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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Italian Buttercream Icing.

The first time I tried to make this it wasn't exactly a failure but it turned into 7 hours of frustrating, "I'm not going to give up" hell. The final result came out well but I went through 12 lbs of butter, dozens of eggs, and many phone calls to my friend who was attempting to help me through my culinary crisis.

I am once again attempting to make Italian Buttercream to go onto a pound cake. No special occasion just feel like baking today. I made the mistake of watching cake boss this morning and felt the need to make something sweet. Nothing fancy today, just yummy (hopefully).

As I type this the egg whites and sugar syrup are getting beaten in the mixer for their required 10 minutes (or until cool). Last time I tried to make this recipe it was disaster and I'm pretty sure I know why. 40 degree (celcius), high humidity I think killed all of my chances of success.

It's cool today so I shall once again attempt. I am also trying a variation on the last recipe as I really don't want to waste 6 lbs of butter if it failed. It's scaled back so we'll see how it turns out.

Here is the recipe. I have no source for this as I found it in a comments section in some remote corner of the internet. I know it's half metric and half imperial, but I have a dual scale so it makes it a little easier. BTW...invest in a good dual scale...I can't believe how much time I save with it vs trying to convert by hand.

Italian Buttercream

750 grams. granulated sugar
1/4 litre of water
6 oz. egg whites
2 1/2 pounds of soft butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Instructions say, whip the egg whites until fluffy and peaks appear. Bring the sugar and water to a boil and slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Continue to beat on high for 10 minutes or so or until the mixture is cooled and sort of resembles liquified marshmallows.

I did that...turned out crystalization of sugar, it was perfect....Doesn't it look perfect?
Beef Stew Italian icecream 007

Then you are supposed to add the butter one tablespoon at a time into the mixture. The mixture turns soupy but then fluffs up again after the butter has been whipping awhile. we go. THIS would be where I screwed up (I think). Soupy is one thing, liquid flying all over the kitchen is another thing all together.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 009
I decide to throw a tea towel over the mixer while it's doing it's thing because I'm getting pelted with drops of ingredients even on low. I continue to lift the tea towel and toss in the butter one tablespoon at a time. I feel a drip, look over to the other side of the mixer and think...oh dear sweet lord I've done it again.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 010 Beef Stew Italian icecream 011
THIS is what it looked like. What a mess!! Not to be deterred I continue. I decided to change paddles from the whipping paddle to the mixing paddle. That seemingly works and slow it down to level 1 while I continue adding the butter. Starting to look better's coming.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 012
I get through all the butter and look at my mixture...SUCCESS it worked!!!, then I tasted it. Damn....not to successful, it's like eating pure butter. I suspect my egg/sugar mixture has saturated my poor tea towel and not enough was left in the actual bowl to work.

As I type, I'm boiling some more sugar syrup, and will cool it down completely and try to add some. Praying I don't screw this up.......

I've rethought this problem. I think I'm going to whip up some more egg whites and add the sugar mixture to it, and add a little bit to my buttercream...

I ended up not doing either...sort of a combo. I cheated. I made some more sugar/water combo, let it cool completely. I added about 4 tblsps worth to the buttercream and about 1 tbsp Wilton's meringue powder. This worked. It's not nearly as buttery now.

I'm going to say at this point, I would reduce the butter quantity to two lbs vs 2 1/2.

It is acceptable now. This particular batch is going to be used on a vanilla pound cake, with fresh blueberries and strawberries so not too sweet will work fine.
Here is the final finished product, complete with finger marks for taste testing.
Beef Stew Italian icecream 013

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