I’m working towards a cake pretty much like the lemony one Julius posted recently (since it sounded so tasty!); white choc. whisper, filled with lemon curd, frosted with lemon buttercream. Well last night I made the lemon curd (which was no problem) and a full recipe of mousseline (which was really stressful, as it has been the few other times I’ve done it).
I am sure its easy for all you talented bakers out there and surely gets easier with more experience, but I find myself feeling pretty stressed out when I make the IMBC, especially when working alone. Cooking the sugar to the right temp and dropping little gloobs in cold water to figure out if it is soft ball yet, and at the same time beating the egg whites to the right level, then trying to put small additions of it in to the KA bowl (which takes two hands since I need to hold the measure with one hand and scoop with a spatula with the other hand) while the machine is off, then putting the measure down quickly and turning the KA on for a few seconds before the hot syrup sinks through the eggs and sticks to the bowl, then turning it off, worrying about the syrup getting too cold, etc.
Last night I poured the sugar into a glass measure to stop the cooking, then took it over to the kitchenaid, but the eggs were not quite ready. So I upped the speed and let them go for a little bit longer. But by the time I started putting the sugar in, it was starting to get a bit thick, and was plenty thick by the last addition so a lot of it stuck in the measure and I’m sure it was probably below optimum temperature for adding to the whites. But still, the meringue looked nice and tasted sweet so most of the sugar made it in there I guess.
My real problems with mousseline start when I have put about half the butter in. In the past I have creamed the butter with the paddle in the KA, then scooped it out and washed the KA bowl and paddle well before starting on the egg whites. This seems like kind of a pain, and I’ve definitely heard of people just cutting the butter up and tossing in the chunks albeit with SMBC instead of IMBC. So last night I just cut it up and let it come to room temp, then added the chunks while using the paddle in the KA. The meringue was plenty cool, and things seemed to be going ok. Then it started to curdle at about half way through the butter as usual, and I thought to myself “thats ok, it always does that and it will come back together”. So I upped the speed and let it beat for longer, then longer, then longer. It wasn’t really looking any better or worse so I just continued adding the butter, then upped the speed again. The bowl felt plenty cool and my kitchen is about 65 degrees anyway.
What always happens to me is that it curdles, then just seems to get worse with more beating, resulting in shiny lumps that look pretty much like butter slipping around each other and the bowl in a slick liquid. One time I even threw it out at this point, figuring it was beyond help. It smells strongly of butter in this stage, and all the beautiful egg foam that was there before seems to have completely disappeared. But maybe those lumps are not pure butter as it seems, but proto-buttercream that just needs more beating. Anyway, last night I was at this stage and feeling despair as usual. The beating went on and on and my wife wanted to go to bed, and told me I would be in big trouble if I had to throw out $8 of butter plus 5 eggs! I tried popping the bowl in the freezer for a minute, then continue beating with the paddle at high speed and it finally came together a few minutes after that.
So I can’t help feeling like I am not doing this right. I mean how is it possible that it needs so much beating? How did people make buttercream before electricity? I really beat the bejeezus out of it last night; if you had to do that by hand it could have exhausted the arms of 30 men. Also, it seems wrong that the egg foam seems to vanish and leave behind a slick snot for the buttery lumps to slide around in. And even when it does come together, it looks fairly yellow (other poeple’s pictures on the web make their buttercream look whiter than mine; maybe this indicates I am having some sort of problem?). Maybe my meringue is collapsing and is long gone after all the beating, but my continued beating eventually produces something akin to american buttercream from the wreckage of the ingredients.
But on the other hand, the texture does change drastically when it finally cooperates, the paddle starts making slapping sounds, the cream sticks to the sides of the bowl instead of slipping around on it and looks all satiny and smooth, and it does taste pretty good. So maybe it is working and I just need to fine tune my technique.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just suspicious that what I experience with IMBC is normal and I’m ending up with what I am supposed to get. Maybe next time I’ll give SMBC a try…