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PLEASE HELP!! Swiss Meringue NOT coming together! - Page 4

post #46 of 54
Thanks, y'all!

I'm pretty sure it's a karmic smackdown for trying to make an elaborate tiered cake far above my skill level just to one up an annoying family member. Little does karma realize I'm just petty enough to say "it's only butter/eggs and to heck with this month's grocery budget". If it doesn't come back together I'll start over. Now that I've ratcheted the AC down to about 65...

Yep, used real egg whites. Got a gorgeous meringue out of it. Clearly, the butter has it out for me.

I threw it back on the KA. At this point I don't know that I even know what it's supposed to look like, but the texture isn't soup anymore now that it's cooled off. When it was warmer it was definitely buttery; now I notice the egg more. Of course, I haven't added anything resembling a flavor to it yet.

The nice thing? Teenagers. I could pour it in a soup-like state over just about anything and they'll gulp it down and think it's heaven.
post #47 of 54
Pictures for you...to see if it looked at some stages, like this...

http://sweetapolita.com/2011/04/swiss-meringue-buttercream-demystified/

And more reading to do?
post #48 of 54
Hey thanks!

The picture right below "This is a few cubes in, so you can see that the meringue has started to deflate, but once we add all of that butter, it will fluff up" is how it looked from Minute 1 through Minute 20. Smooth, pretty, just ... thin.

It did thicken up in the fridge and, after another 15 minutes on the KA , one presumes it would have stayed that way ... until I ticked it off by pouring melted white chocolate in it. A little at a time, and as cooled as I felt I could go before "melted" no longer applied. It's back in the fridge. I feel kinda like when I'm trying to punish the kids by sending them to their rooms but that's where all the fun stuff is, so they're happy as clams to be there...

Taste is good; daughter raved over the texture, but is concerned about the "whipped cream-like-ness" of it. Fortunately, I may choose something above my skill level but I'm not a complete idiot ... the tier this is on represents water, so I'm not even going for a smoothed out look. Choppy waves all the way. Provided it doesn't flat-out slide off the cake, I think I'm good.
post #49 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by airedalian

I don't know if it's going to recover my SMBC, but this glass of wine I'm having is certainly helping my temperament.

The house is too warm I'm convinced. When your butter sits on the counter for an hour and is beyond dent-with-your-fingers soft, it ought to be a hint... Followed FromScratchSF's recipe to a T, got beautiful stiff peaks, put in my butter and ... soup. Never even bothered to curdle. After 20 minutes I turned up the mixer to 3, just outta curiosity, and it spit egg white-flavored butter on me. Charming. Tried the bags of veggies all around with no appreciable difference. I just stuck the whole mess in the fridge, took out the wine, and figure it can't get any worse.



Oh no!!!! How warm do you think your kitchen is? Yes, your butter can be too warm, butter starts to melt at 80 or so degrees, so if its warm, then yes. Pop it in the fridge to chill it back up a bit, but make sure you take it out and stir it every 5 mins or so. It will start to chill from the outsides in so make sure you stir often to keep the temp even. If it starts to solidify, DO NOT WHIP IT, it will break.

And have a glass of wine for me!
post #50 of 54
Hey, Jen! I'm not sure what it is in here, but when it's 99 outside, walking in to 78-80 seems delightful enough. Normally I'm a 72 kinda gal, but with an outrageous power bill last month I'm trying to adapt. Apparently I'm a bit too used to it for this particular application!

I've had enough glasses for plenty of people, but in the end I'm pretty sure it's all worked out fine, thanks to all the advice on this thread and in the comments section of your blog. The important thing is that when said relative comments on how wonderful it is, the entire family is ordered to smile and has been placed under a gag order whereby the words "profanitiy", "wine", and "stomping around like two-year-old" are banned.
post #51 of 54
If your kitchen is warm, do not leave the butter out to get to room temp, especially if it was that soft after just an hour. Making SMBC is a different process in the hot summer than it is in the winter, especially in humid areas like we have here on the east coast. (I have lived on both coasts and our humidity on this side of the country is completely different than on the west coast, as in we suffocate in it icon_biggrin.gif .)

I have used FromScratch's process here on a humid day and the frosting never set up. Out of frustration I left it on the counter and went to bed. Something happened over night because I woke to perfect frosting. You could do that, but if you want a quicker process for a humid area you will get a delicious SMBC using other methods also. Jen lives in SF where they must get a humid day once in every 10 years. I love it there, don't get me wrong. It is one of the things I miss about the west coast. But because we are all getting different reactions to a perfected recipe, I have come to believe that when one lives in a humid area, we have to do it differently.

In the summer, you can use the butter from the fridge after about 20 minutes out, especially if you do not have AC. If it is 90 degrees and you do not have AC, use the butter straight from the fridge, just add it in about 1 tablespoon at a time and wait about 10-15 seconds before adding the next piece. I know this is not what FromScratchSF recommends, but I do this all the time and it works. I will also be doing it in my shop. I also put the mixer on 4 when I do this. Putting on a higher speed than 1 will not ruin your SMBC. You will need to do this with a colder butter in order to insure that it gets incorporated.

As you add the cold butter it will cool your meringue. You will feel the bowl starting to cool. If your house is warm it will be impossible to cool that meringue to add the butter without getting soup. But if you add the cold butter, eventually the temp of the butter will take over the temp of the meringue and it will cool down. Think of it like adding ice cubes to a drink. Yes, some of the ice melts, but not completely before the drink cools down.

If you add the butter this way you will not get soup and you will not have to put the bowl in the fridge to cool everything down all the time. Your meringue will take on different looks at different stages. The end stage before it turns to delicious SMBC is it will either look like it is going to curdle or turn ugly, but that is the magic part before it all comes together. Once it gets past that stage it turns into light fluffy goodness. You should be glad to see that stage because it means you have reached SMBC nirvana.

As for the white chocolate, how hot was it when you added it to your SMBC? There is a fine line between too hot and cold. It should sit out after it is melted for a good 30 minutes. Having a hot kitchen means it would not harden back up. My experience has been that it takes a long time for the chocolate to harden, so don't worry about not getting into the icing right away. You can check it every so often for this too as it does not harden up completely but over a slow process. Also when you add it is key too. Was it still soupy and the magic did not happen yet? And if the SMBC is too cold (say from putting in and out of the fridge), your white chocolate will immediately harden up and you will get little teeny chunks of solid white chocolate.

All this advice is probably too late for this batch, but you can keep it in the back of your mind for the next batch.
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post #52 of 54
Linda, just to correct you, San Francisco is a 7x7 mile square that is surrounded on 3 sides by water and is covered in fog about 85% of the year on the bay side of the city, and 95% of the year on the ocean side of the city. If you go to Weather.com right now it shows humidity is 100% with no rain. Living in San Francisco is like living on a completely different continent from the rest of California in terms of weather. I don't know why people don't think of SF as humid, because believe me, it is year round.

I just made a triple batch of my recipe with butter at 73 degrees and it came out perfect in 100% humidity and the thermometer says it's 72 degrees in the kitchen. It's why I was up before the sun to get my stuff done because once everyone starts really cooking the kitchen can get up to at least 90 degrees (because nobody has air conditioning here), which is not only bad for any buttercream made with no shortening, the walk-in is way too small for everyone to sit in to cool off icon_biggrin.gif.

Jen
post #53 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Linda, just to correct you, San Francisco is a 7x7 mile square that is surrounded on 3 sides by water and is covered in fog about 85% of the year on the bay side of the city, and 95% of the year on the ocean side of the city. If you go to Weather.com right now it shows humidity is 100% with no rain. Living in San Francisco is like living on a completely different continent from the rest of California in terms of weather. I don't know why people don't think of SF as humid, because believe me, it is year round.

I just made a triple batch of my recipe with butter at 73 degrees and it came out perfect in 100% humidity and the thermometer says it's 72 degrees in the kitchen. It's why I was up before the sun to get my stuff done because once everyone starts really cooking the kitchen can get up to at least 90 degrees (because nobody has air conditioning here), which is not only bad for any buttercream made with no shortening, the walk-in is way too small for everyone to sit in to cool off icon_biggrin.gif.

Jen



I am well aware of the geography of SF. I love it there, I have spent time there a lot during different times of the year and dream of the day I can live there, maybe in retirement..... anyway. It still is a different humidity than on the east coast. My DD was just there, came home yesterday. She even said the same thing. Seeing that my DD will trying very had to get a job in one of the great tech companies out there next year, I suspect I'll be visiting there a lot in the future. But in the meantime I invite you to visit anywhere on the east coast in August, our best humid month. You will then see what I mean.

You are surrounded by water, it helps tremoundously!!!! We, unfortunately, are not. And even if we did live on the east coast near the water, it would still be a different humidity. And as a result you will get different results in your baking. Remember, this is science. It is probably akin to having to bake differently at a higher sea level. If baking is different for those at higher sea levels, it only is logical that it could be the same living in different parts of the country.

I remember coming home to visit the east coast after living on the west coast for just 6 months. I felt like nothing like a wet wash cloth the whole time even though the humidity was the same reading. My body had adjusted to the different humiditys. Even though both places had 100% humidity, it was still more oppressive here on the east coast.

It is more than just a humidity level. Like I said being surrounded by water will make the humidity feel and act differently than when you are inland like I am. Being surrounded by water will make the air different also. I used to love to drive home from work and just feel that ocean air take over.

And having tried all sorts of SMBC recipes, including the one you posted, I can personally attest to the experience of how it reacted. I am not a beginner to SMBC, but rather very experienced in trying this recipe every which way I possibly can. I do that on purpose to all my recipes to I can personally see the results and correct it when training my employees.


I am not saying your recipe does not work, nor is your method wrong or failed. I am saying that when it is Summer, and depending where you live, and the temperature in your surrounding are where you make it will all contribute to the results.

I made your recipe more than once. That is why I can safely say that in my experience this is what will work best in warmer weather. The first time it I made it in my area, it was cooler outside as we had a longer than usual Winter. I got perfect results, just like you posted. In fact I used your "all the butter in at once at room temp" method several times. But as soon as the weather here got warmer and more humid, this method failed to work as best as it did when MY weather was colder than yours. And I do get colder weather living in the NE. It was when I switched back to the method I used to use that the SMBC started coming back in a timely manner. Probably when the weather starts getting cooler again, I will switch back to the "all in at once" method. But just like anything else in the science of baking, one has to adjust for the climate in their area.

Anybody here get the recipes from the Moms or Grandmothers who say "add more liquid in rainy weather" or something like that? This is the same thing. When I teach this to my employees I tell them that the process will change once the weather gets cooler. So what I am saying here is actually not a statement saying your recipe does not work. It is a statement saying you will need to adjust it for outside circumstances.

You should not be taking my findings as a way of saying your method does not work. I apologize if you are offended. There is no need to defend your recipe, just keep an open mind that not all of us live in the same conditions you do and will get different results.

I am also going to send you a PM, because I think I need to make sure we are on the same page.
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post #54 of 54
I want to thank both of y'all for your help! I did end up with frosting -- whether it was the right consistency/volume/taste, I dunno, but what I got worked and tasted lovely. However, I will be channeling my inner Scarlett and trying again, "as God is my witness I will make this work!" I had been so worried about the meringue part it never occurred to me the butter would be the problem, but I have lots of ways to approach it now.

I posted the cake in my photos. My daughter did all the cute fondant; I did the droopy surfboards. Niece loved the cake, and I learned lots (and lots and lots) along the way. Next step -- working on smoothing. Only so many ways to decorate a cake to work around not being able to smooth...

Thanks again for helping me save my SMBC!
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