A Buttercream Frosting That Doesn’t Suck

I LOVE that apron! Here’s a question: how do you make a buttercream frosting that doesn’t taste like crap? I’m testing the definition of insanity: I keep making the recipe on the Domino Confectioners Sugar box and every time I wonder why it sucks.  –Kwrites (over at www.kwrites.com)

First, K, thanks for the question.  It’s a great one!   Also, I appreciate your use of the word sucks–you could have simply said it wasn’t good or you didn’t like  the taste, however, your phrasing indicates you’re well on your way to becoming a bad-ass baker!   Thanks also for your compliments on my apron, I keep a few hanging in the kitchen closet to fit my many moods.  I believe a great apron is like a great hat, it can change your attitude in no time flat.

The first time I attempted a buttercream icing was when I hosted a baby shower for one of my very best friends.  She was pregnant with twin boys and had decorated her nursery with ducks.   I ordered the cake from a fabulous bakery not far from where we lived but I wanted to make duck sugar cookies and place them in cellophane bags with beautiful ribbon ties for a party favor.  I had always used my Nana’s frosting recipe but didn’t feel like it was right for sugar cookies.  I wasn’t a big fan of royal icing at the time (now, I love it for sugar cookies) so I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for swiss buttercream frosting.  It was good, but honestly, extremely labor intensive.

Two years later I took a Wilton cake decorating class at Michael’s and I’ve used a modified version of their recipe ever since.  I took the class with another very good friend because our boys were the same age (two at the time) and we wanted to make them fancy birthday cakes.

The drawback to the Wilton recipe is that most people are not all that excited about using Crisco these days and that is what the folks at Wilton recommend.  It’s funny as I think back to all of my favorite recipes from my grandmothers, they all call for Crisco.   I love butter, however,  and I believe that you can’t call it buttercream if there isn’t some butter in it.

So, K, my friend, here’s what I’ve come up with and I hope you like it better than the Domino’s box recipe:

Buttercream Icing (That Doesn’t Suck)

This recipe makes enough icing to frost and decorate an 8-inch double layer cake.

  • 1 cup of room temperature butter
  • 1 cup of Crisco
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water (or milk) add a tbsp. at a time more to achive desired consistency
  • 2 tbsp. of Meringue Powder
  • 2 pounds sifted confectioners’ sugar

Sift dry ingredients (very important).  In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment cream together butter, Crisco, extract and water.  Slowly add powdered sugar until combined.

The meringue powder replaces egg whites in the traditional swiss buttercream.  It, also acts as a stabilizer to keep the icing from separating.  If you don’t bake cakes often, and don’t keep meringue powder on hand, I’m pretty confident you can use a couple of dollops (technical term) of marshmallow fluff with success.  I’ve only done it once, but it worked just fine.  Also, I’ve heard that it’s not safe to serve raw egg to children so if you’re making a cake for a kid’s birthday party–meringue powder is the way to go.

Anybody else have buttercream frosting recommendations or suggestions for Kwrites and me?

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2 Comments on “A Buttercream Frosting That Doesn’t Suck”

  1. kwrites March 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I’ve decided to make my peace with Crisco. After all, I can still turn up my nose at lard, right?! I’m so going to make it this way next time. Thank you!

    • kcleighton March 26, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      I feel the same way. I still keep a little bit on hand for those old-fashioned recipes from my grandmothers. Thanks again for the question.

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