Somebody actually ordered two cakes from me this week! Can you believe it? The cakes requested included Italian meringue buttercream and had to be covered with piped roses. I had no idea at the time what the cakes were for (birthday, anniversary...). However, given that I have trouble piping sometimes, I decided to do a test run the week-end before just to be sure I knew what I was doing, and also so I knew how much buttercream to prepare when the time came. I opted for a play on violet for the test cake, though the final cakes were to be pink/cream.
What I didn't realize is that the cakes requested were for a small wedding ceremony! Boy was I glad I had done a trial run when I found out what they were for. I learned the news when the couple came to pick up the cakes! So, not only did I get my first cake order, but in a sense, I also ended up making my first wedding cake!
I have to confess that I am back to making Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC)—and therefore Italian meringue—with my trusty KA stand mixer. Yeah, I know, I learned how to make Italian meringue by hand with a giant balloon whisk just a few months ago, but let's face it: the ease of preparation and the result obtained with the stand mixer cannot be beat.
One thing I found interesting from this practice session: it is much easier to make a double batch of IMBC than a single batch because the whipped egg whites (before the addition of the syrup) fill the 6.5 Qt mixer bowl enough that adding the syrup is much easier, without worrying about spraying it over the beater! From now on, I will be making my IMBC in double batches (therefore 10 egg whites at a time) instead of single batches. I'll freeze the leftovers.
To assemble and decorate this 3-layer 8-inch cake, I needed one 10-egg white batch of IMBC. I assembled and lightly frosted the cake with the plain, uncolored buttercream, then I split the remainder (~900 grams) into three bowls and colored each with a different amount of violet gel color (from Ateco/Spectrum). I used i am baker's fantastic rose cake tutorial for the piping using a 1M tip from Wilton. I found it difficult to properly fill the space and estimate the rose size to pipe, but I think I will soon get the hang of this. Also, my two darker lilac colors are too similar. I guess I need to work on my coloring technique too!
All in all, for my first attempts at this piping technique, I'm pretty pleased!
Italian meringue buttercreamMakes ~1.8 kgs (~8–10 cups) buttercream
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) water
- 560 grams (2 1/2 cups) granulated sugar, divided
- 10 egg whites (from large eggs)
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 908 grams (4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Two pinches salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pour the water in a small saucepan. Top with the granulated sugar, reserving a 1/4 cup. Don't stir. Just put it on the burner on medium heat. Clip on your candy thermometer.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add a pinch of cream of tartar. Start the mixer on medium-low to begin frothing the whites.
- When the sugar begins to boil, increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high. When the whites are at soft peaks, gradually add the reserved sugar. Continue beating to stiff (not dry) peaks.
- When the sugar reaches 248°F (121°C), turn off the heat, unclip the thermometer and then slowly pour the hot sugar in a fine stream down the side of the bowl, being sure not to hit the beater (or it will splash!).
- When all the sugar is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase the speed to high and beat til the mixture has just about cooled (this takes a good 5–10 mins for such a large batch).
- When the meringue has cooled, start adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running on medium.
- When all the butter has been added, increase the mixer to high to beat until the buttercream forms and is smooth.
- Beat in the vanilla and the salt.