Buttercream Icing

February  6, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough to ice a single-layered 8" cake)
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

What You'll Need
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks (from good quality eggs that have been refrigerated)
  • 2/3 cup 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Breah Henderson
    Breah Henderson
  • EllnMllr
  • LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath
  • Sarah302
  • northstar100

19 Reviews

smonfor April 25, 2016
I've tried all Italian and swiss an want to do French this time - Can I keep it out at room temp under fondant for three days? With the yolks in - I didn't know if it would be as stable.
Breah H. March 19, 2015
Does this icing freeze well? I want to use my egg yolks I have left over from a meringue I made but wont actually make a cake till the weekend.
Brooke March 7, 2014
I've seen recipes that ask for Xantham gum. I guess that is just the French version?
gmg2011 October 14, 2013
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 S. October 14, 2013
I haven't tried adding food coloring - afraid it may come out a bit peachy rather than pink.
gmg2011 October 14, 2013
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.
EllnMllr September 23, 2013
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.
Demington September 22, 2013
Why refrigerated eggs? I keep mine out, though separating them is a bit easier when they are chilly.
My kids would like buttercream on our 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 S. December 9, 2012
It will harden when chilled if you're open to storing the cookies in the fridge. Buttercream at room temp will always be soft!
Sarah302 October 23, 2012
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 S. October 23, 2012
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.
Sarah302 October 23, 2012
Thank you so much!
Sarag August 15, 2012
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.
Kalliope August 15, 2012
raw eggs?
Merrill S. August 15, 2012
Yep. See my headnote above -- you can leave them out if you're concerned about salmonella.
northstar100 October 20, 2011
This is the simplest, yummiest buttercream base I've ever seen. So versatile and dependable.
Anja October 11, 2010
I have been making this buttercream for every cake that I make. As advertised, it IS the best! Thank you!
ericacal February 6, 2010
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!