It’s been another very buttery and satisfying week. My relationship with Italian meringue buttercream has grown immensely and I fear it will become a permanent and caloric fixture in my life. My old school friend Sarah announced her engagement to Patrick one year ago. I volunteered my buttery skills immediately and I’m very glad I did. The loved up couple don’t particularly enjoy thick white fondant icing, so making a suitable buttercream was a necessity. I researched buttercreams and decided Italian meringue buttercream would do the job, it is more stable than American buttercream (which I tend to make) and also sturdier in heat. Italian meringue buttercream starts with a simple meringue base, combined with a hot sugar syrup and an enormous amount of butter. The result is a very smooth, less sweet buttercream which is perfect for decorating. Here is the recipe:
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of glucose (or corn) syrup
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 5 egg whites
- 450g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- Vanilla essence (or whatever flavouring you prefer)
Mix the sugar and syrup together into a paste and place on a medium heat. Bring the syrup to the boil and give it a good swirl every now and then. When the syrup starts to bubble, start making the meringue by whipping up the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl. I use a KitchenAid for all my baking, but it’s particularly important for this type of buttercream as there is a lot of whisking involved. Stop whisking once the egg whites form stiff peaks. Bring the syrup up to a consistent boil, the temperature should reach 115°C before taking off the heat. Start whisking the meringue and slowly pour the syrup in. Keep mixing until all the syrup is incorporated, and then blast it on a fast whisk for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cool. Chop up the butter and add it ALL slowly, bit by bit. After lots of mixing, a beautiful Italian meringue buttercream is born. Add flavour and mix, è finito. Not so tricky after all, I do recommend a sugar thermometer.
The wedding cake flavours were lemon, carrot and vanilla (working top to bottom). I have to say the carrot cake recipe has also stolen my heart. I’m having a very good week for being wooed by food. The recipe is on the BBC Good Food website, please see link below. The cakes were baked, cooled, carved and buttercreamed. The bottom and middle layers were dowelled to death, there was probably more wood in there than cake! Can’t afford tier slippage at a wedding….. heaven forbid. A good buttercream crumb coat is necessary before adding the final layer of buttercream. Refrigeration is important to let those layers get hard for extra buttering. Neat, smooth lines are very desirable.
The theme of the cake was Lego to honour the groom’s Danish heritage. I bought a silicone Lego mould to make individual fondant pieces to build the cake board. The side of the cake was simply built with rectangles of coloured fondant icing. I got very sticky whilst putting this together and I flicked buttercream everywhere. I can’t take credit for the cake topper, the Lego people are the real deal.
A massive congratulations to the bride and groom. Wishing you both a very happy and buttery future together!