Butter Me Up – The Basics Of Buttercream Icing

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Many of us have wonderfully nostalgic memories of buttercream icing. Whether it be licking the mixing spoon as a child, the wow-factor of a birthday cake or indulgently scooping the icing off a cupcake with a finger, buttercream forms part of our happiest memories.

The smooth texture of the icing is simply heavenly, its flavour is exceptional, and it is deceivingly easy to make. Buttercream takes the simplest ingredients and transforms them into an extraordinary mixture that gives us the ability to easily turn our pantry staples into magnificent creations fit for the fanciest gateaux, cupcake, or cookie. 

There are various types of more complex buttercream icings including Italian, Swiss, and French; yet it is the original American Buttercream or frosting that we all have such fond memories of.

Cake decorating champion and buttercream buff Grace Stevens has been learning and sharing the best-kept secrets of the confectionary world for over 13 years now. Between her fail-proof recipe and top ten tricks of the trade, you are guaranteed to always come out with the best icing for your cake.

10 top tips on creating the perfect luscious buttercream:

  1. The consistency of buttercream is key. Too loose or too stiff and it will be tricky to pipe.
  2. Make sure you do not overmix buttercream, too much air in the mixture will make it difficult to pipe.
  3. Always sift your icing sugar for the smoothest consistency.
  4. Once you have made your buttercream mixture, cover it with a clean damp kitchen cloth as it tends to crust over quickly.
  5. If your mixture has already crusted over, place a damp cloth over it and wait for 10 minutes. The crust will dissolve back into the mixture and your buttercream will be saved.
  6. If you are looking to achieve a vibrant colour, mix the icing the day before as vibrant colours need time to develop. If you are going for an edgy look and need black icing; a mixture of dark cocoa powder and black food colouring works best.
  7. When it comes to piping, less is more. Try not to overfill your piping bag as the bag could pop or the icing could ooze out the top as you are decorating.
  8. Buttercream flowers are easier to place precisely on a cake if they have had time to set. Make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer until you need them.
  9. Buttercream keeps well in the fridge or freezer.  Make sure to store it in an airtight container with as little open space in the container as possible to prevent crusting.

There are many wonderful things you can pipe with buttercream icing including flowers, succulents, berries, leaves, and many more frills and weave details.

No matter if you are a confectionary connoisseur or a baking novice this icing is always delicious, versatile, and easy to make, earning it the privilege of being known for generations as the perfect icing for any cake.

Learn more from the talented Grace Stevens, get more recipes or bake and decorate with Grace Stevens book one of her online courses! Simply visit www.gracestevens.co.za for more information.