Confession: I Don’t Love Swiss Meringue Buttercream


I’m making my friends wedding cake(s) for her September wedding, and I’m incredibly excited.  I love weddings and I love cakes.  Combining the two is pretty much almost as exciting as pies in jars.

cakeslice2

I’m also extremely concerned that I’ll somehow mess it up.  I want her cakes to be tasty and beautiful, because it’s her special day.  That means I’m practicing like it’s nobody’s business.

In my cake making craze, I wanted to try out a new frosting.  I had read that Swiss Meringue Buttercream is great for getting smooth edges, so yesterday, I decided to give it a try.

swissmeringuebuttercreamcake

Everyone talks about swiss meringue buttercream with descriptors like: luxurious, satiny, rich, decadent.

To me, it tasted like straight up butter with some sugar in it.

I added some strawberry jam to mine to try to add some flavor to it, which improved it, but I’m still not a fan.  I might try it again with other flavorings but plain… never again.

swissmeringuebuttercream2

Now that I’ve trash talked it, in case you want to try, here’s the recipe I used.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup white sugar
2 egg whites
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry jam (optional)

Whisk together egg whites and sugar in your stand mixer bowl.  Place over a pot of boiling water (make sure water isn’t touching the bowl), stir it every so often until the egg whites become hot and you can no longer feel the sugar granules.

Transfer to the mixer and whip until they’ve formed peaks.

IMG_4908

Add vanilla. Then start to beat in butter.  At this point, it might look curdled, don’t worry.  Keep whipping.  It can take up to 10 minutes to get fluffy.   Once it’s the right consistency (pretty silky, I must say), you can feel free to beat in jam or just smooth it on a cake.

**This recipe makes enough to frost a 6 inch cake (and probably enough to fill as well).  For a 9 inch (3-4 layer cake, I would probably double this recipe).

cakeslice

The one benefit is that it gets very solid (like a stick of butter almost… hmm wonder why?) when cold, which means you get beautiful slices.  That’s definitely the redeeming quality of this buttercream.

pinkcake

For my friend’s wedding, I’m sticking to traditional American buttercream (not just because I like it better but that’s what the bride and groom tried and liked).

In case you (like me) are not a fan of Swiss Meringue Buttercream, here are some alternative to frost your cakes/cupcakes with:

  • Traditional American Buttercream: This is what we’re used to. Butter. Powdered Sugar.  Vanilla and a touch of milk.  Sickeningly sweet goodness.  Make it vanilla, make it lemon, make it almond. It’s all great.  (Example: Fall Cake)
  • Whipped Cream: Simple and delicious, not too sweet, not too heavy.  Literally just heavy whipping cream and a bit of sugar and vanilla. Probably my favorite, but doesn’t hold up well it hot weather.   (Try it on rum cake)
  • Marshmallow Frosting: Sooo tasty! Not buttery at all.  Sadly, also doesn’t hold up well while sitting out. (Example: The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake)
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: I’m not the biggest fan, but I know people love it.  So why not? (Example: Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts <– can totally be made into a layer cake)

What’s your favorite way to frost a cake?  or are you that person who leaves all the frosting behind?

 

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10 thoughts on “Confession: I Don’t Love Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. scriptandserif says:

    I’m so bummed to read that you aren’t a fan of SMBC! I use it almost exclusively because it’s one of my most favorite things in the world. After making countless (hundreds?) batches of SMBC, I do notice some slight textural issues in the final outcome that may be a reason why you did not like it. Of course I may be totally off mark so please disregard the unsolicited advice. First I like to whip my meringue to stiff glossy peaks, like pretty darn stiff. When I think it’s done I whip some more to be sure. I love using Straus organic sweet cream butter for the flavor. I make sure the butter is definitely room temperature, a bit more on the softer side than cold. When it’s this soft I don’t find that the meringue will deflate much even when you add larger chunks of butter (I don’t have the time/patience to do 1 tbsp at a time like some suggest). If you decide to keep it on the whisk attachment then I would not go higher than 3 on a kitchenaid, but when I add jam i prefer to use the paddle attachment on 1 or 2 speed to break up any bits of jam. When I first started out sometimes the buttercream would start out fluffy but by the time I ate the cake it would feel and taste greasy like I’m eating a stick of butter. I haven’t changed my recipe so it’s definitely a change in technique! The final outcome is not sweet like American bc, but definitely luxuriously silky, almost like the smoothest freshly churned ice cream.
    Also, I actually find it much easier to get smooth edges on American buttercream, plus it holds up better in warmer weather which sounds perfect for the wedding cake you’re making!

    • Karla @ Foodologie says:

      Ok first let me tell you how much I appreciate your very thoughtful response! I will say I looooved the texture of the SMBC but it was just the butter flavor I couldn’t get past. You definitely convinced me to give it another try (and I think I’ll try whipping the egg whites more this time). Thanks for the tips! Very much appreciated!

    • Erim says:

      Hi! I’m just trying out SMBCs and I def feel it tastes too buttery for most flavors I’ve tried so far, which is disappointing. Can you tell me what techniques you think you used to improve the taste and texture of your SMBC?

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