Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to fix broken buttercream

Buttercreams are a dream to work with under the right circumstances, that is.
Meringue buttercreams are intimidating to many cake makers. With the right tools, ingredients and troubleshooting methods you’ll fall in love with meringue buttercream too.
What is meringue buttercream? A meringue buttercream is an emulsion of fat and liquid. All you need to know for now is that water and oil don’t mix unless you force them together, as in a delicious vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.

Why does buttercream break? The first potential issue is inconsistent temperature. Both your egg/sugar mixture and your butter must be at the same temperature. Another issue might be excess liquid. Unwanted liquid can result either from failing to cook your sugar syrup to 238° F (for Italian meringue) or from the addition of fruit or other moist flavorings.
How do you know your buttercream is “broken”? If your buttercream breaks, the fat and liquid won’t emulsify, and you’ll be left with a bowl of fat globules that look like cottage cheese with soupy liquid in the bottom. But don’t despair. It can be fixed!

The best cure is prevention. The best plan is to avoid a broken buttercream in the first place. You can do this by using a trusted and tested recipe and following the directions meticulously. This means reading through the recipe from start to finish before you even crack the first egg. Be sure to cook your syrup to 238° F, and add fruit and flavorings a little at a time. Avoid adding a lot of moisture, such as fruit juice. Instead, use extracts, oils or compounds.
The Fix. Broken buttercream happens to the best of us, even when you’ve made the same buttercream 1000 times. Here’s how to get yourself back on track:
Step 1: Try mixing it a little longer and see if it comes together on its own.
Step 2: If it doesn’t come together with additional mixing, scoop out a cup of curdled mixture and microwave 5 to 10 seconds, until melted but not hot.
Step 3: Pour melted buttercream into the mixer while on medium speed and whip until combined. This works every time.
I want to share with you the recipe that never fails:

6 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, at room
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1.Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and set over a pan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 140 degrees. They will feel very hot to the touch.
2.Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix at high speed (or as high as you can go without egg flying out of the bowl) until they have reached their maximum volume, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix on medium or medium-high speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in. Mix in vanilla if using. The buttercream may look like it is breaking down, but keep on mixing and it will come back together.

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