Tips & Tricks when working with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

We got a chance to go live with the talented @cakesinabox to discuss all things buttercream! Joyce from @cakesinabox juggles a full-time job with her baking.

We were so interested in learning more about how she achieves a beautifully covered cake.

She shared her favorite tips and tricks with us and answered some questions that were asked. Here are her responses below:

What is the best buttercream with great consistency, taste and stability for cakes? 

Everyone will have their own preference, but my favourite preference is swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC). It whips up dreamily smooth, and it’s not as sweet as the standard American buttercream that’s used in most cakes from big box stores. 

Should I use fresh egg whites or the pasteurized egg whites that are in a carton? 

Though some bakers swear by fresh egg whites, I use cartoned pasteurized egg whites. They’re heat-treated, free of egg yolks, and completely safe to use, making them extremely convenient. It’s also much easier to scale cartoned egg whites. (Always use a scale when making swiss meringue buttercream!) 

Do you check the temperature of your meringue when you are heating it up? 

You can check the temperature (your meringue should reach 160°F, or 71°C), but I use the touch method, which is when you rub a bit of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If it still feels gritty (i.e. there are still sugar granules), the mixture needs to be cooked for longer.

Do you check the temperature of your meringue before adding the butter? 

The meringue should be at room temperature before you add the butter (around 70°F (21°C), as otherwise your meringue will melt the butter, and you’ll be left with a soupy buttercream.

Can a meringue be overwhipped? 

Yes! Over-beating your meringue can cause it to break, leading to a deflated meringue, and ultimately, a curdled buttercream. 

How can I get a smooth and even frosted cake?

Always crumb coat your cake. This is the step where you stack your cakes and cover the exterior with a thin coat of buttercream. This is meant to help catch any cake crumbs, and also allows for a smooth final layer.

Make sure you chill your cake after applying the crumb coat so you don’t end up dragging some of the cake crumbs into your exterior coat of buttercream. One extra step that I take to smooth out any air bubbles is warming up your bench scraper by running it under some hot water before taking it around your cake. 

At the end of the day, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your cake isn’t smooth the first (or second, or third) time around!

Does SMBC take coloring as well as American buttercream? 

Definitely! Highly saturated gel colours from Americolor work well with SMBC. I’ve also started using the oil-based food colouring brand Colour Mill

I have been using SMBC and I find it great to use just after I make it. But the next day, the consistency feels off, even after I try to whip it. What should I do to correct the consistency? 

Though I’ve not noticed this, per se, I do find the consistency does change after you let it sit. It could be that the air bubbles that have been whipped into your buttercream have settled. To correct this, I usually warm up the buttercream and whip it back up with a paddle attachment. This seems to work for me. 

Another culprit could be that you aren’t using your scale! Many recipes provide measurements in cups, but I highly recommend scaling out your recipe so that you can ensure you have the same amount of butter, egg whites, and sugar every single time. 

What do I do with my leftover buttercream? 

SMBC can be stored on the counter for two days, in the fridge for about five or six, and in the freezer for three months. 

To re-constitute your buttercream, leave it on your counter overnight. Then, to ensure it’s the right consistency, gently warm it up in the microwave for six- to eight-second intervals. 

 

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