Mousseline the nervewracking buttercream!
Posted: 11 January 2008 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]
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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…

Any thoughts?

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Posted: 11 January 2008 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Thanks for the suggestions Matthew. Actually the very first time I made IMBC I did only a half recipe and used a hand mixer. It seemed pretty reasonable and was easy to pour in the syrup with one hand while moving around the mixer with the other hand as you said. Emboldened by my initial success, the next time I made it I figured it would be easier to do a whole recipe in the stand mixer. But of course I found adding the syrup much trickier and also experienced the nasty and persistent curdling I described earlier (this is the batch I threw out, though in retrospect it could have probably been rescued).

I do have a thermometer, but I’m not convinced it is very accurate so I like to check it with the soft ball. But this significantly ups the stress factor so I should just figure out a better thermometer solution.

Also, maybe next time I’ll move back to the hand mixer if I’m working alone. And its probably best to do the eggs before starting to cook the syrup; I was concerned they would deflate but they can surely survive 10 minutes before the syrup goes in.

thanks for the thoughts,
-Holly

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Posted: 11 January 2008 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Holly,

I haven’t tried IMBC (though I have made Italian meringue), but should you want to give SMBC a try, check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBBoRMWcfNc

Dyann from Dyannbakes shows how curdled SMBC becomes silky again after a thorough (prolonged) beating.

It is often said that it is the temperature difference among the components that make the buttercream curdle, and it makes sense that after a lot beating that the whole slew will eventually have a homogeneous temperature throughout.  The problem with prolonged beating is that it can introduce a lot of air bubbles in the buttercream, which show when you spread it.  To get rid of these bubbles, I usually either fold my slightly warmer flavourings last (e.g., melted chocolate, espresso) or warmer the bowl very slightly until some buttercream melt on the side and then stir with a spoon… or I just run the beater on slow for a couple minutes.

In answer to your question about how this was done in the old days - people were more careful about the temperature differences in the old days (anecdotal, as said by a colleague of mine).  They made sure that the optimum temperatures of the components are reached to avoid curdling, which would mean a lot more work to fix.  Noting how much work the KitchenAid does to reconstitute curdled buttercream, I imagine that people in the old days would probably rather avoid the entire task.  Today the fix means flicking a button and letting a machine rip for a few minutes.

BTW, your buche is fantastic!

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Posted: 11 January 2008 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for all the great advice everyone, I really appreciate it!

I actually have a scientific thermocouple reader with a stainless K type thermocouple probe that I use for brewing and cheesemaking, so I will use that next time I do the syrup. Hearing about different people’s methods has been very helpful.

Julius, I actually watched that video linked off your blog yesterday morning and had resolved myself to try it out. But then last night I thought “the IMBC is better for temp stability, etc., why not just make it? I’ve done it before after all…”. Anyway, I think next time I will give the SMBC a try for variety even though I think my IMBC process could improve based on the feedback and ideas in this thread.

Hector, from your previous efforts it is clear you are the absolute _king_ of the Mousseline! I can only hope to approach your obvious mastery of it with a lot more practice. Thanks for the tips on your methods.

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Posted: 11 January 2008 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Patrincia, I’m not sure my wife would be on board with using even more butter! We already need to go on a diet after the holidays.

Its mind boggling to think how much butter would go into a 20qt mixer bowl full of buttercream. Yum. It does freeze well after all…

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Posted: 12 January 2008 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I have to say I’m very lucky as from the very first time - I’ve not experienced problems with the mousseline!  It is a breeze to make, and now I know the recipe by heart!

I think a few key pointers - you must use a thermometer, follow Rose’s instructions in detail (the egg whites will reach the correct peaks in sync with the syrup - I assure you), and don’t be impatient - allow the egg whites to cool sufficiently before adding the butter.


Good luck!

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Posted: 13 January 2008 02:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hi, this thread is so helpful.  I have an idea!  After whipping the egg whites for the MBC with the KitchenAid, why not lift up the mixer, remove the whisk, and add the sugar syrup to the KA bowl using a hand mixer?  Then you could return the KA whisk for the butter addition.  I haven’t tried this yet, just wanted to throw it out there.

One other idea off the top of my head triggered by this thread…  Rose, it would be so neat if your new books referenced several url’s to YouTube or something similar showing a short video of you demonstrating each of your different recipes or techniques.  You could refer to the book for the ingredients and measurements so the videos couldn’t be used in place of the book, and people happening upon the videos would want to go out and buy the book!  Just think how amazing it would be for us readers to have such quick and easy access to a demonstration by Rose!  Think Martha Stewart—how her show references her magazine and website and vice versa.  This could be the next wave of the future.  smile

Deona

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Posted: 13 January 2008 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oh, never mind the second idea.  I just realized that people would start posting the recipes and ingredients with the video.  Maybe one day in the future we will be able to download short demonstations on this site.  In the meantime, these forums are wonderful.

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Posted: 13 January 2008 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Hi Mathew, I didn’t know that.  Great news!  Thanks, Deona

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Posted: 29 January 2008 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hmm, thats interesting. I’ve never heard of doing that before. I’ll have to keep it in mind if beating the crap out of it fails to produce results in a future batch. Thanks!

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Posted: 29 January 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The first time I made IMBC, it was great, the second after that… well it always seems to soup, but I agree that it is a temperatur thing.  As Julius mentiones, it creams together well after they get to same temps.

BTW, I use a whisk for the whites AND to whisk in the butter, have I been wrong in doing this???

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Posted: 29 January 2008 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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BTW Holly, did you say you pay $8 for butter?  Is that for a pound??  I don’t know what everyone pays, but the most I’ve paid is $1.89/lb in California.  I know if I go to Safeway or similar I will pay about $4/lb, but I found a local store that sells for small local restaurants.  they have wholesale type prices for the general public.  Still a little higher than maybe a higher volume bakery, but good for those of us who don’t produce as much.
Maybe you can hunt one down?!

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Posted: 29 January 2008 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Well, I sometimes do wash the shell before cracking them especially when making IMBC.  I have taken the serv safe clases, they arre really helpfull, not only does it gross you out, but informs on how to keep everything sanitary as possible.  I’m just as paranoid, but remember that the sugar actually pasteurizes the eggs so it makes them safe to eat. 
To pasteurize you need only to bring the egg temp to 140degrees (i think that’s the temp).  Egg shells are pasteruized in the same manner.  It’s all about temp.  I have even checked the temp of the meringue once I pour in the syrup (i pour from the heat directly to meringue I don;t let it sit at all) and checked the temp and it reaches the 140.
Also, for recipes that call for “raw” eggs, you can pasteurize by using a bain marie.  STir/whisk and they are heating and remove from heat as soon as it reaches 140, anything higher and you get scrambled aggs.  It seems complicated, but it’s not really and with practice, it becomes a no brainer.

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Posted: 30 January 2008 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks for posting that website, I just finished reading about all about eggs!!!  You all have to check it out it will def put us at ease for those of us who still opt for using eggs in BC and such.  Here is a bit of info I got regarding eggs pasteurizing, and BTW they mentioned you can pasteurize at 140 degrees but it needs to be held for 3.5 minutes (won’t forget that one again) and whites, yolk, whole eggs have dif temps of coagulation so that is pobably why it needs to be held at 140 for 3.5 minutes. 

“4. Doesn?t cooking destroy bacteria?

Even light cooking will begin to destroy any Salmonella that might be present, but proper cooking brings eggs and other foods to a temperature high enough to destroy them all. For eggs, the white will coagulate (set) between 144 and 149? F, the yolk between 149 and 158? F, and whole egg between 144 and 158? F. Egg products made of plain whole eggs are pasteurized (heated to destroy bacteria), but not cooked, by bringing them to 140? F and keeping them at that temperature for 3 1/2 minutes. If you bring a food to an internal temperature of 160? F, you will instantly kill almost any bacteria. By diluting eggs with a liquid or sugar (as in custard), you can bring an egg mixture to 160? F. Use these temperatures as rough guidelines when you prepare eggs.”

Check it out at
http://www.aeb.org/LearnMore/FightBac.htm#passingyolk

I pasteurize all my mousses this way and it is not complicated once you have had some practice.  It is an added job, but you know you’re safe.

What do you guys think of the site???

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Posted: 20 May 2012 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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If anyone has looked at the video Julius provided with Ann Bakes, she heats the egg white in her KA bowl over simmering water, whisking all the while by hand and then proceeds to add the sugar, and continues to whisk, and tests it by dipping her finger into the mixture and rubbing between 2 fingers to see if it is gritty, which means the sugar hasn’t melted. So if it hasn’t melted, then she continue to heat and whisk by hand which she says takss a few minutes, and then tests for grittyness again. If smooth, then she puts the bowl back onto the KA mixer and puts the PADDLE in and then adds the butter one piece at a time while beating, and when it comes together, she adds her lemon oil and beats it in the batter to flavor it; and then talks about use color paste to color the SBC.

So that being said, the whites of the eggs are cooked, so to speak. It has to, because sugar won’t melt unless it’s hot enough. So it’s like slowly tempering the egg whites before and after adding the sugar.

BTW, I know that when I make a Passover cake, without any leavening agent in it, but using only egg whites in it which must be beaten to fluffy & peaks before folding into the batter, if the egg whites sit in the bowl before incorporating it into the batter, there will always be liquid residue of the egg whites sitting at the bottom of the bowl unless you make the batter first and then whip the egg whites last then fold in.

I would think there would be some issue with doing the same thing with a mousseline or other such icing/frosting which calls for beaten raw eggs whites. I think the youtube video is an excellent way to go. Check it out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBBoRMWcfNc 

I will be trying this method myself this week and let you know how it goes.

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