Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recipe: Crusting American Butter Cream Icing

For me, 2012 has been the year of SMBC (Swiss meringue butter cream). In fact, you can read all about that HERE. I've just recently met SMBC and fallen madly in love with it – but I must confess: love affair or not, I still couldn't live without my trusty ol' crusting American butter cream.

Very different tastes, very different textures, very different techniques - but each has its place in my cakey bakey world. I know ABC is an enigma to many, and with that…

Peggy Does Cake Presents
Crusting ABC: American Butter Cream

Shortening/Butter Recipe (see below for an all-butter version)
1 stick of salted butter (4 ounces/112 grams)
1.5 cups shortening
1 two-pound bag of confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup liquid* from list below (more can be added for desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter/shortening until white and fluffy. Add 1/8 cup of water, mix. Add sugar all at once, cover mixer with lid, wet towel, raincoat, giant beach umbrella, etc., as you will have a bit of dust and mess, mix on low. Add more liquid as necessary to attain desired consistency. Mix on high for a quick minute until well blended. Scrape sides, mix again. Add extracts.

If you triple this recipe, you’ll have a VERY full bowl, but your icing level will be above your paddle attachment and if you mix on high until all visible air bubbles are eliminated, you’ll be creating the smoothest, most perfect butter cream ever.

See the Youtube video by Sharon Zambito on how she makes her butter cream HERE for more information on this “air removing” technique. Although my icing recipe is completely different than Sharon's, I use her exact technique. I use it because it's brilliant and can’t be beat. Ha! No pun intended. 

I always try to triple this icing recipe whenever possible for this very reason - a big, full bowl of icing means no air - and that means the most beautiful, smooth consistency you can imagine from a crusting ABC.

This icing is perfect for smoothing via the Viva method, found HERE. Here's a photo of an undressed (indecent!) cake finished with this exact recipe (the shortening/butter version) and smoothed using the Viva method.

All Butter Recipe (this is definitely my taste preference, but it's not as stable as icing with shortening in it)
2 sticks of salted butter (8 ounces/225 grams)
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8 ounces/225 grams)
1 two-pound bag of confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup liquid* from list below (more can be added for desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
 
  *Ideas for liquid options:
  • Water
  • Skim milk
  • 1% milk
  • 2% milk
  • Whole milk
  • Half and half
  • Heavy whipping cream (my favorite!!)
  • Flavored liquid coffee creamers (I’m partial to the French vanilla and hazelnut, but don’t bother with the sugar free, as they leave a bit of after taste in the icing
  • Extracts beyond or instead of vanilla and almond
  • Anything else you're brave enough to try; I think I've tried it all!
If you try it, give me a shout and let me know how it worked for you.

Oven's on - I'll be back soon!

~ Peggy

56 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I was trying so many and no one worked for me. I will give this one a try. The only problem is they don't sell Viva towels over here :-( have a nice day !!!

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    1. You can use other things. A sheet of computer paper (printer paper) works - but you have to be careful to not let the edges of the paper "cut" into the cake.

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    2. what is the technique for this??

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  2. Hi Peggy. i have been itching to try this for ages.. but unsure of a few of the ingrediants and measurements. Im in Australia and there is no "sticks" of butter here. So, could you tell me how much a "stick" of butter weighs and how much 1 2# of confectioners suger is?? Also is confectioners sugar the same as caster sugar or pure icing sugar? Thankyou for your posts i enjoy reading each and every one of them take care

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    1. 1 stick of butter is 115 grams, 1/4 pound, 4 ounces, 1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons, or 24 teaspoons.

      Google's conversion calculator told me that 2 pounds = 907 grams.

      Here's a great article on sugar, but confectioners sugar is just powdered sugar. Finer than caster: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/sugar.htm

      Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

      ~ Peggy

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    2. yes it does.. its been very helpful!! i have an urge to make something sweet this coming weekend.. take care and thanks again.. Kathy

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    3. You can buy sticks of butter from Costco (if you have one nearby). It's really good butter (AA grade from the states).

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  3. What size of mixer do you you have that can accommodate tripling this recipe?

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    1. I have a KA 5 quart. If I can do it, ANYONE CAN! hehehe. One day I dream of a bigger mixer, but for now, this works.

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  4. I am praying that this will be a great alternative to using the hi ratio shortening. I have alot of trouble trying to find this type of shortening as well as buying the hi ratio online the shipping becomes unbelivably high. I love the Sharon Zambito crusting recipe +her technique. I can't wait to try this!! Glad to run across your blog. I love your fb page ;)

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    1. High ratio shortening is superior, I do NOT deny that.

      But as a hobbyist, I can't afford to buy, store, and use it. I use generic vegetable shortening WITH transfat (NOT the name brand kinds with zero transfat). I skip shortening altogether when I can and go with the "all butter" version of this recipe, but the shortening DOES add a nice stability. I do NOT make or eat "all shortening" icing. I can't stand it.

      I, too, love Sharon's technique!

      ~ Peggy

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  5. Thanks, Peggy. I also can not find Viva towels here but I've used leftover party napkins and trimmed the edges where there is a pattern or embossing. Only trouble is the seams when you open up the napkin :P but in a pinch it works. Still trying to perfect the smoothing technique; I may need to try increasing the recipe to eliminate the air. Oh, and thank you to you and Mayen for turning me onto SMBC. Oh. My. Goodness. This and the chocolate version are delish!

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    1. I usually use plain ol' copy paper.

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  6. Buttermilk makes for an extra tasty buttercream - especially in the all-butter version! :)

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  7. Peggy, Do you use hot water/liquid like Sharon does? I use cold half&half.

    Do you let it sit for an hour before you use it? Does that have anything to do with air bubbles or is that just so the flavors blend before you put it on the cake?

    I was taught to alternate the sugar/liquid in thirds when making buttercream. Maybe that is what is making the air bubbles. I have a 6 quart KA, so I have to make a lot of buttercream to immerse the paddle.

    P.S. I'm going to have to come see you in Brandon. I'm down on the coast.

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    1. Georgia, I know you probably saw this when you read the post above, but I don't use Sharon's recipe at all - only her mixing technique ("batter" above the paddle, mixing the stew out of it to remove the air). I just cold or room temperature liquids for ABC and it's ready to use immediately. I find it's not nearly as smooth the next day, so it's hard to justify those big batches, as I don't like having it leftover. ~ Peggy

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    2. Ok thanks, I did not know if her "technique" included the "hot" liquid.

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  8. What do you do to make a chocolate version?

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    1. Here's a great recipe, but increase the chocolate! http://cakecentral.com/recipe/chocolate-decorators-buttercream

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  9. What is a 1 2# bag of confectioner’s sugar? (I'm in Canada and haven't seen it refered like this before)
    Is that a 2 pound bag? (8 cups approx?)

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    1. Sorry, we use "#" for pound in America. How vain of me to forget not everyone does! Yes, one 2 pound bag of sugar. I'm going to correct that right now!! xx

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  10. Love this post! All the options for making this classic in one spot. Had to pin so I can find it every time I make icing, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you so much! Sorry for the terrible late response; my blog notifications were all wonky and I'm only just now seeing your comment!

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  11. Hi Peggy!
    Thank you for sharing your buttercream recipe and the mixing technique. My question is-- how do you store the buttercream that you want to use in the future? do you re-mix the stored buttercream once you want to use it?
    Thanks again!!
    Claudia

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    1. I do store it and re-use it, and I do re-whip it. I never use leftover ABC to ice a cake, only to fill them. I'm sure others do, but I don't like the consistency (for smoothing) after it's been chilled.

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  12. This recipe is wonderful. It was easy to make, (even though I had to use a hand mixer), and delicious. I made a single batch and it made PLENTY. I have some leftover in a plastic storage container in the fridge. I have no idea what to do with it, though. How long will it keep? Also, and I might find the answer myself by perusing your blog, but do you have a chocolate version of this?

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    1. Butter cream can be refrigerated or frozen and keeps well. Personally, I don't like to use leftover ABC for anything other than a filling.

      I just shared my chocolate ABC in a recent blog post. It's an amazing recipe. Delicious! (I love a cake filled with chocolate SMBC and iced with chocolate ABC!)

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  13. Hi Peggy,
    I am pretty new to cake decorating and I have only used a swiss meringue butter cream. I wanted to try something new. Do either of these american butter cream recipes work well under fondant covered cakes?
    Thanks

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    1. I have used ABC under fondant, but you will probably never achieve a nice crisp edge using it. It's far too soft. Unless you cool it first. But that's not a technique I'm familiar with, as I use the viva method to smooth my crusting butter creams.

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  14. Hi Peggy,
    Thanks for the recipe, it's great. I managed to do something to wreck my icing though, and I wonder if anybody else has had this problem... or knows how to fix it!
    I made the triple batch and followed your instructions, and had almost finished beating the icing. I tested it out on a fake cake - it was smooth and lovely and crusting well. Then, I decided to beat it a bit more on speed 6 of my kitchenaid mixer, since it hadn't reached that "no air" stage yet.
    After a minute or two, the mix changed, but got really lumpy! There are now lots of fine lumps of fat in the icing. The texture is really "grainy" but it is not sugary-grainy, it is fat-grainy, almost curdled. I think the emulsion broke. I'm going to try to fix it by chilling the mixture and re-whipping it. I hope I can fix it, it is a huge batch of icing and I don't want to throw it out! Has anybody else had this problem or know a good fix?

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    1. Wow, I've never heard of such a thing! I'm confused though - you stopped it before it reached the "no air" stage and it worked fine, and then you put it back on to beat it some more and it turned lumpy? just out of curiosity, if it worked fine the first time, why did you feel like you should whip it some more? The reason I ask is that if your icing is NOT over the top of your paddle, whipping your icing only incorporates air INTO the icing, it won't help remove it. So if you used some, is it possibly that it was no longer higher than the entire paddle blade? Regardless, with ABC, since you cream your fat from the start, it isn't a factor that it would become lumpy later. I don't see how it could break apart and separate. I've never heard of that. You're not referring to the SMBC, right? You're actually referring to the ABC? If you want to email me, we can talk more in depth. I'd love to help you figure this one out! peggydoescake@gmail.com

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    2. Hi Peggy!

      Yeah, I am talking about ABC crusting buttercream, just the plain ole sugar, butter, shortening, a bit of extracts and water... not one of the fancy Italian or Swiss ones with eggs and such. I am pretty sure I managed to break the emulsion, but the good news is that I fixed it. Chilling the icing and rewhipping seemed to do the trick, phew! That was a lot of icing, didn't want to throw it out.

      I searched all over the internet and couldn't find any other examples of breaking the emulsion of regular buttercream, so I think I will wear my accomplishment as a badge of honour. Plenty of people break the emulsion of Italian/Swiss, or mayo, or other emulsions, so I just tried fixing mine in the same way. I didn't even know regular buttercream was an emulsion until I broke it.

      When I tested out the icing originally there was still a bit of air in the mix, and I kept whipping because the bowl was pretty full (triple recipe in a 6-quart kitchenaid mixer) and I figured if some is good, then more is better, ha! I'll double-check to make sure the icing is over the paddle next time I try the air-removal method. It might not have been, since I have the 6-quart bowl, not the 5-quart one. I suspect it was a combination of overbeating and temperature that caused the emulsion to break, and I think it isn't a very common occurrence. But at least chilling and rewhipping fixed it. Thanks again for your recipe!

      Sandra

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  15. Hello! I was just wondering how many cupcakes the ABC can frost (by piping, so I can get a general idea of how much I need to make a batch of 24 mini cupcakes.
    Thanks

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  16. Does it hold well when its lets say 100 degrees outside

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    1. Not to be snarky, but does ANYTHING hold up well in 100 degree weather? I live in Mississippi, so trust me, I know heat and humidity. I keep all cakes in the air conditioning!

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  17. I love your tutorial and the recipe! Can this be frozen until needed again?

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    1. It can be refrigerated for up to a week and can be frozen for longer and still maintain it's taste, but be warned: you'll lose that perfectly smooth consistency when you rewhip it after it comes back to room temperature. You can still get it smooth with a Viva towel, but it will never be as perfect as the day you make it "smooth wise."

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  18. If I use Crisco 0 trans-fat will my buttercream still turn out or am I better off trying to find the generic brand with trans-fat in it? I can't wait to try the VIVA method on my son's 1st birthday cake.

    Thank you

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    1. Isn't the idea of trans fat disgusting? But it's a necessary evil in perfect crusting butter cream. I do use Crisco sometimes, but that the higher the transfat ratio, the creamer and smoother your icing will be. You can buy high ratio shortening from baking supply stores, which is by far the best. (I don't, though.) My favorite way to make it is to skip the shortening altogether and just use all butter, but it's just not as friendly to work with (tastes great, though!) I hope this helps.

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  19. Do you by any chance know how many cups of icing one recipe makes?

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    1. i am also interested in knowing this answer!

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  20. I always have trouble when coloring the buttercream, i used to make the "only shortening" and the color never gets into the buttercream, it was always like apart, i dont know how to explain,, i will try this recipe with salty butter, and lets see if i can do it! thanks a lot!

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  21. I love you're tutorial but i have a question, im not able to find shortening im my country and have no idea waht can i use as a replacement to make the buttercreamto stay better than the butter only option. Thanks, and i love you're blog!

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  22. which would you use for a FBCT?

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  23. Thank you for two fantastic recipes! These are the best that I've found, and I have tried way too many! ;o) My cupcakes were a huge hit, thanks to you! Thank you for sharing!

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  24. My icing looks grainy is their a reason for that?

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  25. Oh that looks just divine to enjoy slowly with a good cup of coffee!

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  26. Nice and informative one. The cake looks very nice.

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  27. Hi, I am so excited to try this ABC for my sons 2nd birthday! I was just wondering how much frosting one batch makes. I plan on making 24 cupcakes, and 8in and12in square double layer cake. Want to make sure I have enough supplies on hand. Also, I am a novice and was just wandering which KA attachment you use to mix it.
    Thank you

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  28. This is my "GO TO" icing. It's so easy and tastes great. Dud I mention easy! Also, it really is versatile! Thanks!

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  29. This is my "GO TO" icing. It's so easy and tastes great. Dud I mention easy! Also, it really is versatile! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is my "GO TO" icing. It's so easy and tastes great. Dud I mention easy! Also, it really is versatile! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi. I'm making my son's bday cake now and I know you said the recipe was different on the video, that it was the technique you used. However, she only uses 2 2lb bags of sugar as opposed to 3 2lb bags that triple your recipe calls for. I was wondering if that much more is too much. Thanks!

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