Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) is a silky, smooth frosting that is preferred by most of the bakers using buttercream. It is made with egg whites, sugar and butter. Egg whites are whisked with the sugar and then double boiled until the sugar melts. It is then whipped to stiff peaks forming the meringue. Butter is added in small portions into the meringue and is beaten until the Swiss Meringue Buttercream is stiff and fluffy.
In this article Subhashini Ramsingh talks about SMBC from the making of it to variations and precautions one should take to avoid broken Swiss Meringue Buttercream and also ways of fixing it at different stages.
She talks about SMBC from the making of it to variations and precautions one should take to avoid broken Swiss meringue buttercream and also ways of fixing it at different stages.
- 3 eggs
- 170 grams / (1/3 cup + ½ cup) Granulated white sugar
- 150 grams / 2/3 cups Butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Cut the cold butter into one-inch cubes and leave it in room temperature for 10 minutes.
2. Take a saucepan with one inch level of water and set it on the stove until it begins to boil. Turn the flame to low.
3. Add egg whites and granulated sugar in a bowl. Whisk it gently until the both mix well.
4. Place the bowl of egg whites and sugar mixture on the saucepan of simmering water.
5. While the water is slow boiling in the saucepan, use a wire whisk and constantly whisk the egg whites and sugar mixture.
6. Keep whisking until the sugar dissolves completely. It will be hot and foamy to the touch at this stage.
7. Switch off the stove and gently remove the bowl from the saucepan and pour the hot liquid content into the bowl of your electric beater.
8. Start to beat on medium high speed for about 5 to 8 minutes approximately until the mixture turns stiff and glossy.
9. Turn the mixer speed to medium low and add the butter cubes one by one. Beat for a few seconds after the addition of each butter cube.
10. After all the butter has been added, increase the beater speed to medium high and continue to beat for about 5 minutes until the buttercream turns fluffy yet stiff.
A lot of variations can be done with SMBC. The table alongside has the different flavors and the corresponding ingredients to flavor the buttercream. These ingredients should be added to the buttercream at the final stage of the stiff peaks. After adding the flavor ingredients to the buttercream, you should continue beating for a few more minutes until the flavor ingredients are incorporated well.
|Flavour||Ingredients & Quantity|
|CHOCOLATE||150 gms dark chocolate, melted & cooled|
|CARAMEL||Half cup caramel sauce, chilled|
|BLUEBERRY/ STRAWBERRY/ BLACKBERRY||½ cup of the fruit compote|
|LEMON/ ORANGE||½ cup of lemon/orange curd|
|COFFEE||1 tablespoon instant coffee powder|
|Cinnamon||1 teaspoon cinnamon powder|
|Dulce de leche||¼ cup Dulce de leche|
|HONEY||¼ cup honey|
|MOCHA||1 tablespoon coffee powder plus 100 gms dark chocolate|
|Peanut butter||1/3 cup peanut butter|
Color the buttercream
You can add any gel color of choice in the bowl of buttercream and beat until the color is incorporated. If the quantity of the buttercream to be colored is less, you can use a spoon to mix the gel colors with the buttercream.
To make your SMBC white, add just a bit of blue or purple gel color in the SMBC and beat until incorporated well. This will neutralize the yellow color of the SMBC
Wash the bowls and tools clean and dry
You need to thoroughly wash the bowl, beater blade, wire whisk etc using hot water and lemon and pat it dry with a dry cloth/tissue. The utensils and tools used while making meringue should be completely grease free. Any amount of fat through the greasiness from the utensils or a drop of egg yolk fallen into the whites will not let the whites whip up to stiff peaks. If the meringue does not whip up to stiff peaks, you need to start over again.
Keep butter cold, firm to touch but not very hard
Do not use the butter directly from the refrigerator. It will be very hard and will not get incorporated with the meringue. Keep the butter in room temperature for 10 minutes approximately, not longer. The butter should be firm to touch, but when pressed hard with your fingers you should be able to press it down. Using a very cold and hard butter will make your SMBC curdle. On the other hand, keeping the butter over soft will make your SMBC become soupy. So the temperature and the consistency of the butter is very important in the making of SMBC.
Separate the egg whites while it’s cold
Egg whites can be easily separated while they are taken from the fridge. If you try to separate the eggs while they are at room temperature, you might end up mixing the yolks into the whites. Even a drop of yolks falling into the whites will ruin your meringue. It is best to start over with a fresh set of whites if yolk gets mixed with the whites.
Swiss meringue buttercream is a bit tricky until it is mastered well. There are a few stages where you might find it broken or you have lost the SMBC. In most of the cases the SMBC can be revived back, except if you have continued with a not so stiff meringue. If you haven’t got your meringue stiff, you need to start over again. Below are fixes for all other troubles one may encounter with SMBC.
SMBC might look curdled if you beat the butter with the meringue, on medium low speed. You need to continue beating on high speed for 5 more minutes approximately and the buttercream will come together by itself without having to fix anything more with it. If your buttercream still remains curdled after trying the above, it means that your butter was very
cold. There are 3 different ways in which you can revive the curdled buttercream at this stage:
1. Double boil – You can double boil the bowl of the curdled buttercream for 10 seconds at a time and whisk it constantly until the curdled texture goes away. Do not double boil the buttercream unattended or for a longer time.
2. Microwave – Take about 1/4th cup of the curdled buttercream and microwave for about 30 seconds. Put the microwaved buttercream back into the bowl of your electric beater and beat for about 3 minutes approximately until the buttercream comes back to a creamy and smooth consistency.
3. Hair dryer – While the curdled buttercream is still in the bowl of your electric beater, continue to beat and use a hair dryer and heat the sides of the bowl from the outside. The heat will melt the buttercream inside the bowl and it will aid the buttercream to come together.
Soupy buttercream happens because either your meringue was not completely cold or your butter was warm or in room temperature. Whenever your buttercream is soupy, pop the bowl of the soupy buttercream in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and beat again on medium high speed for 5 minutes. If the buttercream does not come back to life, you might have to continue to refrigerate a few more minutes and repeat the process until the buttercream comes back to it’s creamy consistency.
Greasy/ Fudgy Buttercream
This could be because of two reasons. Either the meringue was not formed well or the quantity of the butter is more than what is in the recipe. If you have continued with a not very stiff meringue, you cannot revive the buttercream and you need to start over again.
SMBC stays well in room temperature for a day. You can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and freeze it for about 2 months. You need to thaw the buttercream in room temperature for a few hours until it turns soft. Beat the buttercream again for couple of minutes till it regains its consistency back.