Is it better to look good or to be good, that is the question? I’m talking cakes/cupcakes here, ones that have been frosted with all-natural American buttercream. Although this question could easily apply to a multitude of things with a multitude of answers, we are focused on SWEETS here.
In a perfect world the answer to this confectionary question, of course, is both. Yet during the “dog days of Summer” when frosting with all-natural American buttercream as we do, there can be a melting factor that doesn’t make for a perfect presentation. Just the short trip from the bakery to the car on days where the temperature is over 85 degrees can be problematic. At “BAKED” our buttercream is simply butter, pure vanilla, confectioners sugar and milk, so it reacts to heat the same as butter does…it begins to break down when warm.
There really is no great solution to this dilemma, not one that is all-natural anyway. You can add meringue powder, which is just powdered egg white, to buttercream and that helps some, but it doesn’t solve the problem. You can adjust the consistency of the frosting which helps some. You can add stabilizers or make the buttercream with either part or all vegetable shortening, but who wants to eat that? I mean really, have you ever had a frosting that is sickeningly sweet and makes your teeth feel like there coated in wax or been dipped in a vat of oil…that’s a frosting made with shortening…greasy.
Yes, using chemicals and shortening makes a stable frosting. Yes, it can make for a stable presentation, but in our humble opinion, the use of these ingredients also makes a frosting that tastes terrible. So what’s a baker to do? First, know that there’s no such thing as perfect. Second, refrigerate the all-natural cake/cupcakes immediately once decorated and bring back to room temperature just before serving. Never place cake/cupcakes in a hot car, in direct sunlight or outside if the temperature is over 75 degrees. If you do experience a little “break down”, simply enjoy the pure flavor of all-natural buttercream and know that even though they might not look great, they’ll taste fantastic! Enjoy.
- 1 cup butter softened (we use salted, but you can use unsalted if you prefer)
- 3-4 cups confectioners sugar, SIFTED
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.