Friday, February 28, 2014

How I make my Swiss meringue buttercream

When it comes to cakes, two of my most frequently asked questions are: 1) what kind of frosting I use; and 2) how I get to spread the frosting so smoothly.

My choice of frosting for cakes that require decorations is Swiss meringue buttercream.   The reason I like this type of frosting is because it is very light and fluffy and it is not too sweet.  I use it to frost and fill cakes, pipe borders, flowers, letters, etc.

For me, in order to get a smooth finish on a cake, the first requirement is to make the frosting at the right consistency for spreading.  I bet there are tons of recipes and tutorials on the internet on how to make Swiss meringue buttercream but here, I will be showing you how I do it and what my secret is.

Take note: The recipe was originally posted here

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM (makes enough to frost and fill an 8" round cake)

1. In a clean, heatproof bowl, combine 3 eggwhites and 3/4 cup sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch.


*I neither time this step nor take the temperature of the eggwhites.  When the mixture feels smooth when rubbed between my fingertips (meaning, the sugar has dissolved), then I know that it's ready to be taken off the heat.  

2.  Using an electric mixer, starting on a low speed gradually increasing to high, beat the eggwhite mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks.



*Again, I do not find timing this process necessary.  I just watch the eggwhites to make sure they do not get overbeaten and become dry.

3.  Now here's the secret.  Most recipes will tell you to use room temperature butter.  What is room temperature anyway?  In the summer, it is hot.  In the winter, it's cold.  Butter can be at room temperature and yet be really stiff.

You need to use 1 cup unsalted butter that is VERY soft.  Not melted, but soft.  Soft enough that you can cream it with a spoon and it will look like mayonnaise.


Don't be afraid to soften your butter in the microwave if you need to.   I do it all the time.  Just don't let it melt! 

With mixer on medium-low speed, drop the butter by the spoonful into the meringue.  Scrape the sides of the bowl once in a while to make sure all the butter is beaten in.


When all the butter has been incorporated, add a pinch of salt plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  

4.  Beat on high speed until buttercream is light and fluffy. (Most recipes will warn you that your mixture might go through a soupy or curdled stage before becoming fluffy.  When this happens, you need to just continue beating and the mixture will eventually come together. In my experience, with the use of very soft butter, my frosting goes fluffy as soon as all the butter is in!)


Before using on a cake, either beat with a paddle attachment or simply mix with a spatula to knock out excess air in the frosting.

I used this kind of frosting for the 2 baptism cakes I showed in my previous post.  Here are a few others I've recently made, just to show you that it isn't really all that complicated to get your cakes to look neat!





Just today, I also used this frosting to pipe roses and borders on this simple caramel cake.


Hope this post helps everyone wanting to try or have been having difficulty making Swiss meringue buttercream!  Next time, I will show you some of my favourite tools to use when frosting with buttercream.

Till then, have a good weekend!

63 comments:

  1. Thank you, Corinne for the tutorial. I like reading recipes with photos especially with step-by-step instructions like you did. I hope you do it more often in the future. Best regards, Mela

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  2. Ms. Corinne,i also use SMBC for most of my cakes,but never tried coloring it.just wondering which brand of icing color do you use for your swiss meringue buttercream.i read somewhere that it's not advisable to use wilton gel colors for meringue based frosting.i only have wilton on hand.

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    Replies
    1. I have used gel paste, powdered food colour, and liquid food colouring with Swiss meringue buttercream successfully. However, my advice is not to use a hot spatula to smoothen it on an cake as this will cause streaking. Also, if the buttercream is in a piping bag and your warm hands cause it to melt, the colour will tend to separate.

      Just today, I learned from someone that oil-based colouring (used for chocolates) seems to work better for this type of frosting.

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  3. Thank you for your reply ms. Corinne. I'll keep that in mind��

    Catherine

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  4. Thank you for sharing and your cakes look wonderful and neat.

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  5. they say that the waterloo of swiss meringue buttercream is that it melts quicker than the usual buttercream. Do you have idea on how to combat it? :D

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    Replies
    1. It's true that it is not as stable in heat but I've had no problems with melting even in summer as long as the cake is indoors. To make it more stable, some people use half butter, half shortening. Haven't tried that though.

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  6. I also use your SMBC recipe for quite sometime, you said you don't use hot spatula to smoothen them, then what do you use? and do you refrigerate the cake after you smoothen it or you decorate it right away? thanks! :)

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    1. I use an angled spatula and a bench scraper to smoothen my frosting. If I really need to use a slightly warm spatula, I do so but only on soft frosting, never on a cake that has already been chilled. If you use a hot spatula on a cold cake, the colours will most likely streak.

      Most times, I decorate right away, especially when I have to attach gumpaste decorations. But in cases like when I am doing a tiered cake, I have to chill the cakes briefly so I can handle them more easily.

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  7. Just to confirm the amount of butter needed, is it 1 cup of butter measured when extremely soft or when still hard? Would you know the measurement in grams by any chance??

    Thanks Corinne.

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    Replies
    1. I cup of butter is about 227 grams. In other countries, this is what one bar of butter weighs. Here in Australia, our bar of butter is 250 grams. I just use the whole thing even it is a little bit more.

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  8. How long should i beat it with paddle attachment to remove excess air?

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    Replies
    1. There is no exact time for this. Doesn't take long.

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  9. how long do you heat the butter on microwave?(:

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    1. First of all, it is best to let your butter sit at room temperature to soften.

      There is no exact time for microwaving. It depends on the state of your butter to start with. Do it few seconds at a time, check in between if the butter is soft enough. Do not let it melt.

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    2. thank you soo much corinne! i think the reason why i always get a curdle smbc is i use cold butter right? (:

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    3. If your buttercream curdles, just beat it for longer and it should come together. But yes, I find that soft butter gives the best results.

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  10. Hi ms. Corinne! On what specific type of cake best suits this icing? Can I use it to frost chocolate cakes?

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    Replies
    1. Great on any cake, including chocolate.

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  11. Hi corrine! i love ur tutorials! Is the whole recipe can frost a whole cake plus its decorations? And may i know how did u write the letterings in bold or did u use any tools for it because it was so nice and neat... Thank u :-)

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    Replies
    1. This recipe is enough to frost an 8" cake.

      The letters were cut out from fondant/gumpaste using alphabet cutters.

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  12. thank u so much for ur reply corrine! Cant wait to try this on monday for my son's bday it was so useful😉

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  13. Will the colored icing bleed into the white frosting? I'm frosting a cake with white SMB but want to color some SMB red for trim/decorations. Any tips or advice?

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    1. The coloured frosting will not bleed.

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  14. hi how long can you store/keep you swiss buttercream icing?

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    1. I prefer to always use fresh buttercream but if I have leftovers, I refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for maybe up to 1 month.

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  15. Hi Corinne!
    I am so happy to come across your blog. You are heaven sent! thank you for being a generous person sharing your secret recipes. i have made your chiffon cake and it was a hit to my family. it was so light and fluffy. but i wasnt that successful with the SMBC i have tried different recipes already but it wont work . I followed your procedure and ingredients but mine got soupy after adding the butter. im just using a moulinex mixer. could this be the culprit?

    Many thanks in advance!

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes the mixture does get soupy or curdled. All you have to do when this happens is to just keep beating. It will come together eventually.

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  16. Hi! I'm having a problem with SMBC. While adding butter, it flattens out, it doesn't curdle, just falls flat and very liquidy that it is not suitable for piping. What could've been tge problem? My egg whites were not super stiff peaks because 10 minutes into it and it's still not super stiff but it holds some shape but droops. Could this be the cause?

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    Replies
    1. If your eggwhites didn't reach stiff peaks, it could be that it had traces of eggyolks or oil.

      It is normal for the eggwhites to deflate and become soupy once the butter is added. However, it should come together and become fluffy with beating.

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  17. Hello, thanks for sharing.

    I made my Swiss meringue buttercream, and kept it in the fridge, the next day when I thaw it in room temperature and pipe onto my cupcakes, it kind of melted and the shape doesn't hold. What is wrong? My mixture also seems a bit too glossy and buttery (Looking yellowish).

    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. I can't really tell you what happened cause I didn't even see how you did your SMBC. When you thawed your buttercream, did you beat it again before piping? How did you thaw it - just left it out?

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    2. I used the same method as any standard SMBC. I left it out for awhile for it to soften before beating it. it could pipe out, but the shape doesn't hold after a while. And it is under normal room temperature.

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  18. Hi Corinne.
    Great tutorial. Thanks so much! I've made it a couple of times and it has been perfect! My question is how & when do you add color to it? I added Wilton's gel color just after the buttercream came together (whitle it was still beating in the mixer) and it split! Should I have done this bit by hand? When do you add color to it exactly?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I do not exactly know why your buttercream split after adding gel paste. I add my colouring in the end as well (with mixer speed on low).

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  19. Hi, Ms. Corinne.
    Do you have a recipe of prune walnut cake ala Becky's Kitchen. Hope you can share it to us.

    Thanks in advance.
    Nicki

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    Replies
    1. I am not familiar with that cake. Will have to research first.

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  20. Hi corrine! Is it okay to use cold eggwhites coz anyway i am going to warm them in the 1st step. If not, is it okay to use previously refrigerated eggwhites?thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can use cold eggwhites. It will just take longer to heat it up.

      When I have leftover eggwhites, I freeze them then thaw before using to make SMBC.

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  21. can i use just 1/4 cup of butter to make this recipe?
    im not a fan a butter in icings/frostings.ty

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    Replies
    1. No you can't. If you don't like butter, then make some other kind of frosting like whipped cream, ganache, marshmallow, etc. instead of buttercream.

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  22. Hi corrine what about swiss merigue frosting without the butter will it be fine to ice my cupcakes with stable peaks?

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    Replies
    1. You are referring to a marshmallow or boiled icing.

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  23. Hi corrine! :) gaano po katagal sa room temperature yung smbc maghohold?.. Pwede po ba siya kahit ilang hours sa labas? Or kelangan po lagi siya nasa malamig?..

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    1. Madaling matunaw ang SMBC kung masyadong mainit. Pero sa experience ko, kahit room temperature, ok lang ng ilang oras.

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  24. Hi Ms Corinne! I'm lucky to have found your page whilst searching about puto flan. I easily got hooked with your recipes! Question regarding buttercreams/icings in general, can I achieve the same quality of icing if I'm only using a handheld mixer? Mine is the kitchenaid 5-speed handmixer. Many thanks! :)

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    1. Yes you can! It will just take a bit longer to beat the eggwhites to stiff peaks.

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  25. Hello Ms. Corinne. Good day! for this recipe, how many cupcakes ang pde malagyan ng icing?

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    1. Not very sure but probably around 12-15 cupcakes, depending on how you will frost it.

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  26. Is this very sweet po ba? American buttercream is way too sweet for me. Im trying to look for a better icing that's not too sweet and could stand Philippine temp. :)

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  27. This is barely sweet. If you'd like it to be more heat stable, try the other version with the added shortening.

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  28. Hi Corinne
    My SMB comes out beautiful and silky, but once I start icing my cake, it starts to really stiffen. While I'm using the scraper to smooth the sides, the buttercream pulls away from the cake and seems wet. Any idea why this could be? Ive never had this issue with American buttercream. Hope you can help!

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    Replies
    1. Is it cold now where you are? Cause that's the only reason I can think of why your buttercream is hardening quickly. Maybe you can try using a warm spatula/scraper? Not hot though as it would melt the buttercream.

      I don't know understand why the buttercream looks wet.

      You can also try using the SMBC with shortening recipe. The added shortening makes the buttercream less likely to stiffen quickly.

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  29. Yes my house is quite cold, I thought that too. The wetness on the cake looks like condensation almost.. I tried the warm scraper but the buttercream just pulled away from the cake (I was doing it lightly too). It's like the buttercream wasn't sticking to my cake from the beginning. So strange and I'm baffled :(

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    Replies
    1. It seems to me that your buttercream is too cold and has separated. Try putting your bowl on top of simmering water to soften then re-beat till fluffy and spreadable.

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  30. I'll try again this weekend. If it still doesn't work I'll send you a photo. Thanks!

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  31. hi corrine, do you have a chocolate buttercream recipe?

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    Replies
    1. Combine 113g melted dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Mix this with one recipe of SMBC.

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  32. Hi ms corrine. Is it ok to usesmb with gumpaste decor? Hindi kaua mag soften iyong gumpaste?

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    1. Yes you can use gumpaste. All the cutout letters on the cakes pictured in this post were made from gumpaste.

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  33. Hello
    I have made this buttercream before, but was wondering if I could flavour it with coffee?
    Thanks for your help

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    Replies
    1. Just dissolve one tablespoon of coffee powder in a little hot water then beat into your SMBC.

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