The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. That is a really, really good book, and from it I made my first successful scratch cakes. However, Rose Beranbaum is a New Yorker, and had an amazing distaste for sweets, considering her career.
I made her buttercream and it came out a lot like whipped butter. That frosting was so much work and such a failure that I wrote off homemade frosting for years. I didn't try again until my recent Wilton class, which uses American Buttercream exclusively.
Not too long ago I read BakeWise by Shirley Corriher and Rose's Heavenly Cakes, a more recent book by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I realized that my earlier frosting failure probably wasn't a failure at all, just a disagreement. To a New Yorker without a sweet tooth, the ideal frosting is supposed to be a lot like whipped butter (probably).
Reading Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified by Sweetapolita (a name that is a LOT of fun to say outloud–try it!) made me reconsider making buttercream, and the directions in Bakewise convinced me. Thus began my ambitious plan to make several types of frosting and compare them, inspired by All Yellow Cakes Compared by Anna at Cookie Madness.
Briefly, In Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you make a meringue from cooked egg whites and then combine it with butter. I adapted my recipe from BakeWise.
We all tried the finished frosting. I could eat it straight. My husband liked it but though it might be better a little cooler (it's still very warm in Maryland). My son liked it "just a little bit," probably because it is a lot less sweet than the American Buttercream he is used to.
Stay tuned for the next episode of The Great Frosting Experiment!