Made in mind for Cousin Amy
1 piece of lemon
1 ¼ C granulated sugar, divided
4 oz egg whites, at room temperature (about 3 large whites)
1 ¼ C Spectrum organic shortening
4 oz Earth Balance, softened and cut into pieces (1 stick)
Squeeze a slice of lemon into your metal saucepan. With a paper towel rub lemon juice around to sanitize the pan. Wipe two metal spoons with the lemon juice saturated paper towel.
Place 1 cup of sugar into pan. Add warm water from the sink, slowly around the edge of the saucepan, moistening the sugar on the outer edge. With first cleaned spoon, stir sugar until water is incorporated into all of the sugar and a paste has formed. Place on medium high heat with lid on saucepan.
Meanwhile, place egg whites into your Kitchen Aid mixer. Attach whisk attachment. Begin whipping egg whites on high speed. When whites begin to foam, add second part of sugar (¼ cup) in a slow steady stream. Continue beating until shiny, stiff peaks form. If you reach this point before heated sugar is ready, simply turn mixer off temporarily.
Remove lid from boiling sugar water and take note when the mixture looks bubbly and syrup like*. At this point, dip your second cleaned spoon into boiling sugar water and transfer dipped spoon into a small glass of water. Heated sugar will either stay on your spoon tip or fall into the glass of water. Using fingers, gather the sugar mixture from the cup of water or spoon and form into a ball with your finger tips. If this forms a ball that you can squish, the sugar is ready. This is called “soft ball” stage. If the sugar does not come together into a ball cook longer and test again. Alternatively, with candy thermometer cook until 240 degrees is reached.
Turn your mixer back on and pour the soft ball boiled sugar in a slow steady stream into the stiff egg whites. Pour slowly between the side of the mixing bowl and the whisk attachment, (aiming to avoid direct contact with either surface) pouring directly into the egg whites until all boiled sugar is added. Continuing beating on high speed for 10-15 minutes until the side of your metal mixing bowl is no longer hot to touch (this will cook your egg whites).
With mixer on high speed, add shortening and cubed, softened Earth Balance bit by bit, waiting in between for it to incorporate into your cooked whites. When final bit of shortening and Earth Balance have been added the buttercream will miraculously come together into a wonderful, smooth, fluffy, spreading consistency.
If desired, use to fill in between cake layers and on the exterior surface of your cake (this recipe will fill and coat a 6” cake or just coat a 9” cake). Other great cake filling options include jam, pastry cream and chocolate mousse.
When icing your cake, I recommend one coating of exterior frosting to seal any crumbs in. Refrigerate the singular coated cake, remove from refrigerator once first layer has hardened and add a second later of exterior frosting for a clean, smooth finished coat. If you have a piping bag and pastry trip. Decorate the base and top of the cake with a piped pattern.
*NOTE: If sides of pan show tiny hardened sugar crystals, discard and start with fresh sugar in a new sanitized pan. Unfortunately crystalized sugar will give your buttercream a gritty texture. Additionally sugar water should not turn a caramel color. If it has, you have cooked too long. Discard ans start fresh.