I’ve had a serious longing to switch from the American-style butter creams which invariably involved some form of fat (butter) and copious amounts of confectioner’s sugar (along with some milk or cream to keep the texture workable).
The egg-based European-style recipes seemed tricky – or at least, I was struggling trying to replicate them at home. I came across a set of recipes that seemed to simplify everything, and I’ve managed to distill it down to the basic proportions needed to scale it up or down. (For example, basing the ratio off 3 eggs will probably cover you for a smaller cake. 6 eggs, from personal experience, created around 6 cups of frosting, which was really quite a lot.)
This recipe uses whole eggs (no need to even worry about separating eggs, much less working an Italian meringue!) and granulated sugar, which I find reassuring since I have weird misgivings around our potential over-reliance on such a specialized ingredient as confectioner’s sugar.
The recipe hinges on simple, adaptable proportions: 1 egg to 1/4 cup sugar to 1 stick butter (4oz/8tbs).
- Beat the egg and sugar together over some kind of indirect heat (steam/dbl boiler) until 160 degrees F, then whip/whisk for ~10 min until tripled in volume.
- Beat in softened butter tablespoon by tablespoon, incorporating each fully before adding the next.
- Add flavoring.
Here’s the best advice from my research: it will (by about halfway through incorporating the butter) look like it’s separating and your world is coming undone. (Think of it as its awkward, teenage phase.)
Persevere. Bull through and it will all come back together. Really.
It was definitely more buttery, but also had a much lighter and smoother texture, like what I remember having on Bûches de Noël back in France. It’s possible that it’s too soft for very intricate piping details, but using a stiffer American-style butter cream or royal icing for those specific elements would be a great trade-off.