Italian Buttercream with Egg White

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This buttercream with egg white (as I've since found out is called Italian meringue buttercream or simply, Italian buttercream) is our favourite and steals the show from basic buttercream with its velvety texture and sophisticated taste. Once you've tried it, you won't want to have any other!

Italian Buttercream with Egg white

Don't get me wrong, I love a good classic buttercream (a butter and icing sugar mix), and it's great for when I need to whip up a batch of icing quickly. But anyone who has ever whipped icing sugar before will know that it is impossible for it not to billow up into massive clouds and settle over every surface in sight, leaving a sticky film. Makes for fun clean up.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered such a thing as buttercream with egg white that uses regular sugar rather than superfine icing sugar! I was immediately sold, and once I'd made it and tasted it, I was a firm believer in meringue buttercream. The egg white gives the buttercream a light and airy texture that's like eating a mouthful of fluffy cloud!

Italian Buttercream with Egg white

But why is this buttercream with egg white called Italian meringue buttercream? Well, the recipe begins by first making Italian meringue and then beating in the butter to make the buttercream. There are a few different ways to make meringue, and Italian meringue is made by whisking a hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites until glossy and stiff.

Because the egg white is gently cooked by the hot sugar syrup, the mixture is very stable and doesn't separate. Italian buttercream also doesn't form a crust when left out in air, which means your cakes stay glossy and beautiful, and the icing stays light and creamy! If you have yet to try any buttercream with egg white, then you're in for a real treat, and I can highly recommend this Italian buttercream.

If you are completely new to making any kind of buttercream, I would suggest first making a couple batches of simple buttercream, such as this vanilla buttercream, to familiarise yourself with the process. Italian buttercream can be tricky and moves quite quickly, as once the sugar syrup reaches temperature (it can help to have a food thermometer for this recipe), it needs to be immediately whisked into the egg white. It really helps to be confident in what you're doing and to be able to safely handle boiling sugar (which is dangerously hot and can cause serious burn injuries).

Italian Buttercream with Egg white

One more thing to note - it is entirely possible to make this Italian buttercream with egg white using a handheld electric mixer, I do it all the time! Sadly, my cozy kitchen doesn't allow for a stand mixer, so I improvise. It does take longer using a handheld mixer (I use the beater attachments for the entire recipe, including whisking the egg white), but the buttercream comes out tasting delicious every time.

When you have made your Italian buttercream, you can flavour it any way you want to suit your cake! Favourite flavours include:

Italian buttercream with egg white will keep well in an airtight container, either in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months. Before using, thaw and warm up to room temperature, and whisk again to restore the buttercream's airiness.


Here's what you'll need to make Italian buttercream with egg white:
(Click here to jump straight to the recipe)

250g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
Pinch of salt (optional)
150g caster sugar
30ml water

And here's what you'll need to do:

  • Cut the butter into cubes and set it aside to soften.
  • Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and saving the yolks for later. Make sure there is no greasy film or residue on the bowl or mixer attachments, and that they are completely dry.
  • Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, swirling to wet all the sugar.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat, and leave it to cook - do not stir! Swirl the pan, if needed, to ensure the sugar melts uniformly. Stirring here can cause the sugar to seize up and crystallise into clumps.
  • If you can, whisk the egg whites whilst also cooking the sugar simultaneously. If you're unable to do this, then whisk the egg whites first, then cook the sugar.
  • Whisk the egg white until it becomes foamy and forms soft peaks (that's when the peaks droop a bit).
  • When the sugar syrup boils clear, it is about ready. If you have a food thermometer, you can check the temperature - it needs to be about 121C (250F). Turn off the heat.
  • With the mixer setting on low, VERY CAREFULLY pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg white in a thin stream, all the while whisking to combine. The sugar syrup should be poured in near the edge of the bowl and not too close to the mixing attachment, so that it doesn't splutter out and potentially cause injury.
  • When all of the hot sugar syrup has been incorporated into the egg white, turn the mixer up to maximum speed, and continue whisking until the meringue cools and the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on the speed and power of your mixer and the temperature of your kitchen.
  • If you like a bit of salt in your icing, mix it in now.
  • When the meringue is cool, stiff and glossy white, add in the butter, one cube at a time, mixing to incorporate after each cube. Continue until all the butter has been mixed in.
  • At some point, you may notice that your buttercream has a curdled look, as if it's separating. This is completely normal - no need to panic! Continue adding butter and whisking, and have faith - the buttercream will eventually come together into a smooth and creamy icing.
  • Now you can flavour the Italian buttercream as your wish, and use it to decorate your cakes. I hope you enjoy this Italian buttercream with egg white as much as we do!
Italian Buttercream with Egg white

Italian Buttercream with Egg White

By

Italian Buttercream with Egg white

Once you've tasted the velvety texture of this Italian buttercream with egg white, you'll never want to eat any other kind of buttercream again!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 450g
Course: Icing, Dessert
Cuisine: Modern Italian, European
Tags: Frosting, Italian Meringue

Ingredients

250g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
Pinch of salt (optional)
150g caster sugar
30ml water

Method

  1. Cut the butter into cubes and set it aside to soften.
  2. Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and saving the yolks for later. Make sure there is no greasy film or residue on the bowl or mixer attachments, and that they are completely dry.
  3. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, swirling to wet all the sugar.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and leave it to cook - do not stir! Swirl the pan, if needed, to ensure the sugar melts uniformly. Stirring here can cause the sugar to seize up and crystallise into clumps.
  5. If you can, whisk the egg whites whilst also cooking the sugar simultaneously. If you're unable to do this, then whisk the egg whites first, then cook the sugar.
  6. Whisk the egg white until it becomes foamy and forms soft peaks (that's when the peaks droop a bit).
  7. When the sugar syrup boils clear, it is about ready. If you have a food thermometer, you can check the temperature - it needs to be about 121C (250F). Turn off the heat.
  8. With the mixer setting on low, VERY CAREFULLY pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg white in a thin stream, all the while whisking to combine. The sugar syrup should be poured in near the edge of the bowl and not too close to the mixing attachment, so that it doesn't splutter out and potentially cause injury.
  9. When all of the hot sugar syrup has been incorporated into the egg white, turn the mixer up to maximum speed, and continue whisking until the meringue cools and the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on the speed and power of your mixer and the temperature of your kitchen.
  10. If you like a bit of salt in your icing, mix it in now.
  11. When the meringue is cool, stiff and glossy white, add in the butter, one cube at a time, mixing to incorporate after each cube. Continue until all the butter has been mixed in.
  12. At some point, you may notice that your buttercream has a curdled look, as if it's separating. This is completely normal - no need to panic! Continue adding butter and whisking, and have faith - the buttercream will eventually come together into a smooth and creamy icing.
  13. Now you can flavour the Italian buttercream as your wish, and use it to decorate your cakes. I hope you enjoy this Italian buttercream with egg white as much as we do!

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