This is an easy buttercream that crusts nicely and has a wonderful taste. Use the best vanilla you can find for the best flavor.
Odessa’s Crusting Buttercream
1½ c. shortening
1 c. butter, unsalted, room temp.
3 pounds powdered sugar (I buy a 2 lb. bag and a 1 lb. bag makes it easier)
1 Tbl. vanilla*
*I have also used a combination of ½ vanilla and ½ almond extracts with success.
Cream shortening, butter, vanilla and 1 Tbl. water together until smooth. It should be one color, and will take a few minutes. Stop the mixer.
Add 2 pounds powdered sugar and 3 Tbl. water. Slowly mix in until combined. Add 1 Tbl. water to the mixture, then beat at high speed for about 15-30 seconds. Stop mixer.
Add final 1 pound of powdered sugar and 3 Tbl. water. Slowly mix in until combined. At this point, your icing is, technically, finished. Perfect for roses or other stiff applications. You can add up to 2 more Tbl. of water to the mix to make it the consistency you would like for spreading, writing, etc. If you need it thinner than that, I recommend you put a smaller amount in a bowl and add light corn syrup, a little at a time, until you are happy with the consistency.
[This recipe, essentially, can be found in the book Cakes by Design by Michael Farace and Scott Clark Wooley, without having to measure the sugar with a measuring cup.]