By Diana Matthews | Photo credit: AJPhotoCo
I’m not claiming this is the best buttercream recipe ever, or the technically correct way to make this classic icing. I’ve never attended culinary school or had any formal bakery training. But this is the recipe I consistently use for my cupcake business and my customers really like it! The vanilla bean paste makes all the difference, dispersing those tiny vanilla bean flecks throughout the icing. Without this added depth of flavor, buttercream can become overly sweet and taste like generic powdered sugar. You can purchase vanilla bean paste at gourmet food stores or online.
My standard icing batches make enough to frost around 60 cupcakes, but this recipe has been scaled down for everyday use. One batch will be enough to generously frost two dozen cupcakes or an 8-inch-layered cake.
- 8 oz. unsalted butter (two sticks)
- 1½-2 lb. confectioner’s sugar*
- ½ C. whole milk
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1½ tsp. vanilla bean paste
Beat butter in a stand-up mixer on medium speed until creamy. Scrape the bowl often throughout the entire mixing process to prevent butter chunks in the final product.
Once the butter is light and fluffy, add about a cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until incorporated, then add the vanilla and vanilla bean paste.
Slowly alternate adding the remainder of the milk and confectioner’s sugar, pausing often to scrape the bowl.
The amount of powdered sugar required will depend on the intended use of the buttercream.* For cupcakes, error on the generous side so that the icing holds its shape. For cakes, use a little less sugar so the icing is spreadable and soft.
Beat the entire mixture on medium-high for 20 seconds to obliterate any remaining butter chunks and introduce air into the icing. Avoid beating much longer to prevent the butter from becoming over-whipped and soft. Enjoy!