Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Today, I am going to talk about buttercream.  If you're a cake decorator, then you know that buttercream is an essential part for decorating, finishing or covering your cake with fondant.  As far as I know, there are 2 types of buttercream, the butter based ones and the American buttercream that most of us are familiar with, the Crisco or shortening based.  Since graduating from culinary school, I've been using butter based buttercreams.  I personally prefer it  over the other for its richer taste, texture and overall workability.  There are four different butter based buttercreams, these are:  French or Pate' a Bombe', German or Crème Mousseline, Swiss Meringue and Italian Buttercream.  My personal favorite and go to buttercream is the Swiss Meringue Buttercream,  not only is it the simplest one to make but it is also very tasty. The key ingredient for these butter based buttercreams of course is the butter (surprise, surprise). One thing to remember though is always check  the fat content of the butter (the higher the fat, the creamier the buttercream will be), so even though butter is a very common ingredient be mindful  of the brand and fat content of the butter that you buy,  because it does affect the overall taste of the buttercream.  If you buy a European style butter vs. a generic supermarket brand,  then of course don't expect the taste to be the same.  There are two brands of butter that I typically use, the first one is Plugra Unsalted European Style Butter which is on the pricier side.  As a plus though,  the texture of this butter is rich and it has high fat content which is great for these types of buttercreams. As for the supermarket brand,  I prefer to  use Land O Lakes unsalted butter, slightly cheaper and is on the lighter side but still produces a good texture.  Timing is also essential when it comes to creating butter based buttercreams. From the sugar to the coldness of the butter,  everything has to be concise to avoid any disasters.  Today, I will share with you the recipe for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream and some tips on how to make it.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (1.5 servings)
1350 g Unsalted Butter
475 g Egg Whites
855 g Sugar
You will also need:
Wire Whisk
Bain Marie
Mixer (Heavy duty preferred)
Thermometer (optional)
Prepare Bain Marie filling it with less than half with water and bring it to boil.
Whisk sugar and egg whites together and place on top of the Bain Marie.
Whisk continuously until sugar and egg white mixture becomes foamy and reaches at 130 degrees.
Once at 130 degrees, remove from heat and continue whipping egg white mixture using mixer.  Let mixture be at a neutral temperature (not too hot and not too cold) before adding butter.  If the mixture is too hot the butter will melt and it will make the mixture watery.  If the mixture is too cold it will make the mixture curdle.  A good way to test the temperature is by touching the base of the mixer, it should be comfortable to touch.    Add the chopped butter gradually and continue mixing at medium to high speed (if butter is cold,  try softening the butter by using gloves and squishing it before adding to the egg whites. If butter is too soft, refrigerate for a couple minutes and then add to mixture).  It should produce a creamy and smooth texture once all the ingredients are incorporated. 
*If mixture is curdling , try to refrigerate buttercream for half an hour.  Take a small portion of the buttercream and microwave it to soften but not melt.  Put buttercream back in the mixer  and add the softened buttercream.  Chances are it just needs a little bit of heat so the ingredients will incorporate together.*

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vintage Suitcase Cake

One of the amazing things about being a cake decorator is  being able to tell a story through cakes.
Every occasion, may it be a birthday, wedding, anniversary or shower has a story.  I'm glad and thankful to have the  chance to be part of such wonderful events in peoples lives.  A couple weeks back, I had a wonderful opportunity to do a welcome home cake for Madison. Being away from home for almost a year (studying in London), she thought it would be a great idea to make a suitcase cake. I totally loved her idea and this project got me really excited and nervous at the same time.  I knew that the project would be challenging because I want to make it look as real as possible, but like every other project, it is always a learning process for me so I always welcome the challenge.  Besides studying in London, Madison traveled a lot this year and when she gave me the list of countries she visited, I knew I had to highlight each one of them.   The whole look of the cake is vintage and every detail on this cake is edible, including the postage stamps and postcards all over.  The buckles were painted using a mixture of pearl dust, gold and cocoa and were made days ahead so it can dry on time. I certainly hope Madison and her family enjoyed her cake as much as I enjoyed making it.  Welcome home Madison!