makes enough to frost a couple dozen cupcakes or a 9-inch layer cake
based on Classic Meringue Buttercream from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
1 cup organic granulated sugar (less 2 tablespoons)
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tablespoons water
28 tablespoons organic unsalted butter (that’s 3 1/2 sticks), at cool room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Set a frying pan with about an inch of water in it over medium heat to simmer. This is going to be your “double boiler” of sorts.
2. In the mixing bowl from a stand mixer, whisk the sugar, egg whites and water to combine. Place this mixing bowl in the simmering frying pan of water and continue to whisk until sugar is completely dissolved and an instant-read thermometer reads 160° F.
3. Return mixing bowl to the stand mixer, fitted out with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until meringue is cool, glossy and forms stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.
4. While machine is running, add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, being patient to let each butter pat get fully incorporated before adding the next. Keep up the mixer-whisking until you have a beautiful, creamy frosting. Add the vanilla and do a final whisk at high speed. Ta-da! You did it.
- Do not panic if your buttercream appears curdled. Your butter was probably too hot. You want to start with cool room temperature butter (approx. 70 degrees F), not squishy butter that’s been sitting out for the afternoon. If the curdling thing happens, or if the frosting just looks too soupy, keep the machine whisking on high and add a tablespoon of cold butter, this should fix things.
- Those luscious fruit buttercreams at your favorite cupcake counter? Experiment at home by substituting half of the sugar with a high quality fruit jam (ideally homemade); 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup jam.
- Buttercream will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. To make it fluffy again, put the chilled buttercream in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, heat the bottom of the bowl using a water bath, as in step 1 above. When about 1/3 of the buttercream has melted, put the bowl on the stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk to fluffiness. Too chunky? Melt a bit more. Too runny, add a cold tablespoon of butter or pause and put the bowl back in the fridge for a few minutes.
- A half-recipe amount works just fine