One of the most widely enjoyed cake frosting is buttercream.  It’s popularity is due not only to its wondrously smooth texture, but also to its adaptability.  Buttercream frosting can be modified in countless ways and can serve as the base for nearly any flavoring such as chocolate, orange or coffee.  In addition, buttercream frosting can last a week in the refrigerator and can even be frozen for up to three months.

The classic French buttercream is the richest type of buttercream frosting, partly due to its use of egg yolks. Swiss and Italian buttercreams sometimes use meringue and are typically lighter and sweeter than the French version.

Classic French Buttercream Frosting

1 c sugar
3 T water
3 oz egg yolks
1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
1 t vanilla extract

Create a sugar syrup by combining water and sugar into a saucepan. Boil the mixture until it reaches 240F. 

While the syrup boils, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl until light and foamy. When the syrup reaches the correct temperature, remove from heat and pour the mixture gradually into the egg yolks, beating constantly until the mixture is cool and light.  Using a hand mixer, add butter as quickly as it can be absorbed by the mixture, a little at a time.  Beat in the vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate if the frosting is too soft.

Hint: For an extra treat, add flavoring such as melted unsweetened chocolate (slightly cooled) into the blended egg yolks.

If that sounds like more effort than you prefer, there is a shortcut recipe for buttercream frosting.  It is quite sweet, which may not be suited to all tastes, however it’s quick and easy to prepare and you can still achieve a smooth texture with the addition of milk.

“Shortcut” American Buttercream Frosting

2 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 T milk
1/2 t salt

In a large bowl, cream the butter with a handheld mixer. Gradually add sugar as you continue to mix, allowing it to blend into the butter. Add vanilla and milk and beat until fluffy and smooth. (about 5 minutes). If necessary add more milk until frosting reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Hint: To transform this recipe into a chocolate buttercream frosting, add 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa.

Still hungry? Here are more buttercream frosting recipes.

More Cake Frosting Recipes Articles

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