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Buttercream that doesn't require candy thermometer


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12 replies to this topic

#1 doughgirl

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:23 PM

I just tried to make Ruth Wells Mousseline Buttercream, for the first time....twice. I am so disappointed that I couldn't make it work. I know it was probably foolish to try it without a candy thermometer, but I was so sure I could eyeball the syrup and know when it was ready, that I thought it would be easy. The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup. I have no idea what went wrong the second time. :sad:

Is there a buttercream I can make without a candy thermometer? One that will hold up well to piping? Or should I just drag myself to the store to replace my broken thermometer and try the Mousseline Buttercream again?

#2 miladyinsanity

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:30 PM

You can use the drop the sugar in cold water test. It's supposed to be more reliable than a thermometer.

I'm guessing that the first time, you cooked the sugar too long, and the second time you didn't cook the sugar long enough.
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#3 tillie baker

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:05 PM

I never use a thermometer. My recipe is 7 c. gran. sugar with enough water to make sand with a dash of cream of tarter. I boil until it looks thick, the bubbles will break slowly...i've even taken it until it just starts to carmelize and still haven't had any problems. Meanwhile I have 4 c. egg white whipping in a 20 qt. mixer with a splash of lemon juice and 4 c. granulated sugar. When the sugar on the stove is ready I slowly pour into white and beat until the bowl of the mixer is at room temp or slightly warm and then spat in 7# of butter. You can break this recipe down to smaller quantities. I hope it helps.

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#4 naes

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:43 PM

The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup.  I have no idea what went wrong the second time.  :sad:


I have made a buttercream with caramelized sugar syrup, so I doubt the high temperature is what caused the "hard thready bits." Are you slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) pouring the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl as the paddle spins on medium speed? The syrup should hit the side of the mixing bowl first, not the egg whites, which helps cool it slightly before mixing. It is important that the syrup contact the side of the bowl as you slowly pour it in. With higher temperature syrups, you'll end up with more of it stuck to the side/top of the bowl, but it still works out in the end.

Sean

#5 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:46 PM

Yes, there is one in a past Fine Cooking issue made with a bit of corn syrup. I've made it and it's delicious! I don't have time to look it up right now but I know a few egulleters have tried it so hopefully one of them can post it for you. I couldn't find it on their site.
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#6 JeanneCake

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 06:43 PM

If you can buy or borrow The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, there is a recipe for Neoclassic buttercream. You boil corn syrup and sugar until it comes to a hard boil and add it to beaten egg yolks. Some people do not like using a recipe with yolks because the syrup is not hot enough to bring the yolks to a safe temp but you could use pasteurized yolks if you can get them.

Back to the mousseline buttercream, though: When pouring the syrup in, you want to hit the "sweet spot" just between the whip and the side of the bowl. If you hit the bowl too much/too often, you'll get a little sugar syrup dam eventually and have less buttercream at the end. If you hit the whip, it spins the sugar around the bowl and you could get those hard threads you mentioned earlier. When you add the syrup, you want the mixer at speed 6 (on a KA) or 8 depending on what you used to beat the whites with to begin.

Check out your local Home Goods or discount shop for a probe-type thermometer. I see them every so often for about $16 and buy them when I see them (that price is about what I pay from the restaurant supply) because if you let the probe thread come into contact with a flame, it fries it, thus rendering the probe useless.

#7 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 06:50 PM

I found the recipe and I've got a few minutes. I've edited the directions considerably but all the normal rules for buttercream apply including what JeanneCake has mentioned.

Vanilla Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
20 oz (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 Tbsp vanilla

In stand mixer beat egg whites on med-high till foamy. Gradually add 6 Tbsp sugar and beat on high to medium peaks. The peaks should curl a little.

Heat remaining sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) and cornsyrup over med-high, stir just at the beginning to dissolve sugar. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil.

Add to egg whites in a slow steady stream with mixer on med-high. Adjust to medium and continue beating for 5 - 7 minutes. Add butter a bit at a time. Add vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

Like other recipes you can flavour however you wish.

Edited by CanadianBakin', 15 March 2007 - 06:53 PM.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

#8 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:34 AM

The first time I cooked the syrup too long and ended up with hard thready bits in the meringue and so I started over and the next time I ended up with italian meringue soup.  I have no idea what went wrong the second time.  :sad:


I have made a buttercream with caramelized sugar syrup, so I doubt the high temperature is what caused the "hard thready bits." Are you slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) pouring the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl as the paddle spins on medium speed? The syrup should hit the side of the mixing bowl first, not the egg whites, which helps cool it slightly before mixing. It is important that the syrup contact the side of the bowl as you slowly pour it in. With higher temperature syrups, you'll end up with more of it stuck to the side/top of the bowl, but it still works out in the end.

Sean

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you know what, that might have been the problem.....the syrup seemed to be thickening up so fast that I panicked a little and kind of just dumped it all in as fast as I could. I'm going to give it another go today and I'll take that into account. Practice makes perfect, right? Thank you so much for your help!

#9 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 09:35 AM

I found the recipe and I've got a few minutes. I've edited the directions considerably but all the normal rules for buttercream apply including what JeanneCake has mentioned.

Vanilla Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
20 oz (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 Tbsp vanilla

In stand mixer beat egg whites on med-high till foamy. Gradually add 6 Tbsp sugar and beat on high to medium peaks. The peaks should curl a little.

Heat remaining sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) and cornsyrup over med-high, stir just at the beginning to dissolve sugar. Cook until it comes to a rolling boil.

Add to egg whites in a slow steady stream with mixer on med-high. Adjust to medium and continue beating for 5 - 7 minutes. Add butter a bit at a time. Add vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy.

Like other recipes you can flavour however you wish.

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Thank you so much, I think I will go ahead and give this one a try today!

#10 doughgirl

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 12:38 PM

I did it!! Or at least, I think I did. I decided to give Ruth Well's IMBC one more try and I think it worked!

http://www.flickr.co...@N00/423334398/

http://www.flickr.co...@N00/423334401/

Does this look right? It tastes very buttery with just a hint of vanilla. (I used about 1.5 tsp of vanilla)

Now about storage, I can stick this in the fridge for a awhile right? I don't have anything planned, I just wanted to see if I could actually make it, so I think I might need a few hours to come up with a cake or something.

I saw on a foodblog someone stored their IMBC in ziploc bags...how hard do you think it would be to get it all out of one of those again? Too messy?

Thanks again for all you help!

#11 sanrensho

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:36 PM

For a few hours, I wouldn't bother sticking it in the fridge at all.
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#12 naes

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:29 PM

Now about storage, I can stick this in the fridge for a awhile right?  I don't have anything planned, I just wanted to see if I could actually make it, so I think I might need a few hours to come up with a cake or something.

I saw on a foodblog someone stored their IMBC in ziploc bags...how hard do you think it would be to get it all out of one of those again? Too messy?

Thanks again for all you help!

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Good work!

sanresho is right, if it is just going to be a couple hours, don't stick it in the fridge. However, you can keep the buttercream for a week in the fridge, if you're not going to use it that same day.

When you're ready to use it, just take it out and let it warm a bit before sticking it back in the mixer (with the paddle attachment). Put it on medium speed and let it go. It'll break and the butter will run out, but just give it time and it will come back together. If you're in a real hurry and don't have time to let it sit out to warm up first, you can just throw it directly in the mixer and then wrap hot towels around the bowl, re-warming the towels as needed. Presto!

#13 alanamoana

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:56 PM

There is also Swiss meringue buttercream which doesn't require a thermometer and which is very easy to produce.

First, in your mixing bowl, whisk whites with sugar over a simmering water bath until the mixture is hot to the touch (you're heating to pasteurize the whites and to dissolve the sugar).

Place on mixer with whisk and whisk until cool.

Add butter and whisk until silky smooth looking (make sure butter is softened, but not melted). If your room is cook and the butter isn't soft enough, just use a torch on the outside of the bowl to warm up a bit (or a hot towel, or a hairdryer..you get the idea).

Add your flavoring and whisk in until combined and you're ready to go!

Remember that with any kind of buttercream, after it has had a chance to sit (either in or out of the fridge), it is necessary to reconstitute it on the mixer (usually using the paddle attachment) often with the torch as well.

Good luck.