Making a Bakery Style Buttercream Frosting
I received the following email from home cook Rhonda requesting a recipe for a buttercream frosting that would taste more as she has experienced at a bakery. Here is what she said,
"I am a stay-at-home mom looking everywhere for the sweet buttercream frosting that the bakery uses. I have looked online, at cookbooks and none of the recipes are right. The kids love helping me make cakes, but they only like to decorate them. They do not like the frosting. If you have a recipe, I would love it. I will keep trying until I get the right one. I hope you can help. Thank you, Hi Rhonda!"
I immediately sent her request to my friend Chef Jenni Field, a professional pastry chef who graduated from Orlando Culinary Academy with her Pastry Methods and Techniques blog. Jenni asked for her original recipe, which you can see below, and offered her the following comments and recipe.
I'm sure it must be frustrating to have fun decorating a cake with your kids only to have them refuse to eat it because they don't like the frosting! I like almost all kinds of frosting, but I will do my best to give you some recipes your kids will enjoy.
You said you are looking for a recipe that tastes like bakery frosting. Unfortunately, there are many bakeries, and most use their own "special recipes."
It might be challenging to pinpoint the style of frosting you're looking for, but I'll give it a shot. Thank you for sending in the recipe you used. This gives us a place to start.
- ½ cup margarine
- ½ cup shortening
- ⅛ salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅛ almond extract
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 4-6 teaspoons half and half
This recipe is your basic Wilton-style American buttercream. The texture can be fluffy but a bit gritty since it is based on powdered sugar.
Powdered sugar contains cornstarch to keep it from clumping, and sensitive palates can pick the raw starch flavor up. However, even if you don't taste the raw starch, the texture is unmistakable," barely gritty if you rub a little between (clean) fingers.
Many icings are based on this fundamental American fat + powdered sugar + flavoring formula, including one of my favorites, cream cheese frosting. So, I won't even linger at the standard American counter. So, instead, let's wander over to another counter.
I found a modification of the standard American buttercream in The Whimsical Bakehouse by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen. I've made this before, and it is pretty tasty. Using boiling water cooks out some of that raw starch flavor, and the resulting texture is much smoother.
Look toward the European bakery counter if you want a smooth and silky buttercream. Europe is the home of egg-based buttercreams. The texture is light and ethereal, and the flavor of pure butter comes through.
These frostings are a bit rich and not always considered "kid frostings," but since I don't know your kids' taste, I'm also offering these as possibilities.
All these frostings are based on whipping egg whites, whole eggs, or egg whites with a 240-250 degree F sugar syrup until cool. Then, butter, salt, and flavorings are whipped in.
As you can imagine, the yolk-based buttercreams are the richest, and the lightest are the egg-white-based buttercreams, also called meringue-based buttercreams.
This last type is the most kid-friendly version.
I hope one of these two frosting recipes will get you close to your goal of having your children eat what they decorate!
House Buttercream Frosting Recipe
To Make the House Buttercream
- Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Put sugar and salt in the bowl. Add the vanilla and boiling water and whisk on medium-low speed until smooth and cool.
- Add the shortening and the butter. Whisk until smooth.
- Increase the speed and whip on medium-high speed until the frosting is very light and fluffy and has doubled in volume. This could take up to 15 minutes, so be patient. You can flavor this with other extracts, as well"”almond, butter, even peppermint.
Italian Buttercream Recipe
- Over medium heat, bring water and ¾ of the sugar to a boil. Cover the pot and let boil for 2-3 minutes to wash any sugar crystals off the sides.
- Remove the cover and cook until the sugar syrup reaches 248° F.
- Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip egg whites, salt, and lemon juice on medium speed until foamy.
- Add the reserved sugar and beat to medium-stiff peaks. Try to time this so the sugar and the whites are ready simultaneously.
- When the sugar has reached 248° F and the whites are at medium-stiff peaks, with the mixer on medium-high, carefully pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream down the inside of the bowl. This will prevent the syrup from hitting the whisk and getting spun around the sides of the bowl instead of into your frosting. It will also cool the syrup just a bit so you don't risk curdling your whites. Whip until cool, about 5-10 minutes.
- Once the meringue is cool, add the butter, one piece at a time. Whip until each piece is completely incorporated before adding another piece. The icing might start to look a little curdled, but it should come together nicely when you add all the butter. Feel the mixing bowl. It should feel somewhat cool.
- If it doesn't, cool the mixture down by either putting the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes before continuing to whip or by rubbing the outside of the bowl with a bag of frozen peas while mixing. Guess which one I do?!
- Whisk in the vanilla, and you're good to go.