BUTTERCREAM 101: Learn how to prepare the perfect buttercream

Let’s talk about one of my biggest lovers: BUTTERCREAM!

First of all, it is important to make something clear: There is a difference between Frosting and Buttercream: Frosting is any type of cream that does not have butter as an ingredient and buttercream as the name implies has butter as the main ingredient or one of the ingredients.

Buttercream is delicious, a combination of flavorful butter mixed with plenty of sugar (and, depending on the recipe, some other ingredients) to produce a light, airy, and delightfully smooth finishing touch for cakes and cupcakes. But not all buttercreams are created equal—different recipes use different ingredients and methods and can therefore yield some pretty different results.

Making a good batch of buttercream isn’t hard, even if you are a novice or new baker. It gets easier one batch at a time especially if you know buttercream basics. Understanding the ingredients and how they work with each other is helpful.

A basic buttercream has three main ingredients mainly fat, sugar and liquid. When mixed these can give you the best buttercream frosting ever. Things start to get interesting as you play with these three ingredients. Change the proportions of ingredients, fat ratios, or change the type of liquid.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF BUTTERCREAM AND/OR FROSTINGS

  • Decorators buttercream frosting: often with all or some vegetable shortening to prevent the frosting from melting easily, it might have or not have butter.
  • Cream Cheese based frosting: made with cream cheese often with or without butter.
  • Swiss Meringue buttercream: made with the addition of whipped egg whites. Less sweet than the classic butter-based buttercream.
  • Egg-based buttercream: made with egg yolks and whipped to make a light and fluffy frosting with the addition of butter.
  • Whipped Cream Frosting: the lightest of them all is, of course, simple whipped cream.

GENERAL BUTTERCREAM GUIDELINES

  • Use room-temperature ingredients: room-temperature eggs will whip up more efficiently and room-temperature flavorings (like cooled melted chocolate, a small amount of fruit purée, etc) will maintain the texture of the finished buttercream without overly thickening or thinning it.
  • The butter, the better: The butter should be soft enough you can easily break off pieces of it to toss into the mixer, but not so soft that it appears melty or overly greasy on the exterior. Between 10° or 12° C will be enough.
  • Don’t be afraid of messy things: Several types of buttercream recipes can look separated or curdled during the process. Usually, this is solved by continued vigorous mixing—so proceed with the recipe as directed, and don’t care if things look messy somewhere in the middle.
  • Flavoring and coloring: Buttercreams can be easily flavored with extracts without worry of altering the recipe. Other flavorings can also be added, and when and how to add them varies a bit based on the recipe. Chocolate and fruit purée, on the other hand, are usually mixed in at the very end and can be added to nearly any kind of buttercream recipe. You can tint buttercream with food coloring, but note that some buttercreams are more white than others, which makes them better for cleanly taking on other colors.
  • Storage: Buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Just like butter, it should be stored in an airtight container.

TYPES OF BUTTERCREAM:

  • American buttercream
  • Flour buttercream, also known as flour icing/frosting or ermine frosting
  • French buttercream
  • German buttercream, also known as custard buttercream or custard icing
  • Italian buttercream
  • Swiss buttercream

The six kinds of buttercream can be roughly divided into two categories, according to their preparation method:

  • Buttercreams that are made by adding a sweet base to beaten butter. Like American, flour, and German buttercream.
  • Buttercreams that are made by adding cubes of softened butter to a sweet base (an egg foam), like French, Italian and Swiss buttercream.

I have to admit I am kind of in love with buttercream, and I want you to feel what I feel, so, I will be posting some tips, facts and any info I think will help on that. Feel free to ask whatever you want to know and let’s love it together!

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