Buttercream Icing Recipe Guide

9 different buttercream recipes to suit your needs and baking requirements.

The buttercream icing recipe is the most common wedding cake icing. Some buttercreams are used for cake frosting, others for cake icing and some thicker buttercreams recipes are best for piping. Perfect for decorating the edges of a cake and the top of a cake, making buttercream flowers, decorative scrolls and creative cake decorations.

Note: The less liquid in the cake icing recipe mixture, the less chance of the buttercream decoration collapsing. The thickness of the butter frosting helps hold it's shape. It's impossible to say which are the best buttercream icing or buttercream frosting recipes. Each one has the perfect ingredients combination suitable for the different cake icing or cake frosting requirements.

Buttercream cake icing recipes can vary in ingredients, each having a sightly different consistancy and texture, it can be silky, creamy or even fluffy. This is due to the varying quantities and ratios of ingredients used in the buttercream frosting recipe. These recipes vary in the type of sugar (coarse, fine or syrup), if there is any shortening, the amount of butter and whether the egg whites are warmed or not.

Firstly the different Types
of Buttercream Icing & Buttercream Frosting

1. Meringue Based Buttercream

• Italian Buttercream: A cooked meringue made with a hot sugar syrup.

• Swiss Meringue: A meringue made from whites and sugar warmed together over a bain marie. This dissolves the sugar.

2. Yolk Based Buttercream

• Pâte á bombe: Sometimes referred to as a French buttercream. A buttercream here is made with yolks and hot sugar syrup.

3. Butter Based Buttercream

• Here you will find basic recipes ranging from only butter and powdered sugar to the incorporation of other ingredients such as cream cheese, melted chocolate, cream or non-fat milk powder. Sometimes shortening or an emulsified shortening is added for stability.

4. Shortening Base Buttercream

• Sometimes referred to as Decorator's Icing or Decorator's Buttercream. While this buttercream can be used for icing a cake, it is used mainly for decorations like roses and for piping borders and edging. Shortening has a much higher melting point making it suitable for those decorations needing a firmer look or handling. Since shortening does have a higher melting point, it will not have the same mouth feel as the above buttercreams, and can be very waxy to eat. If used for icing rather than strictly for decorating, butter and/or a liquid will be added for better mouth feel and flavour.

Excepts from www.pastrysampler.com

Below are 9 Buttercream Recipes

Butter cream recipeBelow you'll find a perfect buttercream icing recipe to suit your needs and requirements. Each recipe is different and has specific uses.

Whether it's for icing a wedding cake, frosting cupcakes or for wedding cake decorating like piping buttercream borders, edging and or for making buttercream flowers. Each icing recipes, yeald slightly different results. The textures range from silky, creamy or fluffy.

For an easy to follow step by step buttercream, check out this video tutorial, a traditional vanilla buttercream frosting recipe to get you started. Or have a look at the different buttercreams below. Which cake frosting recipes and cake icing recipes are best for your special cake icing needs? Just scroll down or click on each link.

1. Italian buttercream (version 1)
2. Italian buttercream (version 2)
3. Italian buttercream (version 3)
4. Swiss buttercream
5. French buttercream
6. Simple buttercream icing
7. White chocolate cream cheese buttercream
8. Simple buttercream frosting
9. Buttercream icing for decorating

More recipes from www.pastrysampler.com

1. Italian Buttercream Icing (1)

Adapted from "Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake" by Dede Wilson, who in this book gives a very detailed description on how to make this buttercream. If you've never made this type of icing before, this is a great reference book to look to for guidance, and it gives help on how to "fix" buttercreams, and what to do if too cold or too warm. This recipe makes a wonderful buttercream with a smooth consistency, not too sweet and freezes well.

1 1/4 c plus 1/3 c sugar
1/2 c water
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 t cream of tartar
1 1/2 lbs. (6 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pats

Place the 1 1/4 c sugar and the water in a saucepan. Stir to wet the sugar and bring to boil over medium heat and wash the sides of the pan. Place the whites in a grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy.

Add in the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Add in the 1/3 c of the sugar. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form. Meanwhile, keep boiling the sugar syrup until the temperature reaches 248*F.

When the syrup is ready, reduce mixing speed of the whites to medium and slowly pour in the hot syrup into the egg whites. Try not to get any of the syrup on the sides of the bowl or hard sugar balls may form in the meringue.

Continue to whip until cooled, which may take up to 15 minutes. Add in the the pats of butter and whip until combined, smooth and the butter is incorporated.

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2. Italian Buttercream Icing (2)

This version is adapted from the Roux Brothers cookbook, "The Roux Brothers on Patisserie," a good cookbook for basic French pastry. The use of glucose with the sugar syrup helps to prevent sugar crystals from forming during boiling.

1 c plus 2 T water
3 c sugar
1/2 c glucose
9 egg whites
4 1/2 c butter, room temperature

Place water, sugar and glucose in a heavy sugar pan. Stir until mixture boils, wash down sides with wet, clean pastry brush and insert candy thermometer.

Boil until the temperature of the syrup reaches 110°C, then start beating the egg whites in a stand up electric mixer, until stiff. When sugar reaches 120°C remove from heat and put the speed of the egg whites to the lowest.

Pour the syrup into the whipped whites in a slow, steady stream, trying not to get syrup on the wire whip or the edge of the bowl. Continue to beat the meringue until it is nearly cold, about 15 minutes. Begin beating in the butter, a little at a time, and continue beating until smooth.

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3. Italian Buttercream Icing (3)

This is the recipe I use in the kitchen. Industry recipe sized. Keeps well and is good for adding any number of flavours.

Sugar            6 # 9 oz.
Water            as needed to cover sugar in pot
Whites           2 1/2 qts.
Sugar            3 # 3 oz.
Butter,          17 #
unsalted soft

Heat first sugar and water to 121°C. Add this to meringue that has been beaten to stiff peaks with second sugar. Add in butter, in chunks. Note: if pastry kitchen is very warm, use slightly cooler butter; if meringue is very cold before adding butter or if butter has not incorporated into meringue (large cold chunks still in buttercream) use a hand torch around stainless steel bowl to help melt product. Of course, only use torch as directed by manufacturer.

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4. Swiss Buttercream Icing

Unknown source. It has been in my kitchen book forever. While measured in cups, it is an industry recipe.

4 c whites
8 c sugar
5 # unsalted butter

Combine sugar and whites in the same mixing bowl you'll be whipping the eggs in. Place over a bain marie or steam table and heat until the whites are warmed through and the sugar is completely dissolved.

When stirring, avoid using whipping tools or action as the incorporation of air at this stage may prevent sugar from being dissolved. Attach to mixer and wipe the outside of bowl if it has water on it. Whip stiff, then add in the butter in parts until incorporated.

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5. French Buttercream Icing

This buttercream recipe contains egg yolks and is adapted from "Professional Baking." While an industry recipe, scales down well for home use.

2 lb. sugar
8 oz. water
12 oz. egg yolks
2 1/2 lbs. butter
1/2 oz. vanilla

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, and continue to boil until 115°C. While the sugar is boiling, whip the yolks in a stand up mixer until they are thick and very light. When the sugar comes to temperature, remove from heat and slowly add in a stream to the whipping yolks, on a medium-low speed.

Continue to whip until yolks are completely cooled. Mixture will be light and thick. While machine is running, add in the butter in chunks, but add it only as fast as can be absorbed into the mixture. Last, add in the vanilla.

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6. Buttercream Icing

This butter-based recipe is adapted from "Ateco Simplified Cake Decorating."

1/4 c butter
Speck of salt (if needed)
2 c sifted powdered sugar
3 T milk or light cream
1/4 t vanillaWhip the butter until fluffy.

Gradually add in 1 cup of the powdered sugar and reduce speed to low, add in the liquid, salt and flavoring. Last the rest of the powdered sugar. If firmer icing is needed, add in a bit more powdered sugar, if softer icing is needed, add in a bit more of the milk. Flavor as desired.

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7. White Chocolate Cream Creese Buttercream

This recipe has butter, cream cheese and white chocolate, and is adapted from the classic book, "The Cake Bible," by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Compliments carrot and spice cakes well.

9 oz. white chocolate, melted, cooled to room temperature
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Beat cream cheese in mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in the melted and cooled chocolate until incorporated. Add in the butter and lemon juice last, beating well until smooth.

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8. Buttercream Frosting

This recipe contains only shortening and is adapted from the Crisco brand shortening kitchens.

1/3 cup butter flavored shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
7 to 8 T milk

Cream shortening and add in powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla, and slowly add in enough milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, to reach desired consistency. Continue to beat frosting on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until the frosting is lightening and is very smooth.

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9. Buttercream Icing for Home Decorating

This recipe contains only shortening and is adapted from the Crisco brand shortening kitchens.

1/3 cup butter flavored shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
7 to 8 T milk

Cream shortening and add in powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla, and slowly add in enough milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, to reach desired consistency. Continue to beat frosting on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until the frosting is lightening and is very smooth.

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References used and Recipes cited:

Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Cake Bible. New York: William, 1988.

"Buttery Cream Frosting." Online recipe. Crisco. February 3, 2005.


Gisslen, Wayne. Professional Baking. New York: John Wiley, 1985.

Montagné, Prosper. Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine and Cookery. Sixth printing, 1965.

    New York: Crown, 1961.

Recipes from the files of Renee Shelton. www.pastrysampler.com

Roux, Michel and Albert. The Roux Brothers on Pastisserie: Pastries and Desserts from 3-Star Master Chefs. New York: Prentice, 1986.

Wilson, Dede. Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake. New York: Wiley, 2005

Wilton. Figure Piping: The Wilton Way. Wilton Enterprises, 1979.

Copyright © 2009 Renee Shelton.

All rights reserved.

* The above recipes and buttercream description types are credited to Renee Shelton from www.pastrysampler.com

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Video Tutorials for
making your own cake, frosting & icing

Making your own Cake

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If you think you would enjoy making a wedding cake, here you'll find a step by step video tutorial with easy to follow instructions that any novice can follow. A two tiered wedding cake is easier than you think.

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make your own wedding cakeCupcake decorating isn't merely a skill, it is an artform, but with the right cake decorating tools and the right cake decorating instructions, any cake decorating neophyte can turn her hand to cake decorating for weddings.

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Cake Frosting & Cake Icing

How to cover a cake with rolled fondant:

make your own wedding cakeHere you'll learn how to cover your wedding cake with rolled fondant icing. Making it so easy to decorate. You can either decorate your cake with silk or fresh flowers, swirls of buttercream frosting and or decorative scuptured sugar decorations. The sky's the limit.

How to cover a cake with buttercream frosting:

make your own wedding cakeDo you want to know the best and most efficient way to cover your cake with buttercream frosting? In this video tutorial you will learn how to achieve a perfectly smooth finish and prepare it for some simple cake decorations.

How to make marshmallow fondant:

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How to make Swiss buttercream icing:

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Vanilla buttercream icing recipe:

This traditional vanilla buttercream frosting recipe is commonly used for icing wedding cakes as well as making decorative buttercream flowers. For piping, you need a slightly thicker butter icing mixture, so you'ld use a little less of the heavy cream or corn syrup in the recipe provided.


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