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Easy Buttercream Frosting

White buttercream frosting

Cake decorating is fun, but preparing the frosting can be a bit of a chore. Find some easy recipes for delicious buttercream that also pipes well, along with a few helpful shortcuts.

Simple Buttercream Frosting Recipes

There are nearly as many buttercream frosting recipes as there are bakers, and the key ingredients don't vary by much. The proportions in which those ingredients are used are what really make the difference. Always purchase the highest quality ingredients available to produce the finest results.

Basic Buttercream Recipe

This recipe yields approximately six cups of rich frosting that is great for icing cakes and piping most decorations. You can halve or double the recipe as needed depending on how much cake you need to cover.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup solid shortening
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Sift the powdered sugar and meringue powder together and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and shortening together in a large mixer.
  3. Add the vanilla.
  4. Add the sifted sugar mix one cup at a time, making sure to scrape the sides down between additions.
  5. Add the milk slowly, and mix for five minutes on high until the frosting is fluffy.
  6. Transfer the icing to a covered container and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes before decorating.

White Wedding Buttercream

This variation of the recipe above yields a whiter frosting that holds up a little better to heat and humidity.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white shortening
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (Substitute one teaspoon of vanilla with clear almond flavoring if you prefer.)
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Cream the shortening in a large electric mixer.
  2. While the shortening is creaming, sift the sugar and meringue powder together.
  3. Add the clear vanilla to the shortening once it's well creamed.
  4. Add the powdered mix to the shortening one cup at a time.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between adding cups of sugar so everything mixes evenly.
  6. After adding all the sugar, add the milk one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Beat at high speed for five minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.
  8. Scrape the frosting into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for approximately 40 minutes before use.

Easy Shortcuts

Even if you prefer to make your own buttercream frosting for your cake decorating needs, sometimes there simply isn't enough time. In cases like this, you can take one of these shortcuts so you can spend more time piping and less time preparing.

Ready-Made Icing

When time is truly at a premium, you can opt to use ready-made buttercream. Most cake decorating supply stores carry Wilton icing in small plastic containers just like the icing you see at the grocery store. The difference is that this icing is formulated especially for decorating, so it's ready to use for piping without adding extra sugar or meringue powder. You can mix in the color you need and it's ready to go. The only drawback is that this product is slightly more expensive than homemade buttercream, but you can always count on its consistency.

Some cake supply shops also sell their own frosting in tubs to go.

Icing Mix

Another alternative is to purchase a premeasured decorating icing mix. In most cases, all you need to do is add butter and milk and then mix. Although this isn't quite as convenient as opening a can of icing that's ready to load into your bag, it's still a bit of a time saver. Additionally, you can adjust the amount of liquid you add to make the icing stiffer or creamier depending on what you want to do with it.

Tips for Best Results

The following tips can help you achieve better results with your buttercream icing.

  • Warmth and humidity can affect how your frosting handles and holds up. With a little trial and error, you can learn how to adjust your recipe by either adding a little more powdered sugar or cutting back slightly on the amount of liquid added.
  • Buttercream frosting will keep for two weeks under refrigeration.
  • Make sure the container is tightly sealed or your frosting will pick up undesirable flavors from other foods in your refrigerator.
  • Allow the frosting to set at room temperature for 15 minutes, and stir it slowly before loading your piping bag.

Making Good Buttercream

Some bakers hold the opinion that there is no such thing as buttercream frosting that is really easy, but the shortcuts and recipes above will help you get ready to decorate in an hour or less. One thing is certain, there's no mistaking that delicious buttercream flavor that makes a cake so special.

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Easy Buttercream Frosting