American Buttercream Icing

To my fellow at home bakers, this is the easiest recipe and tastiest recipe I’ve made with the highest ratings when I take it to the office.

I love this recipe because it only takes a handful ingredients and the taste is not overwhelming sweet.

How do I make from scratch icing not yellow?

  • Unless you use hi-ratio shortening, butter-based recipes will always turn a slightly yellow color.
  • You can add the slightest (and when I say slightest, I mean take the tip of a toothpick and nothing else) and dab purple gel food coloring to add to your icing in sparing bits, mixing in between, until the purple neutralizes the yellow.
    • Purple neutralizes yellow (color wheel opposites).

How  do I make my icing flavor even keep powdered sugar from clumping? 

  • This is why I recommend pre-mixing your dry ingredients separately from your wet ingredients.
  • Most powdered sugars are made with cornstarch and cornstarch has gluten in it. Over mixing gluten will make it toughen up, causing occasional clumps.
  • Mixing your dry ingredients in a separate bowl will allow for an even, smooth buttercream.

How much icing do I usually make?

  • My recipe is enough to ice a 6″ round cake with thick buttercream decorations. It is also enough to ice a 7″ cake if you’re not decorating the entire cake with thick icing.

Why do I measure the sugar out in pounds and not in cups?

  • Even though the bags of powdered sugar will say “2 lbs” they are rarely that exact weight. In the packing of the sugar, the sugar will sometimes clump up and therefore some bags will be packed with less and some with more than the labeled 2 lbs.
  • Get yourself a kitchen scale. Usually $10 on amazon.

 

Easy American Buttercream Recipe

  • Servings: 6-inch round cake
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of salted butter (I use HEB brand)
  • 6 oz water
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla (I use Mexican vanilla)
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup powdered coffee creamer
  • pinch of salt
  • Wet dish towel (to contain sugar)
  • (1) Mixing bowl
  • (1) Large bowl
  • (1) Spatula

Directions

  1. Measure butter into mixing bowl and add the salt.
  2. Measure out water into a measuring cup and add your flavoring.
  3. In a large bowl, measure out powdered sugar, add creamer and mix well.
  4. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, mix the butter and the salt until well blended.
  5. Add about 5 large spoonfuls of the sugar mixture into the mixing bowl with the butter. Cover the mixing bowl with wet towel (this will keep the sugar from going all over your kitchen). Turn mixer on low and gradually increase to medium speed.
  6. Turn mixer off, with a spatula scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  7. Turn mixer on, add about 2 ounces of your water mixture. Mix for about 10 seconds then turn mixer off.
  8. Continue to alternate between your sugar mixture and water until all is blended.

Note: If using a heavy duty mixer such as Kitchenaid, mix on low speed until well blended. You’ll know its well blended as the icing will take on a whiter color. If you’re using a hand held mixer, mix on either medium or high keeping the beaters below surface of ingredients.

The Best Decorator’s Icing (+ most stable)

As this is the first official post, I want to share with you one of my biggest AHA moments since I embarked on this adventure of cake creation:

Icings are not created equal. 

The success of your cake will be largely based on how well the icing can hold up your decorations.

When searching for the best icing I would run Google searches. I wasn’t a professional by any means and I figured the Internet knew better.

Excited that I had found the “BEST” icing, I followed the prep instructions to a T, was SUPER excited to decorate with it and more often than not – the icing held up while the cake was still indoors.

A hard lesson learned is that not all icings can withstand the test of heat and humidity.

Additionally, not all decorators’ icings are created equal. I learned this as I walked from the front door of the house to the car with an Elmo cake.  That baby wasn’t going to hold up and I cringed as the fur I had piped in the back started to drip down.

I have lived in both 100% humidity + frying-pan hot areas and I can tell you that 100% butter recipes will not cut it or even 50% butter recipes.

So if you’re looking for a recipe that CAN withstand heat + humidity, taste delicious, and hold your decorations, you’ll want to keep reading.

I keep a tub of this icing ready-made in the pantry at all times. It brings me peace of mind to know I always have a backup icing and best of all, it gets rave reviews in taste tests (scroll to the bottom as proof + the seal cake that I piped with this recipe).

Q/A: 

  • Can you freeze it?  Yes, but totally not necessary. It can be stored in your pantry for months.
  • Can it be made ahead of time? Yes!
  • Do I use it all of the time? I don’t. I like the taste of 50% butter recipes more, but I definitely use this recipe when weather will be an issue.
  • Does this recipe crust? Yes. When piping decorations, you’ll want it to.
  • Do I color it with food coloring? Yes! I use soft gel food coloring and Americolor is my favorite brand.
  • Can you add a flavor to it? Yes, but I highly recommend you use professional strength flavorings. Food extracts don’t “stick” to the shortening as well. 
  • Do I use grocery bought shortening? I don’t. High Ratio Shortening gives it the consistency I like without the greasy feeling.
  • Can I buy these ingredients at the grocery store? Grocery stores usually won’t carry the high-ratio shortening nor professional strength flavors. So it’s a bit more of a hassle but it’s totally worth the peace of mind knowing your icing isn’t about to melt off the cake.

When I know I will be making this recipe, I will usually make it a week in advance to let the flavors settle. If placed in a sealed container, this buttercream can last in your pantry for months.

Recipe:

1lb  High Ratio Shortening (~ 2 1/4 cups) – I use Sweetex bought at a cake decorator’s store

1/4 tsp Salt

2 1/2 lbs (or 10 cups) Powdered Sugar

1 1/4 cups of Powdered Coffee Creamer –  I use Coffee Mate brand but you can use any brand you like.

2 tbl Butter Vanilla Flavoring – I use Magic Brand

6.5 oz Water

In a large bowl, pour the measured out powdered sugar and coffee creamer.

In your mixing bowl, add the shortening and beat on low with the paddle attached to the mixer. When well blended, turn mixer off.

Add 1 cup of the dry mixture into the bowl. Continue beating on low.

Add the Butter Vanilla flavoring (or whichever flavoring you plan to use) with 2 ounces of water.  Continue beating on low until well blended then turn mixer off.

Add salt.

Continue alternating between dry mixture and water until fully blended. Turn the blender off when adding ingredients then return to beating on low.

Once well blended, you can add the food color, beating on low until you reach the desired shade.

 Side Fact:

Magic Line has several popular flavors in addition to Butter Vanilla: Butter, Almond, and Creme Bouquet. The Almond flavor tastes just like almond extract and its made from absolutely zero almonds. IMG_4889