If you’re a regular baker, you will have probably already made a couple of batches of Swiss meringue buttercream. That’s the velvety smooth buttercream which starts with egg whites and sugar stirred over low heat in a Bain Marie and then whipped to a meringue before blocks of butter are added. It’s a tricky technique that rewards you with a silky not-too-sweet buttercream but can also result in a (very expensive) puddle of melty goo if you’re not careful.
The trick to the regular Swiss meringue buttercream (or SBC as bakers have dubbed it), is to whip the hot egg whites until billowy and cool before gradually adding the butter to emulsify it. It never makes sense to me why you would go to all that effort of whipping in the air, only to knock it out again when you add the butter. And then you can do everything else right but that doesn’t mean it will work.
The secret? Do it in reverse!
Flipping traditional techniques on their head is something I am a huge fan of! There’s the reverse creaming method (mix the flour and sugar then gradually add the butter), oh and of course there’s this upside-down cake frosting technique which went viral last year.
Step 1: Place the egg whites and sugar in a glass or metal bowl (just like you would for the normal SBC). Bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and place the egg white bowl over the steam. Stir (don’t whip) with a whisk until the mixture reaches 60 degrees Celsius on a thermometer. Remove from the heat.
Step 2: This is where things get interesting! At this point, you would normally put the hot egg whites in a stand mixer and whip them to kingdom come, but we’re going to refrigerate the egg whites until cooled, instead.
Step 3: Reverse time! Beat the room temperature butter with a whisk attachment until very light and fluffy. Then add half the cooled egg mixture and whip very well before adding the final half. Add your flavourings (extracts, alcohol, spices, zest etc) and voila, you’ve just made a buttercream!
The best part about this technique is that you can make the egg white-sugar mix up until step 2 and then freeze it for whenever you need to make buttercream again.
Follow this recipe for epic results!
Images via Getty Images / Unsplash