French Buttercream

Total Time:
20 min
20 min

about 4 pounds of buttercream (enough to ice a 3-tier cake)

  • 10 egg whites
  • 15 ounces sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Special Equipment: 5-quart mixer with bowl and whip attachment, rubber spatula

*Cook's Note: Make sure to have a completely clean and dry mixing bowl when you start your process. Any fat or liquid at all in the bowl will stunt the protein development of the albumen (egg white protein) and you will not have a proper meringue at the end. The results could be disastrous.

Start whipping egg whites slowly in the mixer until foamy. Increase the speed of the mixer and slowly start adding the sugar until all the sugar is incorporated. Once all the sugar is in, increase the speed of the mixer even more and whip until the mixture is shiny and stiff. You now have a meringue. You know when your meringue is done when you pull out the whip, hold it horizontally, and if you have what looks a "sparrow's beak" on the end of the whip.

Replace the whip, turn the mixer on medium and start adding the butter a bit at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated, turn the mixer on high and let mix; depending on the weather, the buttercream could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to form. You will know when it has formed when you hear the motor of the mixer start to slow down and whine a little bit; also, when you first add the butter, your meringue will break down and look weird and this is what you want. When the buttercream is done, the mixture will be homogeneous, consistent, and tasty.

Remove the buttercream from the bowl and transfer to an airtight container. Buttercream can be kept at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for a 1 to 2 weeks, but always use warm buttercream when icing a cake. To warm up the buttercream, put it back in the mixer using the whip or the paddle, and apply direct heat with a propane torch you can find at any hardware store.

Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.

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3.1 49
The one thing I am realizing is people don't know their stuff when it comes to baking. I am not a professional baker but I do make all of my family cakes. <div><br /></div><div>First of this IS a french buttercream but it is a french MERINGUE buttercream. It's very easy to know this since you are making a meringue! If you want a french buttercream made with egg yolks, type in a recipe for pate a bombe. When it comes to meringue, I prefer swiss since it is cooked and I make cakes for children. Swiss meringue is similar to french except that it is cooked so I use this recipe but cook it. I also change the proportions to what I like. Treat this recipe as you would any other, you need to alter it to your liking.</div><div><br /></div><div>As others have said this is a basic recipe. You are to add flavoring to it. Who makes an icing without at least adding vanilla. If you don't add flavoring, I am sure it will taste like whipped butter since that is what it is. Fruit, vanilla, or chocolate need to be added to make this great. Also there is a NOTE at the bottom of the recipe saying this was provided by a chef and the proportions above haven't been tested. Since Duff runs a large and famous bakery, he would not make buttercream in such small increments. All I am saying is to read the whole recipe before reviewing it, this way you know what you are getting into and don't waste the time making something you would clearly hate. </div> item not reviewed by moderator and published
First of all, this is not a French buttercream. French buttercream has egg yolks in it. Contrary to what another commenter said, this is not especially similar to an Italian buttercream, either. Italian buttercream is made with a hot sugar syrup poured into the egg whites, which helps to kill anything that might be hiding in the egg whites - not something I'm particularly squeamish about, but you may want to be more concerned about feeding raw egg whites to children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems. If anything, this is closer to some recipes for Swiss buttercream that I've seen, though even some of those have you cooking the [as-yet-unwhipped] egg white and sugar mixture over a bain-marie. Having recently made both vanilla Swiss buttercream and raspberry French buttercream, I can tell you that I won't be wasting my time making Swiss or Italian buttercream ever, ever again. Do yourself a favor and find an authentic French buttercream recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe is fine. You really have to let the mixer go for a good long time before the butter, egg whites, and sugar make a nice fluffy buttercream. I've made the mistake (and I'm a professional of not letting the mix whip enough and it indeed comes out like sugar coated butter. All in all, it's a good base, but you really should be double boil the egg whites and sugar to 141 degrees in order to kill all the bacteria in the whites. item not reviewed by moderator and published
this is not french butter cream. Maybe closer to Italian , with the meringue, but not french.I was very embarrassed in front of my guests , who were all expecting french buttercream. I still gave it a try, hoping it would still taste ok with the egg whites, but it was not good, not sweet,too voluminous. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I thought this recipe was really really good. I am currently in culinary school and we actually liked this buttercream much better than some of the recipes in our book. Done correctly this cream is light and fluffy and not to sweet. Some of you that said it was like butter, well there are many ways for buttercreams to go wrong. If its like butter then that is your first indication of over mixing. Any buttercream will always have a different texture, taste when its being done by a different person. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is NOT a recipe for French buttercream. French buttercream is made with egg yolks (in some recipes whole eggs instead of just egg whites. This is closer to Italian or Swiss buttercream. item not reviewed by moderator and published
i was very dissappointed with this recipe. it tasted like pure butter and made an enormous amount! item not reviewed by moderator and published
It tasted exactly like what I make to put on cornbread. Just like honey butter. Not in the least like cake frosting. The texture was firm for piping, almost too marshmallow-e, sticky and not smooth &amp; creamy. It tasted like sweetened butter. item not reviewed by moderator and published
While the icing was fairly simple to make with my stand mixer, I didn't really enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It was smooth, sweet and buttery... but I found it to be a little too much like a sweet whipped butter than a "frosting". Maybe it would be good melted over some cornbread or a warm muffin, but I really couldn't see enjoying this frosting all over a cake. It would just be "too much". item not reviewed by moderator and published
I love this recipe. I love that this icing is rich and delicious!! It stays put on my cakes and doesn't have that chalky texture that so many icings have. YUM! item not reviewed by moderator and published

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Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten