Oh yeah, time for the grand finale: the last post of my ‘Battle of the Buttercreams’ series! Which buttercream will win the title of ‘Best Buttercream Frosting Ever’?
Anyway, first things first. Let’s find out more about the last type of buttercream: Swiss buttercream!
Color: ivory, almost white
Fat content: 51%
Sugar content: 42%
Texture: velvety smooth
Level of difficulty: easy
Like Italian Buttercream, this buttercream is based on meringue. However, while an Italian buttercream is made by enriching an Italian meringue – made by pouring hot sugar syrup into egg whites – this buttercream is based on a Swiss meringue, a meringue made by whipping a mixture of egg whites and sugar that has been gently heated in a double boiler until the sugar dissolved into the egg whites. Because of this, I think this type of buttercream is easier for beginning bakers or cooks new to making buttercream. Furthermore, this preparation method allows you to pasteurize the egg whites, thus killing any salmonella that may be present in your eggs and making your buttercream safe for pregnant women, old people, little kids and people with compromised immune systems. Even though Italian Buttercream is made by pouring burning hot sugar syrup into a bowl of egg whites, the whites don’t reach a temperature of 70°C/160°F – the temperature needed for pasteurization – and is therefore not safe to be consumed by these groups.
Something to keep in mind when baking for a party!
Apart from that, Italian and Swiss buttercream are quite similar. Of all the buttercreams I’ve tested, these were the lightest in color: a pale ivory. As I explained in the post on French Buttercream, it can visually be more appealing to use a lighter butterceam if you plan on flavoring it with things as coconut purée or peppermint extract. When it comes to the ‘egg whites to sugar’ ratio, Swiss and Italian are quite different though. Whereas Italian meringue usually calls for 50-82 grams of sugar per egg white, the recipes I’ve looked at to come up with an ‘egg white: sugar ratio’ for the Swiss call for anywhere between 30 to 50 grams of sugar per egg white.
Quite a big difference…
As usual, I decided to go with the least amount of sugar possible, about 30 grams per egg white. Many of my taste testers commented that they really loved the flavor of this buttercream, using adjectives such as “balanced” and “wonderfully mild”. Some testers simply gave this buttercream an 8 out of 10 and many loved the fact that it “wasn’t too sweet”. On the other hand, some of my taste testers noted that this buttercream lacked in flavor a bit and had a slight buttery aftertaste. However, although my testers had varied opinions on the flavor, all agreed that this buttercream has a great texture!
How smooth and creamy the buttercream is obviously depends on how much butter you’re using. The recipes I’ve looked at used somewhere between 45 to 90 grams of butter per egg white. I went with 50 grams of butter per egg white. I have to say, I prefer this buttercream over the Italian. This one is a lot creamier, because it doesn’t contain quite as much butter. In fact, I’ve used more than twice the amount of butter in the Italian Buttercream and I think that, in the future, I’ll probably cut back on the amount of butter I use in my Italian buttercreams. Because not only does the amount of butter affect the flavor and texture of your buttercream, it also affects the buttercream’s pipe-ability!
Personally, I think this buttercream piped better than all of the other buttercreams I’ve tested. I mean, just look at that huge swirl! It’s so dramatic and spectacular! It held very well – even after it had been sitting next to the fire place for a couple of hours – but the texture was soft and smooth at the same time!
But that’s enough about the Swiss buttercream. Let’s find out whether the Flour Buttercream, which some have already dubbed ‘The Best Frosting Ever’, is really the best! Will the new kid on the block leave all the classic buttercreams in the dust? Or will one of the golden oldies prove to be the ultimate buttercream?
First, imagine a drum roll…
(Or click on the link and hear one…)
So which buttercream came in first? Well, it wasn’t the Flour Buttercream. Neither was it the American, French, Italian or Swiss buttercream…
You guessed it. The new ‘Best Buttercream Frosting Ever’ is the German Buttercream! The only custard based buttercream out there!
In second place, Flour Buttercream. It may not be the best, but second place isn’t all that bad either, right? In third place, American Buttercream, although I’m pretty sure that I won’t be making that one again. In fourth place: Italian. Fifth place: French. And, finally, in sixth place: Swiss!
I have to say, these results kind of surprised me. Sure, I knew that the German buttercream was going to win. All of my testers loved it! However, judging by my taste testers’ comments, I was sure that Italian would end up in sixth place. But here they are, the official results of ‘The Battle of the Buttercreams’:
It was a close call though. I’d asked my testers to give each buttercream a grade out of ten, 1 being absolutely horrible and 10 being divine. The difference between the German buttercream and the Swiss buttercream was only half a grade!
So what can we conclude? Well, I guess that buttercreams in general are just utterly delicious and you basically can’t go wrong with them. And, like I said before, you really can’t argue about tastes!
I mean, had it been up to me, the winner would probably have been German too, but the rest of the list would have looked dramatically different. Something like this: 1) German. 2) French. 3) Swiss. 4) Flour. 5) Italian. 6) American. Whereas the Rocking Rebel’s list looks like this: 1) Swiss. 2) French. 3) Italian. 4) German. 5) Flour. 6) American. See? I’m in love with this guy and the only two buttercreams we agreed on are French and American!
Anyway, I hope the posts in this series have showed you just how easy it is to adapt a recipe to your own personal taste and hopefully they will help you in developing your own buttercream recipes!
As for me, I really enjoyed doing this series and I’m already thinking about a series about cream puffs or macarons, something along the lines of ‘Puff Perfection’ and ‘Macaron Mania’…
But first, I’m going to make myself a huge grilled cheese sandwich with pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese!
Oh, and those Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes? There’s a recipe for them right here!
- 2 egg whites
- 70g (or ⅓ cup + 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 100g (or ⅓ cup + 4 teaspoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- In the bowl of a double boiler (or a medium-sized bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water) combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla and salt. Heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar and salt into the egg whites. You can test whether the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of mixture between your fingers. It should feel smooth. If you want to pasteurize the egg whites and kill any salmonella that may be present, clip on a sugar thermometer and allow the egg white mixture to reach a temperature of 70°C/160°F, gently stirring continuously.
- Once the egg whites have reached the desired temperature or the sugar has dissolved, take the bowl off the heat and, using a mixer, whip the egg whites until the bottom of the bowl has cooled and the meringue holds stiff, shiny peaks. The meringue itself should have cooled down to body temperature.
- Next, start adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, the resulting buttercream should be smooth and thick. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or for up to 2 months in the freezer in a freeze-proof container or bag.
- To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen) or microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it's soft. Then mix through until it's spreadable again. Thaw frozen buttercream in the fridge overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before use and, once at room temperature, mix briefly until smooth.
- Serve at room temperature. If you've assembled a cake or decorated cupcakes, allow cake or cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving (about 3-5 hours in a warm kitchen).