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Italian Meringue Buttercream woes


lennyk
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Been having major woes making IMBC.

Last 5 times turned into soupy mess.

taking syrup to 245f, beating egg whites to room temp

butter cool and smashed to soften

no go, no idea

I might even take a video of next time.

Any suggestions ?

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Been having major woes making IMBC.

Last 5 times turned into soupy mess.

taking syrup to 245f, beating egg whites to room temp

butter cool and smashed to soften

no go, no idea

I might even take a video of next time.

Any suggestions ?

Those all sounds like valid tips as part of the recipe, but there's not a lot of info to go on. Have you made it successfully in the past? If so, what's different this time?

"IMBC = soupy mess" often translates into not letting the meringue cool completely before adding the butter, so you wind up just melting the butter instead of making an emulsion. After adding the syrup, let it beat on medium speed until it's all the way down to room temperature.

Try putting your soupy mess into the fridge for a while to cool it, then re-beat to see if it comes together. Also, if you haven't calibrated your thermometer lately, it might not be a bad idea. Maybe you're not actually getting to 245?

You might also want to post the recipe you're using so we can get a feel for your ingredient proportions and make sure they're not out of whack.

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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A wet, then frozen, kitchen towel, wrapped around the mixer bowl, helps cool the meringue down faster.

Theresa

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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I use

3 egg whites

150g sugar

5-6oz unsalted butter

I've made it a good few times before with some failures in between

I have a couple thermometers including Thermopen so I am pretty sure about my syrup temp.

I am fully aware of making sure the meringue is not warm also,

tried cooling the soupy mess in ice bath as well as refrigerating then rebeating

I can feel the bowl is cool when adding butter and even cooling a little when the butter is added.

I have not tried actually ice cooling the meringue first but will try that next

going to also try using a different brand of butter.

It amazes me the volume of wet mess that it turns into though,

I am pretty sure the actual volume of the egg whites and the sugar syrup would be a lot less that the final deflated soup.

The only other thing is that I live in the tropics so my kitchen is easily 85f

but again, I have made it many times before.

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had better luck tonight,

used a different brand of butter(Elle/Vire) instead of Anchor

I also put the cold towel towards the end of the egg white whipping to ensure it was cooled.

Really cant say what the difference was but maybe I should take the temp of the meringue to be sure next time.

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I have been making IMBC off and on for about ten years and have never experienced a sloppy mess. My kitchen temp is about 68 to 72 degrees and room temp meringue and butter would be about the same. If you room temp is 85 degrees that is very close to the melting temp of butter (90 to 95 degrees F) You might experiment with getting the temps of both the meringue and the butter down around 70 degrees. I do love the trick of using the frozen towel to lower the meringue temp. I will have to try that. Hope this helps with your IMBC.

Fred Rowe

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The ideal temp for both the cooled italian meringue and the butter is aroud 70-72F. Could be you're overcompensating for a hot room and the mixture is too cold. Or could be the hot room is having its way with your ingredients and they're too warm. Either way, try to get both bowls to 70F before mixing the butter and meringue together to minimize curdling and promote emulsion.

Your butter proportion is lower than what I've seen elsewhere. For 75 grams of egg whites, I would use 185g - 227g of butter (that's about 2.5 large whites and 6.5 - 8 oz of butter). High-fat, euro-style butters work especially well in buttercreams, so maybe the combination of a low proportion of butter with a less rich brand produced your problems.

If you're adding the butter to the meringue a spoonful at a time, it is normal for the mixture to thin out dramatically, then curdle a bit, then thicken up and emulsify beautifully as you add more butter. So maybe you're just not getting to the last stage, by not adding enough butter.

If you still have any of that soupy mess, I'd be interested to hear if it helped to bring it to 70F and whip more butter into it on high speed.

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I have had better success now,

no longer using the whisk for the butter incorporation

using the paddle, bowl is also staying cool

I found that with the whisk the bowl would not be as cool and you could actually

see the butter turning into oil on the surface of the mixture.

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Yea i believe the paddle is the way to go. I read somewhere on some other post saying this person just whipped the eggs on the paddle attachment. But the whip attachment would curdle the butter and make it separate too quickly hence your soupy mess, i think.

Try doing a swiss meringue butter cream, might be slightly easier.

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  • 3 months later...

So I made a batch of IMBC to frost a cake, very simple recipe:

3 egg whites

62.5 ml water

160g sugar

2 sticks of butter (hlf pound)

salt

So i made the syrup cooked until 230F, and then poured it into the whites which was whipped with a little salt to about stiff peaks (as stiff as they would go without any sugar). The meringue was fine so far, it looks glossy, tasted good. Then i added the butter and it went down hill. I put on my paddle attachment and added in my butter in chunks (room temp), and i know its suppose to go through this stage where it looks kinda nasty and curdly. And it did, coming back to a kinda smooth consistency - except it wasn't really smooth. So i put it in the fridge for about 10 mins, then back to beating it and this is when everything just separated and goodbye IMBC.

So i guess the question is, what should the IMBC really look like? Perhaps i had it at the stage it was supposed to be but it just flew over my head. Or maybe im beating it at too high of a speed (the butter that is)?

It taste fine, but it looks like hell and texture is all wrong.

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When I make IMBC, I usually cook my syrup to about 240. While the syrup is cooking, I whip 8 whites with a 1/4 cup sugar to stiff peaks. Add the syrup, whip till cool. Add the room temp butter. I use a whip attachment when I make it, and whip until it comes together. I've not had any problems in the making stage, but if it's been chilled, when bringing it back to a usable state, it can separate, and it's usually because of temperature.

When it's whipped up, it should look smooth and glossy.

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So RWood, your saying that it's not a good idea to subject it to temperature changes, and then re-whip it?

Chris, i definitely was whipping the hell out of it, left it on for at least 5 mins on speed 6 on my kitchen aid.

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Does everyone add the butter in chunks? I always beat/whip the butter separately until it's as pale and as fluffy as it will get, then I fold in the meringue. Having the butter whipped up first makes it easier to maintain the air in the meringue - I fold the meringue in by hand, not using a mixer, and having the butter whipped nice and soft makes this pretty easy. I've never seen a stage that is 'nasty and curdly' - didn't know it was considered normal.

...always interesting to read about how other people do things :-)

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Rose Levy Beranbaum has a YouTube video of her making IMBC, where she dumps the meringue into the mixer bowl of beaten butter, rather than add the butter to the meringue in chunks and yes, you don't see the meringue collapse and get soupy doing it that way :smile:

The minimum sugar syrup temp for this to work is 235 and you will get a very soft buttercream; the highest temp is 248 which will get you a firmer buttercream (but this is all relative); usually I pull the syrup off at 240.

I beat the whites at speed 6 on a KA, then add the syrup at speed 8, let it run for about 30 seconds after it's all added, then bring it down to speed 6 to cool. It's ready when you can put the inside of your wrist against the bottom of the bowl and not feel any heat (just barely warm).

You can beat the butter first, mostly because I don't want another bowl to wash, I don't.

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Hmmm i wonder if it was my syrup temp. I was reading another recipe where it was like 215 i think, so i pulled it out at about 230 (since i thought it wouldnt make too much of a difference). The problem is making an IMBC is that there is so much invested into it that i need a damn good reason to do it again.

Also when i was pouring the syrup into the meringue, i noticed quite a bit of wasted syrup by the whisk beating it to the side. If you were to pour the syrup with the beater off, would that work? Or would you just make more syrup to compensate for a percentage of it being splattered around?

I also hear that it freezes well, does it? Cause then i wouldnt feel so bad if I made another batch.

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It does freeze well :smile:

When you are pouring it into the mixer, with the speed at 8, you want to aim for the "sweet spot" (no pun intended) which is between the bowl and the beaters. If you pour in a thin, steady stream (right from the pot, you don't have to pour it into a greased glass measure first, but that's helpful) - about the width of a pencil - you'll be ok. Practice pouring with plain water in an empty mixer if that helps.

You want to get as much of the syrup into the whites as possible; this will give you the maximum amount of buttercream at the end.

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Hmmm i wonder if it was my syrup temp. I was reading another recipe where it was like 215 i think, so i pulled it out at about 230 (since i thought it wouldnt make too much of a difference). The problem is making an IMBC is that there is so much invested into it that i need a damn good reason to do it again.

Also when i was pouring the syrup into the meringue, i noticed quite a bit of wasted syrup by the whisk beating it to the side. If you were to pour the syrup with the beater off, would that work? Or would you just make more syrup to compensate for a percentage of it being splattered around?

I also hear that it freezes well, does it? Cause then i wouldnt feel so bad if I made another batch.

I've found the syrup seems to work best between 240-248F.

When pouring in your syrup, pour it as close to the side of the bowl as you can, don't pour it directly into the whisk. I read one recipe a long time ago that suggested pouring in some of the syrup, and turning the beater on immediately after, and do that in stages. Never tried it.

It freezes very well. I just move it to the fridge the day before I need it. Then, set it out a while before using it. My method for re-whipping was taught to me in pastry school. Place it in the mixer bowl, and set it over a pot of simmering water. Break it up and stir with the paddle attachment. My instructor always said to melt it about half way, then put it on the mixer and let it go on low speed. I usually don't have the patience, so I will turn it up a little higher. If need be, I will also use a torch around the bowl or return it to the hot water if it's not coming together yet. I've had people try to rush it and put cold BC in the bowl and start whipping with just the torch trying to warm it. That's when it breaks and you have a bowl of water with butter chunks.

If you just watch your sugar temp, make sure the meringue is whipped until cool to the touch, and your butter is soft, it shouldn't be scary :).

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It sure doesn't seem like it's possible to overwhip: I go until it's about room temp, and that can take a pretty long time (like ten minutes).

Edit: Whoops, i suppose you mean after the butter is added, not before. Dunno about that, I just whip until it's together.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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One thing that happened when I kept on whipping it after it got to that stage of what i thought resembled IMBC was that it broke apart (though i think its because it was cold enough so that the butter just broke and all you got was water and fat), but also the color turned to a really nasty greyish white color. One thing im wondering is my ratios of ingredeints:

3 egg whites

62.5 ml water

160g sugar

2 sticks of butter (hlf pound)

salt

Does this seem about right? Again with discussion on to butter, i was being cheap and i used the walmart great value butter. Obviously it was the cheapest i could fine but i didn't think it would make a difference though people have commented that higher fat european style butters are better. The ones i can find are Darigold and Land O Lakes

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It's in the right range: the recipes I've got vary in the ratio of egg white to butter, but yours is in the mix with them. Really, I think it's almost certain that your problem was your sugar syrup temperature being too low to set the protein in the egg whites. Obviously for a buttercream you want to use the best-tasting butter you have, but I'm sure cheap butter wasn't your problem.

ETA: Also, I see you mention you used the paddle attachment to incorporate the butter: I always use the whisk. What do others here do?

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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It's funny because I read somewhere that another person had problems making his IMBC using the whisk, and only after changing to the paddle did it come right. How interesting...

On the other hand of syrup pouring, i should have simply turned the KA onto the lowest speed! Duh!(i think i kept it at 6 or something)

But duely noted on the syrup temp, will report back when I have an excuse for another crack.

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