Saturday, August 26, 2023

Weekend Cooking: Buttercream

Recently I have tried two different types of buttercream, so today I thought I would post about some of the different types of buttercream techniques.

American Buttercream

The most common type of buttercream/frosting is American buttercream. In it's most basic form it is a mixture of butter and icing sugar (which is powdered sugar for my American friends). To this mix you can add flavour and colouring as desired. For example, you can add in vanilla essence and whatever colouring you like

250g unsalted butter, softened

450g icing sugar

Place butter in bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes until pale and fluffy. Sift in icing sugar and flavour, folding to combine. Return to mixer and beat until combined, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Here I made my son a green flamingo cake which is covered in buttercream.

Swiss Buttercream

This is the first of the egg based buttercreams. It is trickier to make but it is also silkier than the basic buttercream above

6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups caster sugar (310g)
¾ tsp (3g) salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
565g unsalted butter, softened

Fill a pot with at least 4cm of water.  Bring to a boil, then adjust temperature to a gentle simmer.

Combine egg whites, sugar, salt and cream of tartar in bowl of a stand mixer. Set over simmering water, ensuring that the bowl doesn't touch the water,  stirring and scraping constantly with a spatula, until egg whites hold steady at 80°C – approx. 10-12 minutes

Once ready, transfer to stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at high speed for 10 minutes, until meringue is glossy, stiff, and cool - around 32°C.

With mixer still running, add butter, 1 - 2 tablespoons at a time. Volume will initially decrease, but as cool butter is added, it will begin to thicken and cool. Buttercream should become thick, creamy, and soft with the temperature being around 22°C

Here it is used as the frosting for an Emoji Cookie Dough Cake 

French Buttercream

This buttercream is made using eggs and then slowly adding in a hot sugar syrup in. I've definitely made French meringue using a similar technique, and I think I have made buttercream but I can't  remember which cake it was!

250g sugar
1/4 cup water
6 large (95g) egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch salt
255g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed into 1-tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and place it on the stove over medium heat. Use a wet pastry brush to brush down any stray sugar crystals around the rim and sides of the pot. Bring the sugar mixture to a gentle boil until the sugar reaches 115°C which should take around 6 minutes.

Meanwhile add the egg yolks and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the yolks over medium speed until they are a very pale yellow color and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Decrease the mixer’s speed to low and slowly stream sugar mixture into whipped egg yolks, trying to avoid the sides of the bowl and whisk attachment.

Once the sugar has reached 240°F (115°C), add it to the whipping egg yolks. Pour the sugar in a thin, steady stream into the bowl taking care to avoid the sides of the bowl and the whisk. After all the sugar syrup has been added, increase the mixer’s speed to high and continue whipping the egg and sugar mixture until the outside of the bowl is at room temperature

Decrease the mixer's speed to medium-low, then begin adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time until each piece is incorporated and then add the next piece of butter

After all the butter has been added, scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and whip the buttercream for 3 additional minutes.

Italian Buttercream

Italian Buttercream is similar to French buttercream but it uses egg whites instead of egg yolks

5 large egg whites at room temp
1 1/4 cup (250 g) castor sugar, divided
226 g butter at room temp and chopped into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Boil 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water over medium heat until it reaches 245 F or the firm ball stage. 

While the sugar is cooking, pour the egg whites into the bowl you plan to whip the icing in, then wait for the syrup to come to about 230F-235F. Whip egg whites with the whisk attachment in a stand up mixer on high until soft peaks form which should take about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar and beat

Slowly pour the hot syrup into the meringue steadily with the mixer still on high.

Beat the frosting for 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temperature

Beat in butter by the tablespoon using a medium speed. The butter will deflate the frosting a bit. After all of the butter is added, turn the speed up to high for 7-10 minutes until smooth.

German Buttercream

This is a custard based buttercream or more precisely creme patissiere based. I made a vanilla cake a few weeks ago which I covered with German buttercream and it was delicious. I could eat this off the spoon by itself! So yum!

The first step is to make a creme patissiere. You will need about 600g. 

600g creme patissiere, cooled to room temperature.

250g unsalted butter, softened

1 tbspn vanilla bean paste

Combine ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Russian Buttercream

I got very excited a couple of weeks ago when I heard about Russian Buttercream icing for what I thought was the first time. However, as I was looking through my old Bake It Box recipes, I realised that I had made a version of it before when I made a Spooky Ghost Cake which is really a Yoghurt and Raspberry Cake with raspberry coulis and Russian buttercream icing. It is a very simple recipe, very tasty and smooth but not overly sweet! You can also add vanilla and a small amount of salt if you like

Last weekend I made a vanilla cake and covered it with this. I have been told that I can make this one again! 

400 g Butter (soft )
320 g sweetened condensed milk

Place the softened butter cut into pieces in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for about 8 minutes until it is light and fluffy

Add 1/3 of the condensed milk, beat to combine. Repeat until all the condensed milk is added.

Change the whisk to a flat spatula and beat on low speed for 2 minutes to smooth out the buttercream

Ermine Buttercream

There is one other version of buttercream that I know of that I haven't tried yet (although as demonstrated earlier my memory sometimes fails me!) which is Ermine Buttercream. This one is different as it uses flour as one of ingredients

4½ tbsp plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
230g unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
Pinch of salt

Whisk together flour and sugar in medium saucepan. Whisk in milk. Place saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil, whisking continuously, then cook for 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Pour pudding onto a clean heatproof plate or shallow container. Cover immediately with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly against pudding surface. Allow to cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color, Add cooled pudding one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add any flavourings and salt and beat until buttercream looks thick, smooth, and creamy which should take about 3 minutes

Phew....that's a lot! Do you have a favourite buttercream recipe, or do you know of another version that I haven't mentioned here?

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Chicken Friccasee
Sunday -  Baked potato with bacon and mushroom
Monday - French Sausage and Bean Casserole
Tuesday - out for dinner
Wednesday - Eggs on Toast
Thursday - Chicken kiev with mashed potato
Friday - Enchiladas

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. That was amazing! I had no idea there were so many different types of buttercream icing. But, then I'm not a baker really. I think I'd like to try doing that spooky Russian ghost one. Did you ever post a recipe?

  2. This is a really impressive collection of buttercream recipes. I never realized there were so many types!! Everything looks creative and delicious.

  3. I'm with Claudia and Judee, I had no idea there were so many different sorts. The German one is calling my name.

  4. Third in line, I had NO idea, but I love the offered collection!

  5. My family usually adds a little milk and a dollop of sour cream to our buttercream icing so it isn't just butter and sugar (and vanilla). That makes it smoother to spread but you don't want it too liquidy when frosting a cake (especially the sides). Your Spooky Ghost looks a bit like fondant which my mother and I attempted years ago when making a fancy Julia Child recipe for a high school French class banquet. I think we made Napoleons and it took an entire weekend!

  6. I thought there was only one buttercream recipe and you just varied the flavour, eg chocolate. How interesting to discover there are lots