Vanilla Buttercream Icing – In the past, when I made birthday and special occasion cakes for people, vanilla buttercream icing was the single most requested icing that I used. I suppose it’s the universal standard for decorating cakes and cupcakes. Vanilla buttercream is really a blank canvas that can be easily transformed using different flavorings or zests. By adding flavorings such as almond or lemon, it can be transformed into any flavor you like.
A classic vanilla buttercream will often use all butter, but in general, it usually comes down to the preference of the baker. For this icing I chose to use part solid vegetable shortening to stabilize the butter, without adding a conflicting flavor. On a hot day, at an outdoor event, an all butter icing can become very soft and turn into a real disaster, if you’re not careful. If you want a pure white icing, you’ll need to use all vegetable shortening, clear butter flavoring and clear vanilla for the best results.
From left to right:
Wilton tip 6B
Wilton tip 1M
Wilton tip 2D
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
- 3 sticks [1 1/2 cups] softened unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 2 lb powdered sugar
- 8 Tbsp heavy cream [plus add'l as needed]
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together the softened butter and vegetable shortening. Beat for 3-4 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color.
- If you'd prefer, you can use the exact same technique using all butter. In that case, it would be 4 sticks total. [The small amount of vegetable shortening stabilizes the frosting.]
- Add the sifted powdered sugar alternately with the heavy cream.
- If you'd like the icing to be easily spreadable for frosting cakes, add more cream one tablespoon at a time. If you'd like a more stiff icing to maintain it's shape for piping onto cupcakes, add slightly less.
- After all of the powdered sugar has been added whip in the vanilla and salt. Adjust the mixer speed to medium-high and whip for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.
- If you'd like to add color to this buttercream, I recommend using color gel additives so as not to change the consistency of the icing.
- Makes enough tol frost  8/9" rounds for a layer cake or 30 cupcakes.
- Freeze leftovers.
Buttercream icing prepared in this way will form a "crust" rather quickly. So, keep a damp cloth over the bowl of icing while you frost your cake or cupcakes to slow this process.