1990s Recipes + Menus

Orange Buttercream

Makesabout 8 cups
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:2 hours
September 1996
Meringue buttercreams are based on egg whites rather than egg yolks. They spread beautifully and hold up well. This one is flavored with orange curd.

For orange curd

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For buttercream

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
  • Special equipment:

    a candy thermometer; a standing electric mixer

Make the curd:

  • Whisk together yolks and sugar in a small heavy saucepan, then whisk in zest, orange juice, butter, and salt. Cook over moderately low heat, whisking, until mixture just reaches boiling point, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids. Whisk in lemon juice. Cover surface with wax paper and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.

Make the buttercream:

  • Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring and washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring, until it registers 248F on thermometer.
  • Meanwhile, beat whites with a pinch of salt in bowl of mixer until foamy, then beat in cream of tartar. Beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.
  • Slowly add hot syrup being careful to avoid beaters and sides of bowl, beating constantly, at medium speed, and continue to beat until completely cool, 15 to 20 minutes. (It is important to cool meringue properly before proceeding.)
  • Add butter 1 piece at a time, still beating at medium speed, until buttercream is thick and smooth (it will appear very thin at first, but as more butter is beaten in, it will thicken). Beat in curd and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Cooks’ notes:
  • The buttercream can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature (do not use a microwave) and beat with an electric mixer until smooth before using.
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