Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vanilla Buttercream

This is a slightly different buttercream than what I've used before, but the result was good and I thought it was a little bit easier.  I like to use half unsalted and half salted butter for a slightly salty flavor.  I also firmly believe that cakes made with buttercream should be served at room temperature.      

yields: enough to frost one 9-inch layer cake

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 7 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Note:  The sugar syrup and egg whites will need to be ready at roughly the same time, so preparing them will require some coordination.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the sugar and water to a simmer, swirling occasionally, and cook until the sugar dissolves.

Continue simmering, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 248°F on a digital thermometer, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks, 8 to 10 minutes.             

Immediately transfer the sugar syrup to a heatproof liquid measuring cup. With the mixer running on medium-high speed, add the hot sugar syrup to the whites in a thin, steady stream; aim to pour it into the small space between the mixer bowl and the whisk.

Continue to whip the mixture until thick and shiny and the outside of the bowl feels cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.

Decrease the speed to medium and, with the mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time.

The mixture won't resemble perfect buttercream until the last of the butter has been added. If it's looking deflated, wet, or broken during mixing, make sure the butter is at room temperature and slow down the additions, adding the next piece only after the last one has been fully incorporated.

Add the vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute, until the texture is similar to mayonnaise.

Do Ahead: Stored in an airtight container, buttercream will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 4 months in the freezer.

Warming Buttercream:
Place about 2 cups of buttercream in a microwavable container. Heat it for no more than 5 seconds at a time at full power until it begins to look slightly glossy but not at all melted; it should still be solid, with a sheen from a softened exterior—not unlike ice cream on a cone as it begins melting and dripping onto your hand.  Beat the warmed buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it resembles mayonnaise, about 30 seconds.

Source:  Caitlin Freeman

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