I’m all for convenience when it comes to cooking or baking since time is what we all crave for more of; however, there truly is a difference between canned icing for birthday cakes versus the relatively easy-to-make buttercream frosting. Having tasted one too many cupcakes with an instantly recognizable canned frosting aftertaste, I feel compelled to share the easy recipe and encouragement for making it yourself. You can always skimp on the cake with a boxed version.
First, a caveat: if you do not have meringue powder – don’t know what it is or have no desire to find it – that’s ok. Homemade buttercream frosting does not need it. However, meringue powder helps to add stiffness to the frosting, allowing you to decorate with nice flowers, borders and such. If there is no need for this, just skip the meringue powder part of the recipe.
For three cups of icing, which is enough to frost a regular two-layer round cake, you’ll need:
1 pound (4 cups) sifted confectioners/powered/icing sugar
1 tablespoon of meringue powder
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
½ cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
Set the dry ingredients aside. Cream the shortening, butter, extract and water until well-mixed; gradually add sifted dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until creamy. Add colors as needed. You can also add more water if you desire a more spreadable icing.
It’s that easy. It is easier when you have a KitchenAid or similar mixer, simply because the icing gets stiff as the dry ingredients are added. Hand mixers can be used, but you’d need a heavy duty one and not just the two-speed cheap one like I bought. If you don’t have one, it’s far more worth it to borrow someone else’s and make your own, though, than to buy the can. Your homemade leftovers can even be stored in the refrigerator until the normal expiration date of the butter that you used.
I’m more of a cake-eater and tend to scoop off much of the icing. I always do so when the canned variety is being used because it just tastes so fake. But I do happen to enjoy a good buttercream frosting, and you can tell from the looks on your guests’ faces that it was worth the extra effort. You’ll never buy canned frosting again.
Photo by Caroline on Crack of flickr.