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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe: Follow my chef-tested technique to making the best ever icing recipe!
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How To Make The Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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Make the Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe with my chef-tested tips and techniques for the perfect buttercream icing every time!


Hi Bold Bakers! 

Working as a professional chef I have learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years. Now I’m going to show you a Bold Baking Basic recipe that I get the most requests and queries for: How to Make the Best Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Watch my step-by-step video below and get all my best tips on how to make icing (along with a complete recipe below!):

How to Make Buttercream Frosting?

How do you make fluffy buttercream icing? The secret ingredient in my buttercream frosting is time.

Most people whip their butter for a few minutes then start adding in sugar and expect a light and airy result, but it’s never achieved. This frosting recipe takes its literal sweet time to really incorporate as much air as possible into the butter. This means allowing your butter to whip to perfection for a full 7-8 minutes. Only then do I add in sifted powdered sugar one spoon-full at a time.

While this takes a bit of patience, follow my steps and you will have the best buttercream frosting every time:

  1. Get Some Air: Use an electric stand mixer or hand mixer. For the stand mixer, use the whisk attachment because this will get all of the air into your frosting.
  2. Soft Butter is Everything: The most important thing that you need is to have soft butter. If you leave your butter out at room temperature for around three hours, it will be a lovely texture for you to start whipping. This is super important and the base of your frosting.
  3. Whip it Good: Turn your machine on a medium high speed and beat the butter by itself for around eight minutes. Get your butter light and fluffy before you add in any sugar.
  4. Sift your Sugar: While the butter is whipping, sift your your icing sugar (powdered sugar). It is really important to sift it because you want to get a lot of air in there and make sure there are no lumps. This will give you a lighter frosting as well.
  5. Spoonful by Spoonful: Once your butter is pale and light, add in your sugar spoonful by spoonful. Add in a spoonful, let it fully incorporate, and then add in your next one. Make sure your machine is on medium high speed here because we want to incorporate all of the lovely air that is going to give us a soft, fluffy frosting.
  6. Finishing Touches: When all of your sugar is added in, add in vanilla extract and a little bit of milk. What that does is it just lightens up your frosting. Turn the machine back on high speed and let everything incorporate. In just a few few minutes, you will have perfect frosting.

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WHAT IF MY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING ISN’T STIFF ENOUGH?

What do you do if you’ve followed my tips but you find your frosting just isn’t stiff enough? The first thing I’d suggest is to chill the buttercream frosting. By bringing down the temperature, the frosting should tighten up immediately. This is a great trick for buttercream frosting that may have been over mixed, or made at too warm a temperature. If this does not seem to do the trick, try adding more sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons at a time. With just a few extra tablespoons of sugar, your frosting will transform and be so much easier to work with, saving you from wasting ingredients.

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WHAT IF MY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING IS TOO THICK?

If your frosting feels too thick, there is no reason to start over from scratch on a new batch. Simply add milk 1 tablespoon at a time to your Buttercream Frosting until you reach your desired consistency. From there, simply pipe or frost as normal. You’ll be surprised how little milk you actually need to fix this problem. This will not at all affect the flavor of your frosting, regardless of what is in it.

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4.34 from 151 votes
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Gemma's Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (Master Recipe)
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
Learn how to make my easy, Best-Ever Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe, which is perfect for my Vanilla Birthday Cake and any of my cakes & cupcakes.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • cups (12oz/340g) butter, softened
  • 6 cups (1lb 8oz/680g) icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean pod (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using an electric hand mixer whip the butter until light and creamy for about 7-8 minutes on medium/high speed.
  2. Once the butter is pale in color and light slowly add in the icing sugar one spoon at a time on medium speed. Let the sugar fully incorporate before adding in more sugar.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, salt and cream or milk.
  4. Whip on high speed for another 3-4 minutes until very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  5. Use the buttercream straight away or keep it refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Before use, make sure it comes to room temperature.

Watch the Recipe Video!

Recipe Notes

I have updated this recipe to add more sugar to the frosting. This is the new, improved version.

 

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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787 Comments

Write a Comment and Review

  1. Maria on August 15, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Gemma
    How many cupcakes can be decorated with this quantity of buttercream frosting.
    I am ideally looking for 18 cupcakes..
    Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on August 16, 2018 at 3:40 am

      Hi Maria,
      This is a big batch of buttercream. buttercream is a proportional recipe, so it is easy to adjust the quantity for a particular need.
      A good guide will be 6ozs butter/12ozs powdered sugar etc. will well decorate 12 cupcakes. So now you can see, 1/2 oz per cupcake, though this depends on how you use it. For your 18 cupcakes then you would use 8 – 9 ozs of butter, to 16 – 18 oz powdered sugar. you will see where I am going with this!
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Angelina Esquivel on August 14, 2018 at 5:48 am

    This buttercream recipe was amazing! Thank you for sharing. If I wanted to turn it into a cream cheese buttercream would I do anything different or just add the cream cheese with the butter?

  3. Sakshi Jethwani on August 12, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Hi Gemma
    I want to ask a question.
    What happens when you add butter to whipped cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 15, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Hi there,
      I have no idea! If you over whip fresh dairy cream then you will have butter!
      I have no idea why you would do this! Do tell?
      Gemma 🙂

  4. Harvie Samonte Camia on August 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Hi! gemma,
    Do you have a recipe for blueberry and matcha cheesecake?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 11, 2018 at 2:38 am

      Hi there,
      NO! Wow, it sounds divine. I am adding this to my list as we speak.
      Thank you for this great idea,
      Gemma 🙂

  5. Shantel on August 10, 2018 at 10:45 am

    The BEST buttercream I have tried to date!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 11, 2018 at 3:53 am

      I have no argument!
      Thank you for this kind review,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Mona on August 8, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Hi Gemma.. Thank u for the recipe. My frosting has butter smell and taste. Is it supposed to be like this or have I done something wrong..!? pls help.. Cos this is the first time I am making and tasting a real buttercream.
    PS- I used a hand mixer and I did beat the butter till light and fluffy

    • Gemma Stafford on August 9, 2018 at 6:57 am

      Hi Mona,
      There are two ingredients in this recipe, with the addition of a little milk. It will taste of the ingredients, unless you use an added flavor, such as vanilla, cocoa etc.
      I think you did nothing wrong, perhaps it is that you are not used to this. Use it with cake etc, a little buttercream goes a long way,
      Gemma 🙂

  7. Beth F on August 3, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    I watched the video and thought I followed it to the letter but mine seems to have turned out rather melty. I mixed for awhile first and after adding the sugar so I just put it in the fridge to cool down. Do I re-whip after it cools down?
    Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 4, 2018 at 2:40 am

      Hi Beth,
      Did you use real dairy butter?
      This tends to be firm enough, even at room temperature, unless you live in a very hot place.
      Tub type ‘butter’ designed for spreading is not the same thing, and will be very soft, particularly in a warm place. Chilling it will help, and yes, you can re whip it when you bring it back to room temperature.
      Real butter will firm up very well, quickly, when you can re whip it.
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Ito on August 2, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Hi! Does this buttercream crust well? I’d like to use it to pipe rosettes all over a cake.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 2, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      Hi there,
      Really this depends on the butter you use and the temperature where you live. Where I grew up in Ireland the temperature rarely goes over 20c. A buttercream will hold up really well at this temperature, but it is a natural thing, it will melt and spoil at high temperatures.
      A Swiss meringue buttercream is stabilized by the egg whites. (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream/). this is a tricky thing, but it is worth the practice. Cornstarch can also stabilize buttercream, but just a little. too much will make it difficult to pipe. I hope this helps.
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Leigh Wolfsperger on July 31, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I know this might seem silly but can i use this to frost and decorate a cake the day before? Also do i need to refrigerate this? Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on August 1, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Hi, great question! Yes, you can. I would suggest refrigerating it for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

  10. Molly on July 29, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    I want to use this for a wedding cake. How many cups would you say this recipe makes so I can double or tipple it. Do you think making it vegan (vegan butter and non dairy milk) will work as well?

    Thanks so excited to try it!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 30, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Hi Molly,

      It makes around 4-5 cups. Also I personally haven’t tried making it vegan so I can’t confirm that. It should work when using a vegan butter. Maybe make a small batch and see if it works.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  11. HEh on July 28, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Are you aware this recipe calls for 6 cups of sugar to 1.5 cups of butter?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 30, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      Yes, if you look at the grams and ounces it is the normal double sugar to butter. The reason it is so many cups because butter is much heavier than sugar in weight. It is all correct 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  12. Jess on July 27, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    I work in a commercial bakery, plus I’ve been decorating cakes for 12 years….and this is one of the best tasting frostings I’ve ever tasted!! Wow! Light, fluffy, smooth and buttery,and not sickeningly sweet!! Top notch, girlie.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 28, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hi Jess,
      How kind! Thank you so much for this lovely review. I am delighted to get this from a fellow baker, praise indeed!
      Gemma 🙂

  13. ALEX on July 25, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Hi,
    I tried making this buttercream. The taste was good but it was a little grainy I think because of the sugar. I did use powdered sugar though. Is there anyway to get a smoother finish?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Do you still have it Alex?? it sounds like it needs to be beaten up for longer on a higher speed. It will get it lighter and fluffy. That will fix it.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  14. Zari on July 20, 2018 at 1:50 am

    Hi I am new to you channel I am going to be making this buttercream next week. I was just wondering if it would be enough to fill and cover a 8 inch four layer cake? Also if you had any tips I am going to be making a melted ice cream cake?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 20, 2018 at 2:15 am

      Hi Zari,
      I have not made a melted ice cream cake, though I understand the principal. If the cake is to be good the ingredients should be good, so choose a good quality ice cream to start with.
      A four layer 8 inch cake is a big cake, it may need stabilizing, with cake dowels, straws etc, but I presume you know that.
      This is a big batch of buttercream, and depending on how you spread it it should be sufficient for your need.
      The most important tip I can give you is to make the batch. fill the cake, not too much, it is rich. The apply a ‘crumb coat’ and refrigerate to set it up.
      The crumb coat picks up any loose crumbs from the surface of the cake, and gives you a smooth finish for your top coat. Then you can assess the amount of frosting you have left. It takes very little time to whip up an extra batch, and as this recipe is proportional, it is easy to reduce it. You can make as little as 1oz butter to 2ozs powdered sugar, etc. You will have this done before your crumb coat is set.
      At warm room temperature buttercream will soften, hot room and it will melt. Refrigerate the cake up to serving time in hot places.
      I wish you well with your bake, have fun with it, and let us see the results.
      Gemma 🙂

  15. rhenz galdo on July 18, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Hi I’m new here I love watching your videos specially when your done in your cakes and you give it a taste …it feels that I want to taste it too😄 I tried making vanilla buttercream icing but it turns out so grainy it’s so very sweet 😑

    • Gemma Stafford on July 18, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Hi there,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Buttercream frosting is sweet! it is meant to be spread lightly on your bakes, just a little with every bite.
      If this is made as directed, with powdered/icing sugar, then it will not be grainy, the sugar tends to dissolve in the butter and milk.
      What sugar did you use, we can figure it out,
      Gemma 🙂

  16. Natalie on July 17, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Hi Gemma, I’m new to your site and will be making this buttercream later on. This may be a silly a question but looking at your recipe can I take it that when making buttercream, you double the amount of icing sugar to butter? How ever much butter you use? Thank you in advance 😀

    • Gemma Stafford on July 17, 2018 at 4:00 am

      Hi Natalie,
      YES! you are exactly right. It is proportional, 1:2, so you can readily experiment with a small amount of this frosting.
      Use real dairy butter for best results,
      Gemma 🙂

  17. Shelly on July 14, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Can I half this recipe? Will it still work? I’ve made it before and I love it, but I always end up having leftovers.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 15, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      yes, you can totally half this recipe. It will be fine 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  18. Lenie on July 14, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Dear Gemma,

    Is it supposed to be gritty? I feel the sugar doesnt dissolve. Is it because i didn’t mix it long enough? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on July 15, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Lenie,

      You need to mix it more. Do you still have it? put it back on the machine and whip it up for longer. If you haven’t already, watch the video just so you get a visual.

      Gemma.

  19. Nuraini on July 12, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Hi Gemma, thanks for the great recipe.

    today I am making 50 vanilla cupcakes for my niece school party, this coming saturday.

    Im planning to make “spaghetti meatball cupcakes” decoration.

    can I use these frosting butercream for the “spaghetti” looks? is the buttercream hard enough to stand on the cupcakes? and how long the buttercream will lasts?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 13, 2018 at 3:31 am

      Hi there,
      The answer is yes, the buttercream will work well for this application, but the issue will be how to keep them cool so that the butter does not melt and ruin the look. There are ways to stabilize the buttercream, cornstarch being one, but I am not crazy about it for piping.
      Swiss meringue buttercream is more stable (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream/).
      American buttercream can be stabilized with meringue powder, but this may not be available to you.
      I think you need to consider your own circumstances, temperature where you live, how long these need to be at room temperature, how they can be kept chilled up to serving time etc, that is what changes everything,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. KIWI136 on July 11, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Hi Gemma!,
    Can I use this recipe for your frapuccino recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 12, 2018 at 4:00 am

      Hi there,
      NO, this will not be good in that recipe. This is designed for frosting a cake.
      The cream which I use for most of my recipes is fresh dairy cream. This needs to be at least 35% fat content to whip well. This is from cows milk. It is a liquid product found in the chill cabinet in your store. It will spoil in a few days, even when refrigerated. It has no additives, it is just natural cream, skimmed from milk.
      In some places, where there is no dairy industry, there are manufactured products, usually made with milk powders and fats. These are good for some applications, but they are not fresh cream.
      I have been told by a follower in India that they make an acceptable cream like this: you can microwave full cream milk for 2 mins, add clarified butter. Microwave for another 2 mins. Take out and blend it, then pop it in the fridge for 2 hrs before whipping.
      It is worth trying, this is a traditional method in India as far as I know!
      I hope this helps,
      Gemma 🙂

  21. Anika on July 11, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Hello,
    My measurements cup size are different from yours. Like mine one is 1 cup = 250g. Then should i have to take exactly your measurements or mine. Actually I’m new in cake baking. That’s why little confused. Please let me know. It will be great help from you.
    Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on July 12, 2018 at 5:03 am

      Hi there Anika,
      Cup measurements are based on an informal system of measurement, prior to home weighing scales. People would share recipes based on their kitchen cups, it did not matter the weight of the ingredients, or the size of the cup, as long as the same cup was used to measure all of the ingredients, in any one kitchen. It a measure of volume. Once the balance is right, then all will be well. Different ingredients have different equivalent weights too, so rice will be different to sugar, cocoa to flour, and different flours will have a different weight too. Think Rocks and Feathers! So, the rule is simple, fill your cups in the same way, scoop/level/compress, however you choose, and the balance in the recipe will be good. It is not a good idea to mix cup measurements with another method, it is unnecessary, and will not be good for your recipes. You have to trust this system, if not, get a digital scales, it will be the most accurate of all!
      I hope this fully explains this for you,
      Gemma 🙂

  22. Saima Iqbal on July 8, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Hi Gemma… i just want to know which food colour u use for this frosting??i mean powdered or liquid??
    And thanks for the yummy recipies..my family enjoy it alot whenever i bake for them..

    • Gemma Stafford on July 8, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Saima,

      For buttercream feel free to use liquid or powder. I tend to use liquid. Just make sure your liquid is a really concentrated one so you don’t have to add to much 🙂

      Gemma.

  23. Vanessa on July 7, 2018 at 4:37 am

    Hi. Thank you for the receipe. I will try it tomorrow but do you think I can use for the butter half salted and half unsalted, i don’t want it to be too sweet. Thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 7, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Hi Vanessa! You can definitely use a mix of salted and unsalted butter but that won’t affect the sweetness. Salt brings out the flavor in your baking but it’s your preference on the butter.

  24. Marylove on July 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    On your Butter Cream. Frosting do you use unsalted butter or does it matter.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 7, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Hi Mary! I always use salted butter because I believe all baking needs salt to bring out the flavor. You can always use unsalted butter either. It’s your preference but will not affect the consistency.

  25. Angelia on July 6, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Hi I was wondering how big of a cake will this icing recipe cover? I am hoping to make a 9 inch round three 2 inch tiers cake with icing between the tiers and all around. Will this be enough?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 8, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      Hum, Angelia I would atlas double this recipe and then you should have enough.

      Best of luck,
      Gemma.

  26. Amanda on July 5, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    This is legit the best buttercream recipe I have ever made. I made 1 1/2 the mixture and it took an eternity, but as I said the best buttercream I’ve ever made!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 5, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Amanda,
      I am really happy to hear this, but I have no idea why it too so long! Did you use an electric mixer? This is usually fast. One way or the other you managed it, and perseverance is really a valuable thing in baking!
      Gemma 🙂

  27. Jeannette on July 5, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Best frosting recipe I have found!! Very fluffy. It took a bit of extravtime, but by the time I was done sifting all of that powdered sugar, the butter was ready for it! Thank you for sharing your recipes & trade tricks!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 5, 2018 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Jeannette,
      Good! I am happy to hear this. Well done you, sounds like you made a great job of it,
      Gemma 🙂

  28. Lexi Nicole on July 4, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Great frosting, really great for piping, will add more milk as it was still too thick to stick to the sides of my cake and would fall off. Also, could I reduce the amount of sugar? Too sweet for my taste.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 5, 2018 at 2:20 am

      Hi Lexi,
      Reducing the sugar in this traditional recipe will change the recipe. Remember you are eating this with cake, so the balance of buttercream to cake is important, a little goes a long way. I am not convinced by the sugar reduction. A Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream/) this is also stable, you can reduce this recipe to try it, it is a little tricky but worth mastering.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  29. Sara on July 3, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 4, 2018 at 2:37 am

      Hi Sara,
      I tend to use what I have, and this is often salted butter! It is what I grew up with, but it may not be to your taste.
      Sweet butter (unsalted) is more often the choice now, and it is delicious too.
      Gemma 🙂

  30. Lexi on July 3, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Will this cover 3 6 inch cakes? Also would I need to reduce the size since I don’t want any leftover?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 4, 2018 at 3:02 am

      Hi Lexi,
      This is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question!
      This will easily cover the 3 x 6 inch cakes, and fill them too, BUT, it depends on how much you want to fill them and to decorate them!
      The good thing about this recipe is that it is proportional, and is easy to reduce, and increase as you choose.
      You can also easily whip up a little more if you find you do not have enough, it takes minutes!
      If you have too much, you can freeze the leftovers, but honestly it is about how you use it,
      Gemma 🙂

  31. Lexi on July 2, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Would this be enough to frost 3 6-inch cake tins?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 3, 2018 at 12:37 am

      Hi Lexi,
      Yes, this is a large batch, all will be well.
      Let us see the finished cake!
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  32. Cecille on July 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Hello. I just want to know what brand of butter are you using? I made cupcakes with buttercream frosting last weekend, i am not satisfied with the taste of my frosting. Yours looks yummy.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 3, 2018 at 12:41 am

      Hi Cecille,
      The brand of butter I choose to use, when I can get it here in California is Kerrygold. This is a real dairy butter, from grass fed cows in Ireland, and it is what I am used to. The important thing is that it is real dairy butter, not a spread, or a blend, or a margarine. These are different things, great in the right place, but not necessarily for buttercream.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

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