For the frosting of this cake I decided to make a beautiful Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or SMBC) because honestly, I hate regular buttercream and I needed something white and beautiful. And my girlfriend hates whipped cream (I know, woah…) so I decided to give this a try. I had never made one but I read wonderful things (“Best frosting ever!” “Perfect texture!” “Favorite of everyone!”) Also, I loved the fact that it isn’t just made out of powdered sugar and butter. Specially because I almost never have the powdered stuff around. But it still just need egg whites, sugar and butter. Plus, the flavoring, that can be something from chocolate or vanilla to caramel and coffee, lemon…possibilities are endless.
I wanted vanilla, but I needed this frosting to be perfectly white, and the only vanilla extract I own, is the really dark one and that would stain my frosting. So I let it be like that and didn’t use any flavoring. It didn’t need one anyway, turns out…and Apperently SMBC is intimidating and is easy to get it wrong. Needless to say I was scared to death when I mas making it. Scrambled egg whites! Curdling! Frosting soup! Oh my god, I just couldn’t stand see 1 and a half cups of butter go to waste! I had to do this right. I read a bunch of tips around and I was really confident.
I patiently did what I was told and waited for the frosting to become a mess and my head to explode, but continue beating until it came together. Okay, I know this sounds like it was a disaster, but this was totally the other way around. My frosting came together in mere minutes, and it didn’t even went through the weird soupy stage. I was surprised how easy this was! even I couldn’t screw it up! So if you’re scared, don’t worry, the first step is to be calm because, trust me, this isn’t hard at all, you just need to get everything at the right temperature (no need for thermometer) and you’re done.
My tips and notes in italic below.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Frosts and fills and 2 layer, 9-inch cake.
3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar *
pinch of salt (never forget this)
1 1/4 cups butter (2 and a half sticks), at room temperature (you want them to be cool but soft)
1 tsp vanilla extract (Use a clear one for a perfectly white frosting)
Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl** over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches 160F/ 70C and the sugar has dissolved***. Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Just keep beating and eventually it comes together, after about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
*This frosting is not very sweet, but that’s how I needed it. You could add a full cup, or even 1 and a half cups, but make sure they melt in the whites.
*Use the metal bowl of the stand mixer over a pan of simmering water and you’ve got an instant double boiler.
**You don’t need to know the exact temperature, it just needs to be hot enough to dissolve the sugar, and you can check that by rubbing the mixture between your clean fingers and feel if it’s still grainy. Whisk constantly.
-Also, some recipes tell you to change to the paddle attachment after the whites and whipped. I don’t have that attachment and the frosting worked wonderfully by leaving the whisk attachment on and beating in medium-high speed.
-Never add the butter if the whites are still hot or they will melt and become soupy.
-Mine didn’t curdle, but it could happen, and if it does, just don’t panic and beat the life out of the frosting. It WILL come together. Believe.
And you know what? everything they say about the frosting is true! is the smoothest frosting ever, so shiny and pretty. It spreads beautifully, it doesn’t crust, you can refrigerate it days before you need it, or even freeze it. Just remember to thaw it and then whip it back into consistency. The flavor is excellent because is not too sweet, it’s light and not too strong to overwhelm the cake. I will definitely make this again and i encourage you to try it. You will never go back to canned or shortcut frosting again!
Ps. Sorry for the delayed post. I’ve had a rough couple of days, going to bed at 4 am and waking up at 8, doing a little working and a little partying too. Thanks for being here. Tomorrow I will present the whole cake and reactions.