A step-by-step recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I use this as a base for many different flavors and it colors beautifully!
I make a lot of cakes. I’ve tried many, many recipes for buttercream and this one is the one that I use time and time again.
It is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. There are lots of different kinds of buttercream – Italian, French, Swiss, and American. Swiss is a mixture of cooked egg whites and sugar that are whipped and butter is added slowly to create a smooth and glossy buttercream.
It is a little more fussy to make than the typical American buttercream (powdered sugar and butter), but I guarantee you – it is worth the effort. This is the most incredible buttercream frosting. I love it.
Why Swiss Meringue Buttercream?
- It tastes amazing. One it’s own, it is the most delicious frosting I’ve ever had. But it takes on flavor amazingly well. You can add chocolate, caramel, lemon, coffee, maple syrup, strawberry, the options are limitless.
- It is super smooth. It goes on your cake like a dream, it also pipes beautifully.
- It is super stable. Obviously, it is butter so it will melt if it is really hot out, but overall, this buttercream lasts a long time. It’s great for piping and making flowers.
- It is excellent as a base for fondant and often used to frost and fill wedding cakes.
- It is very easy to color. It is almost white, so you can easily add your favorite gel coloring to get your desired color.
What you need for Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 6 egg whites
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your mixer.
Cut butter into small pieces. It needs to be very soft, so let it sit out for about an hour before you begin to make the buttercream.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Grab a cup of coffee and a whisk. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves into the egg whites.
It takes about 5-10 minutes, and you will know that you are good to go when you don’t feel any sugar granules when you rub it between your fingers. You will also no longer see sugar granules on the side of the bowl. If you are really unsure, you can use a candy thermometer and when the mixture reaches 160° it is ready.
Add the mixing bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed so that it doesn’t splash on you, then slowly increase speed to high. Let mix for 10 minutes, or until the bowl of the mixer is no longer warm to the touch. If it is too hot, it will melt your butter.
Add the vanilla, almond extract, and salt.
Add butter, one piece at a time until all of the butter is incorporated.
When all of your butter is added, it’s going to look a little sad. Don’t worry. It’s going to be just fine.
The fix is to keep whipping. It might look like your buttercream is curdled. It’s supposed to, don’t sweat it, just keep whipping. Trust me.
Tip – At this point, give it a taste. Add more salt or flavoring if needed.
A couple of minutes later, your buttercream is going to be whipped and smooth, and glossy perfection.
At this point, I would color or flavor the buttercream. I like to portion out the buttercream and color it in a different bowl.
If you are adding caramel, maple syrup, chocolate, or a fruit puree, I also like to add it in a big bowl. I use a whisk and do it by hand. Just like when it seemed curdled, it may do that when you add liquid. Just keep whisking, it will come together.
I added a bit of lemon yellow gel color. Since this frosting is so white, it is very easy to color. I always prefer gel food color and keep a generous supply to choose from. I rarely just use one color, I often mix to get the perfect shade for what I am after.
This recipe makes a lot of buttercream. Enough to generously frost and fill an 8-inch layer cake. You can easily scale this recipe for more or less buttercream. If you have extra, it keeps in the fridge for a week. Let come to room temperature and whisk if needed.
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