This is the most basic form of buttercream there is, just butter, icing sugar and flavouring, no eggs involved. I must confess I much prefer this to the French style icing that involves egg whites or egg yolks which, while yummy, is a little heavy for my taste.
My recipe will give you about 750g, enough to fill (sandwich) and double coat an 8″ (20cm) cake, with enough left over for piping. You’ll find that the proportion of butter to sugar is greater, which produces a slightly lighter buttercream. I also prefer salted butter to unsalted as it gives a more rounded finish. Alternative flavours are given at the end of the recipe.
Needless to say, add food colouring of your choice for different coloured buttercream. A colour paste is always preferable to liquid form as you’ll be amazed at how just little liquid can affect the consistency of buttercream.
Ingredients (makes about 750g, 1 portion)
250g regular salted butter
600g icing (powdered) sugar (sifted)
1 tbsp evaporated milk or water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Place the butter in a bowl and beat until light and fluff, about a minute.
2. Add the icing sugar and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth. You’ll end up with a very pale cream mix.
3. Add the milk/water and vanilla and beat to mix. Keep it covered with cling film until you’re ready to use it.
I’ve kept buttercream icing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (no milk) and it was perfectly fine. Personally, I think refrigerating it changes the texture, so I never do it.
Replace the vanilla with panettone aroma.
1 tbsp of very strong espresso in place of the water/milk. If using instant coffee, dissolve about 2-3 tbsp in the water/milk and add to the icing. I prefer to retain the vanilla for a deeper flavour. This is perfect for a Coffee Cake.
White Chocolate Buttercream
150g white chocolate (good quality, with no vanilla specks)
400g icing (powdered) sugar
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second spurts, stirring each time. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
2. While waiting for the chocolate to cool, beat the butter and sugar as above.
3. Add the melted chocolate.
Brown Chocolate Buttercream (not ganache)
Simple chocolate icing. Add 3 tbsp cocoa powder to the milk/water in the basic recipe above. Again, I retain the vanilla.
This buttercream is very versatile. I’ve even made pistachio buttercream by just adding very finely ground pistachios, use your imagination and experiment.
You might be interested in checking out my Madeira Cake recipe and the instructions on Dowelling Cakes.