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Buttercream question


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#61 CaliPoutine

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:15 PM

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now.  :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.


Just checked and RLB's instructions do say to mix in a steady stream with the mixer running, when using a hand-held mixer. Then she goes on to describe a stop-start technique when using a stand mixer.

I've always ignored the latter instructions and poured with the mixer running. I also dispense with the pyrex glass step mentioned by RLB and have never had a problem.

Here's another good, long thread on buttercream.

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The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

#62 sanrensho

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:24 PM

The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

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I'm really sorry to hear that the buttercream failed for you this time. Please keep at it. The results are well worth it. I'm sure your next try will work perfectly using the advice from this forum.
Baker of "impaired" cakes...

#63 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

I haven't noticed fred's observation about RLB's instructions.... from memory I think it says to pour the hot syrup in a slow steady stream with the mixer constantly running, but he may be right...I've been up for 38 hours now.  :blink: That's how I do it anyways, pouring in while the mixer is going.


Just checked and RLB's instructions do say to mix in a steady stream with the mixer running, when using a hand-held mixer. Then she goes on to describe a stop-start technique when using a stand mixer.

I've always ignored the latter instructions and poured with the mixer running. I also dispense with the pyrex glass step mentioned by RLB and have never had a problem.

Here's another good, long thread on buttercream.

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The reason I poured the syrup in with the mixer off was because I got the recipe off baking911 and thats what it said.

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Yes, Rose Levy Beranbaum's Mousseline Recipe is posted on baking911.com. She wrote the instructions for mixing her recipe. If her recipe instruction's failed, then RLB's instructions are faulty.

Here's what Rose Levy Beranbaum wrote as HER TECHNIQUE for making HER mouselline recipe: "If using a hand held mixer beat the syrup into the whites in a steady stream..... If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the whites with the mixer off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds...." excerpted from The Cake Bible, page 244.

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database! Other meingue based buttercream recipes on my site do NOT use this stopping and starting technique....Thanks for the information.....I will retest the recipe AGAIN myself to see if there is a problem with it....I think her intent for turning off the stand mixer was because so many people splattered the syrup on the beaters; she thought that this would solve it. But, you have a split second in which to stop the mixer, pour the syrup and turn on the mixer, again. It may not work all of the time for some of us because most of us aren't fast enough. (But, maybe something else caused RLB's Mouselline Buttercream to curdle in this case???..... )

There are recipes that baker's have posted on my Ask Sarah Message Board asking me why they haven't worked. When I looked at the recipe, the professional chef simply didn't allow enough time for the recipe-user to take the pot off the stove, and the caramel burned. There are plenty of recipes by well-known chefs in cookbooks that shave the timing so close that home bakers have had a lot of problems with them......And, I can name many.....Not for me to act like an upity-person, but just to point out that RLB's tecbnique may be ok, but just not well-suited for the mass market! So, what works for RLB because her timing is so fast, may not work for many of us because we are a lot slower on how we react and do culinary tasks!

Because my audience on baking911.com is home-bakers, I find you have to look at recipes and cookbooks in a different light versus the egullet audience, which seems to be professional bakers, which has a whole different attitude and way of looking at something. One technique may be perfect for the professional world and may not work in the home, mass-market world.....I know because I have seen it happen so many times.... (And, then there are those techniques that don't work at all....lol!!)

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 06 April 2006 - 02:44 PM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#64 rickster

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:39 PM

FWIW, I'm an amateur baker who's made a lot of buttercream in a stand mixer, and I've never done the turn on off technique or used the pyrex cup and I've rarely had a problem.

#65 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:45 PM

FWIW, I'm an amateur baker who's made a lot of buttercream in a stand mixer, and I've never done the turn on off technique or used the pyrex cup and I've rarely had a problem.

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I agree! I never turn the mixer on and off or use a pyrex cup and have never had a problem, either!
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#66 JeanneCake

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:27 PM

A very, very long time ago, before I went to school, I used The Cake Bible to make my own wedding cake. I followed her instructions to the letter and used the start/stop technique (and the pyrex cup!). It was 15 years later that I went to school and learned that you don't have to beat the butter before hand, you add the syrup in a steady stream; if your sugar is ready before the whites are, you add more water to slow it down and buy yourself more time. Plus, you don't have to add any liquor to the buttercream when it's done, it's fine the way it is.

The part that's missing from these Cake Bible instructions is that you're supposed to be working quickly. With this method, there shouldn't be any lag time in adding the syrup, turning on the mixer etc. It should take about 30 seconds to add the syrup. Sarah, maybe you could put a "baker's note" or "Sarah's Suggestion" in about this instead of removing the recipe from your site....

#67 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

A very, very long time ago, before I went to school, I used The Cake Bible to make my own wedding cake.  I followed her instructions to the letter and used the start/stop technique (and the pyrex cup!).  It was 15 years later that I went to school and learned that you don't have to beat the butter before hand, you add the syrup in a steady stream; if your sugar is ready before the whites are, you add more water to slow it down and buy yourself more time.  Plus, you don't have to add any liquor to the buttercream when it's done, it's fine the way it is. 

The part that's missing from these Cake Bible instructions is that you're supposed to be working quickly.  With this method, there shouldn't be any lag time in adding the syrup, turning on the mixer etc.  It should take about 30 seconds to add the syrup.    Sarah, maybe you could put a "baker's note" or "Sarah's Suggestion" in about this instead of removing the recipe from your site....

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See! Just what I was talking about before! It's not RLB's technique that's at fault.... ...RLB is used to speedy work, and the typical baker doesn't use the same quick timing...As I said before, I have seen lots of recipes fail in cookbooks written from professional chefs where their timing is much different from a home baker's....The technique is fine, but the recipe does not have as much success as it should in a mass market application because of the difference between the two "culture's timing" and understanding of how things work!.....I am NOT saying all of the time -- but, in my opinion and observations, a great deal of the time, based upon the nature of the emails and posts I get on my website. I've been talking with consumer's and answering questions for almost 20 years, now...There is a definite pattern and a split between the two "cultures"!

I will put a Sarah's Says note with the recipe! Excellent suggestion! Thanks, JeanneCake!

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 06 April 2006 - 05:06 PM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#68 RuthWells

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 07:38 AM

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database!


I don't think RLB's technique is faulty, it's just tricky to get the hang of. Italian meringue buttercream is a bit finicky, and it can take a few tries before you learn how to cope with the various ways it can go wrong!

#69 Patrick S

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 06:17 PM

Don't be too discouraged, Randi! The thrill of victory is worth the agony of defeat. You'll nail it next time. Just to try to summarize some of the advice:

1. Have the butter whipped and at ~65F.

2. Try not to let any of the syrup sit in the whites for more than a couple of seconds without mixing.

3. After all the syrup has been added, beat on medium for 2 minutes, and then beat on low speed for as long as it takes to become completely cool. RLB italicizes the word "completely" in her book. I think it took about 5 minutes or so before the mixer bowl didnt feel warm anymore.

4. When you start adding the butter, if the mixture looks like its starting to curdle, increase the speed and wait for it to smooth out before adding more butter.

Apparently whipping the butter is optional, but perhaps it would be a good idea if your kitchen is warmer than 70F, because it will help keep the temperature of the butter homogenous. What I did was whip the butter just till it was creamy, and then folded it with a spatula every few minutes. That way the whole mass of butter reached 65 at the same time.
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#70 Sarah Phillips

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 10:06 AM

But, if Rose Levy Beranbaum's techniques are faulty, then I will remove the recipe from my database!


I don't think RLB's technique is faulty, it's just tricky to get the hang of. Italian meringue buttercream is a bit finicky, and it can take a few tries before you learn how to cope with the various ways it can go wrong!

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Ruth,

RLB could have included more descriptive information with her recipe's instructions: http://baking911.com..._mousseline.htm JeanneCake sugggested I add it as a tip, which I did. RLB's technique was not necessarily faulty; I was discussing my observation is that what happens in a lot of cookbooks from professionals is that their timing is a lot quicker than others, and because of it, their techniques of "turning off the mixer, adding the syrup and turning on the mixer" may not work for the mass market, which is slower at performing tasks because most of us don't do it everyday! So, i enhanced the RLB's recipe by adding more information.

There are lots of recipes from professionals that homebakers have asked me why they don't work -- it's because professionals assume that the mass market performs the task with the same quickness of hand that the professional does, which is critical to the success of the recipe....and, the real world does not work with the same timing, 89.9% of the time....So, recipes have a higher chance of failing...

I find Patrick S' information very helpful, too! Thanks.

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 08 April 2006 - 10:13 AM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#71 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 07:51 PM

I have a question about an Italian buttercream I made the other day. 

I used the recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking, but I cut it in half. 

I used
2 1/2 egg whites
1/2 plus 1/8 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups butter
1/4 cup plus 1tbls corn syrup. 

Everything seemed to go ok, I dribbled in the sryup after whipping the whites.  Then I incorporated the butter and added some vanilla paste and then at the last minute I added some homeade vanilla extract.

So then I tried to pipe it on my cupcake's using a star tip and it wasnt that stiff.  Ok, no problem.  I stuck the entire pastry bag in a glass and back in the freezer.  I was able to pipe it, but it still wasnt that thick and it was flat.

I threw the rest in a tupperware and pulled it out that evening to frost a couple more and it looked really unattractive, it totally separated.   

The client did hire me and I have to frost 60 cupcakes for a cupcake tree.  Should I give up on the Italian buttercream and just go with a regular butter/powdered sugar deal or does anyone have a better suggestion?

Thanks!!

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I tried this recipe today, except the whole quantity and am very happy with how it turned out. I watched the video on finecooking.com before making it since you had problems with it and I know you bake quite a bit. In the video she brings the sugar mixture to a full rolling boil before pouring it into the whites but in the recipe it says to bring it "just to the boil". I don't know if this would make a difference but it worked for me. It's a bit sweeter than RLB's and it looks a bit more like marshmallows before you add the butter but the texture and flavour of the finished product are good.

Edited by CanadianBakin', 29 April 2006 - 07:52 PM.

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#72 RuthWells

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:46 AM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

#73 CaliPoutine

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 11:52 AM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

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yes, yes, yes!!!

#74 Tweety69bird

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 12:41 PM

Hey y'all,

I prepared a little demo on Italian meringue buttercream for another cooking site I frequent, and if anyone here is interested, I'd be happy to post at Egullet as well -- any interest?

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yes, yes, yes!!!

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I second that!
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