Buttercream icing recipe

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makes: 6 - 12
Skill: easy
Cost: cheap
Prep: 10 min
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  • This classic buttercream icing recipe is the perfect way to top cakes and cupcakes. Master this basic recipe and then you can enjoy experimenting with lots of different flavours and colours. If you’re wondering, how do you make buttercream icing from scratch? You’ve come to the right place!

    This buttercream icing recipe is easy to make and the ideal finishing touch when baking cupcakes or a cake. It only takes about 5 minutes to make this buttercream icing recipe and it makes enough to decorate one 20-23cm round cake or 12 cupcakes.

    Got some leftover buttercream? It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days but make sure you mix it thoroughly before re-piping onto another round of cupcakes or a cake.

    If you’re re-using buttercream that’s been in the fridge, try adding a few drops of food colouring to dye your buttercream or a few drops of water. This will loosen the buttercream before you use it again and make it easier to ice and decorate a cake with. If you make lots of cakes then you can bulk batch make this buttercream icing recipe and freeze it.

    Store it in separate containers in your freezer and then get out what you need ahead of when you need it. Buttercream defrosts well overnight. Remember to let the buttercream come to room temperature before you use it so that it’s easy to ice with.

    Ingredients

    • 110g butter, room temperature
    • 500g icing sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 60ml milk

    Method

    • Add butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl, then beat for about 5 minutes with an electric whisk until smooth.

    • Pour the milk gradually if you need to loosen the mixture.

    Top tip for making Buttercream icing

    If you want stiff buttercream for piping use your ingredients straight from the fridge. For softer buttercream you can smooth with a knife onto cakes, use ingredients at room temperature. For tips on how to ice your cupcakes with buttercream check out our cupcake icing videos

    What are the three types of buttercream?

    There are three types of buttercream you can use to decorate a cake or cupcakes. These include; traditional American buttercream (this recipe!), Swiss Meringue buttercream which is much thicker, creamier frosting and Italian Meringue buttercream which is a much more complex buttercream to make using eggs and heated sugar.

    What’s wrong with my buttercream?

    My buttercream is too gritty

    If you didn’t sieve your icing sugar when making the buttercream this may have led to your buttercream being gritty in texture. Lumps can be broken with the back of a spoon or fork. Make sure you’re using the correct sugar too as some types of icing sugar e.g. beet sugar, can cause this odd texture too.

    My buttercream is overbeaten

    Its best to soften the butter before adding the icing sugar to make buttercream. This method will make sure both ingredients combine smoothly together. You can overbeat buttercream by whisking too long or too fast with an electric mixer so make sure you stop as soon as the buttercream firms.

    My buttercream has separated

    If your buttercream has separated and looks almost curdled, you may have added a little bit too much moisture to your mix. Whether its too much food colouring or too much milk you may be able to rescue it by adding a spoonful of icing sugar at a time.

    If you’re using food colouring however it is best to opt for high quality gel food colouring when it comes to mixing with buttercream to avoid curdling or separation.

    Do you have to refrigerate a cake with buttercream frosting?

    You don’t have to refrigerate a cake once its covered in buttercream but its best covered in some way on the kitchen side. You can do this with either a cake tin, tin foil or cling film so the buttercream doesn’t go hard. You can leave a cake covered in buttercream at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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