buttercream frosting recipes - 5 different types [toc] Buttercreams complete the look and flavour of any cake or cupcake. Personally, I love buttercream, because as the name suggests, it contains butter! In the past, I have saved excess buttercream and used it as a spread on bread. Now, this is not something I am recommending in this post. However, if you adjust the sugar component, you might be able to pull it off as a spread.

Do cakes really need buttercream frosting?

Buttercream can be used for four important reasons:  
  • Hides structural flaws: It’s great for covering up a gaping hole in your cake, such as that portion of cake that always gets stuck to the pan.
  • Lightens up a dense cake: A few times, I have forgotten to add baking soda to the batter, which made the cake dense. But with a good buttercream, I managed to salvage the cake.
  • Cake decoration: A good frosting can transform a simple cake into a beautifully decorated creation that is Instagram-worthy.
  • Adds flavour: With the right flavours in buttercream, the taste of a simple cake can be elevated to greater heights.
Red Velvet Cake By Eat Cake With Deepti

Different types of buttercream frosting

There are numerous types of buttercream frosting, not just in terms of flavour, but also in terms of the texture, taste, sweetness, method of preparation, and the amount of labour involved. After conversing with a few bakers, and based on my own personal experience, I have rounded up five different types of buttercreams.

  1. American Buttercream

The American version is probably the easiest and most common type known to bakers and customers. All it needs is some butter softened at room temperature, icing or powdered sugar, and a dash of milk. Using a good hand whisk or mixer, beat all the ingredients together until it looks light and fluffy.

Over whisking the buttercream can cause it to split and curdle. If you are not using any kind of colour, the buttercream will appear slightly yellow in colour. The ratio of butter to sugar can be kept at 1:1 or 1:2, depending on how much sweetness you can handle. The best part about American buttercream is that it can be made in advance and stored in a fridge.
  1. Ermine Buttercream

Ermine buttercream, which is of French origin, is also known as roux or flour buttercream. This buttercream is a preferred choice for decorating cakes as it holds its shape. Compared to the American version, Ermine has lesser sugar and is smooth, airy, and rich in taste. The idea of using flour in buttercream might sound odd, but its taste complements red velvet or other richly flavoured cakes.

What you need:
  • Flour – ½ cup
  • Milk – 2 cups
  • Sugar – 2 cups
  • Butter – 2 cups

How to make it:
  • Boil the milk with sugar and flour on low heat. Keep whisking until it thickens.
  • Remove from the stove and keep it covered until it cools down to room temperature.
  • Beat the butter until it is airy and fluffy.
  • Add the cooled down roux little by little into the whipped butter and beat it until the mix is fluffy again.

This buttercream can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until use. Ensure that you bring it back to room temperature and whisk it once before use.
  1. Italian Buttercream

The Italian buttercream is made by adding butter and icing sugar to a meringue. The resulting buttercream is very light and airy and holds its shape even in hot and humid climates. It can be slightly sweeter than Ermine, but it is definitely lesser than the American version. It pairs well with any cake and is an excellent choice for decorating.

The only challenge with this buttercream is the process of making a meringue, which can seem intimidating. Something to keep in mind while making meringue is that all vessels, whisks, or paddles should be free of moisture and greasy content. For best results, all the ingredients should be at room temperature.

What you need:
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Water
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 5 cups Butter
  • 1/8 tsp Salt

How to make it:
  1. Prepare the meringue first. In a mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  2. In a saucepan placed over low heat, add sugar and water and boil until the sugar dissolves. When it reaches 240 degrees F, take it off the stove.
  3. Add the hot sugar little by little into the beaten egg whites and whisk until it reaches a marshmallow-like consistency. Leave it in the fridge to cool.
  4. To the cooled meringue, add butter, a spoonful at a time, along with a pinch of salt and whisk until it becomes silky smooth.

If the buttercream appears runny or watery, return it to the fridge for about ten minutes. Italian buttercream can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  1. Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream is a favourite among bakers both for its texture and low effort involved in preparation. This buttercream also doesn’t melt quickly in hot climates, making it a perfect choice for piping onto cakes. The texture is so light that it almost feels like a cloud. If the butter isn’t added, it serves well as a frosting.

What you need:
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter (unsalted)
  • Pinch of Salt

How to make it:
  1. Boil some water in a big bowl. To a smaller bowl, add sugar and egg whites and place it on top of the larger vessel. Ensure that your bowl with sugar and egg whites does not touch the boiling water underneath.
  2. Slowly boil the sugar and egg whites, whisking by hand until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot. The texture shouldn’t be grainy when you rub it between your fingers.
  3. Take the mixture off the stove and whisk until soft peaks form, and the resulting meringue has cooled down.
  4. Add salt and softened butter a little at a time to the meringue and whisk until it forms soft peaks again.

Swiss meringue tastes best when it is freshly made.
  1. Bavarian or German Buttercream

This buttercream is one of my personal favourites as it pairs well with any type of cake. I love pairing it with cakes that have a layer of fresh fruit, such as mangoes or strawberries. The process involves making a custard with egg yolks and mixing that into beaten butter.

What you need:
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 5 cups Butter
  • Salt

How to make it:
  1. Boil milk with sugar in a saucepan, while whisking continuously.
  2. Separately whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and milk.
  3. Slowly drizzle the hot milk into the beaten egg mixture. Whisk continuously so that the egg doesn’t scramble.
  4. Pour the mix back into the saucepan and transfer to the stove on low heat until it thickens and bubbles appear.
  5. Transfer to another dish and allow it to cool while keeping it covered.
  6. Whisk the butter until it is fluffy. Add the custard into the butter and whisk until it is light and fluffy.

The great thing about incorporating meringues is that the buttercream turns out to be very airy and light. With practice, any of these buttercreams can be made at home from scratch using simple ingredients found in any kitchen. To each of the buttercreams described above, you can add any variation of flavour and colour. To make a vegan version of buttercream, simply switch the cow’s milk butter with vegan butter made from plant-based milk such as soy, cashew, and almonds. While you can make buttercream using just a whisk, it is generally advisable to invest in a good quality mixer. Check our blog to know what other baking essentials you should own.