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Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 3 Fixes for Common Mishaps

Updated: Feb 19

Swiss meringue buttercream is a heavenly frosting that can elevate any cake to a whole new level of deliciousness. Its silky smooth texture and delicate sweetness make it a favourite among bakers and dessert enthusiasts alike.


However, mastering the art of Swiss meringue buttercream can be a bit tricky, and even the most experienced bakers can run into problems from time to time.


But fear not!


With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can rescue your Swiss meringue buttercream from the brink of disaster and have it looking and tasting perfect in no time.


These tips and tricks will help you avoid throwing away perfectly salvageable buttercream and save you time and money! Let’s dive into three common mishaps and their fixes.



Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream is Too Runny


Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 3 Fixes for Common Mishaps

So, you've followed the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe to a T, but somehow your Swiss meringue buttercream has turned out more like a sauce than a frosting. Don't panic! This is a common issue and can usually be fixed with a little patience and know-how.


First things first, assess the situation. If your buttercream is only slightly runny, try chilling it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to firm up the butter.


Often, the warmth of the kitchen can cause the butter to soften too much, leading to a runny consistency.


Another common cause for runny buttercream is if your Swiss meringue was still warm when adding your room temperature butter, causing the butter to melt. Giving it a quick chill can often help bring it back to the right texture.


You may need to do this a couple of times in 10-15 minute increments to get the mixture cold enough to come together.


If chilling doesn't do the trick, you may need to re-whip your Swiss meringue buttercream. Transfer it back to the mixing bowl and beat it on medium-high speed for a few minutes. This will help incorporate more air into the mixture and emulsify the butter, leading to a thicker consistency.


Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream is Curdled


Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 3 Fixes for Common Mishaps


Uh-oh, your Swiss meringue buttercream looks like cottage cheese! Don't worry, all hope is not lost. Curdled buttercream happens when the butter and meringue haven't fully emulsified, resulting in a lumpy, soupy mess. But fear not, there's a simple fix for this common problem.


The first thing to try is warming the mixture slightly. There are two ways to do this, but the first and my favourite method is to use a hairdryer!


Hairdryers allow you to gradually warm up the outside of your kitchen machine bowl, without melting the buttercream.


Turn on your hairdryer on a medium setting (not too hot) and hold about 30 cm away from the bowl. Blow the hair dryer around the bowl whilst the mixer is on medium speed. Your buttercream will gradually heat up and come to room temperature. 


You'll need to be patient but eventually the buttercream will start to come together and turn into a silky mixture. If the buttercream looks fluffy but still is very cold and thick, keep running the hairdryer with the mixer on until the temperature rises slightly and the mixture becomes silkier.


Another method for heating up your curdled Swiss meringue buttercream is to place the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler method) and gently whisk until the butter begins to soften and the mixture starts to come together.


Be patient, as this process can take some time!


Once the buttercream starts to smooth out, remove it from the heat and continue whisking until it reaches the desired consistency.


If warming doesn't do the trick, you may need to re-whip your buttercream. Transfer it back to the mixing bowl and beat it on medium-high speed until it becomes smooth and creamy. This will help re-emulsify the butter and meringue and rescue your buttercream from its curdled state.


Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream is Grainy


Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues that cannot be fixed with Swiss meringue buttercream. The first is having a grainy texture.


If your buttercream has granules of sugar in, this means your sugar did not dissolve during the process of heating your egg whites and sugar and didn’t reach the correct temperature. Unfortunately if this happens you will have to start again. 


A great way to make sure that this doesn't happen is to firstly use a thermometer and make sure your temperature gets to 170F, but also to dip a clean finger and thumb into the meringue mixture (be careful it will be hot) and run the mixture between your fingers to see if you can feel grains of sugar.


When the mixture has reached the right temperature and if you have whisked thoroughly, you shouldn't feel any grains of sugar and the mix should be smooth. 


Your Swiss Meringue is Runny Before Adding Butter


The second issue that cannot be fixed is a loose, soupy meringue after whisking. If you’ve yet to add your butter but your mixture looks loose and runny, this means your Swiss meringue didn’t reach a high enough temperature before whisking. 


In this case, the meringue will not be stable enough to create a spreadable, fluffy buttercream. You would need to re-make your Swiss meringue mixture before adding in any butter or flavourings.


Using a digital thermometer and whisking constantly whilst reading the temperature will help to avoid this issue. You will also need to make sure your kitchen machine bowl is clean and free from and grease that may cause the meringue to deflate.


Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream Should Be Easy!


Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 3 Fixes for Common Mishaps


Swiss meringue buttercream is a delightful frosting that can take your cakes and desserts to the next level.


While it may seem intimidating at first, with a little practice and know-how, you can master the art of buttercream making and fix any mishaps that come your way.


Whether your buttercream is too runny, curdled, or grainy, these simple fixes will have it looking and tasting perfect in no time.


So don't let a little setback stop you from creating delicious treats – grab your whisk and get back in the kitchen!


For a full recipe and method, check out my tried and tested Swiss meringue buttercream recipe that I use for all my wedding and celebration cakes.


Want To Learn More Fixes For Cake Decorating?


Rescue Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream: 3 Fixes for Common Mishaps


If you're a visual learner and would like a video tutorial on making Swiss meringue buttercream including a video demonstration of these common issues and fixes, I have the perfect online course for you!


My online Buttercream Basics Course contains three in-depth modules which take you through every step of decorating with Swiss meringue buttercream.


If you wanted to go a step further and learn how to paint with Swiss meringue buttercream, how to use edible gold foil and decorate a cake with fresh flowers, check out the Buttercream & Design Masterclass which features 10 modules to take you from an amateur baker to a skilled professional cake decorator!


You can find more information on all the available online cake decorating courses here.

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