Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Caramelized-Apple Spice Cake with Brown-Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Oh, when will I ever learn that trying to bake something new right before company comes over is rarely a good idea?

I wanted to make this Martha Stewart cake for a Saturday holiday party, so I started making it Friday night. The cakes baked beautifully, and on Saturday morning I started on the buttercream. I never made buttercream before, but I figured it'd be easy (how different can it be from frosting or whipped cream?) I figured it'd take me, oh, half an hour.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me that making buttercream is not a job for a novice? The first batch I made resulted in a lumpy, chunky mess, not the smooth velvetiness it was supposed to be. Husband suggested fishing out the tiny pellets of butter, but after seeing just how many there were, he changed his mind.

"You're not going to cry again, are you?" he asked. I shook my head no and turned away (because I was).

I was now running half an hour behind my cooking schedule. I rushed to the nearest supermarket, bought more butter, and rushed back home. The second batch turned out wonderfully. After I spread it around my cake, I added gingersnap leaves as a finishing touch.

The lesson I learned? As you're adding butter to the warm meringue mixture (step 2 below), you want to work quickly. Once the meringue cools, STOP or you will end up with pellets like I did in my first batch. It doesn't matter if you don't get a chance to use all four sticks of butter (might be a good thing anyway). I only ended up using three and it turned out great. The best part? The guests raved.

Brown-Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Martha Stewart)

Makes about 5 cups

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 2/3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture registers 160 degrees, about 4 minutes.
  2. Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Beat until frosting is smooth and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes. Buttercream can be refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and beat before using.


tigerfish said...

Such a beautiful cake!
You can start to teach.
Happy New Year :)

holybasil said...

I can relate to your frustration. I sometimes try a novel recipe/technique right before guests arrive, only to completely flop and have my husband run to the store. Glad your 2nd try turned out well. Maple buttercream sounds delicious.

Lynnylu said...

Your cake looks great! I'm sure it was delicious, too.

Jasmine said...

Do you take the frosting off the heat after step one is complete?