How Many Types Of Buttercream!!

Baking By hep275 Updated 14 Sep 2015 , 2:24pm by sugarbirdcakes

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 7:58am
post #1 of 22

Hi, I am a new hobby baker in the UK - just making cakes (only a few) for friends and family and until I starting reading posts on this site I had never realised just how many types of buttercream there were...I have always  made what I think is possibly referred to as American buttercream - just butter and icing sugar - (confectioners sugar in the USA?) with a little bit of flavour like vanilla extract added.  Looking through some of the buttercream related posts on here I have gone to another web site and seen something called flour buttercream which i like the idea of but wanted to check as it seems to not contain any icing sugar - is that right?  I want something less sweet to use as a topping on cupcakes, in bigger cakes and as a crumb coating - dont really want to faf around with making meringues like it seems you need to for some of the other types.  Does anyone else use flour buttercream and is it suitable for use as a 'general' buttercream ?

21 replies
Brookebakescake Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 8:28am
post #2 of 22

Hello! I haven't tried the flour bc yet, but as an avid fan of imbc, I suggest you try it! I think the taste is well worth it, as well as its versatility!

Shockolata Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 9:19am
post #3 of 22

I think it is unfair to call it a flour buttercream as it is a custard-based buttercream. Flour sounds so off putting! You are right, though, it does not contain icing sugar. It contains normal sugar which melts over the fire and creates a smooth consistency. And the amount of sugar is way below what you would use for American buttercream which makes it even more appealing. Let us know how you fared with it and if possible, put a pic to tempt us :)

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 11:11am
post #4 of 22

I agree that calling it flour buttercream is off putting!! Can anyone help me with measurements for ingredients for it though as the site I found used cups which I don't think are a standard measurement......  Many thanks.  I will aim to post a piccie of the cake I'm doing but it will be next weekend as I am making a cake for someone who is doing a parachute jump for least that's my plan!

AAtKT Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 12:05pm
post #5 of 22

The standard cooked based buttercream that I grew up on was a 1:1:1 ratio of milk, sugar, and butter (you can also use shortening though)...

I still use that ratio... and a ratio can be in cups or grams... 

As far as how much flour or cornstarch is used... I use enough to thicken it to my desired consistency... I like my cooked mixture fairly stiff so I use about a 0.25 ratio for cornstarch...   I sift it in with the sugar before adding the milk and cooking...

You can always add more sugar if it is not sweet enough or even stiffen it a bit with powdered (icing) sugar...

-K8memphis Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 12:44pm
post #6 of 22

re: calling it cooked flour icing:

i saw this icing printed in a Wilton yearbook 40 years ago and probably norman wilton named it "french buttercream" -- i'm just wildly guessing here on that -- so that's what i always called it since it was in print that way -- you can find it named that on google -- obviously it's not the egg yolk fb but i guess it's the american french buttercream? hahaha


no but seriously tons of caking terms have been interchangeable from country to country and from the past to the present -- nw called gum paste 'candy clay' back in the day and we have a different definiton now for candy clay (chocolate plus corn syrup) although gp could easily be described as a 'candy clay'.

it will always be french buttercream to me

jchuck Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:00pm
post #7 of 22


I use what is referred to as cooked flour frosting. It's my go to icing. Lovely and smooth, not sweet. I've made SMBC & IMBC ( Swiss/Italian Meringue Butter Cream ), but my family didn't like it, too sweet. And it can be finicky to make. Here's the recipe I use.

Even Better (!) Cooked Flour Frosting (with flavor variations & Vegan ...

I do tweak the recipe slightly by adding I cup of icing sugar, and a tablespoon of meringue powder. The addition of the icing sugar doesn't affect the sweetness, allows the icing to pipe better and the meringue powder makes the icing crust/harden, especially on cupcakes. But these additions aren't necessary, but after making this icing so many times, I found this works for me.

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:08pm
post #8 of 22

Thanks all.  There are indeed many terms for the same things - jolly confusing for newbies!!!  Thanks for all your help everyone.  Helen

Goreti Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:29pm
post #9 of 22

I usually use SMBC and use a ratio with less sugar than most recipes call for.  I was a little hesitant to try the flour frosting but I was very pleasantly surprised.  It is really good.  I use the same recipe that jchuck uses (she shared it with me).  

remnant3333 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:32pm
post #10 of 22

 I have tried flour frosting before and I love the way it reminds me of stabilized whipped cream!! I can't wait to try it with the sugar cooked into the flour and milk!!  Thanks for the recipes Jchuck with the added flavor variations!!!

-K8memphis Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 1:49pm
post #11 of 22

important --

try any recipe but when it comes to combining the ingredients -- whisk the four into the sugar in the heavy saucepan then add the milk -- then turn on the fire -- just trust me on this 

best to you for the easiest way to combine the icing

imagenthatnj Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 2:06pm
post #12 of 22

Magnolia Bakery's buttercream is made with the cooked flour mixture. Here's a video with Bobbie Lloyd, the owner. I think the first part is making the icing, then she goes onto the red velvet cupcake recipe.

I haven't checked jchuck's posted recipe, but I'm going to keep it in mind to try next time. I only make IMBC though I always wanted to try making this one. I've had the cupcakes many times in NYC (they're on the corner, by my job, in Rockefeller Center, hard to miss them when I walk around) and I don't prefer the frosting to IMBC, but other people do and that's what counts!

*Last edited by imagenthatnj on 30 Aug 2015 , 2:07pm
birdsbug Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 2:09pm
post #13 of 22

I agree with k8, definitely whisk it completely BEFORE turning on the heat.  The recipe  I found doesn't melt the sugar, but if you whip it long enough it doesn't turn out grainy.  Many people refer to this as Cooked icing.  (My recipe named it Whipped buttercream.)

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 2:28pm
post #14 of 22

i am SO going to try this!!! I am making an orange and poppy seed cake at the mo but when that's done.......thank you all.

deuceofcakes Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 2:29pm
post #15 of 22

I believe its formal name is "ermine frosting" although I don't know why. It is a style of frosting that has been around for a long time and is often paired with red velvet cake (in lieu of cream cheese frosting). It is creamy and delicious (and now, knowing its name, you can use google to find recipes). Some versions have you add the sugar after you cook the milk and flour, but if you cook the sugar with the milk and flour, the results are much smoother and never grainy. And do mix the sugar and flour together before adding the milk as it avoids lumps of flour. The hardest part is waiting for the cooked mixture (essentially a pudding) to cool enough to add the butter to it. That seems to take forever!  

As for SMBC and IMBC, they are also very good frostings. There are different recipes with different ratios of egg whites to sugar to butter, so if the one you are using is too sweet, try another recipe. The one I like is around 1 part egg whites to 1.5 parts sugar to 2 parts butter, all by weight. You can check the ratios on the recipe you've used to see if the sugar is much higher relative to the other ingredients. I've also tried recipes with much more butter and don't like them either. Hope this helps. 

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 2:46pm
post #16 of 22

jchuck - in the leelabeans bakes recipe does the T refer to table spoon and do you use cup measures or a weight - does that make sense!!

jchuck Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 6:27pm
post #17 of 22


Yes the T refers to tablespoon, but you can convert to ml, no problem, and yes cups, which would be 250 ml fir you.  I should also have said I whusk the flour, sugar & milk together BEFORE I turn o n the heat. I also  cook on medium heat,  whisking constantly until ut comes together. Tried on high heat, came together too fast and began to burn.  Then hard boil for  1 min, as recipe stated. I've skipped this step, and it's still turned out. I've added innumerable flavors to this, always great.  Makes great chocolate icing too.Oh, and nit sekf raising flour you use in UK, just plain white flour. Let me know what you think if you make it. ♥

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 7:04pm
post #18 of 22

OMG it is so light and fluffy!!! I really like it and so did eldest daughter, but hubbie and youngest not so sure.  I did catch it on the bottom of the saucepan in my haste to bring it to the boil but sieved the grotty bits out!!! Added some orange juice and zest as I had some from the orange and poppy seed cake.  I wonder if it might be too light to use as a crumb coat though but would be wonderful for cupcakes which I find often look lovely but are SO sickly sweet.,

jchuck Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 7:27pm
post #19 of 22


Glad  you like it. You could have used half orange juice,  half milk, and it would have turned out fine. Perhaps hubby and son prefer "sweet". When I make cakes for one side of my family, I make strictly butter/icing sugar as they love that very sweet icing. I use this icing for everything, including crumb coating. I just made a triple batch today  as I'm using on my son's wedding cake/cupcakes this Friday. Son and fiancé' both like the smooth, velvety feel and taste and not so sweet taste. But it's not for everyone, individual taste. 

I was also going to mention that this icing was born from the Depression and had a resurgence during WW II. So many rations. My Mom used to make this when I was a child. Mom was Scottish, came to Canada as a War bride. Still heavy rations here in Canada at that time, tho not as bad as the UK. Mom said they'd use all shortening when they couldn't get butter, as it was readily available. Or half and half (butter/shortening)  or all butter when they could. 

hep275 Posted 30 Aug 2015 , 7:44pm
post #20 of 22

So interesting isn't it finding out how things have evolved.  I have put the remains in the fridge so will be interested to see how it has 'firmed up' over night but am keen to try piping onto cupcakes tomorrow  - what else can a girl do on a Bank Holiday!!!

Can I just say I am so pleased I found this site - I have found myself able to ask silly questions and not be judged for it and people are happy to share their knowledge and experience.  Thank you all.

LouisNutri Posted 31 Aug 2015 , 2:35am
post #21 of 22

For people with egg allergies, I usually use the ermine buttercream (I like to call it ermine instead of flour, because yes, flour bc doesn't sound that too appealing). In terms of texture, it is smooth, but has a slightly "heavy" mouthfeel to it. It's not as light as IMBC or SMBC. For deco, it is quite soft, so I usually just use some soft swirls with it, nothing that requires a certain consistency.

sugarbirdcakes Posted 14 Sep 2015 , 2:24pm
post #22 of 22

Perhaps this will help.  

"Ermine" is the cooked one (with flour) and is a great one for hot weather.  I've had cupcakes stay good for 4-6 hours in the East African heat of summer without melting. 

French, Italian and Swiss are all boiled sugar butter creams and very smooth.   The differences are as follows: 

  1.  Swiss - the egg whites and sugar are heated over a double boiler until sugar melted (watch out for pan sizes or you cook your egg whites!)    
  2. Italian - the sugar is boiled to 118 Centigrade and added to soft peak egg whites
  3. French - same as Italian but with the addition of egg YOLKS which makes it quite stable, but slightly cream-coloured. 

Once you've tasted the European versions, you will never go back to the old, simple recipe.  Yes, it takes more effort, but it is SO  worth it!

Happy Baking!

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