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Nov 17, 2004 03:38 PM

report back on buttercream

  • w

A while ago I asked in the General board about some buttercream advice. I promised to report, sorry it took so long. I was waiting for the pictures to come out.

I ended up using a Swiss meringue recipe, and added Grand Marnier as flavoring. It came together beautifully, and frosted and pipped beautifully also. BUT, I found it to taste much too buttery, too rich still. I ended up only frosting only the top of my cupcakes and using fresh flowers as decoration.

The cupcake recipe I used from Epicurious turned out to be much too dense, but the combo of orange and cardammon is killer. I will not make that particular cupcake recipe again, but will use a orange chiffon recipe that I already have and like and just add in cardammon spice. Also, my molds were bigger than the recipe indicated, but even account for that factor, I only ended up with 17 cupcakes.

Next time I'm going back to fresh whipping cream as my frosting...

Thanks to all for all the advice.



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  1. Well, they looked lovely. I personally love buttercream, but there are lots of people who just don't like it - as you say, too rich, too buttery. I'm pretty sure I've never said anything was "too buttery" in my life, so I'm not a good judge. You really do have to beat buttercream for a long time at a slightly warm temperature to get the best texture, but you still might not like it. Whipped cream is of course delicious as well.

    I made a cardamom/orange/yellow plum jam/marmalade this year that really brought home how good cardamom and orange are together. Which is making me think that maybe I have to try out that orange-carrot cake that's referenced on a lower thread, but use cardamom for the spice. Hmmm...

    1. I made those cupcakes and we all loved them. Instead of using fresh OJ I used thawed frozen concentrate. The orange flavor is much more pronounced. We used a confectioner's sugar/buttercream (I like this better as I think true buttercream is geasy) and put two rapsberries and a mint leaf on each.

      1. Those cupcakes are beautiful!

        I actually made frosted cupcakes this wknd as well, and used a buttercream recipe consisting of 1 stick softened butter, 3 c confectioner's sugar, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and whole milk drizzled in while whipping for consistency. I think I got this recipe off the FoodTV website, and it seems the standard buttercream recipe. It actually tasted nicely sweet, melt-in-your-mouth creamy rather than buttery, easy to pipe, and everyone loved it. I'm usually not a fan of the traditional buttercream, either, the kind found on bought cakes, and I do love whipped cream as well - who doesn't? :)

        10 Replies
        1. re: sg

          I've not tried the confectioner's sugar and butter type of frosting... I always thought that would taste both too rich and too sweet. But perhaps I'm judging before trying. Does the sugar cut the butter somehow?

          1. re: Wendy Lai

            oh, you must! perhaps confectioner's sugar absorbs more of the butter because of its 'flour-like', powdery quality? i'm not sure of the exact chemistry, but the results are fantastic. the frosting IS sweet and creamy, but i think powdered sugar has a better sweetness than granulated sugar, and you really don't taste or get the mouth-feel of the butter at all, just a hint of vanilla.

            start with softened butter (i used supermarket butter, but i think next time i may try more expensive european butter to see if it makes a difference) and whip in the powdered sugar in small batches (i use a handheld mixer), until it starts to form little 'butterballs' (sort of like making pastry crust), then you can add a bit of vanilla and start drizzling in the milk or whipping cream. you probably won't need more than maybe a few tablespoons of liquid - it starts to come together real quick. depending on how much milk or cream you drizzle in you can have a thick or thin frosting. i think this last part is a matter of taste, but do be careful to not make it too thin, as it can run right out of the piping tip.

            once on the cake, the frosting also forms a super-thin, sheer sugary shell, which actually acts as a barrier so you can lightly cover it w/ plastic wrap without ruining your handiwork. i think the frosting also tastes better after it's been sitting awhile, and not right out of the bowl fresh.

            i hope you give it a try - it really is yummy! :)

            1. re: sg

              I will definitly try it. Do you have a rough ratio of butter to sugar?

              1. re: Wendy Lai

                1 stick softened butter (i think that's 1/2 cup) to 3 cups confectioner's sugar, about 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a few drizzles of whole milk or whipping cream.

                let me know how you like it!

                1. re: sg

                  I am much relieved after reading this board for two years that somebody out there actually makes icing the way we always did it at my house (icing sugar + butter + flavour + milk or water to blend)! I'm sure real buttercream is great but it sounds very finicky and I'm more of a comfort-food baker than a fusser. However, if you like plain whipped cream as your topping, I think this will still be too sweet for you. Give it a try though and let us know!

            2. re: Wendy Lai
              Caitlin McGrath

              If you find traditional buttercream much too buttery tasting, you will prefer a powdered-sugar icing, because there is much less butter for the same volume of icing - although they can be very sweet.

            3. re: sg

              I don't really think that's a true buttercream, is it? That's what I would call "old-fashioned powdered sugar" frosting. Which is what my Mom always makes and is quite delicious, although very sweet.

              I know they call it buttercream in a lot of recipes, but I thought buttercream involved making a custard, or a meringue and then beating in butter as a final step.

              Any frosting experts out there to set me straight?

              1. re: danna

                You are correct. The custard version is very rare, the standard is a meringue or, less commonly, whole eggs or yolks beaten warm with sugar, then butter added.

                The powdered sugar frosting is very popular and very common, at least in my part of the U.S. It's rare to get a proper buttercream, except at top-notch bakeries. Most places use either a powdered sugar buttercream or the nasty supersweet mix stuff (which I believe creates a substance not unlike what you would get if you beat powdered sugar with Crisco).

                I know that there are people who prefer powdered sugar frosting. Personally, I find it far too sweet and lacking in the silky mouthfeel of a real buttercream. But it's a personal preference.

                1. re: curiousbaker

                  oops, sorry if i mislead anyone. i am an amateur baker and i think the recipe i used was mislabeled a buttercream. it remains my favorite, though, because it is most similar to the frosting used on the cupcakes at magnolia bakery in nyc, which i think is simple and divine! :)

                  1. re: sg

                    Don't worry - it is often called buttercream, because it's got the butter and all. But technically I don't think it should be. It's a pretty nitpicky point, though; you can go on calling it buttercream without embarrassment.

            4. Cute cupcakes! Would you mind sharing which baking molds and which pastry tip you used?? Thanks.

              5 Replies
              1. re: meta

                I bought the panettone molds sold by Sur la Table. The smallest I can find was bigger than what the recipe called for, which I think was 2 3/4" wide x 2" high. The whole recipe baked up a lot less than it said. I'll bet even if I had the right size cupcakes, it wouldn't have come to 33 cupcakes.

                Anyways, I wouldn't recommend that recipe, because the cakes turned out way to dense.

                I used a leave tip.

                1. re: Wendy Lai

                  Your cupcakes really do look beautiful but the first thing I thought (because of the white sides) was that you used a round biscuit cutter on a 9x12 cake. I am usually more of a cake pan cake maker than a cupcake maker. Do you think the biscuit cutter idea is doable? I know petit four makers just cut the cake and frost individual pieces so maybe it depends more on the crumb of the cake being made to determine whether it is doable.

                  17 cupcakes out of a recipe for 33? Something else sounds off than just the size of the molds.

                  1. re: jennyantepenultimate

                    I didn't use a cutter. Most of the cupcakes barely came up over the rim of the paper molds, so I had to peel off the paper.

                    My friend, who is also a very competent baker, attempted the same recipe with the same size molds and ended up with exactly 17 cupcakes as well.

                    I don't think I'd want to use a cutter because that'll result in too much wastage. Also, I had wanted a tall high, domed top, but that didn't happen because I didn't have enough batter.

                    1. re: Wendy Lai

                      Wendy, I didn't mean to call your baking skills into question, I hope I didn't offend you. I simply meant that the recipe sounds screwy since the texture was wrong and there was such a difference in output (half!) from the specified yield.

                      Leftover cake pieces and crumbs are good for making a trifle or folding into ice cream on the way to the freezer. You're right about there not being a domed top with biscuit cutter cupcakes though, maybe not such a good idea.

                      1. re: Wendy Lai
                        Caitlin McGrath

                        Cupcakes generally do not rise into a high dome they way muffins do, especially not butter cake cupcakes. It's just not the nature of the cake.