International Buttercream Bake-off


Which is better:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream or

French Buttercream?  

While looking for some recipes for my daughter’s holiday party in her French class, I kept coming across French buttercream.  It piqued my interest.  It made me wonder how is this different than the typical buttercream that I generally use?  Further hunting on Pinterest lead me to find Swiss Buttercream and Italian Buttercream recipes.

Thus, I decided I needed to do a little bake-off.

The Italian type is most closely related to the Swiss type and my time is limited, therefore I limited my bake-off to just Swiss and French Buttercream.

There are a few major differences between standard buttercream and the French and Swiss variety.

  1. American buttercream includes lots of powdered sugar and a small amount of shortening.
  2. French and Swiss contain a LOT more butter in the recipes and also contain egg
  3. French uses egg yolks
  4. Swiss uses egg whites
  5. French and Swiss include a heating process to kill the bacteria in the egg

In order to compare the buttercream recipes, I choose the purest flavor, Vanilla.  Considering the international flair to this little comparison, I thought I should splurge on some higher grade vanilla flavoring.  Luckily, I found vanilla beans on sale at Costco (the store typically sells them during the holiday season).

I choose a buttermilk devils food chocolate cupcake because I thought that it would showcase the buttercream well.  Note: I used no-fade cupcake papers that have an aluminum lining.  The baking time had to be reduced drastically to accommodate this type of wrapper.

What were the results of the bake-off?  The jury was split.  I found both the Swiss and French to be way too rich, creamy, and buttery.  Perhaps it is an acquired taste, but I’ll stick to my standard buttercream.

Standard (American) Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients: 1/2 c shortening, 1/2 c butter, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 c powdered sugar 3/8 c milk

Directions: Cream shortening and butter.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk.  Add vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream – recipe from Cake Boss

French Buttercream – recipe from Cake Boss



2 thoughts on “International Buttercream Bake-off

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