There are many versions of “Buttercream” frosting. Some
are made with eggs and all butter. Some varieties, you have to
cook your sugar to a softball stage. Others are 100% shortening
or a combination of shortening and butter.
Each decorator has his or her favorite.
I, personally, think
that the best Buttercream Frosting taste and textured recipe is the one that has you
cook your sugar, add to whipped eggs, and use pounds of butter
per batch. BUT…. I live in a state that can easily be a 100
degrees for days on end during the summer and you know what
butter does on hot days. It melts! A greasy puddle of melted
frosting on a cake plate is not something I want to look at or eat.
Your top notch decorators have a few options we don’t. They have
huge refrigerators to store their cakes in, and refrigerated
vehicles that they can use to deliver decorated cakes. I even
know a few that refuse to deliver at all. If you want their
cake, you come and get it and it’s your responsibility if it
melts. These decorators don’t even turn on their ovens for
a wedding cake for less than $2,000.
Solid Vegetable Shortenings definitely have their place in baking. So I’m going to talk taste test and say that
Crisco Shortening is the hands
down winner. It has a clean taste with the melting point of 106 degrees F.
Butter melts somewhere between 88 and 98 degrees F. depending on
the amount of fat in the brand. You can see that if you need to serve a pure buttercream decorated cake, on a hot August
afternoon, you could have melted roses (and I do mean greasy puddles) on the tablecloth. This is when a
good quality shortening will be a great blessing. I have been told by decorator friends that some of the warehouse
brand shortenings leave a grainy consistency to the frosting no matter what you do.
Powdered (Confectioner's) Sugar:
Please use a cane sugar. I prefer C&H Powdered (confectioners) Sugar.
Many of the cheaper brands use sugar beets for their base. I don’t know the chemistry behind it but you definitely get
different textures to your frosting that can vary from batch to batch. I spent a few months being very frustrated with the quality of my
frosting until a kind
lady did a bit of trouble shooting for me. She recommended the cane sugar and I’ve been blessing her ever since.
Please be safe, buy a quality brands and then stick with them for the best results.
A friend of mine, who is a wonderful cook and baker, travels a
lot and she often prepares treats for her hosts. She’s learned to ask the host to have her favorite shortening and flour on
hand. She has even made up a little makeup-type case that carries her favorite extracts and precious spices. This way she
knows what she is working with, how it handles, and what tastes she can expect for the finished product. Some surprises are NOT pleasant!
Storing Buttercream Frosting:
If you are not going to be using the buttercream
away, place it in a clean, sealable bowl. Store it in the refrigerator, but please don’t place it next to the
marinating salmon, garlic, or broccoli. You do NOT want those flavors
in your frosting! I like to use my frosting within a few days, but buttercream
frosting will hold in the cold refrigerator for a couple of
weeks, if necessary.
I often make a double
batch of buttercream frosting the night before I have a baking
project. This way I know that I have plenty of frosting, it’s
fresh, and I don’t have to make it while I’m in the middle
of baking the cakes. The extra frosting can always be used for a batch of cupcakes.
When you remove the
from the refrigerator, you might notice that the frosting has
taken on a sponge-like texture. Do yourself a favor and
place the frosting in a bowl and mix by hand, using a back and
forth, smashing motion, with a spoon or frosting spatula. What
you want to do is to smash the bubbles out of the frosting. This extra step will help to give you the smoothest
frosting for a pretty top and sides of the cake. I have found
that you will get an even better texture of frosting if it is
at room temperature before you try to do your Buttercream
Bad Buttercream Frosting Days:
One thing that seems very silly but is true. There are Bad Buttercream
I’ve asked quite a few decorators about this and every one says "Yes,
there are lousy days." I’m not sure what causes the problem:
I just know why, but it is a
perceived fact! The way I have handled the problem is that I changed the decoration on the cake since I couldn’t get the smooth top or
sides as I originally planned. Writing a greeting on a messy top would look awful, so I changed the design idea and put flowers
everywhere. I could have also done a basket weave technique around the sides. Just go with the flow and don’t get
frustrated! Aunt Martha won’t chuck the cake at you if you don’t write her name on the top this time. Remember that you are
creating something that is to be eaten so have fun with it.
Different Types of Stand Mixers:
If you have a heavy-duty counter mixer, you can prepare a whole batch at one time. If you are using a hand mixer, divide
the recipe in half. If you notice the mixer getting hot, please stop and let the machine cool off. I also prefer to mix the buttercream
frosting on a low setting on
my electric mixer. It seems that the higher setting will do the job faster, but you also will get a spongy texture to the buttercream
frosting. I don’t want that quality in my final ice coating or flowers on the cake.
Using Weight Scales:
I put a piece of wax paper on my scale and start plopping spoons
of shortening on top until I get the desired weight. This tip really saves time on the cleanup!
1 cup of Crisco Shortening weighs 6 ounces.
The following recipes for Buttercream Frosting holds up pretty well in the heat and humidity, but if you know that your
cake will be out in very high temperatures, then don’t use any butter and use only a high quality shortening.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe I
My favorite version of Buttercream
Frosting to use for decorating.
Buttercream Frostng 101
Yields: 1 batch Buttercream Frosting
Prep time: 30 min
This frosting is used for frosting cakes and cookies as well as for
borders and art work on cakes. It also makes a good tasting
filling between layers of the cake and under a Fondant Frosting.
You can make roses out of Buttercream Frosting, but the drying time is 3 or more days
depending on the humidity.
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups Crisco shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (Wilton’s makes the best flavored version)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I use Wilton’s Clear Vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 pounds powdered (confectioners') cane sugar, divided*
1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional but the
texture will be smoother)**
Water or milk as necessary (I usually add about 2 tablespoons but you
may need more or less depending on the humidity in your neighborhood)
* 2 pounds un-sifted powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar) = about 8 to 9 cups.
** You can purchase meringue powder at your local grocery store under the brand name of Just Whites.
In the electric mixer, combine butter, Crisco shortening, and salt together to incorporate, about 5 minutes on low.
Add butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract; mix together well. Add about 1 pound
(4 to 4 1/2 cups) powdered sugar and the meringue powder; mix until incorporated.
Add the remaining powdered sugar (1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time), and mix until you get
the consistency you want.
You may not need to use all the powdered sugar.
Add a little water or milk (a teaspoon at a time), if necessary to thin
the frosting. Blend well on low for several minutes.
Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.
NOTE: Buttercream Frosting will last for weeks as long as it is well sealed.
Makes about 3 1/2 pounds of Buttercream Frosting.
Buttercream Frosting Recipe II - Holds up in humidity better – Faux Fondant
This recipe and the instructions are from a lovely lady name "Sewsweet." I thank her very much.
I like this recipe better than Wilton’s buttercream because it tastes less sweet and uses half the amount of Crisco shortening.
2 cups Crisco shortening
4 pounds powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1/3 cup powdered milk mixed with enough water to make 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon clear butter extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon Crème Royale or crème bouquet, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
Viva paper towels*
* Use a paper towel that has no design imprinted
for smoothing your
trick is to smooth it with Viva paper towels when the frosting is slightly crusted.
Into the mixer bowl, place the Crisco shortening and cream until
fluffy. Add the powdered sugar to the creamed shortening in the
mixer bowl and mix. Add 1/2 cup cornstarch and beat well on low for about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the water and the powdered milk; add
the vanilla extract, butter extract, almond extract, and crème royale or crème
bouquet, and salt. Add to the shortening/sugar mixture and combine until well mixed.
This frosting needs to be made ahead of time. As it sets up it gets
firmer. When ready to use, just rewhip on low and you get a smooth, non-airy buttercream
NOTE: This buttercream
frosting can be kept
out of the refrigerator for around 2 weeks. I usually use it so fast that I hardly ever get it in the
refrigerator unless I am preparing large batches. It can also
be frozen. The cornstarch helps humidity as well as helping to
cut the sweetness. Play with it and use whatever flavorings you like.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
I just add Hershey's Cocoa, but any powdered cocoa would work. Some extra hot water will probably need to be added to the buttercream
frosting mixture. If you want a darker brown color, you can also add a little brown food coloring.