Making The Perfect Buttercream
As the name describes, we use buttercream in all our cakes, made from real unsalted butter. Spreads and margarine just don’t do it for us, or our customers, and if you are thinking of selling your cakes, then be careful to use the correct naming of your filling, so as not to get in hot water with Trading Standards ( Anything other than butter, then it is called Frosting!)
We do appreciate dietary differences, and therefore we highly recommend Pure as a non-dairy alternative – It’s lush!
Now we do not advocate using a food mixer for making cakes, but with buttercream, it is easier although not essential!
(We recommend a mid-range mixer, with a paddle beater! Click on the link to see an illustration of a paddle beater)
The quantities below will make enough buttercream to cover approx 14-18 cupcakes or fill and crumb coat an 8-inch cake.
250 grams of unsalted butter
500 grams of icing sugar
Vanilla extract (1-2 teaspoons, to taste)
A few droplets of boiling water
The butter must be nice and soft, and at room temperature, as this will make for easy mixing, and create lovely smooth buttercream.
Place the butter in a mixing bowl and whisk on a moderate to high speed, until the butter appears pale in colour, and is smooth in texture.
Sift the icing sugar into the mixing bowl with the butter.
Use a silicone spatula, to gently mix the two ingredients together. This is where it could get messy!
If you do not have a splash guard for your mixer then you could always use a tea towel, held carefully over the top.
Gradually start to beat the mixture at a slow to moderate speed.
Once you can see the butter and icing sugar have started to combine, increase the speed and beat very fast until the mixture is fully combined and the mixture should appear smooth in texture.
Check the consistency of the buttercream; too thick, you will not be able to pipe with ease, too runny, the buttercream will not hold the shape of your desired frosted swirl if that’s what you are after.
If you suspect your mixture is too thick, then you can add a few droplets of boiling water, and mix again until the correct consistency is produced.
Finally, add your vanilla extract and beat on full speed for 30 seconds until fully combined.
Other flavoured extracts can be used in place of vanilla..
NOW !!! If the buttercream is to fill a cake, then let it rest for an hour, with cling film over the bowl, so that the air is released. This is the cause of many a novice baker’s nightmares when the air tries to escape from the buttercream under fondant !! It causes big air bulges in the cake.
Another big tip is to make as much buttercream, as the bowl will hold. i.e double the oven quantities !!!
If you are making a mess, make it once !!
You can use what you need, and freeze the rest, in a flat freezer bag, so it is easier to store in the freezer. Then when we want buttercream again, just break off what you need and leave it to defrost.
Buttercream will store in the fridge for 7 days, with cling film covering it.
If you are going to pipe with buttercream, use it freshly whipped!
NEVER ADD MILK TO YOUR BUTTERCREAM. If you need to loosen it use a few drops of freshly boiled piping hot water !!!!
If you want to pipe Buttercream Flowers, you may want it to be slightly silky to get those delicate flower edges. Add a heaped desert spoon of white vegetable fat !! We use TREX
It has no taste and it is used quite a lot in buttercream….trade secret!
As you know butter is not your friend in the summer heat!
When making buttercream for cupcakes, and to fill your beautiful cakes in the summer, you can replace about up to a quarter of your butter in our recipe with TREX.
Our fellow bakers in Africa, the USA, Australia, etc, are well used to this substitution, and go a wee bit further than replacing a quarter.
They call white vegetable fat ‘shortening’ ….
So beware when making wedding cakes or cupcakes which may end up in a hot marquee ..like The Great British Bake Off tent !