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Buttercream Frosting for Cake: A Beginners’ Guide

Craving a little sugary treat? Try this buttercream frosting for cake. It is super easy to make, and it’s delicious! Find that little chef inside you and dive into the world of endless baking opportunities. Make that soft, sugared, already delicious cake look mouthwatering, both inside and outside.

This beginners guide includes a step-by-step process to make buttercream frosting for cake and some extra tips to help you make buttercream like a pro. Also, the not to do’s while making buttercream frosting for cake. Once you know how easy it is to make buttercream frosting for cake, you’ll never go back to store bought frosting.

How to make buttercream frosting for cake

Buttercream or butter icing is used as a filling or coating to decorate cakes and cupcakes. Buttercream is a sweet butter-based mixture used especially as a filling or frosting. Learn how to make mouthwatering buttercream frosting for cake using this step-by-step guide with 4 simple ingredients. It will only take 10-15 minutes to make, and I’ll guide you through the whole process. So don’t you worry!

Making buttercream frosting for cake

Ingredients you will need to make the frosting

This recipe requires only four simple ingredients  – powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk. The amount mentioned below is enough to make frosting for 12 cupcakes.  

1. Powdered or confectioners’ sugar - 3 cups

No worries if you don’t have powdered sugar, you can use regular, granulated sugar. Just pour the sugar in a blender or food processor. Blend it till it has a fine and fluffy consistency of  powdered sugar. And it’s ready to use in the recipe.

2. Butter - ⅓ cup

Perfect buttercream starts with good quality butter. Use butter that is high in fat content. Also try to use unsalted butter, so your frosting does not end up being salty. Make sure the butter is at room temperature but not too soft.

3. Vanilla extract - 1 ½ teaspoons

This is used in the recipe to add flavour to the buttercream frosting. You can also incorporate different essences or extracts as per your liking.

4. Milk - 2 tablespoons

You can also use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream instead of milk. You can go for regular milk without having to worry about what kind of milk to use. Skimmed milk or whole milk, whichever you prefer is fine.

Step-by-step process to make buttercream frosting

Grab your ingredients and start making delicious buttercream frosting using this easy step-by-step process.

1. Beat the butter

The first step is to take the softened butter and beat it to a creamy consistency using a spatula/hand mixer/electric mixer. If you are using a spatula, take a medium-sized bowl and put the slightly soft room temperature butter in it. Keep beating the butter with the spatula until it becomes creamy. Keep in mind that it will take longer to get the creamy texture using a spatula.

On the other hand, if you are using a hand mixer or electric mixer, it should take about 5 minutes to make the butter go really nice and pale. The more you beat it, the more creamy, airy and fluffy the icing will be.

2. Mix butter with powdered sugar

The second step is to mix the powdered sugar with the creamy butter. Mix the powdered sugar gradually instead of pouring the whole thing at once. This will help the ingredients incorporate perfectly.

While mixing these ingredients using a hand mixer or electric mixer, make sure to start it off with low speed. Add in the sugar slowly spoonful by spoonful, allowing it to mix well. Turn the speed up as the powdered sugar mixes with butter. After 5 minutes, the mixture should have a smooth, velvety, fluffy consistency.

3. Add in the liquids

Lastly, add the liquids – milk and vanilla extract to the mixture. Stir the vanilla extract and milk in a cup or bowl and then pour it slowly in the butter, sugar mixture. Adding the milk will get rid of the stiffness in the mix, and it will help lighten the frosting. Beat the mixture for about 3 to 5 minutes till it’s silky, smooth and holds its shape.

That’s about it. After completing these steps you will have a smooth, yummy, delicious buttercream frosting for your cake decoration. Get creative with your buttercream icing, give it fun colours. You can also experiment with different flavours instead of sticking with vanilla. Enjoy the rich, creamy texture of buttercream frosting on your cake!

Extra tips for making and storing the frosting

These following tips and tricks will help your frosting making process easier and enhance it at the same time.

1. Choose the right butter

As you know by now, buttercream is mostly butter. It is very important to use the best butter you can get. If it’s available, use Meringue based buttercream instead of a traditional American buttercream.

2. Add flavours

For a richer, improved cake icing add flavours in your buttercream frosting. Buttercream frosting is very versatile, it can take many flavours and still taste amazing. Some excellent flavours to add in the frosting are warm ground spices like cardamom, clove and cinnamon; various extracts such as vanilla, almond, peppermint etc. or you can give it a citrusy zing with lime or orange. Keep in mind, some extracts contain alcohol. Flavour emulsions are recommended if you don’t want to use alcohol based flavour.

3. Soften butter

To quickly soften butter, cut it in small pieces and leave it at room temperature. If you’re using frozen butter, keep it in the fridge for a few hours first. Then take it out for use. To know if the butter is soft enough, press your finger into the butter. If the butter is ready, it will leave an indentation, and it’ll still be cool to touch.

4. Sift for fluffy frosting

If you want extra fluffy icing, sift the powdered/icing sugar before mixing it with butter. Well sifted powdered sugar is airy and makes beautiful frosting. This will also help the mixture incorporate nicely without making any lumps. It will also make the frosting more smooth.

5. Add a pinch of salt

Add a pinch of salt if you like not too sweet frosting. Use salt only when you are using unsalted butter, you don’t want a salty frosting for your sugary treat.

6. Use right attachments

In case you are using a stand mixer or hand mixer, use paddle attachments. This will make certain your frosting doesn’t have air bubbles. Whisk attachment can add in too much air in the frosting. While airy and fluffy frosting looks good, we definitely don’t want air bubbles in our frosting.

7. Colourful icing

For colourful buttercream, frosting cake adds in edible food colouring with vanilla and milk. Try to use the colour paste instead of liquid colour as liquid food colour can change the consistency, and you might end up with runny icing.

8. Keep it covered

When you are not using the buttercream frosting keep it covered. Otherwise, it will become hard around the edges, and you might accidentally mix it with the icing. An airtight container will ensure that doesn’t happen, if you plan on using the frosting later.

9. Refrigerate it

Even though it is suggested to serve it fresh, it can be stored in a refrigerator. The frosting can be refrigerated for about a week ensuring the temperature is appropriate. It can be refrigerated/stored using the following –

If the frosting isn’t covered, they might absorb flavours from other refrigerated items like meat and other food items. Fresh buttercream frosting covered cake can be kept at room temperature for about 2-3 days.

What not to do when making buttercream frosting for cake

We have listed down some not-to-do’s to help you avoid making some general mistakes.

1. Avoid using salted butter

This way you can control the amount of salt in your icing. Moreover, different brands of butter use differing amounts of salt in their butter, so it is safer to use unsalted butter in any recipe.

2. Do not use frozen or too soft butter

Frozen butter takes longer to mix and as it comes to room temperature, it will become a bit watery. This will not give you the desired consistency. Too soft butter will also make it difficult to make frosting as the frosting will not hold shape.

3. Say no to mixing all the sugar with butter at the same time

Because that would be a recipe for disaster. If you mix them at the same time, you might face these issues –

4. No mixing powdered sugar at high speed

You shouldn’t start mixing them at high speed unless you want your kitchen to be covered in beautiful, white, powdered sugar. Add it in slowly or mix in two separate batches.

5. Don’t be tempted with shortening

You may be tempted to use shortening because it makes for smooth and stable frosting, making piping easy. But the taste will not match buttercream frosting made with actual butter, no matter how much butter extract you use.

6. Do not mix ingredients with different temperatures.

For instance, frozen butter with normal temperature sugar. Not doing so will ensure less mixing time and a smoother texture for icing or piping. It is always wise to use ingredients that are at room temperature unless mentioned otherwise.

Closing note

If you want to improve your buttercream frosting cake making skills, embark on a journey of making three tier masterpieces and want to learn more about Cake Baking, Decorating & Frosting, take this course. You’ll be able to take this course without any prior requirements. You can also gift this course to your sweet tooth friends or family members who have a desire to learn more about baking, fondants and icing.

February 10, 2021

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