Pudding-Style Buttercream

March  1, 2016
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

This buttercream, in my opinion, is one of the most under-utilized. A bit “old-fashioned,” it was sort of discarded largely by home cooks in favor of the much simpler American buttercream. But pudding-style frosting provides so many options; it’s great for making exciting flavors, like dark chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch: Just start with the pudding and go from there. In general, you will want your pudding for buttercream a bit thicker than you might for just eating, so if you’re using a favorite recipe, up the starch by 5 to 10%.
Erin Jeanne McDowell

  • Makes about 3 cups
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) whole milk
  • 8 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. In a small pot, bring the milk (or other liquid) and half the sugar to a simmer over medium heat. In a small heat-safe bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and flour to combine.
  2. When the milk is hot, pour a small amount into the flour mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pot of milk and whisk thoroughly. Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the mixture comes to a boil—large bubbles should emerge from the center of the pot.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer to a shallow bowl. Cover directly with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  4. Transfer the cooled pudding to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip for 1 to 2 minutes to aerate. With the mixer running, gradually add room-temperature butter in 1/2-tablespoon chunks. Continue adding and mixing until all of the butter is added and the buttercream is light and smooth.
  5. Beat in the vanilla and mix to combine. The buttercream can be used immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container.

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I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.