SMBC or (swiss-meringue buttercream) pretty much changed my life. Pre-SMBC life (we don’t like to talk about it) consisted of tirelessly struggling to cover cakes in a powdered sugar/shortening mixture that makes me cringe thinking about it. I could never get it SMOOTH and it had such a gross greasy mouth-feel. The first time I used SMBC was in pastry school and I had that A-HA moment! THIS! THIS is what the pros must use! In the bakery, we call SMBC, “God’s Clouds”. If that doesn’t give you a mental image of what this buttercream is like, then I don’t know what will.
I have two favorite recipes for SMBC. The first is the traditional recipe I learned in school. The other is Lauren Kitchens cheater SMBC. This recipe is a bit sweeter but still works great and tastes great.
The way this recipe works is by ratios by weight. 1:2:2. Eggs, sugar, butter. You start with your eggs. Each egg white weighs 1 oz (convenient eh?) So if you use 8 egg whites, that is 8oz. If you use 8oz of eggs then use 16oz of sugar and 16oz of butter. Easy peezy lemon squeezy.
8oz egg whites
3.5oz vegetable shortening (optional)
16oz granulated sugar
16oz softened unsalted butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
Get a pot of water boiling on the stovetop. Turn the temp down to med. Place your egg whites into your metal mixing bowl. Be careful not to get any yolks in there or it could make your meringue not whip up. Place your sugar into the bowl with your whites. Place the bowl over the pot of boiling water to make a bane marie. Whisk occasionally until the sugar dissolves. This heating process also heats the eggs just enough so that the bacteria is killed off. When you can rub a bit of the white mixture between your fingers and it doesn’t feel grainy, your meringue is ready to whip up!
Place the bowl on your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn it all the way up to high speed. Add in the salt. We want our meringue to get to stiff peak stage. That means the egg whites have so much air whipped into them that when you pull the whisk off, the meringue sticks straight up and does not fall over when you turn the whisk upright.
Once your meringue is whipped up to max capacity, it has to cool down. To speed this process up, I scoop the meringue out of the bowl and dump it in big blobs onto a large cake pan and pop it into the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill quickly. Don’t mess with the meringue too much, you don’t want to break down the consistency.
Once the meringue is cooled, put it back into the bowl carefully and add your butter in in small chunks and then your shortening (optional). Turn the mixer all the way back up to high and let it whip. Whip it real good! This could take up to 10 minutes! When your buttercream is done, it should be extremely light, creamy and WHITE. If it’s still off-white or yellow, it doesn’t have enough air whipped into it and you need to keep going.
When you’re all done, you should have dreamy, delicious, fluffy goodness that is hard to stop snacking on! It goes on so smooth and you can get the sharpest, cleanest corners you have ever seen! It’s seriously all I use.