Swiss Meringue Icing on a Wedding Cake
There are three different kinds of meringues that you can make and add to your wedding cake. Make Swiss meringue icing for a wedding cake with help from a graduate of the Classic Pastry Arts Program at the French Culinary Institute in New York City in this free video clip.
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So, before we get started, I want to explain a little bit about meringues. We are making a Swiss meringue but there are essentially three different kinds of meringues. There's a French meringue, an Italian meringue and a Swiss meringue and they are all, basically give you the final, a good final product. They are similar, but there is a different technique that is used to get to that final product. So a French meringue has a lot of volume but is very, very unstable and it's also using uncooked eggs. So if you are making a French meringue you're going to want to pop that in the oven before you eat it or maybe incorporate it into a cake or baked on top, lighting up pancakes or something like that. An Italian meringue uses boiled sugar to essentially cook the eggs. You would boil that sugar on the stove and then pour it into a French meringue and then a Swiss meringue cooks on the stove combined, the sugar and the egg whites and that is most commonly used for piping decorations, those little mushrooms that you would see on a bush de noel or something like that but it also can be used to make the bast for a really delicious buttercream to frost your cake. So we're going to start with that right now. Alright so the first thing you want to do is take a saucepan and put a little bit of water in there and bring it to a nice simmer and that's how we're going to cook our egg whites. We have our bowl of our mixer. We're going to start working with that and put it directly on our KitchenAid. So I've got the bowl. I'm going to put six egg whites in there and I've got one and a quarter cups of fine granulated sugar and then this is a quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar. So we're going to take those three elements, put them in our mixer and put that right over our saucepan. You don't want that water ever to be actually touching the bottom of the bowl. You just want it warming it up. So I've got a nice balloon whisk here and I'm going to start mixing that all together and we're going to warm that up right here on the stove and then it's going to go directly onto our mixer. Now you want this to reach 130 degrees. I have a handy little candy thermometer mixture you have a candy thermometer, not a meat thermometer. You want to make sure you have the right thermometer for the work that you're doing. So right here it's going to tell you exactly where it's going to reach 130 degrees. So you can just go ahead and stick that in there, right in the bowl and just kind of check periodically as it reaches that goal of 130 degrees. Okay so we're almost at 130 degrees. I can see that on my thermometer. You want to take it off just before that because obviously that temperature is going to keep rising and pull out that candy thermometer. So it came right off the burner. I'm going to put that right on our KitchenAid and we're going to get that whisk attachment, not your paddle because you really want to whip this up so it's nice and frothy. You want to start relatively low and then you're going to work up to a higher speed. Okay, alright, so once you see that that meringue is nice and shiny and smooth and has a nice beautiful volume to it, that means it's ready. You also can feel the bottom of your bowl. Make sure it's not too hot. You can put your finger in there. We're going to add the butter now but if this is still too hot, that's just going to make a big soupy bowl of meringue butter cream. Now at this point I have my butter here and this is cut up and it's at room temperature. So I'm going to put that on, because this is at room temperature I feel comfortable keeping that whisk attachment on. If this is a little colder than room temperature, go ahead and put your paddle attachment on your mixer at this point but we're going to keep it relatively low and then just bit by bit I'm going to add that butter. Okay, alright I'm going to stop that and you just want to stop it at this point, make sure you get all that extra excess meringue from the side so it's all incorporated into the buttercream. Now this is just a base at this point and you're going to want to add some flavor to it so I've got here a pinch of salt. I'm going to put that in there and then we're going to add a couple teaspoons of vanilla to give it a nice vanilla buttercream flavor. And if you want to do this and make it into something else, you can always add a bit of fruit puree, you can add some melted chocolate, not too hot in there. You get your chocolate, you can dissolve some instant Espresso powder in a little bit of water and add that, you'll get a nice mocha with your chocolate. Really it's up to you. This is your baste. You can work with it in whatever way you want. Alright so it's mixing that vanilla and salt and there you go, you have some delicious silky buttery smooth Swiss buttercream.