Questions About Italian Meringue Icing

Decorating By sweetsbycheryl Updated 24 Mar 2008 , 8:55pm by melysa

sweetsbycheryl Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 2:58pm
post #1 of 27

I am doing my first wedding in June. The bride, who is a joy to work with (thank heaven!! No bridezilla here!!) has requested a white sour cream cake, with a fruit filling (has not decided yet between lemon or strawberry). She wants a light and not too sweet icing on the cake and has suggested Italian Meringue, which I have never done before. How difficult is this icing to make, does it crust well, and how does it hold up under heat? Any help would be appreciated!! TIA icon_biggrin.gif

26 replies
FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:11pm
post #2 of 27

It is easy to make, does NOT crust, and I have had it stand up in 80+ degree weather before. It is a great icing to work with and it's super easy to smooth.

You do need to add enough flavoring to it. I make Swiss Meringue Buttercream because I don't like fussing with making the hot sugar syrup. It tastes exactly the same as the Italian version but you don't have to heat sugar and water to 248 degrees.

HTH's a bit. icon_smile.gif

melysa Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:12pm
post #3 of 27

it is a delicious icing. not difficult, but takes longer than traditional bc. it doesnt crust at all, but it firms up in the fridge, and can then be scraped smooth (use a bench scraper) and it holds up ok in the heat, but i suggest covering it with fondant as well. fondant is always the best option for summer outdoor events. if its inside with a/c, it should be fine alone. its a very stable icing.

tbittner Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:13pm
post #4 of 27

Hello, Another altrenative that holds up AMAZING in heat is the House Buttercream from the Whimsical Bakehouse Book. It is light, not too sweet, super creamy and holds up. It does not crust but will work well. You must use the high ratio shortening though, othrwise it will leave a film in your mouth. I typically use 2 sticks of butter and the rest is the high rato when I make it.

Good luck on your search!
Tracy

Walls1971 Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:15pm
post #5 of 27

I just recently started using the IMBC and I really like it. It's not too sweet at all. However, it does not crust. It's a bit harder to get smooth, as it has air bubbles and you can't use a paper towel or anything like that. It's all in how skilled you are with an offset spatula icon_smile.gif I had been reluctant to try it because you do have to cook it and have to check temperatures, etc. . . but once I did it, I was glad I did. It's not over the top difficult. I did a full sheet cake covered in it and had to make many batches in order to cover it and it wasn't overwhelming.

I do some part-time work with a local bakery (in addition to my home business) and this is the only icing they use.

I hope that helps! I'd definitely encourage you to try it at least once. icon_biggrin.gif

Heather

melysa Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:16pm
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

You do need to add enough flavoring to it. I make Swiss Meringue Buttercream because I don't like fussing with making the hot sugar syrup. It tastes exactly the same as the Italian version but you don't have to heat sugar and water to 248 degrees.

HTH's a bit. icon_smile.gif




i was going to mention the flavoring too! i use about 1/4 cup of vanilla per 8 cup recipe. i also make smbc - to me its just easier.

all4cake Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:22pm
post #7 of 27

She suggested Italian Meringue? Well that would be the equivalent to 7 minute frosting or white mountain frosting....no butter

http://www.crinellawinery.com/family_cookbook/merinfrost.shtml


I'd just be certain of what she wants first....either Italian Meringue or Italian Meringue Buttercream...quite a big difference there.

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:31pm
post #8 of 27

You know what they say about great minds melysa!! icon_biggrin.gif

Also.. make sure you use unsalted butter.. or it will taste like a stick of butter no matter what you put in it.

This is my recipe..

10 egg whites
2 cups of sugar
6 sticks of unsalted butter
4-6 TBSP (yes TBSP) of real vanilla

put the sugar and egg whites in your mixer bowl and place it ontop of a pot of boiling water.. making a double boiler. Whisk until the sugar melts (I usually heat it to 160 degrees to be safe) then place your mixer bowl on your mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on medium speed for a few minutes and then turn it up to almost full blast and let it whip up until it is a beautiful meringue and you can touch your mixer bowl and have it feel neutral to the touch. This takes a while. Then switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter in small amounts until it is all incorporated.. scraping the bowl as needed. You will see your beautiful, fluffy meringue fall into a soupy mess.. then it will look like cottage cheese.. then it will magically become a silky smooth buttercream. Then add your flavoring and mix to combine. If you have a ton of air bubbles you can take a culinary torch to the outside of the bowl while mixing on low. This will get rid of a lot of the air bubbles and will work for Italian MBC as well.

This can be kept at room temp for a few days, in the fridge for a couple weeks, and frozen for a few months. When you want to use it again you must allow it to come to room temp and re-beat it and when you do it can get scary looking.. If it's been on the counter it will be lumpy and if it's been in the fridge or the freezer it will look like separated cottage cheese in water when you first start mixing it.. DON'T PANIC.. use your culinary torch or place over a double boiler and whisk until it melts down a bit and then beat it in the mixer and it will come right back just as beautiful as the day you made it.

HTH's and of course.. any questions just fire away. icon_smile.gif

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:34pm
post #9 of 27

I doubt that's what she meant.. if she was talking buttercream and suggested the Italian meringue version IMBC is most likely what she meant.. but I would clarify with her too.. just incase she really does just want meringue.. but you can't smooth meringue like BC.. so I really doubt that. Plus it gets really spongy if you let it sit.. yuck-a!!

Edited to add that straight up meringue is also rather sweet.. so another reason I don't think that's what she was referring to

sweetsbycheryl Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:42pm
post #10 of 27

She did suggest an Italian Meringue Buttercream icing, however she stated that any light and not too sweet icing would be okay. Jkalman, can I have your Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe? That may be just what I need.
Thanks so much for all the help guys!!

FromScratch Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 3:48pm
post #11 of 27

It's posted above.. icon_biggrin.gif You can cut it in 1/2 too to try it out..

Then when you get it down.. you can add all sorts of stuff to it to make different fillings. My favorites are adding some melted chocolate or chocolate ganache (tastes like chocolate mousse), adding sweetened and thickened strawberry or raspberry puree (tastes like strawberry or raspberry ice cream), adding peppermint extract rather than the vanilla (not to much though) and some crushed peppermint candies, adding lemon curd.. the options are endless.. it is such a great BC. All of my brides LOVE it.

sweetsbycheryl Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 4:52pm
post #12 of 27

Thanks Jkalman! I guess I'm having a "duh" moment. I wasn't sure if that was the recipe. Anyway, thanks and I will give it a try!!

TexasSugar Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 5:40pm
post #13 of 27

How long can this icing be left out?

melysa Posted 19 Mar 2008 , 5:43pm
post #14 of 27

it should be fine out at room temp for up to two days.

TexasSugar Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 3:13am
post #15 of 27

One more question... About how much icing does the above recipe make?

I've got to do the traditional Easter Lamb cake this weekend and I'm thinking about trying this icing for it. I just need to know how much it makes so I know if I need to make a full batch, or if a half batch would be better.

melysa Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 2:47pm
post #16 of 27

texassugar, i am not sure on the exacts of jeannes' recipe quanity- but i use a recipe with similar measurements and it makes 8 cups.

TexasSugar Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 5:49pm
post #17 of 27

Thank you! Now I just have to figure out if I am ready to try this. icon_smile.gif

sweetsbycheryl Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 6:05pm
post #18 of 27

Thanks for all the advice and help guys!! I have found several other recipes in the forum that I will try this weekend. How stable are these icings? Regular buttercream dries pretty hard, so I don't worry too much about layers sliding and fillings seeping. How much of an issue will this be for a meringue buttercream? How long can it safely be left out? The wedding site is an hour from my house and that cake will be out an additional two- three hours after that. Will these icings hold up for that long? Thanks again!! thumbs_up.gif

melysa Posted 21 Mar 2008 , 10:26pm
post #19 of 27

sweetsbycheryl,

this is a VERY stable type of frosting. it will not crust, but it will hold really really well. it works great with carved and tilted cakes- without worry of it falling apart , buldging, seeping or sliding off. i chill my cakes after they are finished and they will transport very well, provided of course you also use proper doweling . for a tiered cake, its a good idea to leave it out 3-5 hours anyway before serving so that it can come back down to room temperature before serving. it definately is better to eat that way.

TexasSugar Posted 23 Mar 2008 , 11:18pm
post #20 of 27

Okay so I attempted this icing last night for my lamb cake. I'm not sure what I think about it. I guess I had been hoping for a WOW, this is good, but it was really just okay to me. I've used the clear vanilla for years so now to me the real vanilla has a after taste, and I think that I had trouble getting past that. It is very different than my normal buttercream so I'm thinking I will give it another try sometime before I completely cross it off my list. But because it took me forever to make it, I'd have to be a WOW taste to keep using it for most cakes.

I have some questions though that I had while making it, that may help me make it the next time.

I love the clue words in your directions, like the soupy and cottage cheese because it did help. But I did wonder how long it would typically take to do different parts.

How long do you typically whip the egg whites to get them to the stiff stage? And what speed do you do it on? I have a KA 6Q and it goes from Stir to 10. I wasn't sure what is considered "almost full blast".

My egg whites got to what I thought was the stiff peak stage, ends standing straight up, but it still seemed/looked soft and was shiny. Is this normal or did I need to beat it longer?

When you add the butter are you adding cold cold, cold or just what ever butter? I had also printed out ShirlyW's IMBC recipe and it talked about the cold butter so that is what I used. I took the butter out of the fridge when I started whipping the eggs. Was that right? Was it too cold?

About how long does it stay in the soupy, then cottage cheese stage? Mine seemed to stay there forever (as in 15+ mins)! I wasn't sure if that was because my butter was too cold or because it just takes a long time. Also what speed do you have the mixer on when you add the butter?

I'm not sure I'd would have used the words "silky smooth" to describe the final product. It did have the air bubbles in it. I'm guessing that came from either mixing it too fast or too long waiting for the cottage cheese stage to end.

I think it took me between 45-60 mins from start to finish to make this icing. I don't know if that is normal or if I did something wrong.

I'd love any thoughts, hints or suggestions anyone has to give. I do want to try this icing again, before I completely make up my mind about it.

Please and Thanks!

melysa Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 3:24pm
post #21 of 27

i do think you beat it to long and possible on too high a speed.

the colder the butter, sometimes, the more curdled the icing will look

when i make swiss buttercream, the process with the sugar and eggs is a tad different, but i generally use a whisk attachment on high (7-10) for roughly 10 minutes for the sugar/egg white mixture. THEN i switch to the beater attachment on low (1 or 2) and slowly add the butter. i notice that when i add soft room temperature butter and mix on low, it is creamier with less air bubbles, as well as doesnt go through the curdled stage as long. from the time i begin adding the butter to the finished bc, it usually takes no more than 5 minutes. the entire process should be no longer than 20 minutes usually, but depending on several factors, including the weather, it sometimes is possible to take longer.

another thought on air bubbles, the fuller the bowl is with ingredients, less air will be pulled in to make the bubbles. so if you have a 5 quart mixer, a 10-12 cup recipe would do well.

you can also let it sit for awhile and then come back and put the mixer on 1 with the beater and just beat out the air very slowly for a minute or so... it helps a little.

trixieleigh Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 4:53pm
post #22 of 27

I made my first IMBC this weekend for our Easter Dinner. It was delicious on my yellow cake with Creme Bouquet and filled with strawberry jam that I added fresh strawberries to. My questions is how in the heck do you get smooth icing with this stuff?! Can you use a cake spatula dipped in hot water?

melysa Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 5:14pm
post #23 of 27

i use a bench scraper (aka dough cutter) for the sides and a clear ruler for the tops. clear- because it allows for me to get down on eye level and see the top as i am scraping across. its also longer (12 inches) than a bench scraper (6 inches). you can also buy putty knifes for wall spackling (home depot, walmart etc) that are wide and flat. they are cheap and work well. if its too soft at first to smooth, do a rough draft, stick the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then try it again. it firms up as it chills which makes it easier to smooth. if you use a hot spatula, the butter will discolor (darker ) as it melts from the heat. if you do this method, it should be slightly warm, not hot, and dry also.

TexasSugar Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 5:32pm
post #24 of 27

Melysa, Thank you! The time amounts help. I wil try this again with not cold butter to see how it goes again. icon_smile.gif

trixieleigh Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 5:35pm
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by melysa

i use a bench scraper (aka dough cutter) for the sides and a clear ruler for the tops. clear- because it allows for me to get down on eye level and see the top as i am scraping across. its also longer (12 inches) than a bench scraper (6 inches). you can also buy putty knifes for wall spackling (home depot, walmart etc) that are wide and flat. they are cheap and work well. if its too soft at first to smooth, do a rough draft, stick the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then try it again. it firms up as it chills which makes it easier to smooth. if you use a hot spatula, the butter will discolor (darker ) as it melts from the heat. if you do this method, it should be slightly warm, not hot, and dry also.





Thanks for your help, melysa!

melysa Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 8:52pm
post #26 of 27

glad to help ~

melysa Posted 24 Mar 2008 , 8:55pm
post #27 of 27

i just had another thought. if it seems to soupy and it just isnt thickening , place the bowl of icing in the fridge for 10 minutes, then try again. it usually helps speed it up (also gives your mixer a rest!)

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