Ooh La La! French Buttercream

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Cake Decorating | Comments


Imagine transforming your favorite gourmet vanilla ice cream into something thick, creamy and perfect between two layers of cake. You’re imagining French buttercream!

Buttercream

Made with rich egg yolks, sugar and butter, French buttercream is easy to whip up, versatile and totally delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 sticks (1 lb.) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or paste, or other flavoring of your choice to taste
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Egg Yolks

Step 1:

Put your six room temperature egg yolks into the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until the yolks have thickened slightly and are paler in color. This takes about 5 minutes.

Making Buttercream

Step 2:

Meanwhile, put the sugar and water into a saucepan and cook on a high heat until a candy thermometer registers 240°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you are looking for the “soft ball stage.” At this stage, a little sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft ball. When the ball is taken from the water, it will flatten in your hand after a few seconds.

Butter

Step 3:

While the egg yolks are slowly whipping and the sugar is reaching 240°F, cut your butter into chunks and leave to soften at room temperature.

Mixing Egg Yolks

Step 4:

Once the water and sugar has reached 240°F, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour the syrup on the egg yolks.

Step 5:

Once all the syrup has been poured on the egg yolks, turn the mixer to medium-high and whip until the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch. This can take 10 to 15 minutes. Do not continue to the next step if your bowl still feels at all warm.

Egg Yolk and Sugar

Step 6:

When your mixing bowl is neutral to the touch, the egg yolk and sugar mixture should be thick, creamy and pale yellow in color.

Mixing Bowl

Step 7:

Add vanilla extract or paste, or other flavoring of your choice, plus the salt. Whip briefly to incorporate.

Buttercream Recipe

Step 8:

At this point, your butter should be slightly softened. It should yield to a press of the finger, but not be completely soft. Turn your mixer to medium-low and start slowly adding the butter, one chunk at a time. This can take up to 5 minutes.

Whisked Buttercream

Step 9:

Continue to whisk at medium-low speed until the butter is incorporated and no lumps remain.

Finished Buttercream

Step 10:

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to high and whip the buttercream for a final 2 minutes.

This buttercream can be refrigerated for five days, frozen for two months and kept at room temperature (72°F) for one day. It is now possible to buy pasteurized in-shell eggs at some supermarkets, and the use of these would give the buttercream a longer shelf life at room temperature.

This buttercream is very creamy and soft, making it less suitable for piping or using as a icing under fondant. As a filling, it is perfect when paired with a chocolate ganache icing, as the firm ganache stops the filling from squashing out when the cake is stacked. It should always be served at room temperature.

Ready to decorate your cake with this delicious buttercream? Joshua John Russell’s FREE Craftsy mini-class Modern Buttercream reveals trade secrets for creating a flawless smooth or textured buttercream finish every time.

Have you tried Italian and Swiss meringue buttercreams? I’d love to hear what you think of their French counterpart!

Comments

  1. Yaneri says:

    Ohhhh La La!!! Fantastico!!!
    Looks fairly easy to make!! Gonna give it a try!!!
    Thanks Craftsy!!!!!! (•‿•)

  2. Tammy Oliver says:

    I am going on a mission trip to the Philippines in September. While there I am going to be teaching the older children in an orphanage how to decorate cakes. I have been buying up lots of Wilton supplies and have shipped them over. I was wondering do you have a recommendation for a recipe for an icing that can endure the heat and humidity there? Thanks for any ideas.

    1. Lesley says:

      I would recommend a traditional American buttercream, and you can find recipes all over the internet. You can make it with a combination of butter and shortening, or use all shortening. As I’m sure you know, shortening has a much higher melting point than butter, so it works better in the heat. If you use all shortening, you might want to consider adding some good quality flavorings to make it a little tastier. It’s not the gourmet’s choice, but it will certainly do the job for you!

  3. Mye says:

    Hi Tammy, where will you be teaching? I’m from the Philippines and would like to know how I can be of help? I am not a decorator, but maybe I can assist and learn along the way? I have been baking for quite some time now but not really an expert yet :)

    By the way Lesley, I clicked on the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe but it shows instructions on how to make marshmallow fondant? =)

    1. Lesley says:

      I think Craftsy have fixed the link now, Mye. At least it works for me… thanks for letting me know!

  4. Marie from Ireland says:

    What size of cake does this quantity cover? It looks easy to make. Must try it in the next few days.

    1. Lesley says:

      As suggested in the post, this buttercream might not be suitable as a frosting, it’s better used as a filling. This recipe is enough to fill an 8″ four layer cake.

  5. Lurajean says:

    I have tried to make this three times in a row and my sugar syrup crystallizes as soon as it touches the egg yolk mixture, and I only had the sugar syrup liquid up to 200 degrees. I even checked it with water and seemed to be at soft ball stage. Is there a trick to this that I’m missing? Any help would be appreciated!!

    1. Lesley says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, LURAJEAN! I’m afraid this has never happened to me! Do you have the mixer running as you pour in the sugar? If you are going to eat the buttercream yourself as soon as you make it, don’t worry too much about the temperature of the sugar. As long as the sugar crystals have dissolved, you’re good to go.

      The other thing to try is using room temperature eggs so that the yolk mixture isn’t cooling the sugar too quickly as you pour it in.

      I’m so sorry, I can’t think what else it can be!

  6. Tara Wright says:

    Lurajean
    Soft ball stage is around 240 degrees not 200. You should try it again making sure your sugar syrup gets to at least 240. Hope this helps.

  7. shirley borne says:

    will this work as filling in a cake roll

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      I’m afraid I’ve never tried it in a cake roll, but you might find it’s a little soft for that purpose.

  8. Ayelet says:

    This is Italian Meringue and not French meringue. French meringue is when you whist the egg white and sugar on a Bain Marie to 60 degrees and then whisk in the machine until cold.

  9. cori pullin says:

    Is this filling shelf stable? How long is it good for in a cake sitting on the counter?

    1. Lesley says:

      This is mentioned in the tutorial towards the bottom.

  10. Lesley says:

    Ayelet, I think if you do some more research you’ll find that egg whites beaten with sugar and then whisked until cold, with butter added is definitely Swiss (or Italian if the boiling sugar is poured on to the egg whites). I’ve never seen anything to the contrary. The egg yolk mixture is always known as French. I’m always happy to be proven wrong though, so please link me to your sources if you can!

    Plus, this recipe has been on the Craftsy blog for six months. I highly doubt anyone would have let me get it wrong for this long without pointing it out! :-)