Difference Between Swiss, Italian And French Buttercream?

Baking By handymama Updated 8 Feb 2012 , 5:12pm by scp1127

handymama Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
handymama Posted 6 Feb 2012 , 3:33pm
post #1 of 9

I made Duff's French buttercream this week and didn't care for it at all--too much like a mouth full of butter. I've compared recipes and know that the Swiss and Italian are basically the same except that the egg whites are heated. I also know that the meringue buttercreams are considered a less sweet "adult" icing. Is there a happy medium somewhere? I use Sharon Zambito's BC all the time on my client cakes, but frankly it's far sweeter than I prefer. Then there's the "mouth of butter" meringues. How I'd love to find an icing that works well on wedding cakes but is "just right" on the sweetness.

8 replies
icer101 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
icer101 Posted 6 Feb 2012 , 3:59pm
post #2 of 9

Yes, in the smbc, you cook the whites and sugar to certain temp. , then beat to stiff consistency(watch dyanbakes on youtube) . when you make imbc, you cook the sugar and water to certain temp. and then pour this over the beaten whites, etc. then the fmbc is beaten egg yolks( i use DeDe Wilson ) recipe(delicious) then you heat the sugar and water to certain temp and then pour over yolks in a stream, etc. then you add your butter to each of these at the end along with any flavoring , etc. I make all three. they all taste the same to me. It took me a while to get use to them. I now also make crumbboss b/c recipe. She is on youtube also. I heard about her from this site. She is great. I have made some of her other recipes also and have like them too. So check her out too. Some people use some shortening in there smbc, imbc and fmbc. I hope i have helped you. These are classy b/c. Also a member her fromscratchfm(something like that. has a blog and it very nice to read and try hers also. So look all this up and it might help you go further with it.

auzzi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
auzzi Posted 7 Feb 2012 , 12:46am
post #3 of 9

Italian Meringue Buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and French Meringue Buttercream are all cooked meringue buttercreams.

Italian Meringue or "meringue italienne" is made with hot sugar syrup poured in while whipping egg whites - cooking them. Beating in butter makes Italian Meringue Buttercream.

Swiss Meringue or "meringue cuite" is made by cooking the egg whites while beating with sugar over boiling water. Beating in butter makes Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

French meringue ordinaire or "meringue Suisse" is an uncooked mixture of whisked egg whites and sugar. Duff Goldman's French Buttercream is made by beating butter into French meringue ordinaire. Buttercream made using French meringue ordinaire is an uncooked buttercream.


Traditional French buttercream is made by using either the Italian or Swiss meringue method with egg yolk in place of egg white. Modern French buttercream can be made by using either the Italian or Swiss meringue method with egg yolk and whole eggs in place of egg white.

Flour-based frosting - flour paste beaten into sugar-creamed butter - is also called French buttercream.

alliecakes82 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
alliecakes82 Posted 7 Feb 2012 , 1:27am
post #4 of 9

I have made both SMBC and IMBC. IMBC is hands down my favorite. It's a bit more involved to make, but in my opinion tastes less buttery than SMBC while still maintaining that not too sweet flavor. I use Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe (she calls it Moussaline Buttercream).

Two things I would recommend/keep in mind: the recipe for IMBC says to beat eggs in one bowl and butter in another and then add the meringue to the fluffy butter. I know some people skip this step and put the soft but not beaten butter directly into the meringue. I think this can make the frosting taste less fluffy and too buttery. The trick to not needing two mixer bowls: make the meringue, add the hot syrup, and move to any other bowl to cool. Beat the butter in the same mixer bowl you made the meringue in and then add the cooled meringue.

IMBC is very stable (according to The Cake Bible it will last for 2 days at room temperature) and pipes beautifully. It may take a couple tries to get it right, but I think it's well worth the effort.


scp1127 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
scp1127 Posted 8 Feb 2012 , 2:32pm
post #5 of 9

I use all three plus German buttercream which is my favorite. FBC using yolks is richer than the ones that use the whites because of the richness the yolks bring to this and any recipe. I think the key to any of these is to use quality ingredients, especially the butter, and to have a balanced recipe. None of mine are sweet at all. For FBC, I stay away from vanilla only because of the richness. I find stronger flavors balance the yolks.

I use all four because with each there is a property that makes it stand out as being the method of choice for the particular cake flavor. The most similar are SMBC and IMBC. IMBC has a stability to it, just like the FBC, because the egg is transformed chemically into a confection before the buttercream is added.

kmstreepey Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
kmstreepey Posted 8 Feb 2012 , 2:53pm
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by icer101

Some people use some shortening in there smbc, imbc and fmbc.

I cannot imagine how horrible this would taste. Stick with real butter, the higher quality, the better!

Gerle Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Gerle Posted 8 Feb 2012 , 4:21pm
post #7 of 9

SCP1127---what is German BC? How is it different for similar to the others?

scp1127 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
scp1127 Posted 8 Feb 2012 , 5:10pm
post #8 of 9

Gerle, I just gave an explanation of GBC this morning on another post. I'll have to see where it is.

scp1127 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile

Quote by @%username% on %date%