Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Do you know the major difference between professional bakery and homemade buttercream frosting? I asked a local professional baker and you know what he told me?
Delicious and easy vanilla buttercream frosting. A homemade buttercream that tastes just the like bakery! Perfect for cakes, cupcakes and cookies!
One simple ingredient: shortening. This one little tip was life changing! And here I thought that frosting was made with shortening and butter cream with, well, butter.
All of the buttercream recipes out there call for butter only, but it made perfect sense. But before I get into it.. did you know there are 4 types of buttercream? All different culturally.
- AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM: Powder sugar + softened butter (shortening) + cream/milk + vanilla
- SWISS BUTTERCREAM: Egg whites + light corn syrup + white sugar (icing sugar) + softened butter
- FRENCH BUTTERCREAM: Egg yolks + homemade sugar syrup + softened butter
- ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM: Homemade sugar syrup + egg whites + white sugar + softened butter
Half butter and half shortening is the key to a perfect buttercream frosting. All butter is often too rich and a little grainy.
By using part shortening you will achieve a smooth texture with great taste. Not too buttery. Not too sweet. Just right… like the Goldilocks of buttercream frosting!
Add your choice of extracts, almond, vanilla, citrus, for flavor to complement your sweet treat.
Using shortening also yields a lighter color, allowing for better coloring if you are using food color. For this batch I used a good quality grass fed butter, which was a deep color of yellow to begin with.
Better ingredients results in better flavors, however if I were planning to color this batch, I would have opted for a lesser quality, and lighter color of butter.
Use Vanilla Buttercream Frosting for decorating cookies, cupcakes and cakes like my Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream!
Questions you might have about how to make buttercream frosting:
How do you store buttercream frosting? Store unused buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Try to keep it away from other fragrant foods, because much like pure butter, it will take on the flavors it comes in contact with.
When you are ready to use it, take it out of the fridge and set at room temperature for an hour or so for it to soften. Never microwave it, it will be soupy and it will be challenging, if not impossible, to get it to back to a spreadable consistency.
Do I need to refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting? Yes and no. Technically, you should, but do people? Not really. The FDA says that small amounts of milk and cream can actually be left at room temperature for up to 3 days.
It will last longer, but let’s be honest… it will be devoured within 1 day.
What is the difference between buttercream and frosting? Most will say that frosting is made with shortening and/or cream cheese and buttercream with butter.
Which would make this recipe a hybrid buttercream frosting. Stark white frostings that harden are usually made with shortening.
Why is my buttercream grainy? Buttercream may seem like a simple recipe, but there is science behind it. Technically it is an emulsion of fat and liquid which can break down if not under ideal circumstances. Granted it isn’t as finisky as other emulsions or baking techniques, but it can happen.
To fix it, try increasing the speed of your blender for a few minutes and really beating the crap out of it. Make sure the ingredients aren’t too hot or cold.
Adding melted chocolate is the next trick. This takes it out of the buttercream family, but does help being the ingredients back to a cohesive and spreadable texture.
The last thing to do… the last resort… dump it and make a new batch. You’ll drive yourself nuts adding more sugar, then more butter, then more cream and never get it quite right.
Can I freeze buttercream? Yes! Don’t toss it- freeze it! It will stay good for up to 6 months in an airtight freezer bag.
If you are looking for even more dessert recipes, snag a copy of my Easy Dessert Recipes Mini-Cookbook. Available here for only $0.99, these easy dessert recipes are ready with less than 30 minutes hands-on time and are sure to please all your family friends. From no-bake to make-ahead, you are sure to find something you love!
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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or other extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Place butter and shortening into a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until blending thoroughly.
- Add vanilla, 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk and powdered sugar, mix. Slowly add additional heavy cream or milk until the frosting is a spreadable or pipe-able consistency.