My First Attempt at Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Hi again!

Last Friday was Chris' brother's 14th birthday, so to celebrate I offered to make the cake. We set high hopes for this cake; three layers of chocolate mocha cake and plastered together with a teal green Swiss meringue butter cream and dotted with black fondant mustaches using my munchstache cookie cutters. Well I am pleased to say that my efforts were a success! I used the Whisk-Kid recipe for the buttercream and my mocha chocolate cake recipe so no new exciting recipes today i'm sorry but hopefully this will encourage you to try to decorating techniques like I did. I was so worried this would turn out a total flop and waste a whole heap of ingredients and electricity. Luckily Chris' step mum has a wonderful KitchenAid standing mixer so I was saved a whole heap of beating when it came to making the meringue.

From reading online, Swiss meringue buttercream was apparently a superior icing, with a velvety smooth texture all the while not being sickly sweet. It wasn't very sweet but it was very buttery, I don't know which I prefer. Because it was so hot I had to keep the iced cake in the fridge so that the icing wouldn't melt off or go off in the heat. The cooler fridge temperatures made the icing firm and had a mouth feel like that of butter.On a positive note it is an excellent icing to use in cake construction. It is a great glue and smooths on the sides really easily without picking up on the knife when you go over with more icing.

I recommend using the Whisk Kid instructions (just click the link above), she knows what she is talking about :)

8 inch cake pans were only $7.50 at Farmers the other day and so Chris bought me some in order to make layer caking easier. I am still not so sure how to get a non-doming cake though, some people put strips of toweling around the edge, is that supposed to help?

 Ahh, the tried and true mocha chocolate cake recipe

Isn't it beautiful?

We had a very watchful observer

Making the batter took me a grand total of two minutes!!

 Bam! and the tins are full! I used to use the same pan (I was too poor to afford three of the same size haha) and so if each cake took half an hour to cook I had to stick around for an hour an a half for all three to be done one after the other. It was so tedious. I love my new pans!

 25 minutes later! Bam. Just note that in my mocha chocolate cake recipe I say to cook the cake for an hour (I think), that is for a large one layer cake. I found these only took 25 minutes each. Keep a watchful eye on them, the last thing you want is a dry, overdone cake.

Ok now for the icing. The basic steps involved in making a Swiss meringue buttercream are:
1: dissolving the castor sugar in the egg white using a metal bowl over a pot containing 2cm of simmering water.
2: once the sugar has dissolved, removing the bowl from the heat and beating the egg whites and sugar until very stiff glossy meringue peaks form.
3: slowly adding small cubes of cold butter to the mixture causing the meringue to collapse and forming a sloppy concoction.
4: beating lots more
5: putting the mixture in the fridge to cool it a bit so it becomes less soupy (which usually happens never fear!)
6: adding flavourings such as vanilla and then continuing the beating until the buttercream becomes smooth and fluffy once again.

I ended up making a 1 2/5 recipe (the 2/5 recipe after I ran out half way through the top coat).

This is what you need to the 1x recipe:
5 large egg whites
200g castor sugar
226g butter cut into small cubes
a splash of vanilla

Basically I recommend you check out the link up the top.
 Luckily the KitchenAid bowls are metal so fit quite well over a pot of simmering water.

 Whisk the egg whites, make sure it doesn't get too hot (which is unlikely) otherwise they will scramble.

 Dip your clean fingers into the bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers, keep whisking until it is no longer grainy (ie all the sugar has dissolved).

 Next transfer it to your beating station. This works too with a handheld mixer but I was still enjoying the novelty of this toy.

 It also helps to turn the power on at the wall before attempting to beat :)

 I had the Whisk Kid's instructions open and was following them religiously. Ipads are so handy.

 See how thick and glossy it gets? This is good. It also tastes delicious. Pity we have to add the butter.

I continued to beat and it became a marshmallowey foam which was quite cool. See the weird texture? At this stage start adding the butter one small cube at a time.

This is a heap of butter.All 226g of it.

You can see in photos that the meringue totally collapsed and it became all gross and soupy, so what I did was pop both my butter cubes in the freezer and my flopped meringue in the fridge and waited for 20 minutes or so for everything to cool down. The cold butter cubes stopped the butter cream becoming soupy in the future.

 Looks kinda gross really. Do not panic! This can be fixed with a quick trip the the fridge!

 Haha and only half the butter was in (the butter never seemed to run out!)

Nearly there!

So in the end (trust me) it turned out all good! I coloured it green and flavoured it vanilla. Just keep beating and it will sort itself out.

Now to the frustrating part: Construction and icing.

 Which is a good excuse to perform quality control on the product . . .

 And the icing . . .

Again I would use the Whisk Kid tutorial on how to assemble and crumb coat a layer cake. She makes it sound so easy. Crumb coating just means a bottom base coat of icing left to set which creates a seal, sealing all the crumbs in so that they don't get into the top layer of your icing.

 Crumb coat! (Probably a wee bit on the thick side)

 Getting there (I had to make a second 2/5 batch of icing to cover the entire cake)

 I love getting a nice sharp edge

 Bam! Ok the base is done. Now for the frilly bits!

I decided to experiment with fondant for the first time. It was rather tricky (and sticky!) but a few more attempts (and internet stalking!) and I think I might get the hang of it. I coloured it with the Wilton black food gel which went all over my hands. By the time I got to do this part it was about 9pm (I started the cake at 2.30pm), which is why the photos got a bit funny (Chris doesn't think about changing the settings so everything looks yellow).

 Oh yeah James and Jared (Chris' friends) came round and started playing with the spare fondant to make objects to surround the cake. They insisted they were useless and sculpturing but it was funny seeing how intensely focused they were at the end of the hour and made from pretty hilarious things like a cat eating a severed arm complete with blood (aka red food colouring).

 After rolling the fondant flat we popped it in the freezer for 5 minutes to that it would firm up and become easier to cut and stamp without it falling apart and stretching.

 From left: James, Antony (Chris' dad), Jared and Chris.

I think it needs a border. I don't know why we did the mustache thing. I think it was because his bother (also James) was turning 14 and so we wanted a manly theme. That or I just wanted to use these munchstache cookie cutters again.

 I used a small star tip nozzle to pipe (badly - it was 11pm) the borders. Hmm it looks a bit wonky from here. I even added glitter on the top! So fabulous.

So yes. Here is the final product. By golly it took a while. It tasted rather nice as well when we had it the next day. James was pretty stoked too and it all went down a treat. So for my first attempt at a Swiss meringue butter cream covered cake I don't think I did too badly. But this was just the first, improvement is just around the corner!

It was so dark and moist! haha moist moist moist! 

Bye for now,