Monday, February 23, 2009

Blueberry Vanilla Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This week was my wonderful mother's birthday. (I think she turned like 30 or something...) So to celebrate, Husband and I invited my parents over for dinner and I made a little cake for her birthday - a little one because that's all the time and energy I had for making a cake, and little because she would have complained even more about unwanted calories when it came time for her to take the cake home.

This was also an experiment with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I ran across a recipe when I was practicing my work avoidance techniques. I've never heard of Swiss Meringue Buttercream and since the recipe only has about four ingredients (of which I keep in stock in my kitchen) I knew mom's birthday was THE perfect opportunity to give this a try.

Let me tell you...this stuff is DIVINE! When I was piping just a few decorations onto the birthday girl's cake, I turned to Husband and said, "I could squeeze this stuff out of the piping bag and into my mouth." And I don't even like icing. So that should tell you the Yum Factor for this stuff.

The cake was good too...except I will need to play around with recipe some more. I prefer a cake that uses oil instead of butter as the fat because oil helps keep a cake more moist than butter. This particular cake is SUPER MOIST, but I decided that vanilla was just too plain-Jane and added some blueberries to give it some dimension in flavor, and the berries fell to the bottom of the cakes. It cut really pretty and still tasted like a blueberry muffin (go figure...) but I wanted the berries to float. I think this cake batter was just too this recipe will be experimented with until it reaches perfection.

Blueberry Vanilla Cake:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup oil (or butter if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two round 8" cake pans (I use Baker's Joy because I'm lazy).

2) Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl (I put the dry ingredients in first, and then added the wet ingredients on the top). Mix on medium speed for 2 - 3 minutes.

3) Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 25 - 35 minutes. Cake is ready when a cake tester (or a toothpick) comes out clean.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Recipe makes enough for the 8" cake above, plus a little extra for simple decorations.

1 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Place the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl (if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, use that bowl) and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 140 degrees F on a thermometer. I used an instant read thermometer, but I'm almost positive a candy thermometer is probably the better choice. The heating process will take approximately 3 - 5 minutes.

2) Once the mixer reaches 140 degrees F, take the bowl off of the simmering pot of water, quickly wipe the moisture off the bottom of the bowl (will be on the outside of the bowl...this is an important step), place on the stand mixer, hook up the whisk attachment, and beat on the HIGHEST speed. Then step back and marvel at how quickly you did all of that.

3) While this is mixing, take an opportunity to cut your softened butter into pieces (1 - 2 tablespoons in size).

4) Check that the sugar and egg white mixture is cool before adding the butter. You can check this by placing the inside of your wrist on the outside of the bowl (mixture takes about 8 - 10 minutes to cool). When the bowl is cool to the touch (not warm, but cool) then you can now start adding the butter.

5) Turn the mixer speed down to just above the "stir" speed and SLOWLY add the butter. I added the next peice after seeing that the previous piece had been completely incorporated.

6) As you add the butter, the mixture will begin to thicken and starts to look like it's curddling and is going to be ruined. Just keep beating on that low speed until it reaches the proper consistency. Which means that it's beautiful and creamy. I think it looked like stiff peak whipping cream....maybe a little more sturdy looking than that. But I think you get the idea.

7) Once the proper consistency is reached, you can add any additional flavourings. This is when you will add the vanilla extract. After you do, it start to looks like it's going to curddle again....just keep beating on low until it goes back to the proper consistency.

This stuff is something else, I'm going to have to experiment a little with the whole "add any additional flavourings" bit. I just like a little more direction than that...

By the way, this stuff can be stored in your refrigerator. When you need to use it, let it come to room temperature and beat it in your mixer to get it to the proper consistency. Or you could just make it when you need it to avoid cleaning out the mixing bowl twice for the same batch of buttercream!

I think we'll assemble this cake in another post....

1 comment:

  1. I can vouch for this is amazing! I would also highly recommend the swiss buttercream for use anywhere you can find a place to use it (even if it's just in a bowl for finger-dipping). Happy 30th Mama Roe!