This is the recipe that EVERYONE asks for. At long last, I am devoting an entire blog post to BUTTERCREAM! No cake - no cupcakes - no decorating tips - just lots and lots of start to finish pictures of my buttercream process. My recipe is fairly straightforward and I'm breaking it down into simple - easy to follow steps. You will be making your own Swiss Meringue Buttercream in no time.
It was harder than I thought to document my buttercream making process because I make it so often that I do it without even thinking anymore. (I know - I'm not proud of it.) I make pretty large batches of buttercream at least 3-4 times a week and I'm giving you the recipe that I use - exactly. This recipe makes enough buttercream to fill and frost 1 three layer cake. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with an 8 quart bowl - you may need to adjust the recipe based on the size of the mixer that you are using and the number of cupcakes or cakes that you want to frost.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
10 egg whites
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups softened butter (6 sticks)
Add egg whites to mixing bowl and whisk to combine. It's tempting to separate the eggs right into the mixing bowl but don't do it - trust me - I learned that the hard way. You want to make sure that you have pure whites before you add it to the bowl - no yolk and no shells.
Transfer mixing bowl to standing mixer and use a whisk attachment to whip mixture. At the risk of getting all geeky on you - the reason that you do this is to force the folded egg white proteins to unfold and then re-combine in a new structure around air bubbles. This process can take a while - be patient.
This is what my mixture looked like after 3 minutes - still not ready.
At this point - you have a really beautiful meringue and it's super important that you get it to the right consistency before moving on. The meringue should stand up on the end of the whisk when you take it off the mixer. The tips of my icing are curling over but that is okay.
Swap the whisk with the flat beater. Add butter one tablespoon at a time to mixture, while mixer is running. Yes, that's why they call it buttercream people. Get over the fact that it's a pound and a half of butter and just go for it.
Two important tips: Make sure that the butter is softened so that it incorporates evenly and make sure that the meringue mixture is cool enough so that it doesn't melt your butter.
Once all of the butter had been added - stand back and let the mixer do its thing. My best advice is to be patient! It is not unusual for the mixture to take an extra 5-10 minutes of mixing at this point for the buttercream to come together. You will know when it's ready by the consistency of the buttercream. It will go from a runny, glue-like consistency to a thick, creamy frosting consistency. If you're still wondering whether or not you've got the right buttercream consistency - check out these pictures.
If you can master this, you're well on your way to creating all kinds of delicious buttercream flavors. I add all sorts of things to this basic recipe to create the most delicious buttercream creations.
I also use this buttercream recipe to fill, frost and decorate all sorts of cakes.
The possibilities are endless. Don't expect to be a buttercream master on your very first try. It takes some practice to get used to the process but I promise it is worth the effort.
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