All About Buttercream

Buttercream. Fluffy, delicious buttercream. It is one of, if not the most popular of all icings in America. This icing is great for cake and cupcake decorating. It can be flavored, colored, thinned down or piped, whatever you may need for your decorating. Buttercream icing is a very sweet, rich, creamy icing that crusts on the surface. It is widely used by professional and at home cake decorators because of it’s many uses and great taste.

Buttercream Icing

Commercial Buttercream- Pre-made buttercream icing can be bought at many cake supply stores. It is a quick and easy alternative to making the icing from scratch. CK buttercream is a delicious, fluffy, bright white icing that doesn’t leave a greasy aftertaste like many others will. There are various sizes available, chocolate buttercream, and even different colors. You can also find the icing in tubes that are ready to be fit with a piping tip and used. Before using this icing, it is best to first mix it on low for a couple of minutes to re-incorporate any separated ingredients. Be sure not to mix on medium or high-speed or for too long, to prevent air bubbles from forming in the icing. It’s great for spreading onto the cake or piped on using a pastry bag and tip. This icing has a long shelf life that enables you to buy in a larger quantity and save the rest for a later project. Unopened, the buttercream will keep 15-18 months in a cool environment. If opened, it is recommended that you keep the buttercream in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life from 3 to 6 months.

Buttercream Icing Recipe- (taken from Autumn Carpenter’s The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating) This icing is great to use when making flowers, piping borders, or covering a cake in buttercream. This recipe yields 4 cups of creamy, sweet icing.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients; beat on medium speed until well blended. Whip on low-speed 10 minutes or until very creamy. Store up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Rewhip on low-speed.

*Use a clear vanilla to achieve a bright white icing. Brown vanilla will slightly tint the icing.

Icing Amounts- These buttercream amounts are approximations based on the application in which they are used. Keep in mind that more icing is used when it is piped on rather than spread on. For more information and a complete cake icing chart click here.

  • 24 cupcakes- 4 cups icing
  • 24 cookies- 2 1/2 cups icing
  • 9 x 13 cake- 4 cups icing
  • 12 x 18 cake- 6 cups icing
  • 8″ round cake (2 layer)- 4 cups icing

Coloring Buttercream- Buttercream is a great icing to color and add details to cookies, cakes, cupcakes, or any other sweet treat. Vivid, bright colors can easily be achieved using good quality food coloring. Use a food color that is concentrated, not a liquid that can be found in the grocery. Concentrated colors will get your buttercream to the correct hue without watering down the icing. When adding color to buttercream, add a small amount first and completely blend in. More color can then be added if needed. If the color is too dark, soften it by adding plain white icing. Note that some colors may deepen once they have set in the icing for a couple of hours. To be sure the color is as you want it, you can mix your icing up ahead of time and let set for 2-3 hours before using.

Buttercream uses- Most of us know that buttercream can be used to cover cakes, ice cookies, and create big swirls on top of cupcakes, but buttercream as other uses as well.

  • Buttercream as a filling- Just plain, buttercream can make a nice filling in between cake layers. For an even more delicious surprise, add 1 1/2 tbls. of icing fruits to 2 cups of buttercream icing for a tart fruity flavor. Use buttercream mixed with icing fruits to ice a cake, fill cupcakes, or spread in between layers of cake.
  • Buttercream flowers- Buttercream can be stiffened to create even more defined, detailed flowers. If making the icing from scratch, decrease the amount of water that is added. If you are using pre-made icing, 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/8 cup shortening can be added to every 2 cups of icing. Some flowers will be able to be directly piped onto the cake. Other flowers can be piped onto waxed paper and placed in the freezer for 5 minutes to set up.
  • Crumb coat- Buttercream icing can be thinned with water to do a crumb coat with. Crumb coating is done to seal the crumbs in so that when the top layer of icing is applied, loose crumbs are not picked up. To do a crumb coat, thin your buttercream with water and apply a very thin layer to your cake. Allow crumb coat to crust completely before adding the final coat of icing.
  • Flavored Buttercream- Flavored icings are increasingly popular. You can easily change the flavor of your buttercream by adding a flavoring or extract. If using the above recipe, substitute your desired flavor for the almond flavoring. Make a delicious chocolate cake with peppermint icing, or caramel iced spice cupcakes. The options are endless!
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