over whipped your buttercream and those lovely peaks have disappeared? Dont worry - sometimes this happens if you have used a paddle and stirred the mixture. Just use your whisk attachment and whisk on high until you can visibly see the mixture start to thicken.



 

RECIPE:

5 x Egg Whites

455g unsalted butter

300g granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1.5 tsp vanilla essence


 


METHOD:

Pre-Preparation

Get all your ingredients measured out. Take your butter out of the fridge so it can start to soften prior to use (approx. 15-20 minutes)


Step 1

Boil a pan of water to use as a bain-marie

Separate your egg whites in to a clean bowl which you can then use as a bain-marie and place over the pan of boiling water



Step 2

Immediately add the sugar into the egg whites and continue to slowly whisk around the pan. Do this until all the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are no longer ‘grainy’. Alternatively use a thermometer to ensure the egg whites get to 71 degrees Celsius.

Whilst whisking, add a pinch of salt and the vanilla essence (plus any other liquid flavourings you desire)

Step 3

Remove the egg whites from the bowl into a mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk at highest speed until peaks form (If you don’t have a mixer you can whip by hand – it just takes a bit longer, builds those arms muscles though)



Step 4

Slow the mixer down to a medium speed and add the butter about a table spoon at a time. Ensure the butter combines into the mixture before adding the next tablespoon of butter.


Step 5

Ensure all the butter is combined into the mixture - check the bottom of the bowl as often there is some butter hiding there – you will appreciate this step, ensuring a smooth finish on your cake

You can add any colouring's to the buttercream at this stage (I always use gel as liquid goes too runny. You only need a little bit at a time).


Step 6

Apply your SMBC to your cake for your smooth final finish and decorate as required.





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