Friday, August 16, 2013

the perfect buttercream

The Perfect Butter Cream

(to the dutch version) When it comes to fillings, I've always been a bit reluctant about butter cream.

An epic fail in the reward-center of a child's developing brain stays with you for life.

Standing just outside of the supermarket. Holding a bottle of pop we just bought. Me and my friends. We are all thirsty. It's hot. God knows where we got the money. What we thought was refreshing, sparkly and sweet lemonade, turns out to be tonic water. Bitter. Unsatisfying. Disappointing. I've never come near it again in my life.

The same goes, to a certain extent, for butter cream. My first encounter with it was in Germany. I had participated in a balloon contest. In those days, knotting a little piece of paper with your name and address to a helium balloon and letting go of it was still a worthy pastime. People would send back the card they found. The balloon that got the furthest got the prize.

Mine landed 200 km away, in Germany (Hülsen, if I remember well). A correspondence ensued between me and the German girl that found it. One day, my whole family got into a car and drove to Hülsen. We were met, on a Sunday, with a table filled with cakes, pies, pastries, cookies and whipped cream; the famous German 'Kaffee und Kuchen'. Never had I seen anything like it.

I was in awe with the center piece cake. It had a brownish cream neatly piped all over it. And hazel nuts. I loved hazelnuts. It looked intricate and intriguing and I longed for that cake all through the meeting and greeting rituals that usually come with these visits.

When I finally sank my teeth into it, I was shocked to taste butter. Fat. Slippery. I diverted to the copious amount of freshly whipped cream that was passed around. It seemed a perfect plug for my disappointment. It had no sugar in it. What sort of Tantalus torment was this!

Nowadays I prefer sugarless whipped cream, and thank my German friends for teaching me that less is more. The butter cream however, has always remained a bit of a problem.

This is the one I make whenever I can't come up with a viable alternative filling. It's a lot lighter and fluffier than your average butter cream. And the eggs in it are cooked by the sugar syrup, so it's salmonella safe. 

It takes some practice to get this one right, but once you have it on your repertoire, I dare say it will stay with you for the rest of your baking career!

the perfect butter cream

150 gram / 5.3 oz whole eggs
80 gram / 2.8 oz egg yolk
200 gram / 7.1 oz fine sugar
75 gram / 2.6 oz water
400 gram / 14.1 very soft butter

special tools: kitchen thermometer

Make a sugar syrup; Put the sugar and the water in a super clean small or medium saucepan (avoid non stick) and gently bring it to a boil. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

At the same time, whip up the eggs and the yolks until they go all fluffy and light.

Heat the sugar syrup to 120° C and (careful, this syrup is very hot!) slowly pour it into the egg mix, and continue to beat until it cools down to ambient temperature.

In a separate bowl, first cream the butter with the paddle attachment and then whisk it until it gets thicker. Make sure your butter is very soft, but not 'oily'. Let your butter come to ambient temperature slowly. Melting the butter will give a poor result in texture in the end product.

Add the egg mixture to the fluffy butter and mix until well incorporated and the mixture smooths out. Make sure not to over beat at this stage.

The butter cream is ready to use now. You can add flavor and or color to it to your liking. Perfect for filling your home made macarons


  1. Hi Freerk,

    I was thinking about butter cream this morning because I wanted to make some, but always stick to the same recipe. Now I cannot wait to try yours although it is a bit more challenging.
    Love your site and recipes and especially the way you creatively present everything to us.

    Happy Baking!


  2. Thank you Marieke! It is a bit of a challenge to get it right, and it probably doesn't keep as long as the traditional buttercream, but it's my favorite! How are the two of you doing!