And if the buttercream recipe is good, it will have a wonderful sweet butter flavour which is not overpowering and the taste is rather light and melting without the waxiness. I have come across many buttercream recipes. Basically, buttercream is a composition of eggs, sugar and butter. But of course we cannot just throw everything in a bowl and whisk them into a cream because they dont bind well this way. Rather there are certain processes that lead to the binding of these ingredients.
There are the Italian Buttercream, the French Buttercream and there is actually an American one too. I personally have been using the Italian ones with a slight modification to enhance the richness of the cream. Italian buttercream normally uses what we called the Italian Meringue method which is whisking egg whites, add the boiled sugar syrup and whisk till foamy before incorporating butter. I use egg yolks. The result is more creamy.
A while ago a reader, Pansy asked me about buttercream recipe. So I hope this recipe will be alright for her.
45 gm of castor sugar
35 gm of water
4 egg yolks or 3 egg white
350 gm of salted butter
1) Whisk egg yolks till into pale and light. Boil water and castor sugar till the mixture reaches a soft-ball stage.*
* Soft ball stage is when you drop the syrup into a bowl of cold water, it will form a ball. If you have a kitchen thermometer the syrup will read at about 120 deg cel. Many bakers especially the French are very precise with their baking and they have good reasons to do so. If buttercream formed with syrup at this stage, it will be more stable, smooth and spreadable. Do not overboil. A little below is ok but a little over is no good. But at home, I suppose we can be a little more relaxed. Even though I have a thermometer, I just learn to recognise the look. I would normally just boil the syrup to a stage that looks really thick, the bubbles look big and the mixture looks transparent sticky.
2) Slowly pour in the sugar syrup in streams while continuing to whisk the egg yolks mixture. If you pour straight in especially too near the whisk, the whisk spinning too fast will push the syrup to the side causing hardening around the bowl. Of course, eggs may be cooked if too hot and fast. Continue beating the mixture till foamy and thick. If you use egg whites, the mixture will turn glossy and thick with a soft peak (this is the Italian Meringue, which can be used for mousse later, especially the fruity types). Beat till the side of the bowl is starting to cool down. If the meringue is too hot, your butter will all be melted and watery.
3) Add good quality pure butter in small cubes. Butter should be semi hard, not frozen or totally soft. Beat till the cream is form. There should be no hard pieces and the mixture will be so smooth and spreadable yet can be used to pump very well defined patterns.
4) Use to ice a 8 inch cake 2-3 layer cake.
If you taste buttercream that is waxy, there is almost a certainty that shortening is used. Shortening is cheap and helps to fluff up the mixture.