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Noz_photo
added over 2 years ago

It's possible that your egg whites were too warm and were melting the butter rather than emulsifying it into the mix. You should also make sure that each "chunk" of butter is fully incorporated into the frosting before adding another.

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added over 2 years ago

Thank you for helping to clarify. So if my egg whites are too warm - does that mean I need to spend less time melting the sugar (ie less than the 3 minutes mentioned) or that I need to whip them longer, or take time to let them cool before adding the butter, or make sure the butter is colder? I've tried to research this on the internet, but the frosting recipe here is very different than most "cooked" frosting recipes.. I think the butter was fully incorporated, but that was hard to see, which is why I was wondering how long it should take for each piece (10 sec? 30 sec?).

Steph
Stephanie Bourgeois

Stephanie is the Head Recipe Tester of Food52.

added over 2 years ago

It's a tricky thing to time precisely. Unlike most buttercreams, this is a Swiss meringue. You should whip over the double boiler until the mixture is just warm to the touch and all the sugar granules are dissolved. Then, whip in the stand mixer to just stiff peaks. Before you add any butter, make sure the bowl is cool to the touch. Also, be sure your butter is not too warm. It should be just slightly soft. It is better to err on the side of too cold than too warm. It should take about 30 seconds for each piece of butter to be incorporated, but it will also depend on the temperature of your egg whites and your butter, as well as the speed of your mixer. Watch until there are no more chunks of butter before adding another piece.

The final texture should be like very thick sour cream or mayonnaise.

If it gets to thin and flat, you can just refrigerate to set the butter and then whip it until it has a nice thick texture and is spreadable.

Rkm_profile
added over 2 years ago

I was just about to answer this but you said everything I was going to say - thanks for your helpful response!

How_to_make_a_custard_part_1
Shuna Lydon

Shuna is a pastry chef in New York City and author of the acclaimed blog Eggbeater.

added over 2 years ago

I'm underlining something Stephanie said:
"Before you add any butter, make sure the bowl is cool to the touch." This instruction, given to me by another pastry chef friend was key in my buttercream making success.
But I would have to disagree that the butter you're mounting in can be very very soft it just cannot be melting or once melted.
also:
Egg whites will not whip properly if ANY fat is present in them. Meaning all equipment must be completely clean and egg whites can not have ANY trace of yolks in them.
Mixer must remain on for the length of the buttercream making. I keep mixer at highest speed possible the entire time.

Time, in minutes, is impossible to predict. Better to watch what's going on inside the mixer rather than a clock. Buttercream is very vocal-- it will tell you if it's going awry. That said, my best batches have had me at the edge of my seat until they come together! Patience and faith pay off enormously.

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added over 2 years ago

This thread has been super helpful. I had a similar cooked buttercream (ermine frosting, specifically) experience a little while ago. That was the first time I had a recipe flop on me and the first time I've been discouraged to try making something again. Now I'm encouraged to try it again.

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added 6 months ago

I only just saw this *after* making the cake, agree with all the above. First time I have made frosting in this manner and patience is def needed - I think the whole process for me must have taken around 10 minutes of high speed whisking. There were times I thought it had gone wrong, but all of sudden it just "happened" and came together a treat!