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Troubleshooting with Italian Meringue Buttercream

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello,
I ran into the problem multiple times while making IMBC (Italian meringue buttercream). I only made it successfully once sadly.
I manage to get as far as whipping the egg whites with the sugar water and making them rise successfully. It's glossy, and looks like what it's suppose to look like. But when I add my room temperature butter, while whipping it at high speed, it immeadietly deflates. I've attempted the recipe by Cake It (a YouTuber), many times and it never works. I tried other recipes as well, but as soon as that butter mixes in, it turns into a liquid mess.

Some factors that might change my results vs everyone else:

I live in a high altitude area.
It was during the summer and my house does not have ac.
The butter was "too" room temperature?
post #2 of 19

Hi @June Yuan,

  It's difficult to help without a formula and method. You mentioned whipping the egg white with the sugar water. I'm assuming you are cooking your sugar water to around 240-245 F. Your egg white should already be whipped and slowly pour the sugar water into them while they are whipping on high speed. 

The soft butter should be added in approx. a tablespoon at a time for small batch. There should be some deflation but not a great amount.

HTH's

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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
@panini I did follow those instructions and added the butter tablespoon by tablespoon. In the end it still deflated...
post #4 of 19

Heya June,

 

The funny thing with IMBC is that if it does deflate (which happens from time to time) don't give up and throw it away. Keep beating it on medium high for another 10-15 minutes and it will all come back together. Just have patience. :D

post #5 of 19

@Fablesable adds a very good point.  The optimal buttercream method is,when at the point when you add your butter to the whipped whites, both are at the same temperature. If the butter is colder then the whites and deflates, your best path to recovery is to try to increase the butter temp. This happens frequently when the mixer and whip heat up because of extended use. I personally dip a side towel in hot water and put it up against the bottom of the mixing bowl using my palms to move it around until the heat dissipates. and repeat if necessary. 

  If the whites are colder than the butter I use a bowl filled with cold water and ice. I just put this under the bowl and insert the bottom of the mixing bowl into the cold water. With both of the corrections the whipping continues.

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post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
@Fablesable it's nice to see you again! smile.gif Anywho, I did leave the mixed on for 10-15 minutes extra, but it seems to just stay the same. @panini mentioned a great point that it might be my mixer overheating, since it is running continuously.
My butter is at room temperature, to the point where it's super soft.
Is it possible to switch the egg meringue mixture (after its at stiff peaks) to another bowl and then adding the butter? Or would it jeopardize it?
post #7 of 19

And you as well @June Yuan :D I would do as @panini suggested rather than trade bowls. If your mixer is heating up add an ice pack to the bottom of mixing bowl. I have actually had the mixture take as long as 30 mins one time just to set up proper....not sure why but it could have been a bunch of things at once. Strange as it seems. The mixer components that heat up near the motor from running so long should not affect the mixing bowl and ingredients. It is how quickly you are adding the hot sugar that affects the bowl temp and then when you don't wait until the temp is cool in the bowl before adding butter. You have to add the hot sugar very VERY VERY slowly. It should take you a good 3-4minutes if not more to get all the hot sugar into the bowl. That is super slow and drizzle it in. 

 

That's all I can think of at the moment ;)

post #8 of 19

Don't give up and don't toss out all that $$$ invested in butter and eggs!

 

Sounds like the components were too warm.

Depending on how much of a time crunch I am in....ice bath to the bottom of the bowl and keep on whipping or park in the reach in or fridge if no time to babysit.

 

Don't be tempted to start dumping 10X in to tighten it up (saw that one on Pinterest :eek:).

It will (eventually) work but Mama Mia!

Would prolly soak up a few lbs and be nauseatingly sweet when done.

 

mimi

post #9 of 19

1)  Add all the butter

 

2)  It will pull back together

post #10 of 19
When buttercream wont get fluffy, I just shove the whole bowl, whisk and all, into the freezer for about 10 mins, then pop it back in the mixer and beat again, it'll go fluffy within a few minutes.

You can avoid this by adding 2/3 of your butter at room temp, and the rest (in small chunks) fridge-cold.

Hope this helps
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post #11 of 19

@Fablesable, @flipflopgirl, wassup?

I just wanted to add for June Yuan,

I mentioned the mixer getting warm. I actually meant that long periods of agitation and friction will produce heat.

Also. Make sure your bowl is squeaky clean, absolutely free from any type fat. Bowl, paddle, whip, machine, etc.

Use eggs white closer to room temp. 

Contrary to what you'll commonly hear, you can over whip egg whites. To much friction and heat will denature the protiens and they will no longer hold air.

Also,  Does your recipe calls for granulated sugar in with the white before whipping?

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post #12 of 19

So.

@June Yuan ...

You have the bestest and the brightest weighing in with the simple fix (myself excluded as I am the one who penned the brag and everyone knows how humble I am lol ;-)

 

What we have not addressed is your elevation.

All of my baking has been done at sea level so no thoughts from me BUT caught an old Alton Brown show the other afternoon and learned (I think ;-) that pressure has a lot to do with the boiling of water ie it takes MORE pressure to get it to a high enuf temp to do that and the pressure drops as you increase your elevation.

 

Question.

Did the syrup actually boil or did you just temp it and go from there?

Not pointing fingers or poking the bear ... just genuinely curious.

 

:)

 

mimi

post #13 of 19

@June Yuan,

There are a lot of suggestions being relayed to you. I think if you posted the recipe and procedure you are using it would make helping your situation much simpler rather than all of use speculating what your doing. I did take a look on youtube for cake it but was not successful. I did watch 2, one from bake it and can't remember the other. Both were different.

  I have a feeling if we know exactly what your doing it could be a very quick fix. 

Our unknowns, sugar density, sugar to egg white ratio, etc. Neither youtubes use any type of acid with their whites. I usually suggest to beginners to do that to increase the stability. Could be some cream of tartar, pinch of salt, rub the inside of your stainless steel mixing with a half cut fresh lemon, etc.

  Might want to add what type of mixer and type of metal for all your utensils used.

 One thing I did forget to mention is that after the hot sugar is drizzled in, I suggest to run the whip until the bottom of the bowl lowers to 110-130F. Remember when trying to estimate temp with your hands, they are around 98F, so 110 should feel a little warm when you touch.

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post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

@flipflopgirl Oh how sad I felt whenever I had to toss away my mixture, meaning $$$ loss :( I am definitely going to try an ice bath on the bottom next time. I have a thermometer that tracks the temperature of the boiling sugar water (the temp should be at 240), and it is boiling.

 

@foodpump Hmmm, I've never heard of that before, but I will try that too. Thanks!

 

@panini Here's the link to the video

 

 

 

My bowl is very clean; I wash it twice to make sure :)

There was one time I over whipped the egg, but made the mistake to stop whipping it, causing it to deflate. 

 

So here's my game plan for my cake:

Follow the recipe in the link

Clean bowl, and attachment (whisk)

Boil sugar water to 240 F

Whip the egg meringue 

Add sugar water to egg meringue mixture slowly this time. (This maybe another one of the causes, I rush the pouring of the sugar water)

After meringue has risen to stiff peaks, check bowl temperature. It should be cool to the touch.

Place ice bath underneath

Add room temperature butter slowly

Don't get discouraged if it gets deflated, continue to whip for 10 minutes or more.

 

This is what I've gathered so far... Any other suggestions? Everything you guys have posted has taught me so much, thank you!

post #15 of 19

Don't automatically add the ice bath or the BC may break/curdle (but can be brought back to smooth by the hot wet towel method @panini spoke about).

Why work harder than you have to lol?

Third time will be the charm :).

 

mimi

 

edit spelling!

post #16 of 19
One more trick:

If you dont have a thermometer, or dont trust the one you do have, use a fork. Dip a normal table fork in the boiling syrup and hold it close to your mouth. Blow. If you can blow bubbles from between the tines, you're at the right temp.
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post #17 of 19

@June Yuan,

 Agree, don't add the ice bath unless you feel the bottom of the bowl while finishing your drizzle and it feels hot. As long as it is close to body temp you're ok. If it feels hot when you finished adding syrup than add the ice bath or retard in the freezer for 10 minutes like @foodpump suggested.

  Sometimes the butter is too cold to add, so if your bowl is cold to the touch then go to the warming method. You should not be able to add your butter in cut chunks (not soft enough)

I did look at the youtube.

Although a very good video, I have 2 things to add.

1.  I personally would suggest to divide your first granulated sugar. 300gm. for the syrup, and 100gm. for you egg whites.

For the egg whites, start to whip. When they start to become cloudy/opaque add the 100gm. granulated sugar. The addition of sugar to the egg whites will reduce you chances of deflation  greatly.

Remember, this is just me. Some will disagree. But I have made this a couple of times.

2.  I believe the youtube showed the use of a rubber spatula. I would recommend not to use anything rubber or plastic. It is porous and has a tendency to retain grease no matter how much you clean it. I would use a non porous spatula like silicone

 

Good luck and most of all, have fun.

It seems weird, but baking  turns out better with a positive attitude.

When you mix or put something in the oven to bake, always think it's going to come out great. don't be cautious(keep watching, opening the door to check, etc.)

 

edit. the youtube showed taking the syrup off at 230F. this is ok especially if you have to set it down for a moment. the syrup will continue to cook after removed.

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post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 

@flipflopgirl So true lol. I'll make sure to only add the ice bath if I need it.

@foodpump Thanks for the tip! I'll use it for sure in case my thermometer is acting funky.

@panini I think that might aid in keeping the egg whites from deflating, definitely doing that. I did check and my spatulas are silicone :thumb:. Agreed, positivity is key to survival in the kitchen.

 

I'm all revved to try this recipe. Setting the ingredients (egg whites) out today, and starting tommorrow.

I'll let you all know if it works out.

post #19 of 19

@June Yuan,

  Personally I'm not a big fan in leaving eggs out at room temperature for an extended length of time after they have been refrigerated.

I'm not sure of your location but  if you buy so called fresh eggs from the grocery store here in the US, for some reason the eggs have been washed to the point

of removing the eggs natural protection. So after you remove them from refrigeration they start the protein break down process sooner then a fresh laid egg.

  I find it really annoying trying to find the date on packaged store bought eggs and my better half usually doesn't check. So when she decides to bake something at home

she avoids my nagging and uses the old simple method of testing egg freshness. She will just drop them in a container of water. If they even raise up off the bottom at all or stand upright and not laying on their sides she will discard them.

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