French Buttercream

 

This is a French style of buttercream which is made by whipping egg yolks and then streaming in a hot sugar syrup. This style of buttercream is naturally very yellow in color and tastes very rich in flavor. This buttercream works best as a cupcake topping, or as a filling for a layer cake.

French Buttercream Recipe Overview

  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Techniques Used: Pâte à bombe, Creating a Simple Syrup
  • Characteristics: Yellow color due to egg yolks, very rich in flavor, slightly sweet, not very stable- does not hold up in heat well, tastes similar to pastry cream,  very silky smooth

What is French Buttercream? 

French buttercream is a lesser well known style of buttercream that is made with a base known as pâte à bombe. This base is made by beating egg yolks and creating a hot sugar syrup. The syrup is then streamed into the egg yolks while the mixer is running. Butter is added at the end to finish the buttercream. 

French buttercream is naturally very yellow in color due to the egg yolks. This can make it more undesirable than other types of buttercream that are more white in color. The texture is very silky smooth and it is very rich in flavor. The flavor reminds me of a very rich pastry cream

How Does French Buttercream Compare to Other Styles of Buttercream? 

French buttercream is one of the more difficult styles of buttercream to master. Streaming in the hot sugar syrup can take a little practice and you need to be a little more careful about the temperature of your butter with this style so it doesn’t break. French is the richest tasting of all the styles of buttercream.

If you’ve ever made Italian meringue buttercream, this process is identical. The only difference between Italian buttercream and french buttercream is that Italian uses egg whites and French uses egg yolks. 

How to Make French Buttercream

French buttercream requires some attention to detail. It is possible that you might need to make it a few times before you master it. If this is your first time making it, consider making a small batch so you don’t risk wasting so many eggs. 

Step 1: Measure out all of Your Ingredients

It is very important that you have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start this buttercream. The process will go quickly and you don’t want to be separating eggs while your sugar syrup is heating. 

Step 2: Start your Sugar Syrup

Place the sugar and water over medium heat and allow it to come up to 240 F (115 C). You do need to use a candy thermometer for this. 

Step 3: Beat the Egg Yolks

While the sugar syrup is heating, beat the egg yolks in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium/high speed until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. 

Step 4: Stream in the Sugar Syrup

Carefully stream the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl while the mixer is still running. You want to make sure you stream it down the side of the bowl instead of right into the yolks or it might splatter and you might end up with chunks of egg yolks in the buttercream. 

Step 5: Whip Until Cooled Down

Turn the mixer speed up to high and whip until the temperature comes to room temperature. Touch the bottom of the bowl to make sure it is cooled down enough before moving on. 

Step 6: Add the Butter

Add pieces of butter into the mixer while it is still running. Wait until one piece has been absorbed before adding the next. 

Tips for Success when Making French Buttercream

  • It is important that your butter is softened but not too warm. Try to keep it around 68 F (20 C). This will ensure your buttercream doesn’t break. 
  • Make sure you stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl and not directly into the yolks. Do this very slowly! 
  • There is some debate about whether or not the egg yolks get truly cooked with the sugar syrup in French meringue. That said, if you are concerned about raw egg, make sure you purchase pasteurized eggs. 
French Buttercream

French Buttercream

Yield: About 7 cups
This is a French style of buttercream which is made by whipping egg yolks and then streaming in a hot sugar syrup. This style of buttercream is naturally very yellow in color and tastes very rich in flavor. This buttercream works best as a cupcake topping, or as a filling for a layer cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup (250 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) water
  • 12 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP (15 ml) vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (6 sticks, 113 gr) unsalted butter, softened (around 68 F) & cut into small pieces (*see note)

Instructions

Note: French buttercream requires some attention to detail. It is possible that you might need to make it a few times before you master it. If this is your first time making it, consider making a small batch so you don't risk wasting so many eggs. 

  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat with a candy thermometer. Bring the temperature up to 240 F.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whip attachment, whip the egg yolks until light and fluffy. This should take about 3-4 minutes on medium/high speed while the sugar syrup is heating.
  3. With the mixer still running, carefully pour the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl. Make sure you pour it on the edge of the bowl and let it stream down the side into the egg yolks. Do not pour it right into the egg yolks or this could cause them to cook unevenly and leave you with chunks of egg yolks.
  4. Turn the mixer up to high and whip at high speed until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch on the bottom.
  5. Mix in the vanilla and the salt. With the mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time until the piece is absorbed before adding the next.
  6. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Re-whip the frosting before using if you stored it.

*This is enough buttercream to frost about 24 cupcakes, or to fill a 4 layer 8" cake or a 3 layer 9 or 10" cake. It is also enough frosting to cover the top of a 9x13" sheet cake. This frosting doesn't work well as the main frosting for a layer cake. It is too soft and unstable.

Notes

  • You want to make sure the butter isn't too warm. A cool room temperature or around 68 F is perfect. This ensures it is soft but not too soft and will not break the buttercream.
  • There is some debate about whether or not the egg yolks get truly cooked with the sugar syrup in French meringue. That said, if you are concerned about raw egg, make sure you purchase pasteurized eggs. 

Recipe adapted from The Baker's Manual French Buttercream Frosting

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