It’s been a long time since I made a true buttercream with an egg base. They are so yummy I wanted to start getting back into it, so for Valentine’s day I decided to make a cake with an Italian Meringue Buttercream. The cake had been made the day before and was nicely cooled, just waiting for that creamy coating. I went over my recipe several times to refresh my memory and had all the ingredients and tools ready to go.
I had a couple issues that I should have thought about beforehand. One: I didn’t give myself a lot of time. I didn’t think it would take very long, so I waited until just before dinner to make it. And Two: My kids were awake, which usually means interruptions and distractions about every 30 seconds. Not so good for the focus I needed.
I got my egg whites beating, which was fine, they looked great, but it was cooking the sugar syrup that got me. I would hold the thermometer in the pan to track the temperature, get distracted and take it out for a few seconds, then go back and put it in again to re-check the temperature. After doing this a few too many times I realized that my syrup was at the hard ball stage instead of soft ball, which is about 20 degrees higher than it should be. Oops!
If I had left myself more time I would have made a new syrup, but because I assumed everything would go perfectly I didn’t have the time to spare and decided to pour it in and see what would happen. It ended up being quite curdled, nowhere near the smooth and creamy coating I had anticipated. The flavour was fine, but the appearance was not.
At least it was for my family, and thankfully they’re happy to eat almost anything I make no matter what it looks like. But next time I’ll plan ahead and work while the kids are asleep!