I don’t know about you but buttercream icing can be so hit and miss sometimes! Is it too runny, too thick, or have you experienced the dreaded SPLIT! Pretty much I’ve done it all. I’ve made that many batches of buttercream icing for all manner of cakes and cupcakes. Luckily I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that means I now make perfect buttercream icing every time! Do you want to join the club? Then check out my secrets below!
It’s a big claim isn’t it? Perfect Buttercream Icing every single time! But I can almost guarantee that if you follow these seriously easy steps you’ll have perfect icing for your next cake. I have to admit I do love icing though. It’s so moreish that I (ashamedly) often end up eating it directly out of the bowl…. you know, instead of lunch. Something my hubby tells me off for all the time. Yes it tastes amazing but there’s no need to dread making it, or even buy store bought icing. Especially when it’s actually really easy to make your own.
So What’s The Secret To Perfect Buttercream Icing?
It’s actually really basic. All you need is REALLY COLD BUTTER. And lots (and I mean A LOT) of beating. Got it? Right OK, I’ll leave you to it now, you don’t need to know anymore than that do you? No OK so it may not be THAT simple. But it nearly is.
Most recipes I’ve found for buttercream icing call for room temperature butter. I find this doesn’t work. I’ve ended up with really odd concoctions that you couldn’t even really call icing and there’s no way in hell you could pipe it. The simple fix to this? Super cold butter. Simply weigh out your proportions of butter and cube it. Now pop it all back into a plastic container and into the fridge. Set up your stand mixer or hand beaters and pop a few pieces of the cold butter straight into the bowl and start beating.
Now it will take a few minutes for it to start to break down, but this is good! You honestly need it seriously cold. Once those few pieces have turned smooth you can add a few more. Depending on what state you live in and what season it is will depend on whether you can leave the butter out of the fridge with you. I know this might seem extreme! But at the moment, here in WA, it’s cold! So I have my fire going all day. This means my house is actually a balmy 21°c and I find that the butter can start to melt. You definitely don’t want this! So I simply leave my butter in the fridge all ready to go and add a few pieces at a time.
Now Whip It. Whip It Good!
Once all the butter is incorporated, turn your beaters up to full speed and beat for 5 minutes! Yup, just let it go! Essentially you want as much air as possible into your icing. Slowly add in your icing sugar much like you would if you were making a pavlova. You want your sugar to beat down and really dissolve into your butter so only add a quarter of a cup at a time and continue to beat on high in between each addition.
Throw in some vanilla extract and follow with the remaining icing sugar, again with small additions. Once all of your icing sugar is completely beaten in put your mixer back onto high speed and whip for an additional 3 minutes. Add in your milk and finish off with another 5 minute beat. Seriously, beat the hell out of it!
And honestly that’s it! Finish it off with some gel food colouring of your choice and give it a good beat in too. Wollah! Perfect buttercream icing every time. Simple huh. Simply ensuring you have cold as can be butter and taking the time to whip your icing thoroughly, you’ll end up with the perfect buttercream icing which can be used for piping or any kind of decorating!
So now you know the secret to Perfect Buttercream Icing, so hop to it! What gorgeous concoction do you plan on whipping up this time? Check out the below recipes for a little inspiration!
Perfect Buttercream Icing
- 340 grams Unsalted Butter cold and cubed
- 4 cups Icing Sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Full Fat Milk
- Gel food colouring of choice
- Cube the cold butter and set aside in a container in the fridge whilst you set up your stand mixer or beaters.
- Place the cold cubed butter into the bowl of the mixer and with a paddle attachment beat until creamy. This may take a little while as the butter is so cold.
- Once creamed, turn up the mixer to full speed and beat for 5 minutes.
- Add half of the icing sugar approx 1/4 cup at a time, ensuring each additional is well beaten in.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat again for 30 seconds.
- Add the remaining icing sugar, again a 1/4 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Now turn the mixer up to full speed again and beat continuously for an additional 3 minutes.
- Turn the mixer off, add the milk and slowly work together. Turn back up to high speed and beat for an additional 3 minutes.
- If colouring, add your gel food dye now and beat until you reach the desired colour.
- Cold butter is a MUST here. However it does tend to make it harder to beat down, so don't stress if it takes a good few minutes before the butter starts to cream. It may look lumpy and crumbly up until that point.
- Treat the icing sugar addition like you would a pavlova! Add it a little at a time for a truly smooth buttercream icing.
- If it's a particularly hot day and your butter is starting to melt and separate, simply pop the whole bowl straight into the fridge for a few minutes and allow it to harden up. Alternatively sit the bowl in an ice water bath and mix by hand until it resumes it's consistency.
- Keep your buttercream at room temperature especially once on the cake. It is safe and stable at this temperature for 2-3 days. If you do need to refrigerate it for any reason be sure to cover it in cling wrap and let it come to room temperature again before working with it. (Give it a good mix up before hand too)