Buttercream Icing

By • February 6, 2010 • 17 Comments



Author Notes: I used this buttercream for the first (and only) wedding I ever catered -- for the brother of a good friend. The bride and groom-to-be wanted cupcakes instead of a majestic four-tiered affair, which took some of the heat off. But although I had a couple of excellent cake recipes under my belt, at the time I didn't have a go-to buttercream. So I paged through several of my cookbooks and finally stumbled across one of Julia Child's recipes that looked promising. I have never looked back.This buttercream is as easy as pie to make, not too sweet, and it can be flavored in all sorts of ways. The egg yolks add a silkiness that's unbeatable, but if you're at all concerned about salmonella, you can opt to leave them out.Merrill Stubbs

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough to ice a single-layered 8" cake)

  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks (from good quality eggs that have been refrigerated)
  • 2/3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch, rum, orange liqueur, strong coffee OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 2 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
  1. Beat all of the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand beater for about 5 minutes at medium speed, until creamy and light. Chill until cold, but still spreadable, before using. Make sure to keep the cake refrigerated after you've iced it, and serve soon after removing from the fridge.
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Comments (17) Questions (2)

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5 months ago Brooke

I've seen recipes that ask for Xantham gum. I guess that is just the French version?

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10 months ago gmg2011

My daughter wants pink frosting on the cupcakes we are making for her 3rd birthday. Given the yellowish color from the yolks will this icing take color from food coloring?

Merrill

10 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I haven't tried adding food coloring - afraid it may come out a bit peachy rather than pink.

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10 months ago gmg2011

That was my concern. This just sounds so good. We'll have to save it for a more adult occasion when no food coloring is required.

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10 months ago EllnMllr

I usually use the recipe on the side of the Domino's box of confectionary sugar, but I have one other that adds the egg yolks. This is almost identical to that one. So I know this will be divine.

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10 months ago Demington

Why refrigerated eggs? I keep mine out, though separating them is a bit easier when they are chilly.

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over 1 year ago LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath

My kids would like buttercream on our cookies...is there a way to make it so that it hardens, if not completely, then somewhat? I tried using the question function, but :( it didn't work (or maybe I didn't!!) Thanks!

Merrill

over 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It will harden when chilled if you're open to storing the cookies in the fridge. Buttercream at room temp will always be soft!

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almost 2 years ago Sarah302

Hi - any suggestions on flavoring this with peanut butter? Specifically, how much peanut butter would I use? Would I whip it first? Would I mix the peanut butter with cream or sugar first? I tried asking this as a question but it wouldn't load...thanks so much!

Merrill

almost 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Haven't tried adding peanut butter before. I would whisk 2-3 tablespoons of pb with 1/4 cup of the finished buttercream to lighten the texture, and then stir this into the rest of the buttercream.

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almost 2 years ago Sarah302

Thank you so much!

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almost 2 years ago Sarag

I've used a Gourmet magazine buttercream as a go-to for years and I love it. But I am excited to give this recipe a try. When the August funk of humidity and heat break, I will celebrate with this frosting the first cake baked since June. I am intrigued by the yolks....I can bet they silk up the texture quite nicely. Thanks.

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almost 2 years ago Kalliope

raw eggs?

Merrill

almost 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yep. See my headnote above -- you can leave them out if you're concerned about salmonella.

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almost 3 years ago northstar100

This is the simplest, yummiest buttercream base I've ever seen. So versatile and dependable.

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almost 4 years ago Anja

I have been making this buttercream for every cake that I make. As advertised, it IS the best! Thank you!

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over 4 years ago ericacal

I have also been searching for a go to buttercream recipe--i have been flip-flopping between a few. I should have known to turn to Julia!