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cupcake bakery style frosting

Does anyone know what type of frosting a cupcake bakery uses? I can never seem to get the same taste out of a buttercream? I came close last time by really beating my butter and adding about a quarter shortening to it (this also helped stabilize), but still not quite the same. I have wondered if it is a meringue buttercream? I also watched a video from Magnolia bakery that used a cooked flour/milk paste added to butter and granulated sugar.

any one have the inside scoop.....er, swirl?

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    1. re: lovessushi

      I have actually read both of these posts. I only use cream cheese frosting on certain cupcakes. The addition of meringue powder is interesting.

      The madison bistro is essential the recipe I use. Holds up well.

    2. The cooked-flour-milk style is very popular among Chowhounds (I like it); here's one of the threads on it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760095

      22 Replies
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I think next batch I will have to try this style of frosting. Very curious about it.

        1. re: cleopatra999

          finally got around to trying cooked flour frosting. So, so good and waaaay easier than swiss butter cream. This will definitely become my go to frosting for everything!

          1. re: cleopatra999

            How was the consistency (can you pipe with it)?And as it sat, did it harden? Did you have to keep it in the refrigerator?

            1. re: youareabunny

              It's slightly thicker than a stabilized whipped cream but with a very smooth consistency. It's thick enough that I can pipe decorations with it. It doesn't harden when it sits. I don't refrigerate it.

              1. re: chowser

                Exactly what I found with it Chowser. I actually think I would like to refrigerate it before serving then let it warm up a bit from there. I had some leftovers in the fridge and I liked the density of it from there.

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  It's so good and so easy that I still wonder that it's not a better known style. I love that it has so much less sugar and butter than most current frostings.

                  Good stuff!

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    totally agree with you TorontoJo. My only complaint would be waiting for the flour/milk slurry to cool off.

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      If you have a stand mixer, I put a zip lock bag full of ice below the bowl and beat it until cool. It takes just a few minutes to cool it down. I've always thought KitchenAid should add a bowl sleeve that either chills or warms the bowl. It would be perfect for tempering chocolate then.

                      Oh, I've added chocolate ganache to this frosting and it's the best chocolate frosting.

                      1. re: chowser

                        oh that would be delicious. Do you add it to the end product? Omit any ingredients?

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          I just added it in the end in the mixer.

                        2. re: chowser

                          chowser, how much ganache do you add? I've tried to make this chocolate once, using a combination of cocoa powder and a couple of squares of chocolate. Not chocolatey enough for me, but ganache sounds like it would be great.

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            A big dollop... I'd say about a cup but I added to taste. And, I did add instant espresso powder.

                            I love the brown sugar idea and would love to try brown butter to see how that goes.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Perfect, thank you. Can't wait to try this!

                              1. re: chowser

                                brown butter would be lovely. would you brown all the butter or just make it as an add in flavour? If the former, I wonder about how all melted butter would affect the texture, if it would still whip? I think brown sugar with the brown butter for sure.

                                1. re: cleopatra999

                                  That's what I'm wondering--how it might affect the texture. I've had problems w/ it setting when the butter is too soft to begin with.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    looking up recipes for brown butter buttercream, there are some that add half the butter as cooled brown butter. Others that add all of it, with it put in the fridge until it hardens again (wouldn't that be grainy??)

                                    Let me know if you try it, I would have a back up plan just in case. LOL

                            2. re: chowser

                              I love the idea of adding ganache to it. I recently made a batch using brown sugar and with the addition of a good spoonful of instant espresso powder to the cooked mixture that turned out great.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                Ooh, yum! I may try a batch with coconut sugar.

                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                  I'm thinking of making it with maple sugar, of which I have some hanging around. I love the idea of a maple-flavored icing, and using maple sugar, you wouldn't need to worry about the ramifications of adding liquid (as with syrup). I've been using a version where you cook the sugar along with the flour and milk, which means there's no worry about the sugar dissolving.

                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Sounds good! I would like to make an Irish cream version of this frosting. Brown sugar would be nice, just not sure how much Bailey's I can add without affecting the texture, I would like to pipe it on cupcakes.

                                  1. re: cheesymama

                                    I was thinking about the bailey's addition. Since Bailey's is just sugar, cream and Irish wiskey, I wonder if you could just add the irish whiskey? You wouldn't need much, whereas maybe more of the bailey's to get the taste?

              2. Cupcake bakeries use a million different types of icings. Most bakeries use a shortening based recipe because it's cheaper than butter. They actually use high ratio shortening which is specifically designed for icing. It absorbs more moisture and has a creamier mouth feel.

                Magnolia uses a basic butter and confectioner's sugar with a little milk and vanilla then they whip the crap out of it to get it fluffy. Those types of icings are more cost and labor effective, especially if you cut it with some of the high ratio shortening. Meringue buttercreams are more labor intensive and makes smaller batches. For me anyway, it's more difficult to do a larger batch of Italian meringue buttercream.

                If you want to do butter and shortening, here is my recipe:

                1 lb butter
                1 cup shortening (I use Crisco-this depends on the weather though. You can use all butter if you want).
                2 good teaspoons of popcorn salt (it's finer so it dissolves more quickly)

                Cream the fat and salt for 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes. It will look like sour cream. Then add in:

                2-3 tablespoons of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (you won't taste it-it just cuts the sweetness) plus whatever other extract or liqueur you want to add in.

                Beat that some more until combined. Then add in:

                2 lbs sifted confectioner's sugar. There is no science to this. I try to get as much in as possible right from the start because I'm lazy. Use a towel to cover your mixer. Scrape after each addition and then add in hot whipping cream to thin. Hot because it kind of dissolves the sugar but at the same time allows you to temporarily thin the buttercream to work with. I just use a couple of tablespoons to start until I get the consistency I need.

                I really don't beat it long after I add the cream. Maybe 3 minutes. The more you beat it, the more air gets whipped in which makes it difficult to pipe and ice a cake smoothly. I will say that people absolutely love this buttercream.

                3 Replies
                1. re: AnnieWilliams

                  this is very similar to what I do, but I use a higher ratio of butter. I will whip it longer next time, add more salt and the try the lemon juice. Thanks for the tips!

                  1. re: AnnieWilliams

                    How many cupcakes do you frost with this recepie?

                    1. re: Safki

                      It obviously depends on how you ice them, but I can get at least 4 dozen done with one recipe. I don't use shortening unless the cake will be outside for an extended period of time. Also, I don't use a full two pound bag of sugar. For cupcakes I will whip the icing longer, maybe 5-6 minutes on medium low speed.

                  2. Your answer here depends upon the quality of the bakeries you have in mind. A trulyl excellent bakery wouldn't likely use powdered sugar "buttercream". Real buttercream is heavenly and contains no powdered sugar.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: sandylc

                      I have to respectfully disagree. Buttercream is a very broad term and while I do think it's a stretch to call an all shortening icing a buttercream, there is certainly nothing wrong with calling it buttercream if it's made with butter and has powdered sugar (or icing sugar as it's called in the UK). I've been doing cakes for people now for over 15 years and I have used all sorts of buttercream recipes. In my experience, most people prefer the ones made with powdered sugar over the meringue recipes, especially for children's cakes (which I do a lot of those).

                      1. re: AnnieWilliams

                        The cornstarch in powdered sugar gives an unpleasant chalky texture to frosting.

                      2. re: sandylc

                        >>Real buttercream is heavenly and contains no powdered sugar.<<

                        Depends. But it surely doesn't contain shortening. Ick. Only a supermarket greasecake would be frosted with Crisco.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          I agree, but I know some people who live in hotter climates who really have to use the shortening (for those occasions when the party is outside and there is no refrigeration, and the client doesn't want fondant). My icing definitely isn't chalky. My main gripe about using the powdered sugar is the slight grittiness or crunchiness. We regularly have 90+ degree summers here where I live, and every freaking person has to have a party outside. That little bit of shortening helps stabilize it. I do use all butter more often than not, especially in the cooler months. But yes, there are people who use 100% shortening and add "butter flavor" and call it buttercream.

                          I am a member of a cake decorating forum and believe me what constitutes buttercream is a thread which regularly gets locked by the mods. That, and scratch vs. mix baking, haha.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              Thanks, Jay! He has quite a personality. We also have another Boston terrier, Bridget, who is his half-sister. She is much smaller than Geoffrey, but she gives him a hard time. They are quite funny together.

                            2. re: AnnieWilliams

                              Those are certainly hot topics....

                              Yes, I agree.....cute dog!

                              1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                i know this is months old now but since it's getting closer to summer, I'll tag on here. I frost w/ American (butter) buttercream, or different kinds of buttercream or other frosting if it's hot (one that will stand up to the heat). But I use Crisco and all Crisco for the decorations like roses. I used a mix of butter and Crisco for an outdoor wedding once and the decorations got really droopy/melty. I figure most people don't eat those big hunks of frosting anyway and those who do don't mind the Crisco. I've sadly gotten compliments on it.

                                And, when I teach people to make decorations, I always use all Crisco buttercream (call it criscocream). It sits in the pastry bag for a couple of hours in hot hands. Butter doesn't do that.

                              2. re: Jay F

                                I guess I never even considered that shortening might be on the table, here. Ick, indeed. Shortening hasn't seen the inside of my house in 30 years.

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  I have never owned any shortening. And I lived and baked in DC.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    I NEVER use shortening in anything, and can tell it is used in baking a mile away. However I wanted to try it in addition to butter for a pastry crust as many people swear by its flakiness. A year later and I have yet to try that. However when fooling around with frosting on my cupcakes especially stability and texture, I really found the addition of a little shortening helped. I really feel you cannot tell, I would not use 50/50, I find more like 75/25 works for me. My guests love it, and comment on the icing. I have also never found my frostings gritty or chalky, not sure how that would happen with powdered sugar (bad sugar quality?).

                                    What is the other opinion on what a buttercream is? Are you referring to a meringue buttercream?

                                    1. re: cleopatra999

                                      With gritty I just mean that I can feel that little "bite" of powdered sugar between my teeth. Maybe that's what sandylc meant by chalky. I always use the Domino 10x but it's still slightly gritty. I guess it's because the sugar doesn't break down and dissolve the way it does in a meringue buttercream.

                                      To me, a buttercream is icing made with either all butter or some combo of shortening and butter. Not all shortening, not "butter flavoring" (that stuff is heinous). In other words, there needs to be butter in buttercream, haha.

                                      The only time I use the shortening is if I need the buttercream to hold up to higher temperatures, and of course if I'm working with fondant then it's also useful (knead some into fondant to soften the fondant for use in an extruder). I think 50/50 is way too much shortening. Mine is 75/25 in hot weather (when it will be sitting out in the heat for several hours), all butter in colder weather.

                                      1. re: cleopatra999

                                        >>What is the other opinion on what a buttercream is? Are you referring to a meringue buttercream?<<

                                        I don't make buttercream often, but when I do, it's usually cocoa, confectioner's, butter, and cream.

                                        I've also made one with egg whites -- meringue, I suppose -- and I've heard that referred to as either Italian or Swiss buttercream.

                                        Usually when I make a plain yellow cake, I festoon it in fruit, lemon curd, and whipped cream, in any combination. If I want chocolate on yellow cake, I either make chocolate whipped cream (cocoa and sugar sit in the mixing bowl in cream for an hour before whipping), ganache, or the chocolate buttercream I mentioned above.

                                        I have a friend who owned a cupcake bakery. He used confectioner's and butter 95% of the time.

                                        1. re: Jay F

                                          "I don't make buttercream often, but when I do, it's usually cocoa, confectioner's, butter, and cream. "

                                          LOL sorry your quote just reminds me of the Dos Equis commercials.

                                          Stay thirsty my friends.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            The chalkiness is from the cornstarch in the powdered sugar.

                                            The buttercream I am speaking of is plain ol' classic French buttercream. Example below:

                                            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

                                            Not trying to start a fight here.....peace.

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              Old thread, but I just noticed you mentioned your friend and the bakery in past tense.

                                              Did owning the bakery kill him?

                                  2. I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to also throw it out there that you have to be careful about the powdered sugar you use. Some are made from beets, not real sugar cane. It can affect things. Domino is still "real" sugar, but you do have to pay attention to the label when buying.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lalajane

                                      YES. C & H is cane, also. If the label doesn't say cane, it's beet.