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American Buttercream


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17 replies to this topic

#1 Fibilou

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 03:33 AM

I am an English pastry chef; I am making a stacked cake for an evening reception and am getting recipes from a Martha Stewart magazine. I am wanting to get the perfectly smooth frosting finish.

The recipe I have here is based on a creme patissiere into which butter and swiss merginue is folded. Is this the usual type of recipe desribed over here as "american style frosting" ? It seems rather odd to me to use milk in frosting, and I would usuallly make a cooked buttercream based on meringue italienne. I would appreciate any tips and recipes.
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#2 phlawless

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 05:30 AM

I use this type of buttercream a lot: it has a fantastic smooth texture that is also incredibly delicious...the custard cuts the butter just enough to give it a really rich taste and feel. I don't know if I would call this american though, I use a recipe from RLB's Cake Bible.

One thing: it is a bit softer than traditional italian meringe bc's, so very detailed piping is more difficult. Also getting that really smooth alabaster surface is challenging.
"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

#3 alanamoana

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 08:07 AM

i use an italian meringue buttercream (don't know if it is particularly 'american' or not) and when i want it perfectly smooth (ends up looking like i used rolled fondant), i melt it slightly and actually glaze my cake with it. the effect is beautiful.


edited to add link to old post with picture:

clicky

hope this helps


edited to add: realize that i didn't really address your question directly, but i don't know if there is truly an "american" buttercream. we tend to use 'frostings' and 'icings' and as mukki states below, it can usually be a blend of powdered sugar, butter and milk, while you can get a decent surface with that type of recipe, it tends to crust over and isn't as nice as buttercream.

most american cake decorators are probably using some form of a meringue based buttercream (swiss or italian) if they're not using fondant (or even fondant over the top of a buttercream base).

Edited by alanamoana, 17 April 2007 - 09:53 AM.


#4 mukki

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 09:21 AM

Is this the usual type of recipe desribed over here as "american style frosting" ?

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In my opinion, the traditional, American-style frosting would be a basic confectioners sugar, butter and milk concoction, like this. You'll probably get a different answer depending on who you talk to, though, and in what context.

#5 Fibilou

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 10:39 AM

Hmm, thankyou for the above info. So I will kind of adapt this to a "what's the most effective recipe for getting a really smooth finish on the cake ?". I'm not after a fondant finish, it's definitely got to be a buttercream finish as it will be very unusual here in Blighty :smile:

The cake is going to be based on this picture, but bigger and with 4 tiers based on grass, flowers, sky and the birds on the top. I am thinking of maybe piping grass in a variety of green hues onto the bottom tier, but the "flower" tier will have a smooth green b/c finish with piped buttercream flowers.

So I would need a recipe that you think will stand up to being both smoothed and piped. Alana, I like the idea of the creme pat based one, do you think it would stand up to this sort of use ?

Edited by Fibilou, 17 April 2007 - 10:40 AM.

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#6 alanamoana

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 11:38 AM

based on phlawless' response to your post, it doesn't sound like it. i've never used a pastry cream based buttercream, so don't really know.

i know that italian meringue buttercream and swiss meringue buttercream both work well as smoothed surfaces and hold definition well when piped.

some other cake people...what are your thoughts?

#7 Sararwelch

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 12:35 PM

For what it's worth, we were taught in the cake class that I recently took at the California Culinary Academy that an American buttercream is butter, confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla. We were also told that a German buttercream is pastry cream based, but we didn't actually pipe with it, so I don't know how it performs.

#8 sanrensho

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 01:29 PM

It sounds like a creme mousseline (pastry cream mixed with BC) or a variation thereof. Definitely not something that this Canadian associates with "American buttercream." The latter has been the subject of hot debate in the past, revolving around the confectioners sugar/milk/butter recipe that Mukki described.

Edited by sanrensho, 17 April 2007 - 01:31 PM.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#9 JeanneCake

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 02:05 PM

.

So I would need a recipe that you think will stand up to being both smoothed and piped. Alana, I like the idea of the creme pat based one, do you think it would stand up to this sort of use ?

View Post


I've used this type of buttercream to pipe basketweave around a cake, it was soft as I remember (even with the addition of hazelnut paste so it would look like a natural wicker basket) but handled well and tasted equally fantastic. With the additional fat from the milk and yolks in the creme pat, the buttercream will smooth well, it will be more susceptible to warm weather if you happen to have an unusual day on the wedding day!

Most people associate the confectioner's sugar, white fat or butter, and milk to be the typical "American" frosting. Meringue buttercreams offer a wider variety of options in terms of flavoring (it is easier to add fruit purees, fruit curds or nut pastes) to a meringue buttercream. I don't use Swiss meringue bcrm, but from photos I've seen of bakers who do use it, I think it smooths a little bit easier (? or better?) than Italian meringue. Every so often, I think I should switch because then I could use frozen whites to make the meringue... but that's beside the point!

#10 mignardise

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 07:19 PM

IMBC----so beautiful, but such a hassle to make.
Swiss---does anyone have a good formula, a big batch formula.
I am really getting tired of the sugar syrup stuff. I just tried, just for the sake of trying her Swiss recipe (Toba's) Too buttery, not good.

#11 Yasmine Sandhu

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 03:10 PM

i use an italian meringue buttercream (don't know if it is particularly 'american' or not) and when i want it perfectly smooth (ends up looking like i used rolled fondant), i melt it slightly and actually glaze my cake with it.  the effect is beautiful.

This technique sounds very intriguing!
Could you describe it a bit more? How do you melt down your buttercream and to what consistency? Do you generally glaze with more than one coat? I am very interested to hear more...
Thanks!

#12 alanamoana

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Posted 18 April 2007 - 03:35 PM

^^if you go to the thread i linked to in an earlier post here, i think there's a description of the method i use.

i do a smooth crumb coat first and then glaze.

#13 onetoughcookie

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 07:51 AM

I use variations of Swiss meringue buttercream all the time. But, in the summer, when it's very hot, I sometimes use RLB's Silk Meringue Buttercream. It's very stable, and beautiful.
Pipes like a dream, too. It's a creme anglaise mixed with an Italian buttercream. More steps, but
the end result is lovely. I also use RLB's mousselline bc, but with more sugar than the recipe states.
I find with more sugar, I get a stiffer meringue, and better piping.
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#14 RuthWells

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 08:10 AM

I also use RLB's mousselline bc, but with more sugar than the recipe states.
I find with more sugar, I get a stiffer meringue, and better piping.

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RLB's mousseline is my default, so this intrigues me. I assume you add more sugar to the egg whites while whipping, prior to adding the sugar syrup? Do you reduce the sugar in the syrup to balance the sweetness?

#15 Fibilou

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 08:41 AM

I am now thinking to make a batch of the swiss meringue to coat the cakes and some IMBC to use for the piping - thinking that the swiss will be slightly looser in texture and therefore easier to use for the silky coating, the italian will hold better for piping.

What do you think ? Could you also clarify what you mean by RLB's buttercream, and if you could give me a link to the recipe I would be grateful.
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#16 alanamoana

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 09:19 AM

sorry, i think people sometimes use shortened names and assume that everyone knows what they mean!

RLB = Rose Levy Beranbaum

Author of "The Cake Bible" and "The Pie and Pastry Bible"

due to copyright issues, we can't reproduce the exact recipe here, but maybe someone has an adaptation of their own they will post.

#17 onetoughcookie

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 11:18 AM

I also use RLB's mousselline bc, but with more sugar than the recipe states.
I find with more sugar, I get a stiffer meringue, and better piping.

View Post


RLB's mousseline is my default, so this intrigues me. I assume you add more sugar to the egg whites while whipping, prior to adding the sugar syrup? Do you reduce the sugar in the syrup to balance the sweetness?

View Post


I just made some, as a matter of fact. Yes...the basic recipe calls for 7 oz. sugar, and I add
two more ounces. It's not that much sweeter....it's very good.
And, the texture is "gossamer"...it's just gorgeous! I can barely wait for the crumb coat
to set up so I can get the final coat on.

I need to get a life, I think. :wacko:
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#18 JeanneCake

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Posted 19 April 2007 - 04:13 PM

in a past thread, someone was asking about the percentages of sugar/whites/butter in meringue buttercreams and owing to my inability to do this sort of grade school math someone else figured out that you can add more sugar and more butter to the formula I was using for basic Italian meringue buttercream and it still works. I have no recollection of what the topic was, otherwise I'd reference it here, sorry.

For what its worth....:

My formula is (for a large size batch that fits comfortably in a 20 qt) is 30.5 oz whites and 10.5 oz sugar for the whites added later on. Then 1# 4 oz or so water in a pot, with 1# 15.5 oz sugar. Turn on the mixer at speed 2 when the sugar gets to about 225 or so (one of my whips does a better/faster job than the other one) and at soft peak add the sugar (the temp of the sugar is about 235 or so). Bring the syrup to 246 and add it to the beaten whites at speed 3 then back to speed 2 and when cooled, add 6# butter in pieces as usual.