Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream with the Breville Control Freak

The Breville Control Freak is an arguably over-engineered induction cooktop that excels at precise regulation of temperature with a surface sensor (used to measure the pan) as well as a probe-style sensor. You can easily switch between the two, and the probe has both oil and non-oil setttings. Since receiving one as a gift a year and a half ago, I have gradually explored its potential. I regularly use it for making a yukone (cooked flour/water paste) for Japanese-style breads and bagels. It’s a joy to use for deep frying, as it automatically maintains the correct temperature as you add and remove foods from the pot.

I typically use an American-style buttercream for cakes and cupcakes. Essentially a mixture of butter and powdered sugar with a small amount of milk or cream to reach the desired consistency, American buttercream is quick, easy, and generally well-loved, particularly by children. Since so much of the structure is supplied by powdered sugar, it tends to be on the sweet side, sometimes cloyingly so. Swiss meringue buttercream is a popular alternative. It’s decidedly less sweet, as it adds egg whites in place of some fo the sugar. It has a butter-forward taste with a smooth texture that is also more visually appealing. However, it can also be a bit of a pain to make, as it requires low-temperature cooking of the egg whites to avoid potential infection risks (e.g. salmonella). Egg whites and granular sugar (with a bit of salt and cream of tartar) are heated to 185 °C, then whipped off heat into a glossy meringue. Afterwards, cool butter is mixed in to yield the final, stable product. 

Heating the egg whites to the right temperature can be finicky, and trying to coordinate adjusting a gas stovetop while stirring constantly and holding a probe thermometer can feel like a circuit act. The Control Freak greatly simplifies this. I clip the probe thermometer onto the side of my pot, set the target temperature, and stir the egg whites and sugar until the temperature is hit. I then transfer the mixture to a stand mixer and proceed with the recipe as normal. The Freak-enhanced frosting came out better than any of my previous attempts, and the whole experience was easier and less stressful.

Published by Ishir

They say making mistakes is the first step in learning. I must be learning a lot.

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