This is really the first of a three part post, which will culminate in a delicious white cake with raspberry filling—swoon— but today, we’re talking buttercream.
Pastry Nerd Alert! There are six kinds of buttercreams in the pastry world. If you really want to nerd out, Nila at TheToughCookie.com has an excellent series, “Battle of the Buttercreams,” where she examines each buttercream for everything from sugar content to color. Today, however, I’m only delving into the Italian variety.
Baking beginners usually shy away from Italian buttercream, because it involves pouring 240°F sugar into whipping egg whites. Trust me, making an Italian buttercream is easy to master and the results are oh-so worth it.
The trick is getting your eggs to medium peak at about the same time your sugar hits the 240° mark. Here’s what I do— I place my sugar and water over medium heat. Then I get my whites in the mixer and my additional sugar scaled beside it. It’s helpful if your mixer and stove are close together for this.
Once my sugar starts to boil, I turn the mixer on medium. When my whites are super foamy, I add the additional sugar, and crank the mixer up to medium-high speed and the stove to medium- high heat. Your whites will hit medium peak before your sugar is ready, which is completely fine. Turn off your mixer, and keep your eyes glued to your candy thermometer. At 240°F, remove your sugar from the heat, turn your mixer on medium-high speed, and carefully pour your hot sugar in a steady stream, aiming halfway between the bowl and the spinning beater. The result is a beautiful Italian meringue, and after two pounds of butter it becomes an incredibly creamy buttercream.
Italian buttercream is my go-to cake frosting. It isn’t cloyingly sweet, the cooked sugar makes it super sturdy yet spreadable, and its elegant ivory color makes it perfect for special occasions. However, it’s also perfect for when you just want to stay in your pajamas, bake, and eat fancy cupcakes. The choice is yours.
- 10.5 oz or 9 large egg whites
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbs. vanilla extract
- In a medium-size sauce pan, cook 1 1/2 cups sugar and the water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts.
- Have the whites ready in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
- Once the sugar begins to boil, stop stirring and cook to 240°F on medium-high heat.
- When the sugar first starts to boil, turn the mixer on medium speed. Add the remaining half cup of sugar, once the eggs are very foamy. Set the mixer to medium-high speed until medium peaks form.
- When the sugar hits 240°F, pour it into whites in a steady stream with the mixer on medium-high speed.
- Beat on high speed until the bowl cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- Slowly add butter a few tablespoons at a time, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
- Add vanilla until incorporated.
- Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week.