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Best Homemade Buttercream Icing

There’s nothing better than a good homemade buttercream icing to bring out the best in a cake. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own! This recipe will give you about three cups of icing.

What you’ll need

As you’ll be able to guess from the name, your main ingredients for a smooth, creamy buttercream icing are butter and cream.

2 sticks of butter, or 1 cup softened butter. For whiter icing, substitute 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening for 1 stick of butter.
4 cups icing sugar. You can make your own icing sugar by mixing 1 tbsp cornstarch with every cup of regular sugar and running it through a food processor.
2 tbsp table cream. You can use milk instead, preferably regular milk instead of 2% or 1%. You can also use whipping cream to make it really creamy.
1 tsp vanilla extract. For whiter icing, use clear vanilla extract.
Optional: 1/4 cup heavy cream, plus 1/8 cup skim milk. You can substitute water for the skim milk. You can even substitute light corn syrup, but do you really need more sugar and calories in this thing?

How to make the buttercream icing

Put the softened butter and any shortening into a mixing bowl and mix until it’s nice and creamy. You can’t cut corners on this step.

Now it’s time to add your flavorings. Add them gradually, while the mixer’s still going on medium speed. Start with your vanilla extract. Then add in the sugar, just one slow cup at a time. You don’t want to go too fast here, because the sugar won’t get properly mixed in.

You’ll want to stop the mixer a few times to scrape off the sides of the bowl, so that everything gets mixed in.

When you’re done with this step, the icing’s going to look dry. That will change after you add in the cream or milk. Again, you’ll want to add the cream or milk slowly and steadily, while you keep the mixer on medium.

When you’re done, keep it mixing for a little bit longer. You’ll know you’re done when the icing is light and fluffy.

Pure white icing

If you’re looking for pure white icing, you can’t use butter. You’ll have to use all shortening instead at the same ratio of 1/2 cup of shortening to 1 stick of butter. However, you’ll still need that butter flavor, so you’ll have to do it by adding 1/2 tsp of no-colour butter flavour.

This substitution really stiffens up the icing. You’ll have to use the optional ingredients to thin it.

Other substitutions

Instead of vanilla extract, you can try this icing with a few other types of flavoring. Hazelnut and almond extracts work really well.

Storing your buttercream icing

If you’re going to be using your buttercream icing in the next hour or so, you can just cover the bowl with a damp cloth until you’re ready to spread it.

It’s easiest to pipe your icing if it’s a bit chilled. You can get that by putting your bowl in the fridge and just taking out a little at a time. Even the heat of your hands on the icing bag is enough to soften it.

If you won’t be using the icing immediately, you’ll have to put it into the fridge until you’re ready to use it. In an airtight container, your buttercream icing can last as long as two weeks. However, after you’ve stored it this way, you’ll have to whip it a little before you use it.