Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream was not something I had heard about until a few months ago. We South Africans don't seem to use much more than Butter icing or Cream Cheese icing when decorating our cakes and cupcakes - speaking from my vast experience ;-)
It came as quite a revelation to me that there are icings/frostings out there, that aren't just made by dumping a bag of icing sugar into a mixer with a block or butter, finished off with half a bottle of Moir's or Robertson's food colouring!

So, here is a little bit about SMB:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Recipe from Rosie, at Sweetapolita)

5 large egg whites
1cup + 2 TBS castor sugar
250 -300g butter, cut into cubes, at room temp. (unsalted, preferably, but I use salted as unsalted butter is less available in this country, ie more expensive!)
2tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt (omit if salted butter was used)

As you are making meringue, your equipment needs to be completely grease free: wipe it with lemon juice on a paper towel before you begin.

Place the egg whites and sugar into your mixing bowl, and place that over a suitable saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl must not be in contact with the water, and the water should not be boiling.

Whisk constantly.

I confess, I don't... I'm usually dashing around my kitchen, doing something else, but I endeavor to whisk constantly!  Actually, the last batch I made, had two quite long interruptions. The first when Jack (3) came tearing inside after an encounter with a monkey in the garden (ah, life in Africa), and the second when Sabrina (2) woke up from her nap.  No peaceful baking in this home.

...so whisk constantly, ahem, but gently, until the egg whites are hot to the touch, and you can no longer feel granules of sugar between your fingers.  (Fingers having been washed after any encounters with toddlers or monkeys.)

Move off the stove, and to the mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, whip until it forms a thick and glossy meringue.  Delicious!


what's next?

When the mixing bowl feels neutral to touch (ie, no longer hot), change over to the paddle attachment, and add the butter one cube at a time.

It will go from looking "gloopy", to suddenly thickening up as the last few cubes of butter are added.

 It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth texture.

Add the vanilla extract and salt .

Other flavours and colours can be added, including melted chocolate. Yum!

Go over to Rosie's site (sweetapolita.com) to see all the variety of SMB's she makes.  

I have no idea how SMB will hold up during a humid Durban Summer, but give it a try on one of these mild Winter days.  It really is a heavenly icing!

PS. It freezes well! Just thaw overnight, and then beat back into shape. If it is too stodgy still, remove a small portion, heat in the microwave for a few seconds, then add back to the main batch. If it curdles, beat, beat, beat!
If it is too loose, put in the fridge for 15min, and then beat again!

Happy whipping!


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