Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tales of a Tiered Cake #5 – The Frosting

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For those of you who are just joining this blog, I’m posting a series that has been chronicling my adventures in making a tiered cake for the engagement party of my children. The recipes are a work in progress, so check back for the updated and corrected recipes.
The cake shown above is the top of the tiered cake that I made for a birthday party, but the frosting is basically the same as the one I’ll be using for my engagement cake. Ann’s was flavored with cassis to go with a raspberry filling. For this cake, I’ll use kirsch to go with the cherry filling. I’m going to be using a simplified meringue buttercream. It’s quite different from bakery frosting in that it’s much less sweet and has none of the grit associated with frostings made with powdered sugar. Making buttercream can be very difficult, because in the traditional version, you have to cook a sugar syrup to softball stage and then get it into the beaten eggs or whites without any of it getting on the beaters or bowl, where it will form hard sugar lumps or threads. This simplified method can be made in half the time, with half the skill. It might contain a few sugar crystals, but they won’t be noticed when eaten with the cake. I use pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton. They should contain nothing but pure egg whites. You can separate out egg whites if you prefer. Just make sure that not a single drop of egg yolk gets into the egg whites. You can also use regular egg whites, but you’ll have to cook them differently to make sure that all bacteria gets killed (directions will be inlcuded in the final, corrected recipe posts). As with any recipe containing stiffly beaten egg whites, all utensils and tools must be completely grease-free. Wash them thoroughly and for extra measure, you can wipe out with a towel moistened with vinegar (rinse and dry afterwards).
Kirsch Meringue Buttercream240 grams (8 large) pasteurized egg whites -- (I use Organic Valley Egg Whites, in a carton)
3 tablespoons water
2 –2/3 cups superfine sugar (or you can buzz it in a coffee grinder)
21 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup kirsch
Remove the butter from the refrigerator and cut it into tablespoon-size lumps so it can soften while you prepare the eggs.
Boil 2 inches of water in a pot into which your metal mixer bowl will fit. Place the egg whites into the clean, grease-free mixer bowl. Whisk in the water and sugar.
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Place the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk –stir constantly until the mixture reaches 120-130 degrees, about 1-3 minutes. The mixture will be very warm, and the sugar granules should have dissolved. Remove the bowl from over the water. If you see any un-dissolved sugar crystals in the bowl, wipe these off with a paper towel.
Beat the egg white mixture , increasing the speed to medium-high to high speed , as quickly as possible without having the egg whites splash out of the bowl. Beat until the mixture looks like thick shaving cream, and the egg whites and bowl are cool - about 20 minutes.
This is easiest done with a standing mixer using a balloon whisk. To hasten the process, wet a towel and place a few cupfuls of ice chips into it. Wrap it up and place this under the bowl so that it in constant contact with the bowl.
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By now the butter should be at cool room temperature. If you press down on it with your thumb, it should yield readily, but should not be soft and melty. If too soft, refrigerate it just for a few minutes to firm it back up. Place the butter into a large mixing bowl, and beat until creamy. On low, beat in 1/3 of the whites. Repeat with the remaining whites, 2 more times. When all of the whites have been added, increase the beater speed to medium-high, and beat until the mixture curdles,
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and then smoothes out into thick and creamy frosting, about 10-15 minutes. Beat in the extract and liqueur .
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Buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated, although it is easier to work with when fresh. Chop up the cold buttercream so that it will come to cool room temperature faster. Beat the room temperature buttercream as above, until creamy and smooth.
VARIATION
For the light chocolate buttercream between the 12-inch layers, use the following:
1/2 recipe of kirsch buttercream
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Microwave the chocolate, water and butter on medium power (5) until the chocolate is melted, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture cool, and then stir it into the buttercream.
To frost and assemble the 12-inch tier you'll need 2 recipes of the kirsch buttercream.

2 comments:

Bertha P said...

This sounds really good and not too hard either! A lot of people don't like the heaviness and sweetness of regular buttercream.

Every time I hear about cartons of liquid eggs, I cringe a little. There's a delicious in the shell egg that is pasteurized and I use them for everything. The brand is Davidson's Safest Choice. See if you can buy them in your area. I think you'll be as happy with them as I am.

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

Yes, I do use Davidson's, but not for this recipe. It adds a lot of time when you have to separate out the eggs and make sure that no yolk gets in there. Also, sometimes Davidson's don't whip, or they whip so slowly that it drives me nuts. I have tried egg whites in cartons that also don't whip - that's why I put in the brand that I know works. Davidson's are terrific for omelettes, mousses and mayonnaise, though. Thanks for letting people know about them.