French buttercream is the black (or should I say pale yellow?) sheep of the buttercream family. In addition to butter and sugar, French-style buttercream is whipped up with whole eggs and extra egg yolks. Because of this, the frosting emerges from the mixer sunny as can be—custardy rich and lovely tasting, but unfit for food coloring.
If you’re looking for a frosting that comes together more quickly, turn to >Italian or >these other five. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way. Today, a very sweet lesson in all things frostings, icings, and glazes. —The Editors
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Makes about 4 cups
(170 g) large eggs
(180 g) large egg yolks
(398 g) granulated sugar
(115 g) water
(2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons
(7 g) vanilla extract
- Place the eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. When it begins to boil, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pot (if any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water). Continue to cook until the syrup reaches 230°F.
- As soon as the sugar reached 230°F, begin whipping the eggs and yolks on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg mixture become pale yellow and thick by the time the sugar reaches 240°F.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip on high speed until the mixture is pale and very thick and the bowl is no longer noticeably warm to the touch.
- With the mixer running, gradually add room temperature butter in 1 tablespoon (14 g) chunks to the mixer. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is added and the frosting is light and smooth.
- Beat in the vanilla and salt and mix to combine. The buttercream can be used immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container.