Japanese Buttercream is pretty much like European buttercream. Soft butter is mixed into a sweet meringue with flavoring such as vanilla or liqueur. Buttercream cakes used to be very popular in Japan. Ever since whipped heavy cream cakes emerged in the 1970s, though, buttercream cakes were eclipsed and have become next to nonexistent today. That may be because Japanese people tend to like lighter and less sweet cakes, and they think buttercream cakes are overly sweet and heavy.
Properly made buttercream (not butter with powdered sugar) is ,however, lighter than you may think and very tasty. It is so much more stable than whipped cream and it is much easier to decorate with. Buttercream also lasts longer at room temperature; about 1 week to 10 days as long as you don’t add anything perishable to the cream. The only thing you have to be careful of is you have to bring it back to room temperature before you eat if you’ve put it in the fridge. A lot of Japanese people keep a buttercream cake in the fridge and try to eat it as is. However, the cream is super hard when cold, and that can be less tasty. I suspect that people complain about the greasy mouth feeling of buttercream because of this.
Another good thing about buttercream is it is easy to flavor. By adding chocolate, fruit jam, or simply liqueur, you can make a variety of flavored cream for your cakes. This is the basic buttercream, so play around, expreriment!
Whipped cream is easy and tasty, but buttercream is also a great accompaniment for cakes. There are more steps than mere whipping, but the effort is well worth it.
- 5 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar (175g)
- 1 1/4 cup butter (285g), room temperature, cut into small cubes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, put egg whites and sugar and whisk well. Put the bowl over a pot which has water simmering at low heat. Whisk constantly until very hot (140F or 60C).
- Set it on a stand mixer and whip until hard peaks form, about 7-10 minutes. The meringue becomes shiny and cool.
- Change the attachment to a paddle, and start adding butter a couple of tablespoons at a time. Scrape the sides and bottom every so often and keep adding butter until all is incorporated.
- Add vanilla and mix well.