How to Make Buttercream

I don’t know about you but, buttercream is one of our favourite ways to finish off a beautiful cupcake.

There are four different types of buttercream.

Tip: Use our handy Food Colour Mixing Chart to create a rainbow of icing and cake colours from soft pastels to vivid brights. Happy mixing!

1: Basic Buttercream Sweet, fluffy and delicious, but don’t be fooled – this icing is anything but basic! Basic buttercream’s firm consistency makes it perfect for all types of decorating projects including stabilising multiple layers and all kinds of fancy piping effects. One thing to note: you may need to add extra colour to compensate for the yellow of the butter.

Ingredients
250g unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (450g) icing sugar, sifted
Flavour for Icing
Food Colour Gel or liquid

Method
Place butter in bowl of a stand mixing and beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes until pale and fluffy.
With mixer off, sift in icing sugar and Strawb’ry & Cream, folding to combine. Return to mixer and beat until combined, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Add Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is reached.

2: French Buttercream Compared to basic buttercream, the French method of adding sugar syrup creates a much smoother finish. Take the richness up a notch with egg yolks and you’ve got yourself one sexy, silky icing!

Ingredients
230g unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp water
5 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
Flavour for Icing
Food Colour Gel or liquid

Method
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, add yolks and salt to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until pale and thick.
When syrup reaches softball stage (114°C) remove from heat. With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully add syrup to yolks. Stop pouring every 10 seconds and increase speed to high, then switch to low and drizzle in more syrup until fully incorporated.
After all syrup has been added, beat on high until mixture has cooled to room temperature – about 10 minutes.
Switch to paddle attachment and add butter one cube at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Add Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is achieved.

3: Swiss Meringue Buttercream This smooth, glossy buttercream is made with whipped egg whites for a much lighter texture than basic buttercream. Better yet, it has a super white finish, making it perfect for colouring without over-compensating for yellow butter! It looks stunning on the outside of cakes, but be wary of using it between layers as it has a much fluffier consistency.

Ingredients
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups caster sugar (310g)
¾ tsp (3g) salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
565g unsalted butter, softened
Flavour for Icing
Food Colour Gel or liquid

Method
Fill a pot with at least 4cm of water. Use a thick ring of aluminium foil to prevent bowl from touching bottom. 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, 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 around 22°C.
Add flavour and Food Colour Gel until desired shade is reached.

Troubleshooting: If warmer than 23°C, buttercream will be soft and loose; chill for 15 minutes and re-whip to help thicken and cool. If colder than 20°C, buttercream will be firm and dense, making it difficult to spread; to warm, briefly set over a pan of steaming water until edges melt slightly, then re-whip to help soften and warm.

4: Ermine Buttercream This is a very old, traditional recipe for buttercream, made on a simple pudding base. While flour in icing may sound a little strange, this recipe is perfect for anyone who finds buttercream far too sweet! It is soft, fluffy and the least sweet icing of all.

Ingredients
4½ tbsp plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
230g unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
Pinch of salt
Flavour for Icing
Food Colour Gel or liquid

Method
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.
In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add cooled pudding one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flavour and salt and beat until buttercream looks thick, smooth, and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Add Food Colour Gel and mix until desired shade is achieved.