Easy Vanilla Buttercream



How to make perfect vanilla buttercream – Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

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How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

I’ve been meaning to add a buttercream recipe to my blog for ages and just haven’t quite gotten around to it. I think part of my reluctance to post was that I’m not the best at piping and so had no idea how to present it to show off it’s yummy deliciousness.

However, a couple of day’s ago I came across this 3-second buttercream rose tutorial by Toni at Gym Bunny Mummy. She made it look so simple that I couldn’t resist whipping up some vanilla cupcakes and a batch of buttercream to give it a try.

I was pretty pleased with the results *smug grin* so I decided buttercream finally deserved a place on my blog.

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

I’ve shown it here as cupcake frosting, but it’s extremely versatile and can be used for all sorts of cakes and desserts – cupcakes, sandwich/layer cakes, macarons and, my favourite, as a delicious buttercream layer beneath the fondant icing on the decorated celebration cakes I make for my family. If you’re making my all-in-one vanilla sponge birthday cake, then this is the recipe I use for the buttercream.

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

What’s the secret to perfect buttercream?

Buttercream is extremely simple to make. However, to ensure that you can create beautiful cakes with it you need to make sure it’s the right consistency.

At this point I want you to imagine you’re making a sandwich. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve experienced those times when you’ve taken the butter out of the fridge and attempted to spread it onto your sandwich only to find that you end up ripping the bread to shreds instead – butter still in one lump, bread with a great big hole in the middle. Now imagine how soft your butter needs to be to ensure that doesn’t happen. That’s the consistency you want your buttercream – just spreadable, but not runny.

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

So how do you get your buttercream to the right consistency?

It’s important to ensure that your butter is soft in the first place – just spreadable (like you would use for that successful sandwich). The best idea is to leave it out of the fridge for a little while to soften. However, I find that if I forget, I can cut it into cubes and beat it on a high speed in my Kitchenaid and it softens pretty quickly (this only works because I have a powerful stand mixer. I used to try it with my hand mixer but I found my arm going round and round with the beaters stuck in the lump of butter instead of the butter softening as I wanted).

Unfortunately you start with the butter at just the right consistency and then add a load of icing sugar causing it to thicken up. So you need to soften it a little again.

This is where the milk comes in. Gradually beat in the milk a few drops at a time and check the consistency before adding more. For icing using 250g butter and 500g icing sugar I find about a tablespoon of milk is the right amount, but I add it at no more than ½ teaspoon at a time as other factors such as the temperature of your kitchen can also impact how soft the buttercream gets and it’s easy to add more but impossible to take it out.

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

How to stop everything getting covered in sugar when you make icing?

I’ve no idea. Whenever I make anything with icing sugar everything gets covered. If anyone has any suggestions on preventing this please, please let me know!

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

Easy Vanilla Buttercream

Active time: 3 minutes

Total time: 3 minutes

This recipe makes enough for 12 buttercream cupcake roses or for a thin covering over a 20cm round sandwich cake with a layer in the middle (as I do for celebration cakes).

You may find you’ve got a bit leftover from your cupcakes but attempting a neat rose with an almost empty piping bag isn’t easy so I’d prefer to make a little too much. You can easily make as much or as little icing as you like depending on what you’re trying to cover.

Equipment

  • Electic mixer (and bowl if it doesn’t come with one)
  • Weighing scales
  • Measuring spoons (or a teaspoon)

Ingredients

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Approx. 1 tbsp milk (I use skimmed but any is fine)

Method

  1. Cut the butter (250g) into cubes (about 1″) and beat in an electic mixer until soft.
  2. Add the icing sugar (500g) and beat until fully combined – I prefer to add the sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time as this minimises the amount of sugar that flies out all over the kitchen! You’ll find that at first it’ll start to look lumpy but keep persevering and it’ll smooth out.
  3. Add the vanilla extract (½ tsp) and mix until fully combined.
  4. (See note about about the required consistency) Take a look at the consistency of the icing, is it spreadable? If not add ½ tsp milk and mix until fully combined. Check the consistency again and repeat until it is just spreadable.
  5. Once you’ve got the icing to the right consistency – have fun piping, spreading, or just licking if off the spoon!


Fancy trying a different flavour of buttercream on your cakes?

Then take a look at my new recipe for delicious NUTELLA BUTTERCREAM

Nutella Buttercream 7


Nutritional Information

Calories: 277 kcal (14%), Fat: 14.7g (21%), Saturated Fat: 9.3g (47%), Carbohydrates: 36g (14%), Sugar: 35.9g (40%), Fibre: 0g (0%), Protein: 0.1g (0%), Salt: 0.0g (0%)

This is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

Free From/Suitable For…

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Gluten-Free
  • Egg-Free
  • Corn-Free
  • Nut-Free
  • Soy-Free

The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.

How to make perfect vanilla buttercream - Easy to make with just four everyday ingredients, and ideal for cupcakes, sandwich cakes, macarons and decorated celebration cakes.

26 Comments:

  1. “You may find you’ve got a bit leftover from your cupcakes but attempting a neat rose with an almost empty piping bag isn’t easy so I’d prefer to make a little too much.”

    This is so true! Or no matter how hard you try, you get a little pocket of air in the plastic piping bag. Boom! Icing bomb!

    With regards to the icing sugar question, I use the plastic splatter guard and mix at a very low speed initially. I still get a lot of icing sugar everywhere though.

    Your piping looks great as well. I love the pictures.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I already do the splatter guard and low speed thing with little success! By that point it’s too late anyway, I manage to cover everything in sugar just weighing it out!

  2. Clearly I could eat this vanilla buttercream by the spoonful. It looks so sweet and perfectly fluffy.

  3. Love your piping Charlotte, I shall have to check out the tutorial!
    When I add my icing sugar I tend to add it in stages & mix it really slow with a spatula by hand to get everything half combined before I let the stand mixer take on the hard work – I still get a little icing sugar dust billowing up but not as much as with a beater.
    Angela x

    • Charlotte Oates

      It’s a great tutorial, I’d definitely recommend you take a look.

      I’ll try a little hand mixing next time and see if that helps.

  4. I sift my icing sugar into a stainless steel mixing bowl before adding to the butter in the mixer. In Canada there is cornstarch in the icing sugar & this is what causes most of the trouble. Sifting it into the stainless mixing bowl first seems to calm down the “electricity” in the icing sugar. Then I add it in small increments to the butter. Plastic bowls are the worst! HTH

    • Thanks for the tip Debbie. I hadn’t thought about the static making the icing sugar go a bit wild before. I always sift into a plastic bowl so I’ll have to give this a try and see if it makes things better.

  5. Just discovered this blog it’s brilliant the best tip I can give you re: icing sugar going everywhere is if using an electric mixer etc is cover it with a tea towel…works every time!!keep up the great posts!!

  6. I find that putting the icing sugar onto soft butter in the mix in bowl, then forking it down by hand, stops the sugar flying everywhere. It only takes a minute and then you can use the mixer without a problem.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve been trying hand mixing the butter and sugar before beating it (to sort of coat the sugar in butter) and I’ve found that helps, your suggestion of using a fork sound similar but I think could work even better. I’ll give it a try next time I’m baking.

  7. Love your blog ( which i came across yesterday when looking for a basic cake recipe for my daughters 13th birthday cake )….cake made last night, when she was in bed!!….icing today . Thanks for your help.
    ps i have a kitchen aid, which came with a plastic cover that sits on top of the bowl- perfect for stopping the icing sugar flying everywhere 🙂

  8. Hi, lovely post, I’m looking for a new recipe to try and this one sounds tasty, any idea how long this will keep? I’m thinking with milk in it won’t last as long as the one I use now? Thanks ☺️

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m not a food safety expert so this isn’t official advice, but I’ve eaten it a few days later and it’s always been absolutely fine.

  9. Hi, I’m planning on making a 3 layer sponge cake, the tins are 7 inches. Do you think this recipe would cover and fill it or would I have to double up? I’ve never made a 3 layer cake before and im a bit worried.

    • Hi Aylish,

      I’m not sure one batch would be quite enough. Personally I’d make about 25% more (so use 315g butter and 630g icing sugar). The exact amount you need depends on how thick you want it, to be on the safe side you may want to go for 50% more (using 375g butter and 750g icing sugar). I hope that helps.

  10. For stopping the sugar flying everywhere dampen a tea towel and wrap around the bowl of your machine and over the top.

    Works a treat. his the towel and sticks to it.

    Thanks for the recipe! Perfect for my upcoming birthday cake.

  11. Hi Charlotte! I’ve just made my first ever cake using your recipe and now I’m going to attempt the buttercream filling. Problem is, I don’t have a mixer so have to do it the old fashioned way – by hand. Is it possible to get the same consistency and fluffiness? I made the cake without a mixer too and looks perfect, but it seemed too easy, and I haven’t tasted it yet so it could be a complete disaster! I’m keeping fingers and toes crossed ….

    • I actually prefer buttercream made by hand rather than with a mixer as you get a lovely smooth consistency, I just use the mixer because it’s easier on the arm muscles! Make sure your butter is left out of the fridge for a bit before you want to make it to allow it to soften and you’ll be fine. I hope you enjoy your cake 🙂

  12. Hello, a tip not to get icing sugar everywhere:
    Mix icing in a food processor with the lid on, works for me everytime!

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