Happy birthday Jess! Good food, good company and cake. Not a bad Friday night at all.
Sweetapolita is an expert on Swiss meringue buttercream frosting – I highly recommend you visit her site before making it. And visit YouTube for sweetandsaucyshop’s video on making frosting ruffles. They are easier to make than they look! This was my first attempt but I’d love to try them again.
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.
In medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1 ¼ cups hot water and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes – the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl.
Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture.
Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with the dry.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to level the batter.
Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30 to 45 minutes.
Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Sweetapolita’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Because it does take some time to make and freezes well, I make a larger batch. You can divide this recipe in 2 or even 3.
Yield: 15 cups (enough to frost and fill approximately three 8″ round cakes)
16 large egg whites (30g each–total 450g, or 2 cups)
4 cups granulated sugar (800g)
5 cups (2.5 lbs, 10 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
30 ml (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk with paper towel and lemon juice (or vinegar), to remove any trace of grease.
Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot (you can feel a drop in between your fingers to ensure no granules.).
Take off of stove, and place bowl back on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and neutral (you can feel outside of the bowl to test temperature).
Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on low-speed continuously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Add vanilla and salt, mix well. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more. If buttercream is too runny, the butter was possibly too soft–place into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then beat again.
If still too runny, add a few more cubes of butter and keep beating until it reaches Use immediately, or refrigerate/freeze.
Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.
If buttercream still doesn’t have its satiny finish after rewhipping, microwave 1/3 of the buttercream for approximately 10 seconds and add to remaining buttercream in mixer bowl, beating for a few moments to incorporate.