Let's Talk Buttercream

Decorating By mrsmac888 Updated 18 May 2016 , 8:39am by Apti

mrsmac888 Posted 9 May 2016 , 6:04pm
post #1 of 32

When I started out decorating I used the WIlton Buttercream recipe.  It's okay, but I knew there had to be something better out there.  I found a recipe for Cake Boss Buttercream and like it much better.  It's not a "greasy feeling" frosting in your mouth.   It's 1 cup of butter, 1  cup of (I use hi ratio shortening), 2T meringue powder, 1 t. vanilla, 1 t. butter flavor, 1/4 t. lemon extract, 1/4 t. orange extract, 4-6 T. water, 1/4 t. salt and 2 lbs quality powdered sugar (I use C&H).

I've played with other buttercreams, Alan T's, IndyDebbie's, SugarShack's. etc.  I always go back to the Cake Boss.

When I watched the video of SugarShack's Sharon making her buttercream I was in awe at how soft it looks.  It's like whipped cream.  Beautiful.  When I frost a cake with the Cake Boss Buttercream I really struggle getting it to be smooth.  Too dry maybe?

To get the desired perfect, soft buttercream, can I just add more water and/or beat it longer?  What is it that makes buttercream perfect?  Technique?  Ingredients?  Meringue?  Does meringue even have a real purpose?  Using coffee creamer and not water?  Why?  etc...

I know this is a discussion that has come up many times before.  I've searched and read many of the threads, but just wasn't finding the answers I was looking for.

Let the opinions and experience roll!


31 replies
640Cake Posted 9 May 2016 , 7:11pm
post #2 of 32

Extra long mixing time works for me.  I do not use any liquid in my ABC, with the exception of the flavorings/extracts and I get smooth/soft ABC.  I make two batches of BC, combine them, and then let it mix for 10-15 minutes.  Satiny smooth without extra liquid.  Very basic recipe - butter, PS, salt, flavorings.

SoniaMT Posted 9 May 2016 , 9:34pm
post #3 of 32

I recently used the cake boss butter cream recipe for one of my cakes. Consistency wise its great, spreads great, looks great. However, wayyyyyyy to sweet for me. I mean 2lbs of sugar is wayyyyyy to much for my liking and most of the people that i make cakes for usually like it a lot lighter and not so sweet. I am currently looking for a not so sweet buttercream recipe. I want to try the Cooked flour butter cream recipe cause i heard those are not as sweet i just dont know if those crust. 

joeyww12000 Posted 9 May 2016 , 10:35pm
post #4 of 32

I use 1 c butter, 1 cup shortening for baking and frying from walmart, 6-7 tbs heavy whipping cream, 1/8th tsp popcorn salt, 2 tsp vanilla, 7 cups powdered sugar. I whip the butter and shortening for 10 minutes, then I add half the cream and all the vanilla. Whip that for 2-3 minutes. Add half powdered sugar and mix it in good. At this point I'll add the other half of powdered sugar and let it mix. If it needs more cream I'll add that as well to desired consistency. Then I'll just let it whip on medium high till I can't feel any grit from the sugar. 

joeyww12000 Posted 9 May 2016 , 10:37pm
post #5 of 32

I tried the cooked flour recipe. It's good but wouldn't want it on every cake I ate.

mrsmac888 Posted 9 May 2016 , 10:43pm
post #6 of 32

Maybe my issue is that I just don't mix it long enough.....

Dar917 Posted 10 May 2016 , 4:46am
post #7 of 32

Meringue powder is what makes it crust; it can be very difficult to get smooth as it starts to dry out when you're icing a cake with it. I learned my lesson, never put meringue powder in the icing layer, only put it in icing used for decorations like flowers!

Margi513 Posted 10 May 2016 , 6:28am
post #8 of 32

No, cooked flour buttercreams do not crust. I have made a few different recipes, and none of them crust. They taste very good, but are rather soft.

mrsmac888 Posted 10 May 2016 , 6:03pm
post #9 of 32

Really? I always assumed that meringue powder was supposed to add body to your butter cream. So, if you don't use meringue powder your buttercream won't crust? When frosting a cake in buttercream, and not covering it in fondant, don't we want it to be crusted?

640Cake Posted 10 May 2016 , 8:32pm
post #10 of 32

I do not know the purpose of meringue powder in BC...my BC crusts just fine without it.  The crust factor would be a personal choice or depend on what you're doing with your cake.  Meringue buttercreams do not crust (SMBC, IMBC).  Some ABC recipes do not crust - just depends on the sugar to fat ratio.  Crusting helps with certain smoothing techniques and decorating...piping...can hold its shape better than a non-crusting BC.  Lots of people on here use SMBC and IMBC and still pipe beautifully with it - roses, swirls, borders...just depends on what you need to do.  I do not think you can 'paint' on non-crusting BC ??

mrsmac888 Posted 10 May 2016 , 10:40pm
post #11 of 32


That is a lot of great information. Thank you!  I'll keep it in mind as I gear up for my next cake this weekend!  Thank you!

Mamalynseyloo Posted 11 May 2016 , 4:11am
post #12 of 32

@SoniaMT ‍ I LOVE the flour frosting (Ermine frosting).  It tastes fantastic and pipes beautifully and every time I have used it, I have gotten it to crust.  That being said, I would not use it as a crumb coat.  Its a very slight crust that it forms but it definitely will hold its shape if you pipe it.  Ive tried it as a crumb coat (just for playing around) under fondant and it does not do well.  It seemed to make the fondant kind of sticky/tacky and it didnt hold up as well as usual. 

SoniaMT Posted 11 May 2016 , 2:39pm
post #13 of 32

@Mamalynseyloo thanks for the info! Do you have a good flour frosting recipe that is with chocolate? i have a cak coming up at the end of this month and wanted to try it out! Thanks!

kakeladi Posted 11 May 2016 , 2:52pm
post #14 of 32

Dar917 said.'''' Meringue powder is what makes it crust;................

NO,No, no.  This is what Wilton wants everyone to think in order to sell more product.    What does make ABC crust is the fat to sugar ratio.  The more fat the less it will crust. PERIOD.  Meringue  does give the icing a tiny bit of 'crunch'/tange and a tiny, tiny bit of  drying power but is NOT what makes it crust.

640 has some good info.  I have not tried any cooked icings so can't speak to any comments on that.

kakeladi Posted 11 May 2016 , 2:58pm
post #15 of 32

Forgot to mention

OP said:  ..................To get the desired perfect, soft buttercream, can I just add more water and/or beat it longer?  What is it that makes buttercream perfect?  Technique?  Ingredients?  Meringue?  Does meringue even have a real purpose?  Using coffee creamer and not water?........

Like one other poster, what works for me is long slow mixing.  Have you tried the "2 of everything icing" I posted?  It's wonderful as both non and crusting.   I have not used coffee creamers - so can't speak to using them. 


Dar917 Posted 12 May 2016 , 2:56am
post #16 of 32

So in other words, the more powdered/icing sugar you have in the buttercream the more it will crust? Makes sense. I did take the first two Wilton classes a few years ago and it did seem like they were just trying to get you to buy more of their products.

Apti Posted 12 May 2016 , 5:56am
post #17 of 32

My go-to recipe after trying about 20 other recipes for American buttercream:


2 cups hi ratio shortening
2 cups unsalted butter....softened to room temp!
1 TBSP vanilla flavoring
1 TBSP almond flavoring
1 TBSP butter flavoring
1/3 cup extra rich dry coffee creamer
1/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon popcorn salt
4 pounds pure cane powdered sugar

Place softened butter and shortening into your mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment for about 7-8 minutes until it has lightened in color and is nice and creamy in texture. (I use Kitchen-Aid mixer, speed 6.) This recipe nicely fits in 6 quart bowl lift KA.

While that is mixing, measure out 1/3 cup of water. Place this into the microwave and heat till boiling. Combine the boiling water and the 1/3 cup of dry coffee creamer. Stir until it has dissolved completely. Add in the popcorn salt to this hot liquid and stir to dissolve.

Then add liquid flavorings to the shortening/butter mixture, blend well.

Using the lowest setting on your mixer, alternate the powdered sugar and coffee creamer liquid until all is incorporated nicely. Turn the mixer up to speed 6 and beat for 8-9 minutes. The frosting will get nice and fluffy and a wonderful creamy texture.

Yield: 4 quarts (16 cups)
This crusting buttercream is not heat stable due to the butter in it.

You can mix and match up any flavorings that you like. For 4 pounds of icing, add in 4-6 drops Lorann oil flavoring and blend very well.

Apti Posted 12 May 2016 , 6:07am
post #18 of 32

Re:  The Mock Shack recipe above.  This is a variation of the Sharon Zambito recipe, but with half real butter, and half hi-ratio shortening.  It crusts beautifully.  Personally, I never bother with thinning it down, it works well just the way it is for flowers, piping, writing, etc. 

I will thicken it up when I need a strong dam to keep in squishy fillings----I simply plop some in a bowl, sift in some powdered sugar and keep adding it until the frosting is thick enough to mimic play dough.  Then I use a coupler and NO tip, and squish out the dam. 

I've left it on the counter at room temp for days and it is fine.  I have kept in the fridge for weeks and it is fine.  I've frozen it for months and it is fine.  You can add a little more popcorn salt to cut some of the sweetness.  I've pre-colored and put in icing bag bullets, frozen them, and used without putting in the mixer again with no problem.  People rave about this frosting.  I am so spoiled that I rarely use anything else.

Mamalynseyloo Posted 12 May 2016 , 7:54am
post #19 of 32

@SoniaMT ‍ I have literally been trying to respond to you ALL day and this is the first time I have actually gotten the site working enough where I think it will go through.  *fingers crossed*  This is the recipe I use for the chocolate ermine...so delicous and fluffy!  

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup milk

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Optional: Additional cocoa powder as needed

Melt your chocolate chips if you haven’t already and set aside to cool. You obviously don’t want it so cool that its firm, but keep it as close to room temperature and stirrable as possible.

In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk; bring to a light simmer, whisking constantly. Cook 1-3 minutes or until it reaches a cake batter consistency. Remove from heat and cool completely.

When mixture is cooled, beat the butter until creamed. Beat in the chocolate mixture until fluffy. Finally add in melted chocolate and beat again until well combined and fluffy. If desired, add additional cocoa powder to taste, up to 4 tablespoons more.

SoniaMT Posted 12 May 2016 , 9:58pm
post #20 of 32

@Mamalynseyloo ‍ Thanks hun! I will definitely give this a try!  

gen2026 Posted 13 May 2016 , 3:48pm
post #21 of 32

I am making a cake for tomorrow - temps are expected to be in the mid 70s for us with humidity in the 50s - much better than the original forecast of 85 degrees and high humidity.  Will this icing hold up to those temps?  Or would I need to stick with an all shortening version?


Apti Posted 13 May 2016 , 7:42pm
post #22 of 32

@gen2026 -  Which recipe?  There are quite a few listed above.

The Mock Shack Crusting Buttercream I posted above is ok for indoors.  If I am making a cake for outside with temps in the 85F+ with humidity, I use the Indydebi recipe with no real butter.

IF a recipe calls for Crisco, substitute (if possible) the following:

BEST BY A MILE: High Ratio Shortening (this is only available from specialty cake stores or online. You cannot find this at a grocery store.)

2nd BEST: Grocery store brand white vegetable shortening that still lists 2-3 grams of trans-fat on the ingredients label

Use only as a last resort: White Crisco (not butter flavored). It will still work, and nobody else but you will know that it is a little grainy and not as smooth as it would be with one of the products in 1st or 2nd place above.)

INDYDEBI CRISCO-BASED BUTTERCREAM--(Excellent for hot/humid areas):

(IndyDebi is a very experienced decorator/caterer: http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/)
Single Batch Recipe:

1-1/3 cups Crisco (BETTER: store brand shortening with 3 grams of trans-fats, or BEST, a specialty cake supply product called high-ratio shortening. As of 2010 Crisco no longer contains trans-fats.)

1/3 to 1/2 cup milk, depending on consistency needed
3 Tbsp powdered Dream Whip (powdered whipped topping mix made by Kraft Foods)
2-3 Tbsp clear vanilla, depending on personal taste (optional: almond extract, or lemon extract )
2 lbs. powdered pure cane sugar

IndyDebi says: “There's no wrong way to mix this. I usually mix all but the powdered sugar & milk for a minute or two, then gradually alternate the sugar & milk, but the only reason I do this is to avoid the "sugar-splash" factor. The longer the mixer runs, the smoother it gets. Sifting the powdered sugar before blending helps with smoothness but is not necessary.”

NOTE: Based on recommendations from other users of her recipe: 1) I make a double batch so the beaters are totally immersed to avoid air bubbles, 2) I beat the shortening, milk, Dream Whip, and vanilla for 10-15 minutes BEFORE I add the powdered sugar. I refrigerate or freeze leftover icing.

gen2026 Posted 13 May 2016 , 8:19pm
post #23 of 32

Sorry it was the Mock Shack recipe that I was inquiring about.  Temps will be mid 70s and fairly low humidity (at least for us). 

The cake will be outdoors - at least for a short time while we eat but it will be stored inside prior to lunch, so that IndyDebi's recipe is probably the one I will use.  Thanks!

Apti Posted 13 May 2016 , 11:59pm
post #24 of 32

You're welcome.  I live in Southern California and typically we have gorgeous weather, BUT, whenever an event is outside, I use the Indydebi recipe.  I use Mock Shack for nearly everything, but the "outside" deal = Indydebi Recipe.  That stuff is tasty, performs well, and is bullet-proof.

gen2026 Posted 16 May 2016 , 10:12pm
post #25 of 32

Thanks so much!  I did end up using the IndyDebi recipe and it worked great!  I doubled it based on some commentors recommendation but I had LOTS of buttercream left over!  I did add just a little butter to the doubled recipe in lieu of some of the crisco.  I used real mexican vanilla, vanilla bean paste, and some almond emulsion and got rave reviews.  I did cover with white fondant because I wanted a true white background on the cake.  But, I was really pleased that everyone bragged about the buttercream and the fondant!


SeriousCakes Posted 17 May 2016 , 2:30am
post #26 of 32

I'll throw my hat, or recipe, into the ring too:

SeriousCakes Posted 17 May 2016 , 2:31am
post #27 of 32

And only one video posted! Sorry, here's the recipe:

shanney54 Posted 17 May 2016 , 4:17am
post #28 of 32

I used IndyDebi's buttercream a few times. The first few times I used it it was GREAT, but then there were times that after I frosted the cake and served it that the filling turned to a liquid. I live in Alabama, so I definitely need something that will stand up to the heat and humidity when it's outside. Any idea what I might be doing wrong? TIA!

Apti Posted 17 May 2016 , 12:08pm
post #29 of 32

@gen2026 - Wonderful!  So glad it turned out well for you and  your guests.

@shanney54  -  All I can think of is that you may have used Crisco instead of high-ratio shortening.  (See my post #22 above).  Did you change ANY ingredients or brands of ingredients the times your Indydebi "turned to liquid"?   Was the weather hotter or more humid than the other times?  Were those "liquid" frosting cakes left out in the heat or in direct sunlight for a longer period of time? 

@serious cakes - HELLO!   Haven't "seen" you on here for a looooooong time.  I love your videos.

SeriousCakes Posted 17 May 2016 , 7:07pm
post #30 of 32

Apti- thank you!! I took a looong break lol :D

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