When it comes to creating an edible work of Art, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be fabulous.
Basic Buttercream is not only delicious, its highly versatile. Its a crusting Buttercream, meaning it will firm up at room temperature, giving you the perfect canvas for painting, embossing, carving, sculpting, you name it!
It’s simple to make too! But just in case you are having trouble, I have put together this handy guide to help you out!
The key to great Buttercream is great butter. It sounds simple, but it is the single most important ingredient to get right. Cheap, nasty butter just won’t do. I highly recommend Lurpak butter. It’s not cheap, but if you are going to do it, do it right.
I use Icing Sugar Mixture, which is a Pure Icing Sugar with an anti caking agent added. You can make your own mixture by adding a small amount of cornflour (about 1 tablespoon to 1 cup is more than enough) to pure icing sugar.
Be sure to check the ingredients on your icing/ powdered sugar, as it may already contain an anti caking agent.
Depending on your weather, and what you’ll be using your buttercream for, you may want to thin it a bit. Take care to add only small amounts of liquid at a time, you can always add more, but once its too thin just adding more sugar doesn’t work as well as you would hope.
Getting the right consistency
Consistency is key to making your cake or cupcake look perfect. Buttercream that is too hard is a nightmare to work with, and buttercream that is too soft, will droop.
I have here a photo of three different Buttercream consistencies.
The left is buttercream without any liquid,.
The middle is with around 2 teaspoons (metric, and Australian winter conditions).
The right is with 1 tablespoon of liquid.
I dragged the end of a spoon through them so you can get an idea of their consistencies.
The middle consistency is ideal for piping flowers, and other buttercream decorations that need a plump, full shape.
The right hand one is ideal for filling cakes and piping rosettes and swirls onto cakes and cupcakes. The thickest one is still usable, particularly if you have warm hands, so keep that in mind before you add too much liquid.
- 500 grams (18 oz) Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar, Confectioners Sugar)
- 250 grams (9 oz) Butter (Lurpak if possible) room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Essence/flavouring
- Water to thin as necessary
- Step 1 Mix the butter until it’s soft and creamy, and add your icing sugar a bit at a time, making sure it’s nice and mixed together before adding more. This is the key to reducing the ‘gritty’ feel of full butter buttercream.
- Step 2 Scrape down the mixing bowl after incorporating each addition of Icing Sugar, to ensure an even mix. It also helps to mix your buttercream on a relatively low speed, as whipping lots of air into your buttercream can actually make it harder to work with, particularly if you plan to use it between cake layers, as air has to go somewhere, and you don’t want it bulging out of your cake!
Basic Buttercream is safe at room temperature for one week. I don’t recommend refrigerating or freezing Basic Buttercream, as it messes with the consistency. You can however freeze prepiped flowers, or moulded elements for up to 3 months, as long as they are well covered to avoid freezer bur