Italian, Swiss Or American Buttercreams, Whats Better?

Decorating By babycakes73 Updated 3 Oct 2010 , 5:01pm by momma28

babycakes73 Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 9:22pm
post #1 of 26

Hi
I have always made my buttercrean with icing sugar ,butter and flavourings.
Could someone please tell me how and if the Swiss or Italian buttercreams differ. Are they easy to make and more importantly to me do they taste good and how much better are they to ice your cake with.
Thanks for any and all info.
I know the italian involves egg whts and sugar syrup, is the swiss the same?

25 replies
Loucinda Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:23pm
post #2 of 26

Swiss and Italian are about the same. Nothing like american buttercream. IMO they are more difficult to make, but they are as smooth as silk in your mouth. I offer both to my clients, but not many order the IMBC. It is my DH hands down favorite icing though. There are a ton of posts on the subject.

springlakecake Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:29pm
post #3 of 26

agreed. I make american buttercream and swiss meringue. I probably do american more for birthday cakes, kids cakes etc. Usually the brides pick swiss meringue. It's not overly sweet and seems more "fancy" It's not hard to make.

playingwithsugar Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:31pm
post #4 of 26

May I add to this by changing the question a little?

Those who sell cakes -

What is your price differential between a serving of ABC and IMBC or SMBC?

Thanks!

Theresa icon_smile.gif

imagenthatnj Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:41pm
post #5 of 26

Italian and Swiss are the same result, you just go a different way to make them.

Swiss you start with your egg whites and sugar, heating them up in a double-boiler and whisking softly and then continue with beating them and then adding the butter.

Italian you start beating the egg whites in a mixer, and meanwhile you make a sugar syrup in a pot with a thermometer in place, and as soon as it hits about 248˚F, and your eggs are at soft peaks, you put in the syrup and beat until the whites are cool. Then you add the butter. Some people have a different temperature that they boil the syrup to, as well as different peaks for the eggs.

So, same thing, different ways to make them.

My favorite is Italian Meringue Buttercream, both to make and eat.

I've never made American. When people have told me "I don't like frosting, don't give me any" and they've tasted the Italian, they've changed their minds. It's not overly sweet.

imagenthatnj Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:43pm
post #6 of 26

Swiss Meringue Buttercream video:


babycakes73 Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 11:44pm
post #7 of 26

thanks for the info, but does IMBC work well when using and covering your cakes with fondant?

momma28 Posted 2 Oct 2010 , 11:51pm
post #8 of 26

I prefer (and so do my customers) smbc

babycakes73 Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 12:21am
post #9 of 26

do the eggs get cooked enough in the swiss one using the double boiler as opossed to the italian hot syrup method?

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 1:00am
post #10 of 26

I use the pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton.

I have read that eggs don't really get hot enough in any of the two methods, but who knows? Everyone has a different opinion. I bought the Meringue DVD from the Culinary Institute of America to see what they said and if I could get any extra tips on making them, and they do think that Swiss and Italian are "cooked meringues."

I know that when I'm making Italian and my syrup is about 248 degrees F, smoke comes out while my mixer is running so I feel safer making that one.

I never measured the temperature while making the Swiss, but all it has to get to is 160˚F for the eggs to be pasteurized.

Here's instructions for IMB with photos, in case anyone is interested. There are a few blogs out there with step-by-step instructions.

http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-make-italian-meringue.html

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 1:06am
post #11 of 26

A good blog if you want to read about how to ice a cake with IMBC smoothly:

http://sugarsweetcakesandtreats.blogspot.com/2010/06/music-themed-80th-birthday-cake.html

(Actually her whole blog is really nice for beginners; things are very patiently explained.)

afunk Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 1:24am
post #12 of 26

Babycakes- you can absolutely cover an IMBC or SMBC cake in fondant. I do it almost every time.
As for the eggs, as someone else said if the sugar syrup for IMBC is hot enough it's fine. I make SMBC and I have found that the egg and sugar mixture reaches 160 degrees pretty much just after the sugar granules have completely dissolved.

Hope that helps.

MissLisa Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 2:15am
post #14 of 26

As long as we're on the subject, I have a question or two.

Does anyone actually pipe anything other than borders with IMBC? I had a horrible time trying to color it for piping leaves. It separated, looked curdled and didn't pipe for squat! If you ice and border with it do you use American Buttercream for your flowers/leaves?

Once you have your cakes iced in either the SMBC or the IMBC, do you refrigerate them? Or are they good at room temp?

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 2:23am
post #15 of 26

I've colored it and piped with it. I think if it separates, it was probably not done properly from the beginning. Or maybe it was too cold? Or maybe it was too hot? It has to be at room temperature, but your hands could get it too hot while you're piping.

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 2:27am
post #16 of 26

Video, I think with Susan McMahon. There's a good video of her making it too, but I can't find it right now.

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/340660/Video-recipe--Piping-Italian-meringue-cupcake-buttercream

I see how she holds that bag, as to not warm up the IMBC that much with her hands.

afunk Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 2:33am
post #17 of 26

MissLisa-
I haven't tried to color SMBC but I wonder if a powdered color would work better only because I have added Matcha powder (green tea) to it and it came out a fantastic green. Or perhaps add the color to your simple syrup for the IMBC?

And since I usually cover my SMBC in fondant I can't help with the flower question but it will pipe borders beautifully. Just be careful if you have hot hands.

I do refrigerate SMBC/IMBC cakes. Especially those not covered in fondant. But I usually always serve at or close to room temperature.
Hope that helps.

babycakes73 Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 4:19am
post #18 of 26

thanks so much everyone, I think I just may give this a try.

momma28 Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 1:01pm
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by babycakes73

do the eggs get cooked enough in the swiss one using the double boiler as opossed to the italian hot syrup method?




I used to use fresh egg whites and heat to 165. I now use powdered egg whites and still heat to 165 for the sugar to melt but I dont have to seperate eggs or worry about any bacteria at all. Comes out exactly the same.

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 1:49pm
post #20 of 26

momma28, so the powdered egg whites work? I've been doing it forever with pasteurized egg whites, but sometimes I don't have those either. One day I bought the powdered egg whites and left in the pantry, but every time I've made sure I went to buy the carton of egg whites.

Now, if you tell me they work, I will use them! Your cakes are beautiful, and I know you have a lot of experience.

Kiddiekakes Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 2:00pm
post #21 of 26

Okay..I just made the IMBC this wekend for an actual cake.I have only made it once before and it was to just make it..This time it was for a paid order.I spent over to $30.00 for the ingredients..4 lbs of unsalted butter at $5.00 a lb.Carton of egg white $3.97..cream of tartar since I didn't have any...$6.29...white granulated sugar....well I didn't determine that but you get the idea...It took me about an hour and a half to make 2 batches...Stupid me only charged her an extra $5.00....Won't ever make that mistake again...Here are my thoughts on the taste and texture....The taste is soft and silky but to me tastes buttery...Smooths like a dream and pipes nice but you have to work quicker as it tends to melt fast...The color is lousy..soft yellow but I know that is due to the butter content...It takes coloring terrible...I use alot of Super Red to get a decent red and still had to airbrush for a deeper color..I tried to make sky blue..Came out a muted dark blue because of the yellow tinge of the icing...not the color I was after....When it set up in the fridge it was very solid...Like cold butter since that essentially is what it is...I would make it again for myself but would tend to pass on a paid customer order unless they really want it and then I am charging $35.00 extra for the ingredients and time factor.HTH icon_smile.gif

momma28 Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 3:55pm
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagenthatnj

momma28, so the powdered egg whites work? I've been doing it forever with pasteurized egg whites, but sometimes I don't have those either. One day I bought the powdered egg whites and left in the pantry, but every time I've made sure I went to buy the carton of egg whites.

Now, if you tell me they work, I will use them! Your cakes are beautiful, and I know you have a lot of experience.




Yep they work great icon_smile.gif I love them. The whole misture comes to etmp sooner because you start with warm water to rehydrate the egg whites. Ones I stir to dissolve the powder in the water I pour it through a strainer into the bowl with the sugar just in case there are any undissolved bits (learned this the hard way). Then I proceed as with regular egg whites. Heat to 165 over double boiler, whip, paddle in butter. Comes out smooth as silk and incredible icon_smile.gif
Thank you for the compliment on my cakes. I love what I do and take great pride in them. What better way to make money, making people smile icon_smile.gif

BakingGirl Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 4:24pm
post #23 of 26

If you want IMBC in a dark colour the best way to achieve that with paste colours is to add the colour to the sugar syrup. It is much harder to add it to the finished buttercream, the colour won't always emulsify properly with the buttercream so you can end up with beads of un-mixed colour, or a curdled look. Most of the time I just add colour to the finished bc, but it won't come out as deep or dark as an American bc would.

LisaPeps Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 4:35pm
post #24 of 26

Or you can add paste colours to the egg white and sugar mixture BEFORE you add the butter, I do that all the time. But it is difficult, as with any other buttercream or fondant, to get a dark colour. All my cupcakes in my pictures are decorated with IMBC.

imagenthatnj Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 4:51pm
post #25 of 26

Thank you, momma28. And thanks for the tip on the strainer. This will free me up from having to have those cartons of egg whites in the fridge.

momma28 Posted 3 Oct 2010 , 5:01pm
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagenthatnj

Thank you, momma28. And thanks for the tip on the strainer. This will free me up from having to have those cartons of egg whites in the fridge.




If you buy them in bulk from honeyville they are more econimical. You can get the equivilant of I think almost 600 egg whites for about 25 dollars. After the whole egg recall scare I also felt better about using something pastuerized even though I was effectively pasteurizing them when I heated them. Now there is NO doubt

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