2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to learn from my classmate Kijeong how to pipe 3D buttercream flowers. 3D flowers has been slowly emerging into the scene especially in Asia countries such as Singapore, Korea and Indonesia.
Having a stable buttercream is the key to these little beauties. I would prefer using meringue based buttercream as it has a stronger consistency than your typical buttercream (i.e. mixing butter and icing sugar, and ocassionally shortening). Also, it turns pure white when its done properly so it doesn’t affect your colour scheme as much. (Some recipes of normal buttercream give you a yellow-tinged colour)
Without a stable foundation, loads of things can go wrong! Some of the factors that affect the consistency of the buttercream can be 1) humidity, 2) temperature, 3) consistency of your butter before you add them into the meringue, 4)overbeating.
Humidity and temperature often comes hand in hand, and its the most affecting factor for me, especially coming from a sunny island that has almost 100% humidity level, with an average temperature of 30 Degrees Celsius all year round. This is why any recipe that rely heavily on a butter base is kinda tricky, thus the use of meringue based buttercream.
Before adding the butter into your meringue mix, make sure that it is room temperature. Now, when I say room temperature, I’m not referring to gooey, super soft butter ( I learn my lesson the hard way, twice actually). Depending on where you are from, the perfect texture of the butter should be similar to peanut butter spread. Its soft, but still holds its shape. If the butter is added when its too hard, your buttercream will have lumps of butter and what you’ll get is a grainy texture. If the butter is too soft, well its basically gonna be like a thick blop of soup.
For cake decorating purposes, I would normally go for a Swiss meringue buttercream or an Italian. Because italian meringue requires you to cook your sugar syrup to a certain temperature(118C), sometimes it is a hassle as you need to invest in a candy thermometer. Whereas for a Swiss meringue, it is more hassle-free as all you need to do is to dissolve your sugar with the egg white on a baine marie (water bath). Here’s an easy recipe of a Swiss Meringue Buttercream for those who are interested!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
100g egg whites
150g caster sugar
250g buter, softened
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a Baine Marie.
- Whisk egg white mixture until sugar has melted or until it has reached a temperature of 50-60 degree C. (you can do a simple test by rubbing the mixture in between 2 fingers. Once you can’t feel anymore grainy texture, your egg white mixture is ready!)
- Transfer mixture into a mixer bowl and start cool it on the machine on medium-high speed. Use a whisk attachment.
- The meringue should take about 5-8 minutes to cool, and it should create stiff peaks when you lift the whisk attachment.
- Turn down the machine to the lowest speed, adding your butter bit by bit in a few inclusions. Add the next piece only after the butter has been fully incorporated into the meringue. In the beginning, it will look as if your buttercream is curdling. Don’t worry! it’s completely normal as the butter is slowly mixing into the meringue. After the curdling stage, you would observe that it will slowly turn into a smooth mixture.
- Once all the butter has been added,add in vanilla extract and beat on high for 10-15secs to make sure that its evenly mixed. Add desired colour and you’re good to go!