Buttercream is one of the most versatile frostings in the delicious world of cake. Not only is it easy, but it is also very forgiving. To make a great buttercream, you need the basics–butter and powdered sugar. After that, you can experiment with different flavorings to taste.
Today, I am just going to make a basic vanilla buttercream using my standard recipe, which is as follows:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 pound of powdered sugar, sifted (I sift mine to avoid having lumps in my frosting)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Small amount of milk (1-3 tablespoons)
To start, I let my butter get very soft. I have found that letting it sit out on the counter for at least an hour works best for me. It beats and incorporates my flavorings much easier. Once I am able to make an indentation in the butter, I’m ready to go.
1. Put butter in mixing bowl. Beat on low speed for about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. Hand mixers work just fine, though.
2. Add in extract and beat another minute.
3. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add in powdered sugar slowly and continue beating. Mixture will tend to look crumbly when all of the sugar is added. Keep beating until it smooths out.
4. On lowest setting of mixer, slowly stir in milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
The consistency you wish to achieve will be based on what you are doing with the frosting. If you are piping cupcake swirls, you want it to be smooth and creamy enough to squeeze through a piping bag and maintain shape once piped. If you haven’t much experience, you can easily test your consistency by putting a little of the buttercream in your piping bag and squeezing it through. If it is hard for the icing to come out of the piping tip, you will need to add a little more milk to the batch of buttercream. Too soft (frosting won’t hold shape) and you will want to add a little more powdered sugar. This is the great part about buttercream–you can’t really mess it up! Just adding a little more of this or that and you can have it ready to go in no time.
Other flavoring ideas:
Almond buttercream: Use 1 teaspoon almond extract in place of the vanilla
Lemon buttercream: Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in place of the vanilla
Chocolate buttercream: Add in 1/4 cup cocoa powder with the powdered sugar and another tablespoon of milk