This Is The No-Fail Frosting Every New Baker Should Master
New to baking? Here's the icing that won't fail you.
Everyone can agree that the frosting on any cake is the ultimate indulgence. This creamy layer of sweetened butter, once slathered onto a cake, elevates any baked good from a mere dessert to a delectable confection.
There are several frosting recipes bakers make. However, there is one that new bakers can easily master before leveling up their skills with the Italian or Swiss buttercreams. That's because these egg white-based buttercreams require more steps and even tempering that may be too complicated for a new baker's limited range of skills. For new home bakers, you need the most basic of these frostings. Meet the American buttercream.
The American buttercream is a basic frosting recipe which may be the easiest as well as the most fool-proof of buttercreams. It's basically whipped butter sweetened with sugar. Sounds easy? It is. Here's the exact recipe:
Basic Frosting (American Buttercream)
1 225-grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 450-gram package (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh milk
Gel food coloring (optional)
No frosting is without butter, which is the main ingredient which makes icing so soft, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth. The powdered sugar (also called confectioner's sugar), which is just sugar processed until extremely fine that it looks like a powder and mixed with a little cornstarch added to prevent clumping, is your sweetener.
While the next two ingredients can be optional, we highly suggest these not be skipped! The vanilla extract is for flavor but you can certainly try other extracts such as lemon, almond, or even banana or mocha extract, while a little fresh milk is needed to thin down the consistency to one that is easily spreadable and easy to pipe. Evaporated milk will work as well and will give your frosting a deliciously milky taste. The food coloring is to change the color and match your frosting to your cake. This is definitely optional but care should be take as to how much is used. A little goes a long way.
Now that you know exactly what you need to make it, here's what you do: Like all buttercreams, you will need to use a large bowl and a hand mixer to efficiently whip the butter, but if you're still too new to baking to have purchased that appliance, a whisk will do just fine. Just remember to use a large bowl and ensure that the butter is softened to around room temperature so your job of whipping the butter until light and fluffy is easy.
Once the butter has been successfully whipped, start adding the powdered sugar by the cupful and whisking well after each addition. This ensures that the sugar has been well incorporated into the butter before the next batch is added. After the first cupful of powdered sugar, add your vanilla extract so it won't interfere with the final texture. If you see that the mixture has become too stiff, add a little fresh milk to loosen the frosting and make it silky smooth again. You may not have to add all the milk indicated in the recipe, so take a look to gauge how stiff or soft you want your frosting to be.
After the final addition or powdered sugar, voila! You've just made American buttercream. To change the color, you can add and beat in a little food coloring (Gel coloring is best to avoid changing the texture of the frosting, but liquid food coloring will work too, just no more than teaspoonful). Use it to frost cupcakes, cakes, and even to use between French macarons.