When Tragedy Strikes Your Mousseline Buttercream

276 C3 curdled mixture on whisk.jpg

This is truly the queen of buttercreams: silky, buttery, light and airy, and a bit temperamental. Combining the Italian meringue with the butter is the tricky part. It is essential that the two mixtures have near the same temperature. And sooner or later it happens to everyone: Instead of becoming a beautifully emulsified satiny texture, it starts to curdle and separate. Your heart drops and panic sets in--all that expensive butter and time....But all is not lost. Here are some tips and also a solution should all else fail:

Use an instant read thermometer to ensure that the temperature of the mixture is between 65° to 70°F/19° to 21°C and adjust as needed. If not using a thermometer, try adjusting with just a small amount of the buttercream.

If all else fails, with your hands, squeeze out the liquid that has separated and pour it into a large measuring cup with a spout. On high speed, beat the remaining butter until it becomes smooth. Then gradually beat in the liquid. The resulting buttercream will be less airy but perfectly emulsified and silky smooth.

Note: You will have a higher degree of success if using high fat butter.
Also, it works best to add all the meringue to all the whipped butter rather than the reverse. This technique is detailed in Rose's Heavenly Cakes and The Baking Bible.

IMG_2299.jpg

Revisited Neoclassic Buttercream with Whole Eggs

FullSizeRender.jpg

Neoclassic Buttercream was my solution to making the classic egg yolk buttercream virtually foolproof. Instead of the need for a candy or instant-read thermometer to show when the sugar syrup had reached the correct temperature, replacing all of the water and a portion of the sugar with corn syrup (or golden syrup) eliminated the need for a thermometer. You now just needed to heat the corn syrup and sugar mixture until the top surface is covered with large bubbles to indicate that it is at the correct temperature to add to the beaten egg yolks. BLOGGER REQUEST Joan 1/15/17 I have a question, but first a compliment I totally love your neoclassic buttercream. I made a three-tier wedding cake using it and it was fabulous. The question is how to adapt this to whole eggs instead of yolks. I have a recipe from my Hungarian mother-in-law that produces (if you're lucky) a chocolate buttercream that my husband loves. It involves beating whole eggs with sugar and cocoa powder over boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Her test of doneness is that it gives a thread between your thumb and first finger. Then you cool and beat in butter. This is tiring and not dependable. I think there should be a way to adapt your neoclassic corn syrup method. Do you have any ideas of how to adjust the proportions? ROSE & WOODY REPLY We ran two tests to verify that indeed whole eggs can be substituted for egg yolks for this buttercream. Whole eggs can replace the egg yolks in a ratio of 1 whole egg (50 grams): 2 egg yolks (37 grams). All the other ingredients were the same amounts, and the technique for making the buttercream is the same. The whole eggs Neoclassic yielded a slightly fluffier and lighter in color buttercream, with a slightly higher volume. It is fine to add chocolate or other flavorings as per the same formulas as stated in The Cake Bible.

Did You Know

That egg whites can be frozen for at least a year but to freeze egg yolks you need to add sugar to keep them from getting too sticky and unusable.

For 1 egg yolk/about 1 tablespoon/0.6 ounce/18 grams stir in ½ teaspoon/2 grams sugar. Don’t forget to remove the sugar from the recipe after defrosting the yolks.

My favorite healthful lunch is 0 fat Greek yogurt with 1 heaping teaspoon of lemon curd swirled in and a handful of blueberries.

Classic Lemon Curd
Makes: 1-1/4 cups /330 grams

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 5.20.19 PM.png

Have ready near the range a strainer, suspended over a medium bowl containing the lemon zest. In a heavy saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and butter until well blended. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats the spatula but is still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the spatula. It must not be allowed to come to the boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly, to keep the mixture from boiling.

When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer and press it through with the spatula. Stir gently to mix in the zest sitting in the bowl (there will be about 1/3 cup/90 grams leftover after filling a cake). Allow the curd to cool for 30 minutes. Cover tightly and refrigerate until no longer warm--about 3 hours. Store refrigerated in airtight jar or container, 3 weeks. (Longer storage dulls the fresh citrus flavor.)

Cherry Jam

for those of you who have been asking how to thicken sour cherries into jam, i have some important information for you that may help---if not this year, for next year. it comes with a story i can't resist telling:

yesterday, i called a neighbor whose number was posted on a sign by the road advertising eggs and produce. i'm always on the prowl for fresh eggs and it's been several years since i've found a source in hope.

to my delight, walt menegus called me back saying he had a huge supply. we started talking baking and it turned out his wife maria bakes, cans, and happened to have a cherry pie sitting on the table at that very moment.

we wasted no time in driving over and what a paradise we discovered on hope crossing road, a road we traveled over a hundred times, never seeing what lay behind the pine trees! we were invited in for a piece of pie and to our mutual delight discovered that it was my recipe from a rodale cookbook to which i had contributed many years ago! 

the discovery happened in a very funny way: i had noticed currants growing outside and started mentioning that i do something very crazy with currant and cherries to which maria said: "oh i put currant in the pie--the recipe said to stuff each cherry but i wasn't about to do that." to which i said: "that sounds awfully like my recipe." she grabbed the book and there it was: "churrant pie" 

my editor for the "pie and pastry bible"  vetoed the idea saying it was just too over the top but when rodale press approached me a while later asking for a contribution and giving a list of fruits they would like to include, i noticed that both cherries and currants were on the list--opportunity struck!

it's not as crazy as you might think: i was trying to find a way to make cherries in the baked pie as plump as they appear in photos where they actually leave the pits in the accomplish this. my husband came up with the idea of currants to which i said "you're crazy!" but the more i thought about it the more interesting the idea became so i tried it: magic! the synergy of flavor was extraordinary and the currants did the trick of keeping the cherries plump. the extra juice seemed to burst in the mouth and never betray that any fruit other than cherries was present.

maria did a perfect execution of the pie and even though the currants were apparent they still added the delicious flavor and extra juiciness.

having discovered the synergy of flavor, i went on to think about what the currants would do for texture of cherry jam. sour cherries are very low in pectin and currants exceptionally high. i came up with a fabulous jam that i was going to put in the bread bible but ran out of space. so i'm saving it for the next book but since that won't be for a while, here it is now.  by the way, frozen currants and cherries work perfectly. Thaw them completely before proceeding.

by the way, maria gave me some very important information on making cherry jam using low sugar pectin: she uses the pomona universal pectin. their jam hotline is 413-772-6816 address p.o. box 1083, greenfield, ma. 01302

Makes: 2 half pint canning jars

pitted sour cherries/2 cups    11.5 ounces/326 grams
sugar/1-1/3 cups/9.4ounces/266 grams
fresh red currants, rinsed, then stemmed 2 cups/10.8 ounces/308 grams
water/1/4 liquid cup/2 ounces/59 grams
Equipment: A jelly bag and stand or large strainer lined with several layers of cheese-cloth, dipped in water and wrung well.
2 half pint canning jars

1) In a large non-reactive saucepan, preferably non-stick, combine the cherries and sugar.

2) In a small non-reactive saucepan, place the well-drained currants and the water. Mash the currants slightly. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Spoon the mixture into the jelly bag and allow it to drip through.

4) Squeeze the bag or cloth. You should have at least 2/3 liquid cup of juice. If you have less, chances are the liquid evaporated during simmering so add enough to make 2/3 cup.

5) Add the currant juice to the cherry mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil rapidly, stirring often, until the jelling point (about 8 minutes). Watch carefully, adjusting the heat, as it tends to bubble up and over. An accurate thermometer will read 221°F. at sea level. (225°F. is better for this jam) (For higher altitude, add 8°F. to the temperature at which water boils at your specific altitude.)  To test the jelling point without a thermometer, dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling juice. Just before the jelling point, when the spoon is lifted out of the boiling juice, the juice on the inside of the spoon will slowly come together and fall off in 2 drops. At the jelling point, these 2 drops will run together and slide off the spoon in a sheet. If 1 tablespoon of the boiling juices is placed on a chilled plate and frozen for 2 minutes it should wrinkle when gently pushed with a fingertip. (Be sure to remove the pan from the heat while testing this.)  Once the mixture reaches 225°F., turn the heat off immediately or over-jelling may occur and it will be necessary to add water, strain and reheat and the resulting jelly will not be quite as smooth.

6) As soon as the jelling point has been reached, pour the jam into a 2 cup sterilized heat-proof measure. You should have 2 scant cups--or pour the jam directly into the sterilized canning jar. (Otherwise, plunge the bottom of the pot in cold water to stop the cooking or it will continue to thicken.)

7) The preserves will keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks.  For longer storage you will need to can them in a water bath.

Sterilize the canning jars and lids with boiling water and fill, leaving 3/8 inch head space. Don't scrape the pan or it may cause lumping. (Straining won't help because it causes it to thin.)  Screw on the caps and place the jars in a water bath, covered, for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Remove the jars and allow to cool before checking the seal. (When pressing on the center of the lid it will feel totally firm and unyielding.)

Pointers for Success
* The juices are very liquid until cool and during cooling, the cherries float to the top. They can be distributed evenly by inverting the jars every 30 minutes until barely warm--about 2 1/2 hours. At this point the liquid suddenly jells. It continues to thicken during the next 2 days of storage.
* It works best to make this jam in small quantities as the mixture boils up and needs a large pot so as not to overflow. Also it is easier to distribute the cherries evenly in smaller batches.
* Jars in the water bath must be sitting on a rack to allow the water to flow all around them and the water must be high enough to cover them by 1 inch. They must be upright to expel any air inside the jars, producing a vacuum which seals the jar. You may also invert the jars onto a folded towel until cool. (The air trapped in the head space will travel upwards through the hot preserves and be sterilized.)  
* Store in a cool dark area.

P.S. the icing on the cake was when walt took me into the hen house, and reached under two of the chickens to pull out some just laid eggs. i can't describe the feeling of holding those still warm eggs in my hands and knowing how wonderful they would taste for breakfast (they did they did!) walt even grows and makes the feed for the chickens. see what i mean about paradise?!

My First and Worst Cake

I think I’ve told this story before but for those who may have missed it, here’s the background to this photo that I hope you will find inspiring, i.e. I hope you will see how much one can improve with practice and determination!

Elliott and I were not yet married so this was a little over 31 years ago. Elliott’s son Michael was celebrating his 13th birthday and had the good taste to request see ingthe Broadway play Dracula with Frank Langela. I offered to make the birthday cake. This was BG (before ganache) and I wanted a rich dark chocolate frosting if not for the cake itself at least for the decoration. So I kept adding brown food coloring, not realizing that it would darken on its own after several hours.

The performance was magnificent. Elliott had parked in nearby “Hell’s Kitchen” and when we went to find the car it was no where in sight or site! It gradually dawned upon us that it had been stolen.

Michael, his sister Beth, and I returned home to eat cake while waiting for Elliott to return from the police precinct. I must say that the cake frosted with classic chocolate buttercream, was quite delicious. However, on Elliott’s return, when was greeted by his son with a wide smile on his face and a big “Hi Dad.” Elliott looked at us in horror. I looked back at Michael and saw why: His tongue had turned black (from the food color).

I eventually redeemed myself by discovering the charms of ganache and coming up with the most perfect, foolproof, and easy method for making it.

 

Lumpy Buttercream

AMANDA QUESTION: made my first chocolate buttercream icing for my son's 1st birthday. It was a disaster! The final product wasn't smooth or spreadable. It was clumpy. I practically lumped it on and patted it thin. Below were the called for ingredients: 3 sticks of softened, unsalted butter 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder 4 3/4 c sifted confectioners' sugar I think the only mistake possible was I didn't sift the confectioners' sugar. Could that have been the problem? Buttercream Help! Amanda

ROSE REPLY: It's been years since I made confectioners sugar buttercream. I much prefer chocolate ganache which is even easier to make, especially if you use the food processor. I seem to remember that you need a bit of liquid for confectioners sugar buttercream. If you prefer making this kind of buttercream, and it's lumpy, try beating in a little milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Sifting the confectioners sugar may not be necessary unless its lumpy, but sifting the cocoa is a good idea.

The Best Chocolate Cream Filling in the World

LYNN QUESTION:Feedback: I have a recipe for a delicious cake filling that combines whipping cream, vanilla, and chocolate frosting mix. Since dry packaged frosting mix is no longer available, how can I get a very rich chocolate cream filling. Thank you ROSE REPLY i know of none better than chocolate ganache. it is in many cookbooks including my own: the cake bible page 269 and it's really easy!