Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

Looks a lot like Italian meringue buttercream doesn’t it? In fact it is very similar, though a bit denser. Like Italian buttercream, it’s excellent both for spreading and piping, since (as you can see) it stands up quite well on its own. The advantage SMBC has over IMBC is that it’s somewhat easier to make, nearly as sturdy and 100% food safe. The formula goes like this:

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound soft unsalted butter

Begin by combining the whites, sugar and cream of tartar the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.

Give them a good whippin’ with a whisk to combine them, and keep it up intermittently while the mixture warms.

In about 5-7 minutes’ time, your mixture should have reached 160 degrees Farhenheit (don’t worry, your whites won’t cook, the sugar will keep all those little proteins from clenching up). What’s so important about this temperature? It’s the degree at which Salmonella bacteria are killed.

So then, having created your egg white “syrup”, pour the contents of the double boiler into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip.

Turn the mixer on high. In a few minutes the mixture will turn white and start to build up into a foam.

In about 6-8 minutes, the meringue will come to stiff peaks, about like so:

Now then, all you need to do is add the butter. Switch to the paddle (beater) attachment and turn the mixer to medium high. Beat in the butter a piece at a time.

Ah yes! Here it is, the grainy “curdled” texture I was telling you about in my Italian meringue buttercream post. My butter pieces were a little cool in the center, and now I’m paying the price with this chunky, almost cottage cheese-looking buttercream.

No matter, just turn the machine up to high and beat those curdles right on out.

Much better. Again, this is the point where you incorporate your flavors and/or colors. A teaspoon or more of vanilla should again be your starting point. After that the sky is pretty much the limit.

UPDATE. Reader Susie offers this twist on the method. Cook the egg sugar mixture as normal but instead os whipping it first, do just the opposite: cool the cooked meringue and whip the butter for a couple of minutes then add the cooled liquid meringue mixture. It whips up great and you can keep that cooled mixture for other batches in the frig or perhaps even freeze. (Haven’t tried frozen yet). The resulting product is more stable than the traditional method.

99 thoughts on “Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)”

  1. Hi Joe (or is it Mr. Pastry?),
    I was just wondering if this recipe could be adpated to make a cream cheese frosting, just replacing some of the butter with cream cheese, proportional to your cream cheese frosting recipe? I can’t why not, though I thought I’d ask before possibly making a big mess of something…

    Thanks a bunch, Clair
    (longtime fan, first time commenter)

    1. Welcome, Clair! I honestly have no idea if that would work or not. My feeling is that the water in the cream cheese (cream cheese is 50% water) would cause the meringue to collapse, but I can’t say for sure. If you’re game for trying, I’d be very interested in hearing about the results!

  2. Hmm, well I’m always game for a little experimentation in baking. Might be a little while before I get to try this out, but I’ll be sure to let you know what happens!

  3. Got a chance to make this with the cream cheese this evening (to top some red velvet cupcakes) and it actually turned out really well! Erring on the side of caution, I decided to go half and half butter and cream cheese, and fully incorporated the butter first before adding the cream cheese a piece at a time. The texture of the frosting was lighter and more whipped (for lack of a better word?) than with just butter, but it still held its shape really well, the meringue did not seem to deflate or collapse at all. I might add a bit more cream cheese next time I make it, just to get the flavor a bit more, but overall I found it a really nice, light, and subtle frosting. My family sure seemed to like it too, judging by how few cupcakes there are left…


    1. Very interesting. Though I’m not a cream cheese frosting fan (as you know), I’ll have to try it one of these days! Thanks for the email.

    2. Hi Claire, do you mind sharing your cream cheese frosting for the red velvet? I will like to try it tooo…… Thanks in advance.


  4. Hi there, I was just wondering if you would consider IMBC and SMBC to be safe for pregnant women? I know that you say the egg whites are heated to the temp that salmonella are killed at in SMBC, but what about with IMBC? Is the syrup heat enough to kill Salmonella?

    1. That’s a very good question, Vanessa. My feeling is that while heat and sugar are great at destroying microbes, they aren’t enough to guarantee 100% safety in IMBC. For pregnant women SMBC is probably the best best choice.

      1. I probably wouldn’t risk it using regular eggs. It is possible to pasteurize eggs at a temperature that doesn’t actually cook the egg. My supermarket has pasteurized whole eggs available (and the cartons of egg whites are also pasteurized.)

        I haven’t used the carton egg whites yet, but I was able to do a solid Swiss meringue a few weeks ago with the whites from the pasteurized whole eggs.

        1. Very nice to hear that!

          Personally I tend not to worry about microbial growth because of all the sugar and fat, but I should probably start fiddling with alternatives just to be on the safe side. I’ve heard that pasteurized eggs don’t make good meringues but honestly I haven’t tested that hypothesis myself. I shall!


          – Joe

  5. Thank you for the tutorial. I have been making SMBC for a little while and I am hooked. I was glad to see the posts from Claire and Vanessa. You had just the info I was looking for. Thank you!

  6. Hi Joe (pastry gentleman)

    Firstly I would like to thank-you a lot for this fantastic website. I have just made my first swiss meringue butter cream and i must say it is jolly good. I am an absolute novice and found it easy enough to do after school run, with all the little ones running around. Two of them were fighting over who could add some of the butter! They are now parked in front of the television watching cartoons and licking their teaspoons clean. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the gritty textured but easier all butter cream; time and kids permitting of course.

    1. Hey Zakki! Thanks for the terrific note — and welcome to the wonderful world of the real-deal-buttercreams!


      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe first off i wanna say i tried this recipe and it was everything you said it would be and more. My friends loved it. So here’s the thing tho. I’m doing a birthday cake for a friend of mines daughters birthday. She likes chocolate. So i was wondering is there a way to alter this recipe where it would be a like milk chocolatey type with the same texture. If so would you recommend using powder or some melted down chocolate? Or something else. Or not try it altogether with that?

    Thank you much,
    Tia ^__^

    1. Hey Tia!

      Glad it worked so well for you. I think I mentioned this in a post on flavoring, but two ounces (or more) of a good-quality chocolate (melted of course) can be whipped right in! Let me know how it goes over!

      – Joe

      1. Hiyee it’s me wasn’t sure if my last post made it or not but just to let you know it worked out wonderfully. You is the stuff Joe “Pastry” Man. I have to say SMBC is now my new favorite flavor er taste when it comes to frostings. Regular doesn’t do it for me anymore. Thanx again. I’m still familiarizing myself with the site. But i hope to make new discoveries on here. PEACE and Blessings

        1. Wonderful news, Tia! Thanks so much for getting back to me and yes, please do explore the site…and don’t hesitate to ask if I can be of any help with anything you find here.

          I’m pretty much always around!

          – Joe

  8. Hi Joe,

    just wanted to say that I think this recipe is great. I came across it while looking for a recipe for caramel buttercream. What I did was to make 1.5 batches of your SMBC (so 6 egg whites, etc) and I added just over a cup of caramel sauce for the flavouring. I was a bit worried that the extra volume and sugar from the caramel would break the meringue, but I held up and tasted great. thanks, and I look forward to trying other recipes from your site.


    1. Very glad it worked out so well, Michelle! That sounds like a tremendous buttercream. I’ll need to try it one of these days. thanks very much for the note. Happy New Year!

      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe!

    I made SMBC a while back using your recipe and it was deliiiiicious – thanks for the recipe! I have 2 questions though:

    1) How many cups of SMBC does this recipe yield? I kept on forgetting to measure it out each time I make it….doi!

    2) Some of my friend have commented that it was just a bit too buttery for their taste. To lighten the buttery taste, would I be able to decrease the amount of butter that goes in? Or increase the eggwhite/sugar content? (so say, 1 lb butter + 6 egg whites + 1.5 cups sugar) Or would that mess up the consistency of the SMBC?

    Thanks so much! 🙂


    1. Hey April!

      Honestly I don’t know for sure about the volume in cups. It’s at least eight, but could be more. I just think of it as “enough for one cake.” 😉

      As for cutting back the butter, yes you can, with no I’ll effects.

      – Joe

      1. Ahaha, yeah, that’s what I jotted down in my notes for your recipe as well, “just enough for two layers of an 8″ cake” 🙂

        Thanks for your speedy reply!


  10. Hi… I am a new baker and was wondering if SMBC would hold up in humid weather. I have a 2 layer cake coming up. I find the American Buttercream too sweet and would like to try this or IMBC. The cake will be in the shade but I am from a place that is practically humid all year round…. hmmm. Thanks so much and more power.

    I am just so glad my friend referred me to your site. I sure am learning a lot of things….

    1. Hello, Isabelle! Very glad to have you aboard! 😉

      Humidity isn’t a big problem for buttercream per se, but heat will definitely be an issue. Of all the buttercreams, Italian is the most stable, the most capable of standing up to adverse weather conditions. However when heat gets up to butter-melting temperature problems begin to occur.

      Moisture, even though there’s meringue in the buttercream, isn’t a big deal. So if that’s the only issue I’d say full steam ahead! Thanks so much for stopping by — and get in touch any time!

      – Joe

  11. Hi Joe,

    Once a cake/cupcake has been frosted with SMBC, how long will it keep at room temp? What if it’s under rolled fondant. Does that make a difference to the keeping time? I sometimes need to assemble a cake the day before.

    Thanks for all the helpful information here. I’ve learnt a lot!!

    1. A day ahead of time should be no problem. There’s so much sugar in buttercream that any critters have a very hard time growing in it. But no, being under rolled fondant won’t really make any difference.

      Best of luck with the project, sounds delicious!

      – Joe

  12. I made this not long ago for my pregnant friend’s baby shower cake and it was amazing. I had always made Italian buttercream but wanted to ensure it would be safe for pregnant women. I also beat about a cup of caramel sauce and it turned out absolutely perfect and held up wonderfully. Thanks Joe!!

    1. Thanks for the note, Jamielynn! Ah, caramel buttercream. Next time invite me, K?

      – Joe

  13. Hey Joe,

    I stumbled upon this website while looking for some recipes for a cake that I want to make for my birthday. I am envisioning a lemon cake with lemon curd filling and blueberry frosting. However, I want to make the rose cake pictured here Will either the IMBC or the SMBC “crust” the way they say buttercream should with shortening? I am just never a fan of shortening for anything.


    1. Hi Erica!

      Unfortunately no, French buttercream doesn’t form that crystallized sugar crust, I’m sorry to say. It stays soft and shiny, for good or for ill!

      Thanks for the great question!

      – Joe

      1. I’m having the same quandry as Erika. The issue with American Buttercream with the rosette cake is that the frosting is styled so thick for such a sweet choice. Joe, do you think any non-shortening BC could hold up to such a design?

        1. Hi Diane!

          Methinks that particular cake needs an American buttercream. There are just so many flowers, it’s hard to imagine a traditional buttercream holding up for very long. Wish I had better news, Diane!

          – Joe

  14. How long can SMBC stay out for on the counter and stay safe to eat? Thanks!

    1. Hi Bobbie!

      A full day for sure. After that it probably should be refrigerated, just in case.

      – Joe

  15. I’m making a rainbow cake for St. Patrick’s day and have been searching for a good frosting recipe. I’ve made the buttercream with butter and powdered sugar (though most I’ve seen call for some shortening) for sugar cookies, but don’t make many cakes. I’ve been looking into the IMBC and SMBC (I’m currently pregnant so would need to do SMBC) recipes and they all call for a stand mixer. I’ve seen people ask if using a handheld mixer is possible, but never seen any answer posted! What is your opinion about that? I’ve been hounding the hubby for a stand mixer for a while now, so I’m hopeful about this Mother’s Day! lol

  16. I’m making a lemon cake with earl grey tea buttercream, and thought I’d give a real buttercream a try for the first time. Is it possible to incorporate liquid like tea?

    1. I have made a earl grey SMBC by infusing 1/2 the butter with tea for 5 minutes (simmering gently) then pop it back in the fridge until solid again, good luck

  17. I’m going to start off by saying that this site is the best, and I spend too much time on it. Joe you’re the reason I’m not prepping for my oral presentation in literacy. Now that that’s out of the way, my problem with SMBC is that I can’t get the meringue to come to stiff peaks. I use fresh egg whites, a stainless steel bowl, and I wipe everything down. Could it be the fact that I’m using a hand mixer?

    1. Hey Salina!

      Thanks for the kind words! I got a big kick out of your comment.

      On the SMBC, the hand mixer may have something to do with it if it’s under-powered. What sort of mixer is it?

      – Joe

  18. I have a 10-speed food network hand-mixer which has a 250-watt motor. I’m thinking about making a batch of SMBC this weekend and was wondering if making a really small batch, like one or two egg whites, would make it harder to get to the right consistency.

    1. Hey Salina!

      As long as the whip can reach the bottom of the bowl you should be good!

      – Joe

  19. So I tried with one egg white on Saturday and ended up with about 1/2 cup of frosting. I tried again today with four egg whites and ended up with a little over 3 cups. Today I used the beaters on my hand mixer vs. the whisk attachment on Saturday. The beaters seemed to work a lot better. I still didn’t get to stiff peaks but I guess I’ll just have to settle until I get a stand mixer. I plan on selling my soul to the devil for one, I’ll let you know if it works out and thank you for all your help.

    1. Ha! OK, Salina! Let me know how it all goes…best of luck finding the funds…but then remember it’ll be Christmas before you know it. A few well-placed words to friends and family may do the trick! 😉


      – Joe

    2. I bought mu first kitchen aid stand mixer for $100 refurbished. It was great and I passed it to my daughter when I purchased a larger model.

      1. That’s the great thing about those mixers — they can be passed down. My cousin owns my grandmother’s mixer, which actually carries the “Hobart” name, which is what they were called before they were rebranded “KitchenAid”. I understand it’s still running like a top!

        Thanks for the email, Valerie!

        – Joe

  20. Hi Joe-

    Back with more questions: I’ll be making 2 single layer sheet cakes (9×13) and am wondering if I should double the above recipe to cover just the tops of both cakes or if one batch will be enough?

    Also, I’ll be flavoring the SMBC with earl grey tea – I was thinking 3 tea bags per 6 oz? What do you think?


  21. Thank you so much for this recipe and the pictures! Today was the first time I made buttercream successfully, the pictures really helped. At one point it looked curdled, but I beat it on high just like you said, and it came out beautifully. Hopefully my family will all like the chocolate hazelnut cake and real buttercream frosting tomorrow.

    1. Great Nancy! And thanks for spreading the love…literally and figuratively. More people need to know how good this stuff is!


      – Joe

  22. Hi Joe, thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes! I am wondering if I could use honey instead of sugar in the swiss meringue buttercream recipe. Do you think it will work??
    Thanks so much!!

  23. hi joe,

    I love this post, very informative. I just read through all the comments and learned a ton!

    I’m making a birthday cake for my son’s first birthday this weekend. I was wondering how early in advance can I make this buttercream. I have a 9 in 2 layer tier and a 6 in 2 layer tier to be stacked. Will 1x this recipe be enough for a light coat under rolled fondant?

    Thanks in advance. I plan on sticking around and looking through the rest of your site. Thanks!

    1. Hi Val!

      If you’re just planning on using it as an undercoat then you’ll probably use about half a recipe. You can prepare it a day in advance and leave it on the counter overnight. Otherwise it’ll keep in the fridge for a couple weeks, but you’re better off freezing it after maybe three days to keep it from picking up off odors in the fridge. You’ll need to let it warm to room temperature completely before you use it, and may need to re-beat it to get the fluff back. Odds are it’ll break when you first start to beat it because some parts of the mass will be colder than others. Just keep beating until the temperature and the texture even back out!

      Cheers and good luck with the project!

      – Joe

      1. thanks for replying, joe!

        i forgot to ask, if i was using smbc for cupcakes, would it crust over like an american buttercream would? or would it stay sort of wet to the touch?

        thanks again!

        1. Hi Val!

          Real buttercreams don’t form the same sugar crystal crust that American buttercreams do. It should stay fairly glossy for a day or two!


          – Joe

  24. Hi Joe,
    Need your help on some questions about SMBC.
    This is my first time going to make this buttercream. Abit nervous actually. 🙂
    Once i have iced the cake with SMBC, can I leave it at room temperature til the next day? Say around 36 hours? Or should i start to put the cake in the fridge after 24 hrs? I try not to put in the fridge if possible as i will hv fondant deco on it.
    Will SMBC turn soft at room temperature and ‘sink’ all my deco?
    Should. I keep it in a box at room temperature or is it ok to put it on cake stand?


    1. Hi Evelyn!

      You’ll do great. If the cake needs to hold that long you can put the iced cake in the fridge for sure. That’s probably a better thing than to leave it out for 36 hours. How big are the fondant ornaments? If they’re small they can probably handle the coolness as well. As far as holding up, it depends on how warm the room is. If it’s 70 – 75 all should be well. What about refrigerating the cake after it’s iced and applying the fondant decorations a couple of hours before serving?

      And it is indeed OK on a cake stand. Buttercreams do fine sitting out….but I’d try not to let the iced cake sit out for more then twelve hours if you can help it.

      Does that help?

      – Joe

  25. Hello,
    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe out especially with all the wonderful reviews it has. I’ve only ever used American buttercream, but I am not starting to sell my cakes and would like to add more variety. I feel I have researched and googled until my eyes hurt. Do most bakers use a SMBC on their cakes or is traditional BC still the to to icing. I’ve had many compliments on my BC, but I do love change. Will this SMBC work well on any cake/ flavor of cake and fondant deco?
    Any and all info is greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Trisha!

      My sense is that most American cake bakers use some sort of American buttercream on their cakes because it’s easy to make, less inexpensive and holds up well. I’d say it’s in the wedding cake industry that you find more traditional buttercreams like SMBC and IMBC. You also find these sort of “finer” buttercreams in/on small cakes and pastries in boutique pastry shops. So maybe that’s how you want to use them: less on larger cakes where the buttercream is more expensive and more temperature-sensitive, and more on specialty items. Just a thought!

      Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  26. I made this yet again today. This is the family favorite by far. My son requested the yellow butter cake layers with an obscene amount of chocolate buttercream for his birthday cake so I covered the cake layers with a recipe and a half of this buttercream.

  27. Hi Joe,
    just stumbled across your blog while searching for answers…
    I recently made my first smbc and loved it. Normally I use abc for kids cakes, but think smbc is very delicious for grown up cakes

    1. Hey Julia!

      Nice to know we have another SMBC convert out there! Welcome to the fold — and come back soon!

      – Joe

  28. Joe , what size eggs are your whites coming from? Medium or large? So is there a gram weight for it? Thanks a million , major fan of this site.

    1. Hey George!

      Thanks very much for the kind words! They are large eggs. Cheers,

      – Joe

  29. Hi Joe

    First like to thank you for your wonderful website. I am a novice baker and your steps are very clear to follow. I am a big fan of your IMBC. Now thought of trying this SMBC.

    As I told you, I am very new to baking and I have a basic question. Please help. I am planning to do white cake with raspberry filling and SMBC frosting for my daughter’s frozen theme birthday party. Also I thought of covering the cake with sweetened coconut flakes over the SMBC. Will it taste good and does shredded coconut go well with white cake and SMBC frosting? Also can I add little coconut extract to SMBC frosting ? Please help.

    Also a big request, can u post a basic fail proof vanilla/white cake recipe.


    1. Hello Sakthei!

      Thank you very much for your kind words. Please do try the SMBC as I think you will enjoy it. Coconut flakes will work very well with that, especially if you can find some that are still fairly fresh and moist. The flavors will go together wonderfully. If you want to add some coconut extract to the buttercream, so much the better!

      I have many recipe for cake layers of various kinds on the site. Look in the menus to the left under “Pastry Components” then “Cake Layers”. I have yellow butter cake there as well as white cake. They are not difficult to make. I think you will do well with them. Get back to me with any questions!


      – joe

  30. Thank you so much for taking your time and replying me.

    Again a question, I recently move to Australia . Here they don’t have cake flour ( May be available in some speciality stores but not easily available). Will substituting part of plain flour with cornflour work?

    Please suggest.


    1. Hello again Sakthei!

      Yes, that’s exactly the right approach. For every cup of flour, subtract one tablespoon of flour and replace it with cornflour.

      Have fun!

      – Joe

  31. Dear Joe, how are you? I was wondering if you could help me out here. I’m always trying to reduce work steps and health risks for my clients, so I’ve been making SMBC with pasteurized egg whites. Since the egg is already pasteurized the heating only serves to melt the sugar crystals. Do you think it might work with glucose syrup too, which I could just mix with the egg white without heating? How much glucose would you use – same weight? Thanks for any insight and Happy Holidays! Fleur

    1. Hey Fleur!

      Very interesting question. I think the only thing you can do is experiment. It seems to me that a thick glucose syrup might just work, and yes, the same weight as the sugar in the recipe. Let me know what happens!


      – Joe

      1. Thanks Joe! I have some thick glucose on hand so I’ll give it a try and let you know!

        1. Very thick glucose syrup has an extremely low moisture content so you should be OK. I’ll be curious though!

          – Joe

          1. Hi Joe! So I tried making SMBC with very thick glucose syrup yesterday. Consistency-wise, it worked a charm. I had to heat the egg-glucose mixture for a minute in the microwave to be able to mix them together. Unfortunately, the glucose was much less sweet than granulated sugar, so I had to add a lot of powdered sugar to sweeten the SMBC up. (I dislike sieving powdered sugar and try to avoid using it). So, I’m back to square one on my quest for the most effortless SMBC recipe.

            At least we know now! Thanks for your help! 🙂

            Cheers, Fleur

          2. Ah right. I forgot about that. Glucose syrup is nowhere near as sweet tasting as sucrose syrup. I should have thought about that. Sorry. But as you we know!

            Thanks for testing the idea!

            – Joe

  32. Hi Joe,

    This was my first time making buttercream, ever! Any kind of buttercream – I’m not a big fan and I always try to avoid it, plus I was lucky enough so far for people to ask chocolate, so I had the option of using some form of ganache (or your colonnade frosting to which I add melted chocolate). So I was prepared to all sorts of mishaps, of course! But again your recipe and your picture tutorial were so good that I got a perfect result – as with almost every other thing I tried so far from your blog!
    Only thing I’m not that crazy about is the taste – it’s soooooooo buttery! But again it is a buttercream, even if a fancy, silky one. 🙂 I added some vanilla extract and some pina colada (no alcohol, though – it’s for my kid’s rainbow B-day cake), but I still can feel just the taste of butter for the first many seconds. I’m afraid to add more flavour because I fear a chemical aftertaste of it. Any suggestions? For now I hope that once combined with the cake (plain vanilla layers and your recipe for ricotta cream) the taste will get to some sort of balance. Or maybe the cake will just be so beautiful that no one will actually care about the taste! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Thanks again for a perfect recipe!

    1. Hey Ioana!

      So glad to hear that it worked well for you. Very glad indeed. And yes, it does taste like butter for sure. That to my mind is a good thing, but if it’s a little too much for you just remember to apply it thinly on the cake — you only need a little to really complement a cake layer. We cake eaters have grown accustomed to thick applications of more modern frostings that aren’t as rich. Think of buttercream as a condiment and all will be well. 😉

      Cheers and let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

      1. Hello Joe,

        Thank you for the comparison, it really helped me to visualise how the cake should be/ look. And it went perfect! It was really good – expecially given the fact that, totally unlike me, I used boxed cake mixes (which I swore never to use again!). It seems that everyone who’s making a rainbow cake is using cake mixes for some reason, but after doing the same thing I don’t really think there’s a good enough reason to use a mix instead of making the layers from scratch, the taste and the texture are so much different! I will play with different recipes and colours to see how they (re)act, plus that where I come from we moisten the layers with syrup and I still have to see what that means to a coloured cake layer, but by the time my kid comes up with the next request for a cake I’ll be ready! 🙂


        1. Great to hear Ioana! Please keep my up to date on your cake making! Cheers,

          – Joe

  33. Hi, Joe!
    Ok. I made your SMBC for the first time. And it is beautiful. I really like the soft texture and subtle sweetness. I have a similar question as another. Can I reduce the amount of butter safely? Without affecting the taste or consistency? To my sugared up mouth, SMBC feels a little too greasy. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Hey Charm!

      You can reduce the butter if you like, by about a third if you like. I know it’s buttery — but that’s why they call it buttercream! 😉

      – Joe

  34. Thought I’d be a smarty-pants and try a shortcut. Pasteurized egg whites didn’t work. D’oh!

    All the while I was considering that move I was thinking to myself, “I wonder if heating the sugar and whites together might be a requirement in order to effect a required chemical or mechanical change?”. As far as I know 160?F does nothing to sugar but maybe there’s some other factor I don’t know about.

    Anyhow, it seemed as though the mix had these tiny little bits in there that just wouldn’t beat out. Not after 6-8 minutes. Not after 10-12 minutes. Not after 20 freakin’ minutes! I played around with a spoon to move the mess around and see if I could detect any lumps. All that did was create little puddles of liquid. I then thought, “OK, if there’s liquid in there can I strain it out somewhat like making butter and maybe get the consistency right for whipping again?”. Placed the whole wet mess in a (very clean, laundered!) white handkerchief and squeezed it until all the liquid was out and butter was starting to exit through the cloth. Dumped back into mixer it turned out to be too dry to mix, so I added back, little by little, some of the extracted liquid. No dice. 🙁

    OK, so now I’ll take a break, recover from my mini-pastry-depression and go at it again “by the book”.

    Any thoughts, Joe?

    PS – At least now I’ll have enough reserved egg yolks to try your High-Ratio Yellow Cake recipe. My father always said, “With every disadvantage there comes an equal or greater benefit”. I think he was quoting Dale Carnegie, but it works for me. 🙂

    1. Yes, I did see Fleur’s comment above, “Since the egg is already pasteurized the heating only serves to melt the sugar crystals.” I decided that heating wasn’t “melting” but that the liquid eggs were actually dissolving (the sugar crystals), which is why I assumed my method would work. See what I get for assuming? 😉 By the by, I definitely started with room temp butter – took Ina Garten’s advice and left it out on the counter overnight. The only thing that was cold was the pasteurized eggs – straight out of the fridge.

    2. Hey Rein!

      My guess is that those lumps were little blobs of coagulated protein from the pasteurization process. I’m glad you tried this, though. Now I know!

      But good luck with the yellow cake. The gold cake is also good too. Let me know how the baking goes!


      – Joe

  35. Hi Joe! How are you? 🙂 Such a great post! Just finished reading all the wonderful comments here and I’m very eager to try this buttercream.

    I am in search of a superb bc for my daughter’s 1st bday party since I am planning to make cupcakes with just the right amount of sweetness in the frosting. Tried abc but it’s way too sweet, got so upset with it. Haha. Wish me luck!

    All the best! 🙂

    1. How did it go, Zen? I hope you — and especially your daughter — like it. Just a little goes a long way as I’m sure you discovered.

      Would love to hear from you,

      – Joe

  36. Hi Joe,
    This recipe was amazing, I’d never made any kind of meringue buttercream before but it was easy and fabulous! I added coconut essence to the mix and coconut flakes on the top over a vanilla & raspberry swirl cake with cream cheese filling, fresh raspberries and fresh cream. It was amazing and I had many compliments. Thank you all the way from Sydney Australia

  37. Hi Joe

    I made the SMBC and although it turned out lovely in texture there wasn’t much taste. I am guessing I just didn’t put in enough flavoring at the end. I started with a tsp of vanilla and added a little almond but it still didn’t taste as good as the IMBC I made last week. Is it simply a need of more flavoring or could I possibly have done something wrong in making it? I am new to these fine frostings….. Thank you for your help and your website. I love the science that you share in how things work…or don’t work.

    1. Hey Suzanne! First, congratulations on the excellent work you doing in terms of spreading the gospel of real buttercreams. But to your question. If it came out looking like buttercream you did it right. It’s possible the batch of butter was a little more bland than normal, which is a result of cow diet, nothing you did. But IMBC tastes eggier to me just generally, so I think you’re right on the money that SMBC needs a little more somethin’-somethin’. Getting more aggressive with the flavoring is the way to go. Have fun and thanks for getting in touch!

      – Joe

  38. Hi Joe,

    I will be making a rolled fondant covered cake for the first time. It will be a 2-3 layered marble cake. On top of the cake, I’ve made 5 chubby fondant animals for decoration. I’ve been doing some research and most of them say to leave the finished cake at room temperature to avoid condensation on the fondant. In that case, will SMBC works? Is there anything in particular that I should pay attention to, ie the thickness of the frosting in each layer? I’m really worried that the cake will collapse. Ple

    1. Hey there!

      If you are planning to apply rolled fondant, that’s correct. Put it on last and leave the case at room temperature afterward. However you can certainly keep it refrigerated before then. When I worked at a commercial baker it was normal practice to keep cakes, or sections of cakes, in the refrigerator covered with a thin “crumb coat” of buttercream. On delivery day we’d take the cakes out of the fridge, let them warm up a bit, then apply the fondant and decorations.

      If you’re asking whether it’s OK to simply use SMBC without any fondant at all, that will work just fine for a 2-3 layer cake. In fact I prefer that to fondant since it can be refrigerated. Just use a thin scraping of buttercream between the layers, perhaps a little jam as well for flavor and color. A think layer of buttercream on the outside is all that is needed as well, so as not to make the cake too rich. It will have no trouble standing up, and will not fall apart.

      But warned however that if it’s hot where you are, the cake shouldn’t stand out for very long before serving as the buttercream will get very soft. The cake will not fall apart I don’t think, but the cake tastes best when it’s about 70 degrees.

      Have fun and best of luck with the project!

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *