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bripastryguy

Buttercream Frosting/Icing: The Topic

293 posts in this topic

The pouring shield is a bad habit. Ditch the pouring shield and train yourself to pour the sugar properly. Trust me on this one, you'll thank me one day.

And forget about whisking by hand. It's a waste of time and you need two people to do it properly. If you don't whisk fast enough, you risk cooking the whites and ending up with lumps in your buttercream.

As for using your fingers to determine the soft ball stage. I used to work with a young guy in France who always tested this way. But one night he was tired and talking to a guy on the other side of the room and he reversed the oder of things, dipping his fingers straight into the sugar, then into the water, then into the sugar again. Nice blisters the next day. :rolleyes:

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:blink:

Ok......um.....maybe I'm doing it wrong or I don't know something, and if I don't I'm

sure you'll all tell what it is.......I think I can trust y'all to guide me.

BUT......

I've been making wedding cakes for 14 years. I've made all different kinds of buttercreams.

I've made small batches on Kitchenaid mixers and huge batches on 60 qt. mixers. I go through

buttercream like cars go through gas. If I were doing the "sugar syrup" method I would spend

WAY too much time making buttercream and it'd be harder to get anything else done.

My favorite buttercream, is of course, a meringue buttercream......it tastes the best, and I like

it's workability......but I've never had to make it with a hot sugar syrup. I've tried that method,

and the purpose of it is sort of lost on me. I mean, it just seems like it's doing it the hard way.

Since I do such a large amount of wedding work (among other things), my life is about finding

the easiest way to do something (without sacrificing quality, of course).

I have always made my meringue buttercream like this: (and it's so EASY)

Whisk my sugar and egg whites together, either directly in the mixer bowl, or in some

sort of double boiler. If I do a small batch on the Kitchenaid, I will mix the two together

and stick the whole bowl in a pot of simmering water, whisking often, until the whites and

sugar are nearly too hot to touch. Then I put the hot whites and sugar on the mixer

and whip to stiff peak. Then I add my cool butter in chunks and add vanilla. Voila!

Perfect buttercream with safely cooked whites and no sugar syrup hassles.

So my question is, why do you guys do the sugar syrup thing? I see no difference in the

finished product, when done my usual way in comparison to the sugar syrup way.

Is there something I don't know?

Annie :wub:

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You're doing the Swiss meringue buttercream. No harm in that. Honestly I don't know the advantage of the Italian over the Swiss. Maybe the Italian holds up better because the sugar is cooked? But I'm guessing.

Actually my favourite buttercream is with yolks or whole eggs, making a pate a bombe for the base. The flavour is better, but it has a creamy yellow colour, not always ideal for wedding cakes.

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The pouring shield is a bad habit. Ditch the pouring shield and train yourself to pour the sugar properly. Trust me on this one, you'll thank me one day.

And forget about whisking by hand. It's a waste of time and you need two people to do it properly. If you don't whisk fast enough, you risk cooking the whites and ending up with lumps in your buttercream.

As for using your fingers to determine the soft ball stage. I used to work with a young guy in France who always tested this way. But one night he was tired and talking to a guy on the other side of the room and he reversed the oder of things, dipping his fingers straight into the sugar, then into the water, then into the sugar again. Nice blisters the next day. :rolleyes:

OK. Hold on a minute. Smoking crack and watching The View are bad habits, but using a pouring shield just makes good sense to me. Especially if I am making buttercream while smoking crack and watching The View. Occasionally I can get distracted by some witty comment made by Barbara Walters and absent the pouring shield I could get boling hot sugar all over my dome.

As I wrote earlier, I almost always pour the sugar right in the sweet spot, between the beater and the bowl. But the shield keeps the sugar from flying at me when I am distracted or shaking too much from laughter when Barbara says something characteristically hilarious. You can examine my shield... it hasn't a drop of soft-cracked sugar on it after most buttercream maneuvers.

My use of the shield is analogous to my use of seat belts.

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OK, I think he's time to put the cards on the table and be brutally honest.

Carp, you have developed a pouring shield habit that must be broken.

But fear not! I hear they have a program at the Betty Ford Center for pouring shield addicts. They wrestle your pouring shield away from you at the front desk, then it's pouring shield cold turkey from then on in.

You can do it, I know you can.

They say Whitney Houston was in rehab for a drug habit, but my inside sources tell me she was really addicted to her pouring shield.

Get help -- fast! And don't forget, we're here to hold your shaky, sugar-syrup-coated hand if need be.

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Lesley, my aim sucks, so I had to stop pouring with the motor on. I inevitably hit the beaters, shot sugar strands around the sides of the bowl and then definitely got lumps. Whisking by hand was the only way I could get around that. Doing it while the bowl is still attached to the KA eliminates the need for a second person and I've yet to get lumps that way. And maybe it's just my mixer, but if I poured down the sides (with or without that pour shield) a good deal of the syrup would congeal at the bottom of the bowl and never get worked in.

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I was taught start beating the whites once the water/sugar mixture has started to boil. I use 116 deg C as the final temperature for the water and sugar mixture (about 240 deg F) which is pretty much in line with most of the other comments. A suggestion for helping to pour into the bowl (and some might see this as cheating :smile: ), is to pour the hot water/sugar mixture into a HEAT RESISTANT liquid measuring cup (this also has the advantage of stopping the cooking process). You can then hook the lip of the liquid measuring cup on to the top of mixing bowl and slowly pour down the side of the bowl. This will help prevent the sugar/water mixture from hitting the rotating beaters and also makes for easier bowl clean up.

I was interested to hear chefpeon's technique. I was only aware of Italian, French (same as Italian but uses egg yolks instead of egg whites), and German buttercream (has a pastry cream base to which butter is added - a bit more chewy and best for things like choux pastry filling). The swiss meringue base sound interesting.


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I think we're getting terms confused here. There's French meringue, Swiss meringue and Italian meringue, but there's no French buttercream, Swiss buttercream and Italian buttercream. And that description of German buttercream is certainly NEW to me. You can make buttercream with an Anglaise as your base, but if you're beating butter into pastry cream, you're making creme mousseline, the kind of cream you would use for a Fraisier. And if you're folding Italian meringue into pastry cream you're making creme chiboust.

And in my books, you aren't making Italian meringue unless the sugar reaches 121 degrees C; 116 is not high enough.

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There's always the Alton Brown buttercream method.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Ok ...I give up ...............is sticking your fingers in boiling sugar syrup or caramel some kind of macho thing?? A secret club? The mark of a REAL baker??

I am perplexed as to why anyone would WANT to do this --unless they don't own a spoon.

::going back to my corner:::: ;)

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<ahem>

Since it's been awhile since I graduated from pastry school, I figured I'd better hit the

books again to refresh my memory about meringues. I've been in the "real world" too

long and all those ragamuffins in the kitchen have soiled my proper education!

Ok.....I actually knew my version of meringue (in that the whites and sugar are heated

together) is called Swiss Meringue.....duh.....I've just sort of come to know it as "easy

meringue", 'cause, well, that's what it is.

According to his eminence Bo Friberg, the major difference between Italian and Swiss

Meringue (besides the preparation method) is that supposedly Italian Meringue is more

stable and is ideal for desserts in which the meringue is eaten "raw" or merely browned

on top, such as Baked Alaska. Swiss Meringue will deflate faster.

So......when it comes to making buttercream with meringue, the stability of Swiss Meringue

isn't really an issue, because with buttercream, you don't have to really worry about it

"deflating". I have come to the conclusion that if you make a meringue buttercream with

Italian Meringue or Swiss Meringue......the end result will essentially be the same, the keeping

qualities will be the same, and the flavor will be the same. So.........

since Swiss is inherently easier.......why mess around with making Italian and doing it the

hard way?

I choose easy.

:raz: Annie

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I have come to the conclusion that if you make a meringue buttercream with Italian Meringue or Swiss Meringue......the end result will essentially be the same, the keeping

qualities will be the same, and the flavor will be the same.  So.........

since Swiss is inherently easier.......why mess around with making Italian and doing it the

hard way?

I choose easy.

:raz: Annie

Ditto! My unrefined tastebuds can't tell the difference :rolleyes: ; both tastes yummy to me!

By the way, Annie, I had a peek at your site. You do great cakes!


Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Boy oh boy I just have to jump on this band wagon too. A couple of you had me laughing pretty good, thanks!

First I think we need to imagine what it's like to make buttercream at home with a tiny mixer on the kitchen counter. That's foreign to several of us. Where I'm heading is HEIGHT. Unless your very tall your visually limited when you pour into a kitchen aid sitting on an averagely HIGH kitchen counter.....and the bowl is closer to your face- I can see how someone might be scared the syrup would splash out at you. SO from that deduction I can understand why Kthull has his method and why Carp used the sheild as a saftey blanket. I think we also have to remember that in these little kitchen aides is waht like 6 whites at the most.....it's tiny. THEN when you cook a sugar syrup in such a small amount you're highly likely to over heat because you have to consider the pan continues cooking the syrup while your picking it up to move to you mixer. I then THINK what happens to people is their syrup has gotten way too hot and when it hits the bowl and whisk they've got vertually a hard crack shooting around in their bowl.

When we/professionals make buttercream we're using mixers set at a lower height, we can see clearly into our bowls. We're not heating 3 tbsp. worth of syrup, we know when to take it off the heat depending upon how heavy our pan is and how far we need to walk it to the bowl...during that time the syrup isn't turning into hard crack.

But of course Lesley and the other pros here are correct and only giving great advice. I just wanted to point out that it's not comparing apples to apples what we do at work and what people in home kitchens experince. Quite frankly it's easier to make a huge batch then a tiny one-I think!

O.k. I'll shut up and sit down now.........oh wait, if we get to pick favorites.... I agree with a egg yolk butter cream for taste and for easiest method for a meringue- a water bath beats a syrup for home baking.

Hey where's Annie's site I want to take a peek too?

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Funny, I consider Italian meringue easier. Swiss meringue can get gloopy, shiny and thick, and whip up poorly.

I noticed a few years ago on Martha Stewart's show that they switched to Swiss meringue buttercream for making wedding cakes. I have tried her recipe and it's quite good.

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macho

You wouldn't say that if you met me. :wink:

two points on the fingers in boiling sugar and I'll shut up:

1) I've got many burn scars from the ovens and hot sheet pans, but I've never burned myself testing hot sugar with my fingers.

2) I don't think we even have a thermometer in our kitchen, and the women on the team don't seem to mind it when they have to make the meringue.

As far as which method - Swiss or Italian - I think whatever works for you. For me, I find the Italian method is faster and takes less attention. I'd rather give my whisking arm a rest.

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I think that it is the food safety issue

Italian meringe buttercream is taken to a higher heat so the whites are 'cooked' more thoroughly

so not only is it more stable but also better in applications where one is feeding the public including the elderly and young children

But otherwise it is personal preference.

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OK -- so I'm making a shitload of a whilte buttercream -- the regular way -- egg whites beaten and cooked with a hot sugar syrup, then butter beaten in.

I skip the cooking process. To my understanding there are 2 purposes for cooking the sugar, 1. dissolve the sugar crystals, 2. kill any bactirias in eggs. I prlong the whipping time to 30min to solve the first problem and use frozen egg white which is pastureized and that solved the second problem

Frozen egg white 10#

sugar 24#

salt 2 table spoons

butter 27#

cake shortening 14#

vanilla extract 2#

oil 2# (optional)

whip egg white (room temperature) to soft peak add sugar and salt, leave the mixer in 3rd gear set the timer for 30 minutes (shorten the time will have sugar crystals in finish product). When alarm go off add butter, shortening and slowly add the vanilla extract right after it, continuou to whip in 3nd speed untill the butter cream almost reach top of 80 qt bowl and add 2# of oil just to cream in.

*Use only frozen egg white (pastureized).

hope this helps


Edited by spyddie (log)

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No offense spyddie (I see this is your first post so I really hate to be brutal but...), but that's the kind of recipe that gives pastry a bad name. Shortening and oil! Talk about unhealthy.

If you're going to go the shortening route, I would skip the meringue altogether and beat together white fondant, unsalted butter, and emulsified shortening.

I have never seen a buttercream recipe that contains oil. Where did you get that recipe?

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Lesley,

Point taken, but would like to make few points about your common.

Sweet butter is not healthier than shortening and oil.

First I would like to introduce myself, I am certified Pastry Chef from CIA and I have 12 years of working experience in baking/pastry field(retail,wholesale,hotel). Currently I am running a 10,000 sq/ft bakery kitchen that supply all our 5 retail bakery outlets with 20+ wholesale accounts so I think I know a little bit of what I am talking about. I can see from you point of view--quality and taste is your #1 concern, but when you are running a commercial kitchen the size I am running, trust me there is more than just quality and taste you have to worry about. Things such as ingridents cost, labor cost,product shelf live, quality consistency.....list goes on.

Cake shortening is not same as general purpose shortening but if taste is your top cerncer, then feel free to replace cake shortening with sweet butter, the finish product will tasted better but it will have more yellowlish look which is not good for wedding cake icing. We also use same butter cream for butter cream roses adding the cake shortening will make it much easier to work with. As for the oil, it's acturally very common practice among bakers, it's a easy way(cheating) to add the shine to the finish product but if all the steps has been done correctly it's not necessary to add the oil to make it shining, that's why I put is as option.

By the way don't jump to conclusion to early before you try it :rolleyes: .


Edited by spyddie (log)

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I don't have to try it because I know the mouthfeel wouldn't be to my liking.

I saw all those kinds of low-cost buttercreams at pastry school, and I never made any of them again once I left. Even in the big pastry shops I worked in used butter-based buttercream with a pate a bombe. And I certainly know what cake shortening is. I did the production bakery thing for a year and almost went out of my mind. 500 buttercream birthday cakes a day isn't my thing.

To each his own, I guess.

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When I was at CIA we used only the best ingredients that is aviliable to us, no shortening were ever used,only butter :smile: . At first it was very difficult for me to use things such as shortening, margaine, extracts ,pre mix or any artifical flavorings, but after years in the field I learned to adopt it instead againest it :biggrin: .

I posted the recipe as a contribution to the forum, I am sure any expericnce chef can take that recipe and modified to best of his/her interest, that's all. I'm deeply sorry if my posted have offended some.

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Welcome Spyddie! It's a big baking market in this world and we do welcome all opinions here. This topic (buttercream) has always been a more hotly debated issue on baking sites. Theres definately two sides, I deal with it too. Sometimes it's a hard topic for me personally because I do have to conform and consider it my job to give people what they want as far as pastries.

I've gone against the crowd on many issues, over the years I've spent on line. My first post at one site (years ago) really hit the fan and everyone was blasting me (it sucked). But the best part is, how it does make you think and re-evaluate: either confirming your thoughts or opening your mind to new ones.

Debate is fine here. In fact, I think it's alot more interesting than everyone jumping on the same wagon. Makes us think more.

Of which I now have a question for you, or two. First I rarely have used pasturized eggs or any frozen egg product, so........I'm pretty clueless on them.

I thought those types of whites wouldn't whip properly, no?

And I'm a little confused about a 30 minutes whipping. Are you doing that on high speed? How come they don't become grossly dry after that much time?

Also what about shelf-life with these? When I've had them in, the chefs have held them a really long time past their expiration date in the cooler. Makes me nervous...... Whats your opinion on holding them? Granted you probably go thru them too quick to see that happen, but they are a bit of a mystery to me.

How to say this gracefully........hum....... don't read into this o.k.?.......I'm not so great with wording sometimes.......just a fyi- Lesley is a pro with I think two books published on baking. So you're both heavy hitters. Quite frankly I'm amazed by the quality of bakers we have here, there are several big names (or however one phrases that) and many very knowledgeable pastry chefs here so I'm thinking you're going to love it here Spyddie.

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Yeah Wendy.....good question.....

although I've never actually tried to whip pasteurized egg whites (previously frozen or not)

I was always told, "don't bother, they won't whip". So I never did.

Do they whip? Do you have to whip them 30 minutes because it takes that long for a pasteurized

white to peak?

What say, spyddie?

:wub: Annie

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Sinclair,

To answer your first question,Yes, frozen egg white can be whipped. The frozen egg white has to be completely defreeze, other than that it whips just like fresh one. Althrought I have not done side by side comparison, but from my past expericence I think fresh one will come out as a winner in quality Due to the volume of egg white our kitchen use(30 buckets or 900lb/per week)we choose frozen egg white over fresh one, I just cannot justify the cost of hiring extra person just to separate the fresh whole egg. FYI, frozen sugar yolk can be whipped also, but it contain 10% of sugar (as a natural preservative, I think) adjust of recipe is necessary if frozen sugar yolk is to replace fresh one. There is one exception, frozen whole egg does not whip like fresh one but in our kitchen we do not whip the whole egg so that's not a issue in our kitchen, other than that it can be use just like fresh whole egg.

To answer your second question, why I whip 30minutes(3rd gear of 4 gear mixer)? That's how long it will take to dissolve 24# of sugar in this recipe. In this particular recipe the ratio of sugar(24#)/ egg white(10#) is 240%, it will take quite of effort to whip past glossy dry stage. I know I can shorten the whpping time by cooking sugar and egg white (what we used to do)over hot water bath(typiclly know as Swiss meringue) before whipping but I would rather using the "no cooking method" and let the mixer do all the work. :biggrin:

I order the frozen egg products once a week and make sure they are rotated properly as with all our inventory. Last year 2 weeks before Thanks givening, we were told by our supplier the price of egg product will be sky rocket due to the busy holiday season, so we ordered big batch of frozen eggs, I cannot recall the exact number but I think it's like 300 buckets of egg white,whole egg and sugar yolk all together, that batch last us about 1 month and it's good till last bucket. We only take out what we need and leave the fully defreeze eggs in walk-in refrigerator all the time.

Please pardon me if I misspell few words, as English is my second language. :smile:


Edited by spyddie (log)

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