The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
With its light and creamy texture, there’s no denying that the vanilla buttercream frosting is one of the best toppers you can have for your baked goodies. It doesn’t have to be cakes or cupcakes only. This frosting also works well with cookies and other baked delicacies. The thing about vanilla buttercream is that it is so easy to make and very versatile. It can also serve as a base for other frostings. You only need to add your chosen flavor. There’s no way you won’t fall for its creamy sweetness as you dig into your pastry. But how do you make the best vanilla buttercream frosting? We’ll teach you how.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- 5 cups of softened unsalted butter
- 5 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons of heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
First, the Basics
There are only 4 main ingredients in this recipe: butter, sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. The trick here is to make sure that you have both heavy cream and butter at room temperature. They should be soft but not runny. It can be a very tricky affair for those who are absolute beginners to this recipe. But you can always use your better judgment to see if the butter is neither too soft nor too hard.
If the butter is runny or too soft, it may curdle the buttercream. One way to stiffen up your butter is by popping it back in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 minutes. This will help firm it up a bit.
You’ll also be using confectioner’s sugar. We know that this comes in very fine granules. However, this should not stop you from sifting it further. What you want here is sugar that is free of lumps.
Making the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Put the butter in a stand mixer bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer, it’s okay to use an ordinary but large mixing bowl. You can then use a handheld electric mixer to beat the softened butter. Set the mixer speed setting to medium-high. This will help produce a creamy texture. Run the mixer for about 5 minutes or until the butter’s color turns a pale yellow.
- Pour half of the confectioner’s sugar into the beaten butter. Set the speed of the mixer to low. Make sure to mix the butter and the sugar very well. As soon as the sugar has absorbed the moisture from the butter, you can crank up the speed of the mixer to medium-high. Do this for about 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar is well-incorporated to the butter.
- Pour the remaining sugar into the mixture and proceed to incorporate it with the rest. Do it at low speed first. As soon as the confectioner’s sugar has moistened, you can increase the speed to medium-high. Beat the mixture for about 3 to 5 minutes more to make sure that all the ingredients get incorporated into the mixture.
- Add the salt and vanilla extract to the mixture. Beat it at low speed for about a minute or two. Add half of the heavy cream and increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high. This will help incorporate the heavy cream into the mixture. Three to 5 minutes of beating should be enough. However, at the 2-minute mark, turn off the mixer so you can scrape the sides of the bowl. By this time, the vanilla buttercream mixture will already cling to the sides. Scrape these towards the center and resume mixing or beating.
- Try to assess the consistency of the vanilla buttercream frosting. If it is a bit loose, add half a tablespoon of heavy cream. Beat it again for about 3 minutes. Re-check the consistency. If it is still loose, add another half tablespoon of the heavy cream. What you want to achieve is a frosting that is soft and spreadable. It should never be too thick or too loose. You’d want it to hold its shape when you apply it on your chosen delicacy.
Some Helpful Tips
There are people who may be wary of using salt in their vanilla buttercream frosting. If you are one of these folks, you may want to substitute unsalted butter with a salted version. In addition to replacing the unsalted butter, you can also add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. Some say that adding milk can give the buttercream a richer and creamier texture and flavor.
Whether you’re using salted or unsalted butter, it is critical that you soften it to the right consistency. The butter needs to be soft for it to bend, ensuring better incorporation with the rest of the ingredients. However, it cannot also be super-soft that it may already look very oily. When we say “softened” butter, it should still have some form. Most newbies won’t get it the first time. But with practice and a bit of luck, you’ll find the sweet spot.
You can make this vanilla buttercream frosting recipe well ahead of time. Most home cooks store the frosting in a food-safe airtight container. They can then place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When it’s time for some delicious frosting, they only need to warm the vanilla buttercream to room temperature. This will often run for about 3 to 4 hours. A good alternative is to beat the frosting with an electric hand mixer.
The frosting can be stored in the freezer, too. If frozen, it can stay usable for up to 3 months. It will take a much longer time to thaw, however. First, transfer the frosting from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. This will allow it to thaw a bit. The following morning, you can set it on the dining table so that it warms up to room temperature. By then it should be ready for use.
This vanilla buttercream frosting can be a great topper to any baked delicacy or a spread in between cookies. It’s very easy to make and a lot more versatile to use.