Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Buttercream

Decorating By Jackie Updated 26 May 2016 , 8:00pm by gfbaby

Jackie Posted 31 Mar 2005 , 11:40pm
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All right, this is a call to those cakecentral addicts out there who either have burning questions, or tons of tips about buttercream.

I am putting together an article, the title will be
"Everything you ever wanted to know about buttercream"

I want to compile a list of tips, recipes pros/cons, and most frequently asked questions when it comes to buttercream.
Obviously this article could easily grow to over a mile long, so for now I just want to include the most popular info, then as it grows we can break it off into several different articles.

This will be a "living" article, in that I will add new important tips or answers to questions in it as they come in.

Just post a thread with photos, comments or questions that you think are important and that you think should be inlcuded. Whether you agree or disagree, you are a pro, or just getting your feet wet! icon_smile.gif

Each tidbit of info that gets used in the article will be credited to the user(s) that submitted it.

707 replies
cakes-r-us Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 1:06am
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Good topic. My tip is to add your thinning liquid to your buttercream icing a little at a time until you get the consistency you are looking for. Just because a recipe calls for a certain amount of liquid you may need less or more.

ilithiya Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 1:53am
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Mine would be that a stiff putty/spackle knife (3"-4") is much easier to use for smoothing the sides of cakes and to make sure that there's a good, sharp edge on the bottom of the cake where it meets the board. (The rounded tips of the spatulas somehow leave ridges or indents, IME.)


angelkiss013 Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 2:11am
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Thanks Jackie...cause for me ,buttercream is a mystery.
I tried to make mine for the first time tonight , and the recipe that i used , well, I thought that the final result needed more liquid. But I don't know when too mutvh is too mutch...
Well , at least ,it was just for pratice... But I will fight and win this ! thumbs_up.gif

jscakes Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 2:25am
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Good idea. Like, there are those who use milk vs. those who use water...which is the best? Can't wait to read what other's input will be. This will be the "Ultimate Addict" article! :0

Lisa Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 2:30am
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Jackie I think this is going to be a great article. I think it should include both a crusting recipe and one that doesn't crust. It will be hard to decide what recipes to include since everyone has their favorites. Maybe just basic recipes with notations on substitutions.

Smoothing/patterning with paper towels should also be included. I count that as one of the most valuable tips I ever picked up on.

It would also be great to have some sort of standard chart for flavor mixing. Like what and how much to add to get certain flavors. I wonder if there is already one out there somewhere on the web. I've never thought to look but I'd love to have a chart like that.

ilithiya Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 3:01am
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Lisa: I've noticed that a 1/4 tsp of LorAnn oils in a 6 or 7 cup BC recipe is jsut about right (after cutting the butter and vanilla flavorings in half, which should be kept for the depth of flavor, imho).

I don't think there's a flavoring chart anywhere. Are you talking about mixing for recipes, or how much to add to the recipe?

Lisa Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 3:26am
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Originally Posted by ilithiya

Lisa: I've noticed that a 1/4 tsp of LorAnn oils in a 6 or 7 cup BC recipe is jsut about right (after cutting the butter and vanilla flavorings in half, which should be kept for the depth of flavor, imho).

I don't think there's a flavoring chart anywhere. Are you talking about mixing for recipes, or how much to add to the recipe?

I looked and couldn't find one icon_sad.gif . Maybe one of my books has one in it. What I was thinking of was a chart that took your standard buttercream recipe and listed lots of variations you could make. Everything from almond to chocolate to citrus, coconut and everything in between. Chocolate/peanut butter is really good and apricot (made with apricot nectar). I thought it might be a useful thing to have an easy-to-read chart to tell you how to get all those great flavors.

The more I think about it though, the more I wonder if it's even possible to create a standard chart for lots of different flavors. The recipes may be too different. I don't know...something to think about.

2cakes Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 4:56am
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Hi Lisa! I am not sure if you are looking for a oil flavoring chart, if you were, I came across a web site: http://www.candylandcrafts.com/Oils_Flavorings.htm check out the site and see if that is what you were looking for or had an interest. icon_smile.gif

Lisa Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 5:44am
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Originally Posted by 2cakes

Hi Lisa! I am not sure if you are looking for a oil flavoring chart, if you were, I came across a web site: http://www.candylandcrafts.com/Oils_Flavorings.htm check out the site and see if that is what you were looking for or had an interest. icon_smile.gif

I don't know why I'm always thinking of doing things the hard way. Here I am thinking about flavoring buttercream with cocoa powder, zests, juices, etc. I had no idea that LorAnn made so many flavors. I think this should be mentioned in the article if there is a section on flavoring buttercream. Thanks 2cakes and ilithiya for pointing this out icon_smile.gif .

cakelady1994 Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 6:29am
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hi.has anyone ever tryed using heavy whipping in there buttercream icing.i use about 1/4 cup to my butter and crisco mix then add my powdered sugar.this cuts down on the sweet taste and it forms a good crumb coat . thumbs_up.gif

ilithiya Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 7:24am
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About flavor combos for buttercreams: Maybe Jackie would be willing to put a sticky in the Recipe Tips forum for that? I have a nice handful that I'd be willing to share. icon_smile.gif


AgentCakeBaker Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 5:38pm
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I think storage of buttercream icing should be included in the article as well. I'm often confused with the storage of buttercream icing when there are so many different recipes out there. Examples are can you store buttercream icing at room temperature in an airtight container if recipe used milk and butter, coffee creamer and butter, etc.

I also agree with Illy on information regarding flavor combos for buttercreams. I would like to know about different flavors to use to make a better buttercream icing.

montanakate Posted 4 Apr 2005 , 3:53pm
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I think it would be helpful to have tips on how to get buttercream really smooth, not just smoothing on the cake but the frosting itself. You know, like no air bubbles in the frosting.

cindycakes2 Posted 18 Apr 2005 , 5:59pm
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The best tip I learned about buttercream icing was how to ice and smooth. Using the icing tip to place icing on the cake, then using a long smoothing spatula to even the icing out. After letting it sit for about 10-15 minutes, I then use VIVA paper towels to smooth the icing out. I get great results with this, even if I have to patch and repair when I am setting up a wedding cake. This could be another good section on buttercream.....how to patch and repair. I can't wait to read all the tips!

Jennkrem Posted 19 Apr 2005 , 8:28pm
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Could you please explain the VIVA Paper towels?

Jackie Posted 19 Apr 2005 , 8:53pm
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Originally Posted by Jennkrem


Could you please explain the VIVA Paper towels?

Here is the link to the article explaining that technique:

2cakes Posted 19 Apr 2005 , 9:15pm
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Hi Lisa! You are quite welcome, sorry it took me too long getting back to you. If I only can get out of the kitchen, I would probably be able to respond back quickly, lol

cakemommy Posted 19 Apr 2005 , 10:33pm
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This is going to be a great new article!!! One technique I'd like to add is smoothing buttercream with tule! This is the technique I used for my wedding cakes. Just let the icing crust then place a small (maybe 6inx6in) piece of tule on your cake and smooth with a long angled spatula. When the tule gets buttercream crust on it you can wet your tule and shake it really hard to get the excess water off and then start again. Just be sure to NOT let the tule get wrinkled!!!!!!


ntertayneme Posted 21 Apr 2005 , 7:45pm
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I too use the Viva paper towel method to smooth my icing. I've tried the spatula dipped in hot water; I've tried spraying the cake with a fine mist of water to smooth, but the only method that I find to be tried and true is the Viva paper towel method. It smoothes the cake so much better to me. You can also use the paper towel method to round your top edges of your cakes some to get more of a contour look to your cakes. To me, it almost has a fondant appearance if smoothed well. icon_smile.gif

momof3jotynjake Posted 27 Apr 2005 , 4:50am
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What about them Air bubbles in the BC.. what is the cause of that?

flayvurdfun Posted 27 Apr 2005 , 8:44am
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How about 'How long does buttercream last if in the refridgerator"

AngelWendy Posted 27 Apr 2005 , 12:08pm
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It seems to stay good in the fridge about 2 weeks, Flayvurdfun. After that it starts to smell a bit off, and by the 4th week or more, it's time to toss it. Just my experience, YMMV!


MariaLovesCakes Posted 1 Jul 2005 , 9:01pm
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In my humble opinion:

Buttercream with only Crisco is best for birthday cakes that need a lot of work like characters and stuff.

Also, this type of buttercream is also good for weddings because in case they have to sit out in the heat for a few hours, Crisco stands and holds much better than butter based icings.

Buttercream with part Crisco and part butter is best for cakes that are not intended to be in the heat very long and for more delicate cakes like Mother's day, Father's day, anniversary, etc...

I like Swiss Buttercream and am experimenting with French buttercream because of their silky texture... However, I am still trying to master in making the icing whiter... I will probably buy Wilton's white color to add to the icing to see if it works...

Bubbles Posted 1 Jul 2005 , 9:42pm
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Maybe the article could include a section on what consistance works best for different flowers, borders, writing ect. When I first started decorating cakes, I think I was always using to stiff of icing.

AKS Posted 5 Jul 2005 , 4:10am
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definitive answers to using egg yolks/whites in b'cream (IMBC and SMBC). When you heat yolks in the double boiler, does that make it safe for consumption? What about the length of time you can leave b'cream out for? I think safety issues are very important, as well as coloring hints such as getting red, black, and the other hard-to-tint colors. Thanks.

KayDay Posted 5 Jul 2005 , 4:20am
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I couldnt make it w/o my viva paper towels

sheilaattaway Posted 5 Jul 2005 , 5:14pm
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Has anyone tried the upside down trick in the articles. It is the best ever. I have a hard time spreading butter cream evenly, i hate not having a perfect, smooth cake. This is the best trick ever. Everyone should try it.

niki_10 Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:06am
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I also just learned that you shouldn't use the whisk attachement to whip up the frosting. You use the paddle attachement on a low setting. I was using the whisk attachement on the highest setting thinking that was best. No wonder I had air bubblkes. icon_rolleyes.gif

Another thing I learned was that Italian Meringue Buttercreams taste a million times better but do not work on a hot day.
This recipe is princess.gif DIVINE princess.gif , but won't hold up outside of the fridge What's is the trick??


This will be a great article. Thanks!!

LemonLyme Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:35am
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Hi everyone,
what an interesting topic ...buttercream icing.
Cakelady1994 I've tried the heavy whipping cream in my icing and yes it certainly cuts the sweetness factor down considerably.
But I use cream cheese and mix it like i'd do a buttercream recipe as if I were using crisco.
I've done the water method and the heavy cream method in the fats mixture. personally i like the heavy cream for birthday cakes since they're consumed much quicker .. weddiing cakes i do use the water with crisco buttercream method.
It's all fun to me trying new ways of doing icings.
I even tried a bit of lemon juice in a recipe and someone swore it added an extra richness to the flavor of the icing.
I think what we need is a "sturdy" butter that can withstand the mixiing process and heat and not break down as fast since butter has a little more water.
but i guess " less is more".
I can't wait to read what other have to post on this topic.

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