Buttercream frosting is a perfect recipe for all your cakes ! Here is a complete guide with everything you need to know about this frosting, my favorites recipes and how to use them in your cakes. Bonus : 7 recipe cards to download!
Definitely one of the most basic recipes I've made since I started this blog! With it, the possibilities are endless. It can be flavored with absolutely anything and its firm, smooth texture makes it a favorite recipe for layer cakes and cupcakes.
What is a buttercream
As its name indicates, it is a basic mixture composed mainly of butter and sugar. A rather rich or light icing depending on its composition, which is found in many traditional pastries, such as cake roll and some desserts such as the French strawberry Fraisier.
There are several versions and each country has its own recipe of buttercream frosting. The most famous are the meringues, the Swiss, the Italian and the French. But new versions are blooming like the Russian one which is very similar to the American one or the brand new Glossy Korean buttercream perfect to piping flowers.
Its firm consistency and stable composition make it very popular in pastry and especially for cake decorating. It is widely used for smoothing birthday cakes, filling and decorating wedding cakes.
It is also very popular for decorating with piping (flowers, borders etc. ..) and topping cupcakes.
- A stand mixer or a good electric hand mixer. The power of the mixer is important for a successful emulsion between the ingredients.
- A baking thermometer. Some versions are made with syrup (essential to control the temperature).
- A flexible spatula for smoothing.
- Butter: Choose a soft, unsalted, quality butter with at least 80% fat. The desired consistency is ointment butter, it should not be too cold or melted.
- Sugar: Powdered, confectioner's sugar or syrup. Choose extra fine and white sugar rather than whole sugar to obtain a whiter cream.
- Eggs: Whole eggs, only the whites, or only the yolks, but they must be fresh and not aged. The final color will be more or less yellow depending on the quantity added. It is necessary to separate them well when they are cold. And especially use them at room temperature.
- Salt: It helps balance the taste of the sugar and brings out the flavor of the butter.
- Vanilla: To add a basic flavor.
The different types of preparations
This is the classic version, it is made with whole eggs or just the yolks which give it a richer flavor and a silky consistency. The method of preparation used is the bombe dough which is a pastry technique.
Whisk the eggs with a mixer at high speed and during this time we take care of the cooking of the syrup, bringing to boil the sugar and the water in a saucepan on a medium fire and until reaching 118°C. The syrup is then poured gently in a stream and mixed until it cools down. We finish by adding the butter in pieces until we obtain a thick mixture.
- Taste: Rich and flavorful.
- + : Smooth and shiny, easy to handle. Flavors very well with chocolate, coffee.
- - : Very yellow, does not color easily, not stable and must be kept in the fridge.
- Perfect for : Filling and decorating a cake, it can't be used under sugar paste.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
This is the ultimate cream for all pastry chefs! For the technique everything starts with the preparation of the Swiss meringue.
The sugar and egg whites are heated together in a double boiler in a saucepan with a little water brought to a boil over medium heat. This thermometer-controlled cooking allows the whites to be pasteurized, which makes it very stable. ( without sanitary risk) Then the meringue is whipped at high speed in a stand mixer for at least 15 minutes and until it cools down, then we add the butter little by little.
- Taste : Not too sweet, buttery flavor.
- + : Smooth, stable and can be kept out of the fridge for 2 days. Keeps for a long time.
- - : It hardens a lot in the cold, hard to eat especially when it is not flavored or if it is not taken out of the fridge in advance. Intimidating because of the stages of preparation where it is first soupy and then it divides ( grainy).
- Perfect for: Smoothing the outside of cakes, filling the inside, decorating cupcakes and under sugar paste.
Italian Meringue Buttercream
It is in the top 3 of buttercream with the American and the Swiss. We start with the preparation of the Italian meringue.
A technique that consists of whipping egg whites while cooking the syrup of sugar and water in a saucepan at 118 degrees. Then pour the syrup and continue to beat at high speed to obtain a firm and shiny consistency until it cools. Then we incorporate the butter in pieces.
- Taste : Butter flavor.
- + : Smooth, firm and stable, keeps for a long time.
- - : It must be consumed at room temperature because it hardens in the refrigerator. Intimidating technique with the worry of the butter separating after a time in the fridge.
- Perfect for : Smoothing the outside and filling the inside of cakes, piping decorations and cupcakes but also under sugar paste.
The most popular recipe for lazy girls because it is so easy and simple to prepare. With only 2 ingredients and a little vanilla to flavor it, this is America's favorite buttercream and it is found a lot in their cakes.
You have to whiten the fat (butter or shortening) with a whisk at high speed, then you have to incorporate the sifted confectioner's sugar.
- Taste : Very sweet and very creamy.
- + : Very easy, simple, holds its shape very well and keeps for a long time.
- - : It dries in the air and forms a crust. You can feel the confectioner's sugar in your mouth.
- Perfect for : the layer cake as in my recipe for easy birthday cake, to decorate cupcakes, under the sugar paste and decorations with a piping.
The new one in the market and very similar to the American one. With only 2 ingredients and very simple steps.
Butter that you have to work with a whisk at high speed. To which you add sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat until the ingredients are emulsified.
- Taste: Creamy and sweet.
- + : A very smooth and soft consistency, keeps for a long time.
- - : Its taste : If the butter is not at the same temperature as the sweetened condensed milk, the mixture will separate.
- Perfect for : Quick and easy cake, smoothing the outside and decorating cupcakes.
Also called flour or boiled milk frosting, this is an old school version of buttercream, not very popular choice for pastry chefs.
A somewhat gooey mixture is made in a saucepan with flour, powdered sugar and milk that looks a bit like pudding. Then whip the butter and add the cooled milk mixture.
- Taste : Neutral, not too sweet, not too buttery, it is neither too heavy nor light.
- + : Easy, a thicker texture, smooth and it keeps its shape well.
- - : It is necessary to use flavor to give it more taste.
- Perfect for : filling a cake or decorating cupcakes
Or rather known as Crème Mousseline, it is the tastiest of the buttercream because it is composed of a pastry cream. It is also the least stable and the least dense type of cream.
The traditional recipe is followed by bringing the milk and vanilla to a boil, then mix the yolks or whole eggs with the sugar and flour and pour in the hot milk. Then put the mixture back into a saucepan and cook over medium heat to obtain a thick mixture. Then let it rest until it cools down. Beat the butter until it becomes white and then pour in the cooled pastry cream little by little and continue to beat with a mixer or in your pastry blender to emulsify the ingredients.
- Taste : Rich and tasty and not too buttery.
- + : A thick texture.
- - : not stable at room temperature and does not hold its shape for long. It must be kept in the refrigerator.
- Perfect for : filling a cake, a dessert or decorating cupcakes.
The Korean buttercream
Called Glossy Korean buttercream developed by G. G Cakraft. It is the Italian method but with a different technique, the butter is incorporated when it is very cold.
It is rather transparent but still very dense and it is widely used to make flowers with a piping bag.
They can be kept in the refrigerator for about 1 week, especially those without eggs in their composition and those that are pasteurized. The most fragile ones containing yolks should be consumed within 2-3 days.
It is also possible to keep them longer in the freezer in a conservation box with a lid.
5 Tips for successful buttercream making
- Clean your utensils with a cloth soaked in vinegar.
- Use the right equipment: a stand mixer or a powerful hand mixer.
- Use ingredients at the right temperature.
- Mix for a long time to emulsify the ingredients.
- Finish mixing with a spatula for 2 - 3 minutes to smooth the cream.
FAQS - Frequently asked questions about buttercream:
Why is my cream too runny?
The meringue is still too hot when you add the butter.
Put it in the fridge for about 1 hour and then stir it again.
Why doesn't my buttercream take?
Traces of egg yolk or poorly cleaned utensils can prevent the meringue from setting.
You'll have to start all over again, but first wash the utensils well in hot, soapy water.
Tip: use a cloth soaked in white vinegar in the bowl and on your utensils.
Why is my buttercream grainy?
When the fat separates from the liquid, it is said to break up and look grainy (like curdled butter). For the emulsion to be made, the ingredients must be at the same temperature. You must whisk strongly with the whisk and you will see your cream thicken and become more and more dense.
How to color it?
With gel food coloring, a few small dots applied with a knife or a toothpick
How to make your buttercream whiter?
You need to beat it for a long time to whiten the butter and get that less yellow color.
You can also add a little purple food coloring to control the yellow and make it whiter.
Download the recipe cards
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Other frosting recipes
- Covering cake ganache
- Chocolate ganache
- Kinder ganache
- White chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream
- Whipped mascarpone cream
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