German Buttercream · GF (about 10 cups)
Swiss meringue buttercream has become the gold standard of professional baking, but it’s not the only fabulous European style buttercream out there. Of course there are French buttercreams (made with egg yolks) and Italian buttercreams (made from pouring boiled sugar syrup over meringue) too, but lesser known is German.
German buttercream is perfect for those wanting to graduate from powdered sugar based frosting, but not ready to jump on the Swiss bandwagon. When making or eating Swiss buttercream for the first time, “it tastes like pure butter” is a common complaint. Though kind of ironic (um, yes, it is called a buttercream…), it’s a valid observation. With only sugar, egg whites, and butter it’s no surprise that butter dominates the Swiss flavor profile; especially in less involved flavors like vanilla or almond.
At any rate, German buttercream does not suffer from this problem. It’s made from whole eggs, yolks, and milk, in addition to butter. So even in its simplest form it has all the rich flavor of an old fashioned vanilla ice cream, but the silken texture of a Swiss buttercream.
No powdered sugar, no meringue, no boiled sugar syrup.
German buttercream makes an awesome filling and finish for cakes and cupcakes alike. You can use it to pipe boarders and write inscriptions, but it won’t hold up quite as nicely as other buttercreams when it comes to more intricate piping techniques like roses.
16 ounces whole milk
2 vanilla bean pods, split and scraped, seeds reserved for another project
10 ounces sugar
1½ ounces cornstarch
2 egg yolks
32 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
In a medium pot, bring the milk to a simmer along with the vanilla bean pods. Turn off the heat and set aside to steep for at least one hour, or as long as time allows.
After steeping, remove the vanilla bean pods and use a rubber spatula to extract the thick vanilla goo from inside each. Return the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.
Whisk about a half cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture—it will be thick at first but will loosen as the milk incorporates. Continue whisking in hot milk until the egg mixture is fluid and warm. Now, return the tempered egg/milk mixture back into the pot of hot milk, whisking all the while. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble sluggishly. From that point, continue whisking and cooking for a full minute more; use a timer or you run the risk of not fully cooking out the cornstarch. When the minute is up, pour the custard into a large mixing bowl.
The custard may be cooled quickly by mixing it continuously in a stand mixer. If time isn’t an issue, you can press a layer of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate until cool. You can wait even so long as overnight or a few days.
Either way, once the custard has cooled completely, use a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to beat it on medium to medium high speed until creamy. (If you did not refrigerate the custard, please do take caution to make sure you’re not rushing things; if the custard has not been mixed long enough to cool to perfect room temperature, the butter will melt in the next step and you’ll have a very soupy mess on your hands.)
Once the cooled custard has been whipped until creamy, begin adding in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the salt and continue to whip until the mixture is creamy and homogenous.
If you’d like to flavor the buttercream with any extracts, melted chocolate or other flavorings, now is the time. The flavor variations listed at the end of my Swiss meringue buttercream recipe will all work with this recipe too, so click through for specific instructions on making different flavors not mentioned here.
Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. When ready to use, whip until creamy before proceeding.
Before making the buttercream, you’ll need to make one batch of caramel, about 16 ounces. You can actually add quite a bit more more, up to 25 ounces so double the recipe if you like. After making the caramel, don’t wash the pot. Just add the milk for the pastry cream and put that caramel-y residue to good use.
Meanwhile, cool the caramel to room temperature. Make the German buttercream as instructed above. After whipping in the butter, turn the speed of the mixer down to low and drizzle in all of the caramel. Turn the speed up a little and whip until homogenous; adjust salt and vanilla to taste.
Cream Cheese Variation
To make the perfect cream cheese buttercream, use only 16 ounces of unsalted butter and add to that 16 ounces of cream cheese that has come to room temperature too. During the final minute of whipping, add in the juice of 1 lemon. This won’t give it a particularly lemony flavor, but rather a little bit of tartness that heightens the tangy flavor of the cream cheese.
The cream cheese buttercream benefits from at least 45 minutes of refrigeration before being used to decorate a cake. Cream cheese buttercreams are notoriously loose, and while this one has substantially more body than other cream cheese buttercreams (thanks to the power of cornstarch), it improves even more post-refrigeration. After chilling, simply whip until creamy before decorating.
Oct 09, 2011 · 2:48 PM
a whole cup of creamy goodness…..beautiful images
· a spoonful of yumm · aspoonfulofyumm.blogspot.com/
Oct 09, 2011 · 3:58 PM
This looks good.
· Christine · christinespantry.blogspot.com
Oct 09, 2011 · 4:57 PM
Both sets of my Grandparents were Bakers with brick & mortar bakeries in Germany. Hence, both of my German born parents baked regularly, and my Mother’s favorite cake for special occasions was called Frankfurter Kranz. A cake in round form with German buttercream filling and frosting, sprinkled with crushed brittle. Many good recipes on the internet for this well known German cake.
Oct 09, 2011 · 11:28 PM
@Spoonful of yumm, thanks so much! I think Sarah Jane did such a lovely job with these too.
@Christine, thank you!
@GermanGirl, oh my goodness, that sounds awesome! I’ll be sure to look it up asap, thanks for the tip.
@amabilis, hahaha. The scary part is, you could. Unlike Swiss buttercream, which is kinda hard to eat by itself, this stuff is totally snackable. Grab a spoon and watch out!
Oct 11, 2011 · 2:57 AM
Oh my, this looks good! I have been wanting to try something beyond the plain old powdered sugar frosting but just hadn’t done it yet. I think I will try this as opposed to French or Swiss. Thanks so much for sharing this!
· Janet@FCTC · www.fromcupcakestocaviar.com
Oct 11, 2011 · 11:18 AM
@Janet, I love this recipe cos if you can make puddin’, you can make German b-cream. No fussy meringues or boiling syrup, but sooo much better than the powdered sugar stuff. Hope you whip some up!
Oct 29, 2011 · 5:30 PM
@Tashva, you can by all means add liquor. Just drizzle it in a little at a time while mixing and wait for each addition to fully incorporate before adding more. Have fun!
Nov 18, 2011 · 9:51 AM
@jmanjenks, I haven’t timed it out specifically, I usually have so many other kitchen chores that I just forget about it for a while and come back when I remember… But I set it to medium low. Probably twenty minutes? I’ll try and set a timer next batch.
Nov 21, 2011 · 7:57 PM
@BriB, absolutely! It holds up for about 6 months in the freezer.
Nov 27, 2011 · 2:39 PM
This was the lightest, creamiest, fluffiest frosting… so fluffy some of the people I fed it to thought it was whipped cream! I made the cream cheese version. Not to be low brow or anything but what it most reminded me of was those cake toppings made of instant pudding, cream cheese, and cool whip… only way tastier due to the real dairy and eggs. But I couldn’t imagine using it for a layer cake cuz it would just smoosh right out the sides… but maybe I didn’t make it exactly right. Anyway, it was absolutely delicious and perfect for whipped cream fans (which I am!).
Nov 27, 2011 · 3:14 PM
@Katie, I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoyed it! Sometimes, depending on how cool the pastry cream is and how soft the butter is, a batch can be especially soft especially when you’ve just freshly made it. To use this for a layer cake, just refrigerate the buttercream until it’s firmed up (or even become completely solid), and then rewhip it until fluffy. It will be much thicker than when you started.
Dec 01, 2011 · 5:30 PM
@Katie, so glad to hear it! You can incorporate about 12 ounces of dark chocolate into the buttercream, drizzle caramel right in, or make the custard with coconut milk. It’s really adaptable. Also check out the variations for my Swiss Meringue buttercream, you can apply almost any of those to this recipe as well.
Jan 04, 2012 · 1:55 AM
Looks so yummy! How much do you think this makes? How large of a cake? Thanks!
· Justine · Www.potomacrivergoods.blogspot.com
Jan 04, 2012 · 6:52 PM
@Justine, it makes 10 cups, enough to generously frost a 3 layer 8” cake with some leftover, which you can freeze. I make such a big batch because everyone has a different plan for decorating and it never hurts to have a little extra in case of emergencies.
Mar 03, 2012 · 7:55 AM
Looks a lot easier than the swiss… how well will it hold up in high humidity?
· josy · yahoo.com
Mar 03, 2012 · 10:26 AM
@josy, I wouldn’t say it’s easier than Swiss. With Swiss, all you have to do is whisk whites and sugar over a water bath, whip and add butter. But it does taste very different, a little more like ice cream. I don’t have any experience with it in humidity higher than what we go through during a Kentucky summer, but I haven’t had any trouble with it.
Mar 15, 2012 · 3:37 AM
omg that sounds so delicious!!! I just got a bottle of stonewall kitchen Butter pecan syrup. wanted to incorporate it in a buttercream and now im thinking cream cheese butter pecan german buttercream… GULP. do u think that d work? or would it be hyper sweet? or too gloopy with the addition of syrup? wnted to use it in a layer cake hence.. =) Oh yes also i used your strawberry reduction in a strawberry ganache and it was TO DIE FOR. =) tHANK YOU ever so much. PS – voted for ya. so glad you won. =)
Mar 15, 2012 · 11:50 AM
@elni, so glad you enjoyed the strawberry reductions! I think you could drizzle the butter pecan syrup into the regular German buttercream, it’s really amenable to additions like that. The cream cheese version, on the other hand, can be a little loose/fussy to work with and would probably suffer from the addition. (Though it sounds amazing!) You might get away with adding just a little cream cheese, maybe not doing half-and-half, but say 1 1/2 pounds of butter and a half pound of cream cheese, plus the syrup. In either case, you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!
Mar 15, 2012 · 4:12 PM
I made this and it turned out fine, but I used 2 tbs. of vanilla in place of vanilla bean. Also, I did the caramel version, but only got 13 ounces out of your recipe, not the stated 20. That said, it still turned out well, but you really do have to beat it a long time. I froze it and am hoping for the best when I need it in a few weeks….
Mar 15, 2012 · 6:04 PM
@Kathryn, Glad you liked it, even if it came up a little short! I made a batch of caramel today to double check the yield and got 16 ounces, definitely shy of the 20 ounces originally stated. Apologies for the discrepancy. That said, I wonder what happened to the missing 3 ounces between us?
At any rate, it does take quite a while to cool the pastry cream. When you need it again, just bring it to room temperature overnight and then beat it until fluffy. You can use the microwave to thaw it to, but it takes a careful eye, the buttercream can liquify in the center but seem a-okay on the outside. Slow and steady wins the race!
Mar 23, 2012 · 11:04 AM
@Kathryn, I’m on the same page. I was describing what to do with the finished product too. I thought you meant you had to beat the pastry cream for a long time to get it cool before proceeding. My directions stand as is. Good luck!
Mar 30, 2012 · 11:27 AM
Last one – promise. Defrosted it, it was fine. Made the cakes last night. Frosted it this morning. All is well. Party isn’t till Sunday! Every instinct is screaming “REFRIGERATE” it, but I read your online tips about cakes and I can leave it out? It won’t fit in my microwave (great tip), so I put it on my large cake plate and covered with my hugest steel mixing bowl and saran. On the counter. It won’t melt? My friends all say my cakes are dry because I fridge them. But…this frosting seems…wet. It’ll be okay till Sunday night? Thanks Stella! Your new unwanted penpal, Kathryn xx
Mar 30, 2012 · 1:16 PM
@Kathryn, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as you need. It’s fine sitting out, but whenever I know there’s a long wait and no one will eat it in the intervening time, I tend to side with refrigeration. So long as the buttercream thoroughly covers the cake, it won’t dry out. And so long as the plastic wrap thoroughly covers the buttercream, it won’t pick up funky odors.
Here’s my advice, refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes until the buttercream is no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic and store refrigerated until Saturday night. Then, remove it from the fridge, unwrap and store in your microwave until the party. Just be careful, if your microwave is over your oven, that it doesn’t get hot in there while you’re cooking dinner, etc.
Apr 05, 2012 · 5:12 PM
So I made the pastry cream last night and refrigerated it until this afternoon so it’s definitely cool. I whipped it in my stand mixer, but how “whipped” does it need to be? I’ve been slowly adding room temp butter chunks but it isn’t mixing in very well. If I refrigerate the whole thing until it’s the same temp and then whip it will that help? Any other ideas?
· molly · cakestacks.blogspot.com
Apr 05, 2012 · 7:31 PM
@molly, I just realized I didn’t specify the mixer speed in the recipe; I’ll go change that to make it more clear. Beat the butter into the pastry cream at a medium to medium high speed. If you’re just mixing it in (at low speed) then it will have a hard time coming together. Between the speed and the shape of the whisk attachment, it will homogenize after a few minutes. Just crank up the speed and let it go until it smooths out.
Apr 06, 2012 · 9:00 PM
Well that made a difference, thanks! One last question…what did I do wrong if I added 8 oz of melted white chocolate (and I let it cool a little bit before adding) but it got kind of curdled looking again and a little liquidy…
· molly · cakestacks.blogspot.com
Apr 06, 2012 · 9:46 PM
Stella, have you tried a chocolate version? Like Molly, but I’m thinking 8 oz. of a bittersweet, maybe an 85%?
· Judy · www.lifeonthefoodchain.com
Apr 07, 2012 · 1:50 PM
@molly, hmmm, that is weird! I’ve made a white chocolate version before, no problem. My only guess is that despite cooling it a bit, it was still warm enough to melt out some of the butter. Generally speaking, with a buttercream as stable as German, a lot of high speed whipping can save it. Usually buttercreams break over temperature imbalances.
I am working on a tutorial on how to save a broken buttercream. I don’t know how long it will be before I can post, but stay tuned!
@Judy, you can definitely make a chocolate version! I’d actually recommend something not quite so dark. This buttercream is only barely sweetened (10 ounces of sugar to 48 ounces of milk/butter) so I think using an 85% would result in a pretty flat taste because there wouldn’t be enough sugar to carry the chocolate flavor. I’d aim for something in the low to mid 70s. But that’s just my best guess, it depends on what you want to do with the buttercream ultimately.
For adding chocolate to the buttercream it’s important to remember two things. 1) if the chocolate it too hot, it can melt the butter and negatively change the texture of the buttercream. 2) if the chocolate is too cold, or if the buttercream itself is too cold, it will “chip up” in the buttercream. Melted, room temperature chocolate is ideal. Once the chocolate is added, crank up the mixer speed as fast as you can and beat it on medium to medium high. If the chocolate just sits idly in the bowl, you run the risk of it setting up into chips against the beaters/bowl.
Apr 16, 2012 · 5:19 PM
guess what? i saved my german buttercream! i scooped out about 1/3 of the stuff and microwaved it for 20 seconds to make it just a little warm. then, with the mixer on medium-low, i beat in the warmed buttercream and it whipped together perfectly! and oh, my goodness. i think i’m now in love!
· molly · cakestacks.blogspot.com
Apr 16, 2012 · 6:07 PM
@molly, I am soooo glad after all of that you were able to salvage it!! And even better that you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know it all worked out in the end.
Apr 19, 2012 · 11:49 AM
I’ve got a question about room temperature. I’m usually cooking in a room that’s 70-75 degrees and if I let the butter get there then I have trouble with buttercreams and things breaking. Should I aim for something more like 65 degrees on the butter and try and keep the temperatures a little lower or is the answer to turn the mixer up and move faster?
Apr 19, 2012 · 2:09 PM
@cindy, generally, buttercreams only break when they’re too cold. It’s about 85-90 in my kitchen and when I make buttercream with room temp butter, whether Swiss or German, it comes together a bit soupy, but it definitely comes together. Usually it’s not a problem cos I’m making it to store and use later anyway.
If you’ve got experience with butter, you can absolutely play around with the temperatures. I just don’t recommend it for people still getting to know buttercream. I often use cold butter straight from the fridge, but just add it when the mixture is still a bit warm. It takes a decent amount of experience to learn how to strike a balance with cold butter and hot pasty cream (or hot meringue)…
At any rate, moral of the story: if you’re comfortable making buttercream, you’ve got a lot of latitude to experiment with your butter temperature. Let me know if you run into any problems.
Apr 20, 2012 · 2:08 PM
Tried the cream cheese variation last night and it came out great! I do have another question though. How fast do you add the tablespoons of butter (or cream cheese)? I’ve seen admonishments about waiting for each piece to disappear completely before adding the next on some recipes and I think that might take over an hour of babysitting at that point. I dropped a piece in every 20 seconds or so but I was curious about how fast can the butter be added without causing trouble.
Apr 22, 2012 · 12:12 PM
@cindy, sweet! I’m glad to hear of your success! Most people use butter that’s too cold and then add it too fast, causing the buttercream to break, so recipes try and combat the most common problem by slowing everyone down. I chuck it in pretty fast, maybe 5-10 seconds between additions. It’s always super soft butter, so risk of breaking is low. The biggest point is to keep an eye on the overall texture of the mix and to slow down if you see it looking a little curdled.
If you ever do find that you’ve gone too fast and the buttercream looks broken, just set the bowl over a waterbath until the buttercream gets melty around the edges, then whip it for a few minutes. It should smooth out straight away.
May 01, 2012 · 11:34 PM
I’ve been totally inspired by your brown butter carrot cake, german buttercream, and sage caramel sauce recipes! In school we were always told german buttercream was made with fondant. This version sounds 100x better. Since the custard makes up such a large portion of the icing I assume the icing has to be refrigerated – do you know if it freezes well like Swiss? Thank you Stella!
· Jason S · www.TheAubergineChef.com
May 02, 2012 · 10:14 AM
@Jason, really, someone should write a book about the details of cooked dairy and storage. My assumption is that because it’s cooked, the custard poses no more danger at room temp than the egg whites pose to Swiss. At work, everything is served the day it’s prepared, but at home I routinely leave cakes frosted with German (or Swiss) buttercream at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. So far so good!
May 02, 2012 · 4:50 PM
Thank you Stella! Yes I agree – there needs to be a guide or something. I recently sent in a package to the Dept of Agriculture to get approved for home baking and they require a list of sell-by/use-by dates and how the products are stored. Not easy. Thank you for the quick reply! I will post on your fanpage if it all goes well this weekend!!
· Jason S · www.TheAubergineChef.com
May 03, 2012 · 9:39 AM
@Jason, awesome, please do! Yeah, it seems most food safety courses strictly cover savory things. :p
May 03, 2012 · 4:52 PM
Hi Stella. Juuuuust bumped into ur blog via foodbuzz via foodwishes. Your beautifully swirled frosting and the carrot rose drewwww me in. Knowing its a carrot cake, i thought that frosting has to be cream cheese and if it is, how in the world is it so beautifully stiff?!? So i just had to know and here I am …..
As a matter of fact, recently ive been going mad searching for ways to make a pipeable cc frosting.
The butter, cc & powdered sugar version will never be stiff enough unless u put HEAPS of that sugar in, which is an absolute no no for me.
Then I tried to make a cc version of the flour frosting which also didnt work AT ALL…it curdled somehow ….
Then I tried the one with whipping cream…which also turned into creamy soup after some 20-30 mins even after being refrigerated.
I should write a script for a CC horror flick!!!
Is your cc frosting in this picture, your german one or swiss? ….cuz after looking at this, i feel like there is still little hope…
May 04, 2012 · 9:49 AM
@Saima, the one in the photo is the cream cheese version of Swiss buttercream. The German is the most stable, though. Both the Swiss & German cream cheese recipes are softer than the if made with 100% butter, but still considerably more firm than the powdered sugar versions, and infinitely more enjoyable.
May 09, 2012 · 10:06 AM
@Saima, oh my gosh, you poor dear! And I thought I had it bad when it got up to 32° C in my kitchen! Good luck!
May 12, 2012 · 12:38 PM
@tjbakes, it goes back in with the milk. I always add that step because I’ve seen people just pluck their vanilla bean out of the milk and throw it away, and it’s so sad! All the best flavor’s still inside.
May 19, 2012 · 6:07 PM
I’m a cake making virgin. I used a buttercream recipie I found online (pretty much, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and cream. It is WAY to sweet for my liking (should have known), someone told me that adding vanilla pudding will make it taste better. Can I make a batch and add it to my already made buttercream? (your recipe calls for adding butter etc TO the custard).
May 20, 2012 · 12:39 AM
@christinem, not knowing the recipe that you used, I’m hard pressed to say how that would work out. I wouldn’t recommend it for a Swiss buttercream… But don’t be afraid to get some salt in there to fix your too-sweet buttercream. Most recipes are severely under salted and benefit from a hefty dose.
May 21, 2012 · 11:25 AM
I am so so so anxious to make this. It seems my search for the perfect buttercream may finally be over. The only problem is I do not have a scale. Could you translate the measurements into cups and teaspoons for me. I know liquid measures differently than dry and I’d hate to mess this up.
1 1/2 oz cornstarch
30 oz butter
May 21, 2012 · 11:06 PM
Hi Bella! You are quite right that ounces don’t always translate accurately to cups. Unfortunately, as you do not have a scale, I do not have cups! So I am pretty ill equipped to make that translation for you. I will ask around on twitter and see if anyone knows a reliable website for making conversions, but so far I haven’t found one I can trust. Sorry to not be any help!
Jun 11, 2012 · 8:20 PM
You come up first in Google for German Buttercream. Just thought you’d like to know This is very similar to the Anglaise buttercream I told you about earlier today. I think I shall have to try it since there’s less futzing about than for the Anglaise version. Love it, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Where have I been?!
· Jenni · http://www.pastrychefonline.com
Aug 07, 2012 · 5:34 PM
@Niki, I am so thrilled to hear it!! This buttercream also has much less sugar than either Swiss or American, which is another major bonus too. Congrats on sweeping up applause from your tasters. Happy baking!
Aug 10, 2012 · 5:47 PM
Hi Dana, absolutely. Just whip them in at the end after thawing. Happy baking!
Aug 11, 2012 · 6:44 PM
HI D0. Yup, it definitely will, but whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you. If you want to keep the texture creamy, strain the reduction before adding it. You can adjust the sweetness with a little bit of salt, I’d say 1/4 teaspoon for every 4 ounces of berry reduction that you add (but let your own tongue be your guide!). Hope that helps!
Aug 21, 2012 · 5:30 PM
Hi Tomatoe! Well, vice versa is true here too, haha. As an American baker, I don’t cross paths with a gram scale very often or have a Celsius thermometer for my oven. With Google, you can easily (and safely) convert ounces and degrees Fahrenheit to grams and Celsius just by typing it in to the search bar. No actual math required!
Aug 24, 2012 · 11:41 AM
Just wanted to tell you about a silly variation I made on this recipe. Instead of milk I used pureed bananas! It made a super banana-y frosting! The only downside was the ever-so-slight gray color and slightly less smooth texture. But it was just as fluffy and creamy. Plus it was fun to do
Aug 25, 2012 · 6:24 PM
Holy crap, Katie, that’s ingenious!! I would never have thought of that, what a brilliant experiment. Thanks for sharing! I bet with a squeeze of lemon, the color might be preserved just a bit better… I’ll have to give it a shot too!
Sep 14, 2012 · 1:07 PM
Hi, I was just wondering…which version of buttercream would you use to make a creme brulee buttercream? I’ve been looking everywhere for a good creme brulee buttercream recipe, but I can’t find one. I want to make creme brulee cupcakes without actually having to make creme brulee. So I think the best bet would be to just find a custard-y buttercream and add lots of vanilla?
Sep 14, 2012 · 5:12 PM
Hi Step! I think your best bet would be to make the French buttercream (lots of egg yolks and custard flavor!). If you wanted to get some crunchy business in there to remind people of the brulee part, I’d say to make a batch of brittle with no nuts, then chop up the brittle (or grind it to a powder) and stir it in. You’ll need to let me know how it turns out, I’m so curious!
Sep 19, 2012 · 4:58 PM
Wow. ‘m a prize idiot. I used salted butter. A kilo of salted butter. Which in my defence was an accident but I really, really should’ve known better. People, do not make that mishtak. It will make you cry. I cried.. And then I drank tea and tried to figure out how to salvage a giant sized bowlful of salty German Buttercream. Still thinking…
Sep 19, 2012 · 10:29 PM
Ohhhh no, Lou! I have done that exact thing, believe it or not. I was making buttercream for a photoshoot and was out of town; grabbed a thing of salted butter because they had different brands at that store and I wasn’t paying attention. It was so, so awful.
Your best bet for salvation is to make a batch of UNSALTED caramel and whip it in after it’s cooled to room temperature. It will add loads of sugar without turning the buttercream into a liquid and then you can just call it salted caramel! Paired with a sweet spice cake, or the like, it will come close to balancing back out.
I’ve tried white chocolate and honey in that circumstance but it turns out being weirdly too sweet and too salty at the same time. I hope you can find a work around!
Sep 21, 2012 · 11:05 AM
How would you go about this without any sort of electric mixer? I’m currently living in my boyfriend’s parents’ house while waiting for my house sale to be approved and both my hand mixer and stand mixer are in storage. D: Would one of the other euro buttercreams be more practical?
I have whipped cream by hand before and though my arm was about to fall off I’m not opposed to putting in a little extra work.
Sep 21, 2012 · 6:07 PM
Hi Amy! Omg, you’ll get a workout making this one for sure! I think you could do it by hand, I mean, the old timey chefs did right? Instead of whipping it with a whisk, I think you might try beating the pastry cream with spatula and then working the butter cream in like that. I don’t think there’s anyway you can get it aerated quite as much without a machine, and it’s so thick I don’t think you can whip it by hand. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the other buttercreams will be any easier. Afterward, eat a double slice of cake cos you’ll have earned it.
Sep 22, 2012 · 5:36 PM
Hi! Haven’t tried this yet, but was running into the same problem as Bella (no scale, only cups, and didn’t want to use “volume” for weight!). I found a site that said the following:
-One US cup of regular granulated sugar weighs 7 ounces or 200 grams.
-One US cup of powdered or confectioner’s sugar, lightly spooned, weighs 4 ounces or 115 grams.
-One US cup of light brown sugar, packed, weighs 7.66 ounces or 217 grams.
-One US cup of dark brown sugar, packed, weighs 8.4 ounces or 239 grams.
So, the 10 ounces of granulated sugar called for here is 1.43c or 1c + 3/8c + 1tsp, slightly over the 1 and 1/4 cup expected from a direct volume conversion
Hope this helps other rookies out there that might not have a scale!
Sep 23, 2012 · 1:31 PM
Hi Kerri! Thanks for coming to the rescue of the scale-less folks out there, I’m sure many people will appreciate it. Those conversions look pretty spot on!
Sarah, yeah, press the plastic wrap against the surface of the custard. Otherwise, it will form a skin which isn’t always fully broken up during later mixing and can cause little chunky bits…
Sep 23, 2012 · 11:02 PM
Made this butter cream today, with the addition of a milk chocolate/dark chocolate mix…so good!! Thanks, Stella! The colour is a little light for what I want it for (the outside of a pirate ship, of course!) so I’m going to add a bit of coulour when I go to use it. One quick question…after refrigerating or freezing, do I need to bring it to room temperature before I re-whip it, or do I do it when it’s still cold? Thanks again!
Sep 23, 2012 · 11:33 PM
Hi Kerri! Let it come to room temperature before whipping, it will get much fluffier that way, which makes it easier to handle. And you can definitely use it for a crumb coat! Snap a pic of that pirate ship for me!!! xoxo
Sep 26, 2012 · 4:14 PM
You are utterly amazing Stella! Such beautiful recipe secrets, plus all these glitch-busting replies – however do you find the time!?
I’ve been looking for good buttercream recipes for ages and yours are awesome.
A query re macarons: do you bake more than one tray of yours at a time in the convection oven? Many recipe say never do more than one or they’ll be ruined, I did risk it today though and they took longer but seem fine.
Sep 26, 2012 · 7:37 PM
Hi Jem! I love getting comments, so it’s never a bother to reply. I’m always happy to see someone is actually reading! When it comes to those macaron recipes, I can only imagine that they’re trying to address the fact that most home ovens are pretty crappy. I’ve got a nice pro convection oven, so I can bake multiple trays at once, no sweat. But some home ovens tend to be hotter at the top or bottom, so one tray or the other winds up burned. But if your oven is newer, or just reliable, there’s no reason not to bake off two at a time.
Sep 27, 2012 · 9:06 AM
Hi Talia! I don’t think the plastic would be a problem, per se, but the pastry cream is so thick I do wonder if it would make whipping it more difficult (if the plastic isn’t rigid). But it would definitely be enough for a double layer sheet cake, no problem. Happy baking!
Sep 28, 2012 · 9:14 AM
Hi Talia! I suppose you could make a 1/4 sized batch, using just one whole egg. I like making larger batches because it isn’t any more work, but you can freeze the leftovers, which makes life so much easier the next time you make a cake. Just multiply everything in the recipe by .25 to get the new measurements. Good luck!
Oct 06, 2012 · 5:19 PM
The Captain of the shiny ship Bravetart said “make it so” and so I did…
Took your advice and whipped a batch of caramel into my salty (ugh!) buttercream. I was sort of feeling all experimental, y’know? So I dug up a recipe for peanut butter cake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and a topping of dark chocolate ganache. It worked! Seriously: such a scrummy workaround! I must say that the ganache made the flavours work so, so well. I’ve also got a batch of salted caramel buttercream (without the cream cheese) waiting for some cupcakes to adorn. Very, very happy I didn’t have to throw it all away! Thank you to the power of 100!
Oct 07, 2012 · 12:13 PM
OMG, Lou, thanks for promoting me to Captain!!! Yay!!! But seriously, I am so happy you could save that batch of buttercream from a tragic fate in the trash bin. Your peanut butter & chocolate concoction sound wonderful, too. High five!
Oct 24, 2012 · 11:08 PM
Hi Kelly. Would you believe I have no idea? I always just turn it straight into buttercream, I’ve never bothered to check the pre-butter volume. I’d guesstimate about 4 cups, though.
Oct 30, 2012 · 3:45 AM
Hi! I have been following you for quite some time now, and really appreciate your recipes and photos and stories. Thank you so much.
Just one question, would adding espresso powder into the milk before I make the custard work? I want to try an espresso german buttercream.
Thanks for your help,
Oct 30, 2012 · 10:27 AM
Hi Anjo Angela! You can absolutely add in some espresso powder to the milk; but you might try waiting to add some (dissolved in a little vanilla, perhaps) to the finished pastry cream while it’s still hot, that way you can see how it will taste with sugar, etc, right away. What may taste perfect in plain, hot milk may not get the job done in the end. Alternately, you can steep whole coffee beans in with the milk too, then strain them out.
Nov 08, 2012 · 4:17 AM
Your posts are great. But your replies to readers’ problems? Fantastic! So friendly, and so helpful, not just for them but for anyone else reading the comments! OK, I feel armed to try making buttercream once more…
· Astrid · www.lacerise.blogspot.com
Nov 10, 2012 · 9:51 AM
Hi MacaronThief! Thanks for the kind words. I don’t use volume in any of my recipes (aside from teaspoons, etc), so all references to ounces are weight measurements, even with liquids. Happy baking!
Nov 14, 2012 · 9:34 PM
I made my first batch of chocolate german buttercream frosted cupcakes. Tasted good, but looked strange, like it was grainy. Is this what ‘broken’ means? Because of the appearance, I frosted my cupcakes lightly, then froze the rest of the buttercream. Is there something I can do to improve the appearance of my remaining batch? I’ve really enjoyed reading all of the posts! Thank you for your patience!
Nov 15, 2012 · 12:00 AM
Hi DJ! Yes, indeed, it sounds broken, which is just a fancy way of saying the ingredients are so cold they have goosebumps. This generally happens when the butter and cream cheese haven’t warmed up enough after being pulled from the fridge.
But saving it is easy! When you thaw the buttercream back out, let it come to room temperature and whip it. If it’s still grainy, take out about 2 cups of the buttercream (if you made a full batch) and melt it in the microwave. Then add it back to the mixture and mix on low to combine, then whip to restore the texture. The warm melty buttercream will warm up the rest of the buttercream too and the texture should smooth out for you. If not, you can repeat the melting/whipping process.
Alternately, you can do the same thing by warming the buttercream over a waterbath on the stove. When you see the buttercream start to get melty around the edges, remove it from the heat and start whipping.
Nov 20, 2012 · 4:35 AM
It worked! I added some of the melted buttercream to the whipped mixture and got rid of the goosebumps. Is it okay to keep refreezing? I made 1/2 recipe of chocolate buttercream for my first attempt. The next time I make it, I will freeze in smaller batches.
Now I need to practice my piping skills.
Next, I will try that caramel sauce. Just working up the nerve
Nov 20, 2012 · 8:56 AM
Hi DJ! I’m sooooo glad to hear it worked out, yay! Yes, you can keep refreezing, pretty much as much as you want. The buttercream’s a real trooper to hold up over time. Don’t sweat the caramel sauce, even if it gets grainy, once you add the cream and cook, it’ll all smooth out. Good luck!
Nov 20, 2012 · 4:49 PM
Hi DJ. Oh no! Well, I’m glad the second batch came out! Here’s something you might do to save the curdled batch. First press it through a mesh sieve. Kinda a pain, but you want to make sure you don’t have any chunks of coagulated egg in there. Then put it in a food processor and pulse for about a minute. If it still looks curdled and weird, try drizzling in some milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it smooths out That’s what I’d do if I needed to save a batch, anyway!
Nov 20, 2012 · 8:03 PM
I think I’ll trash the curdled stuff this time. Too tired. If it happens again, though, I’ll attempt to rescue it before making another batch.
Tomorrow I’m going to make a carrot cake and use the cream cheese version to frost. Probably won’t try piping yet, since I want it to look good for Thanksgiving
I’ve read all of the questions and comments several times. There is so much good information here.
Nov 21, 2012 · 9:06 AM
Hi Dj! I totally understand, sometimes it’s just not worth saving. The biggest tip I can give you is to make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and spreadably soft, even if that means a zap in the microwave for the cream cheese (which takes longer than butter to soften). Happy Thanksgiving!!
Nov 21, 2012 · 6:51 PM
I made my very first layer cake (3 layers). I frosted it with the cream cheese version. Woohoo. As I was combining the custard and butter, I noticed it was broken. I just smiled, zapped some of the mixture, and continued whipping away.
Thank you for this blog. It (you) gives me the confidence to ‘go for it’.
Nov 22, 2012 · 12:49 PM
Ahhhhhhhh!!! Congrats on your first layer cake, DJ!! I am so happy you conquered layer cake and knew just what to do when the buttercream acted fussy for you. High five and Happy Thanksgiving!! I wish you much baking success in the future.
Nov 25, 2012 · 1:30 AM
So, this might sound silly, but would I be tempting the laws of buttercream if I added both booze AND caramel to this? I’m thinking a rum caramel version. I know I can add booze to my caramel American buttercream … but I’m trying to flex my baking muscles a little …
Nov 25, 2012 · 10:01 AM
Hi Christina! I think you should totally go for it. If you add too much booze, it won’t break the buttercream per-se, but the booze will wind up kinda floating out on its own, unable to incorporate into the buttercream. So just add it in a Tablespoon at a time on low speed; once it begins to mix in, increase to medium and let it fully incorporate before adding the next dose. Generally, you can get two or three ounces of liquid in before the buttercream will start to protest. Hope it works out just how you’d like!
Nov 29, 2012 · 1:32 AM
I am from germany and I have never made this Buttercream maybe I just dont know it… So I may try it
But the most popular German Buttercream here is only just made of Butter, Sugar and vanilla custard powder. And it is the most delicious Buttercream I know! I really have tried almost all Buttercreams and frostings but nothing tastes as good as this German Buttercream i can eat it just as it is soo yummy <3 I will just post you the exact recipe when I am at home! You may try it
· Jacky · http://beautycandy.de
Nov 29, 2012 · 9:05 AM
Hi Jacky! It sounds like the custard powder is a modern shortcut for the classic technique. And it may be one of those things like “creme anglaise” (English cream) that earned its name so long ago and subsequently fallen from fashion.
Dec 04, 2012 · 1:14 AM
Hi Stella, is it possible to use less butter? I am going to do a test batch first of the G.B. I have tried the SMB and French recipes. People have complained about the “butter” taste. I am pulling my hair out trying to find something no so “buttery”. Thanks for your help
Dec 05, 2012 · 9:21 AM
Hi luv2cook! The German recipe is my answer to those folks. Even people who don’t like SMBC tend to like it because of the custard adds in. Using less butter is tricky, the buttercream will take on a broken, oily look because the emulsion doesn’t hold well with less butter.
Dec 06, 2012 · 12:56 PM
Warning: don’t buy Challenge-brand unsalted butter! It calls itself butter, rather than butter-flavored spread or anything, but you realize when you open it that they put ‘flavorings’ in there. It smells like microwave butter-flavor popcorn. Awful. I want to try making this frosting, but it will take another trip to the store first. Grrr.
Dec 09, 2012 · 6:11 PM
@luv2cook, sorry for the delays, I just got my laptop back today! I think the fondant pieces will hold up okay, but it’s been a loooong time since I’ve played with fondant.
@Knottyewe, I’m sooo happy you like it! It’s one of my favorites, for sure. Sounds like you’ve been making an Italian meringue buttercream, Swiss should cook over a water batch. Either way, I’m with you: hot syrups are for the birds!
@kate, uuugh, oh no! What an unpleasant surprise. Hope you can find the good stuff!
Dec 11, 2012 · 4:31 AM
Hi Stella, here I am at 4:20 a.m. thinking about buttercream! I’m going to make this in the next day or two for my red velvet cupcakes. Just wondering what kind of convection oven you have – I’m buying one for my cupcake shop and the choices are overwhelming. So many issues with what kind of fans work with cupcake baking. What’s your thought on cupcakes in convection ovens?
· Staarr · www.staarrcakes.com
Dec 11, 2012 · 6:34 PM
Hi Staarr! Anyone who’s thinkin’ about buttercream at 4am is a friend of mine. I have a Moffat Turbofan; it’s a tabletop unit (no legs) with two racks. I like it okay, but it’s refurbished so all my gripes with it may just be a reflection of that rather than anything else. Once you get used to convection, it’s great, but I don’t particularly prefer it over conventional.
When I bake cupcakes at work, I generally bake them in cappuccino cups, so it’s a little different. But they bake fast! It takes some getting used to.
Dec 12, 2012 · 10:05 AM
Stella, thanks for the reply! The Moffat is one that I’m looking at among others. I like conventional better but want the speed of convection. Made the base for the frosting last night and it’s sitting in my fridge being just sweetly wonderful waiting for me to whip up the cream cheese version tonight. Thank you for sharing your recipes and the tips are really helpful!
· Staarr · www.staarrcakes.com
Dec 13, 2012 · 10:18 AM
Hi betty! Not at all, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with a fondant covering.
Dec 13, 2012 · 10:20 AM
Oh, you’re so welcome! I have something of a love hate relationship with my oven, but it’s refurbished so my complaints may reflect that fact much more than the quality of the oven itself. Haha. Good luck with the cupcake business!
Dec 15, 2012 · 11:47 PM
Hi Stella, great website!
I have a potluck on Tuesday and I am thinking of bringing a cake. I have to transit for nearly an hour and a half though so I’ve opted to swap the usual whipped cream frosting (prefer the way lighter taste and feel) with a lighter buttercream that is stable at RT. I attempted the Swiss buttercream for the first time today and boy did it taste like butter! It was a shock coming from just sweetened whipped cream.
Now I’m looking into the German buttercream on your site and just have to ask before starting, will it be stable at RT and will I run into the trouble of too much butteryness again? It just seems like there’s quite a bit of butter in this recipe too!
Thanks in advance!
Dec 16, 2012 · 10:48 AM
Hi Jovo! Yeah, Swiss can be really buttery when you’re not used to it. I think (fingers crossed) you’ll like the German, though. I’ve had a lot of Swiss-haters say they loved it; it has a much more custardy flavor. I know it seems like a lot of butter, but if you use less the buttercream will have a curdled, broken look. Despite all the butter, there’s really a lot of custard (and air) too, which mellow the flavor considerably. It’s super stable too, so you won’t have any troubles with transportation. Let me know what you think!
Dec 23, 2012 · 10:01 AM
Thanks for this wonderful blog! My idea to make macarons as Christmas gifts for the neighbours has, of course, meant hours of fun reading online and I have thoroughly been enjoying your recipes, writing, and comments. I think I am actually ready to head off on the adventure with your basic macaron recipe stuffed with German buttercream divided and flavoured with your caramel (looks incredible!), some lemon juice and rind, and finally Chocolate! I am heading out to pick up the missing ingredients: cream, whole milk and vanilla beans but am wondering if either the GBC or caramel could use blend (milk/cream) or 2% since it’s already in the fridge. Thanks again and Merry Christmas!
Dec 23, 2012 · 11:31 AM
Hi Mary! My suggestion for future batches would be to cut back (or cut out) the salt next time to increase the sense of sweetness. For this one, of course you can beat in some powdered sugar, but this will make the buttercream slightly gritty (because of the undissolved/uncooked cornstarch in powdered sugar) and also much thicker. An option that might be better would be to beat in a little corn syrup, a 1/4 cup at a time, until the taste is more to your liking.
Hi Amelia! You could probably get away with using 2% in the German buttercream, but definitely not in the caramel. Caramel needs the fat content of cream to have the right consistency. Made with milk, it tends to break and curdle. Happy holiday baking!
Jan 13, 2013 · 11:57 AM
Hi Elan! You’ll be a-okay! German buttercream will hold up for about ten days in the fridge, presuming it’s in an airtight container (it’ll absorb odors better than a box of baking soda, so lock it down tight!). At room temperature, I’d give it two days before I’d stat getting worried.
Jan 19, 2013 · 11:11 AM
I made a test batch this morning; it was not as white as yours, even after much whipping in the mixer. I can live with the color (I can tint it, after all), but my frosting had a sharp taste, very subtle, at the end. I’m quite certain it was my grocery-store brand butter. Do you have any recommendations for a butter brand to use? I’m making the frosting for my tyke’s birthday cake, so the super expensive butter probably won’t happen, but I just cannot bear another delicious cake smothered with sugar-bomb decorator frosting. Cake and frosting should be friends! Thanks, Stella.
Jan 20, 2013 · 12:02 PM
@Jenna, Hmm, even with some serious heat the buttercream should hold up nicely. It’s usually 90° in the restaurant kitchen, so I’m definitely speaking from experience with hot. It may simply be that due to the heat of your kitchen, the custard didn’t really get a chance to cool down. It may have felt relatively cool, but not 100%. In this case, just try refrigerating the buttercream for an hour, then rewhipping. That should solve the problem.
But there’s one more option: if the custard wasn’t cooked until it bubbled, and then cooked for that full minute more, the cornstarch may not be gelling properly causing the overall mixture to be soft and loose. It’s really important that the custard bubbles for a whole minute. If it didn’t, it won’t ever set up nicely, I’m afraid. But between those two points, I hope you’re able to figure out what’s going on!
@Christy, I’ve got no gripe with grocery store butter! So long as it’s pure, unsalted butter with no added anything, I don’t care if it’s Land o Lakes or Sam’s Club. The only thing to look out for is a butter that has “natural coloring” or something listed in the ingredients, some brands do this to make their pale butter seem more rich.
A “sharp” flavor tends to throw up a warning sign of spoilage to me, any chance your butter, milk or eggs were past their prime? Or if you used skim or low-fat milk, the buttercream would definitely have a lackluster flavor. Alternatively, if you grabbed a box of margarine or “whipped” butter by mistake, that could definitely have caused an issue with the flavor. Let me know what you think and we’ll figure it out!
Hi Krysten! Absolutely. I just use ‘em because I love the speckles. Use 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract instead, or more to taste.
Jan 20, 2013 · 4:04 PM
Thanks, Stella. I’ll have to taste my butter on its own to see if it was the culprit or not. The milk, eggs and unsalted butter were fresh from the store, but I did use 2% milk since I only made a test batch and didn’t have a fuller-fat milk on hand. I also think the cornstarch may not have cooked all the way out. We just moved and I’m learning how to finesse an electric range; my test batch of custard went from no bubbles to gel in about 30 seconds.
My husband said he didn’t taste anything “sharp” at all, so I suspect that once I use whole milk and search for the purest butter in my price range, the flavor might go away.
Jan 24, 2013 · 8:31 AM
Hi Christy! I do think the 2% could have made somewhat of a difference. Custards made with a lower fat content often have a thin, sort of tinny flavor. Hope the next batch turns out just how you like it!
Jan 25, 2013 · 10:53 AM
I just found your website and what a blessing!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t like the Swiss buttercream since it tastes too buttery, so I will be making a batch of the German buttercream since it sounds so delicious. I will be making a cake for my nephews engagement party that will have custard in between each layer and gumpaste/fondant accents. I will need to refrigerate the cake because of the custard, will the German buttercream be OK if I frost and decorate the night before and place it in a box in the fridge or will the buttercream separate? I will place the gumpaste decorations the morning of the party. Thanks for all your help.
Jan 26, 2013 · 3:16 PM
HI Geena! I know what you mean, Swiss buttercream just isn’t for everyone. I think you’ll like the German much better! It will do just fine in the fridge, no need to worry. Good luck with the cake, I bet it will be gorgeous!
Jan 31, 2013 · 1:17 AM
Dear Stella, I tried making this buttercream, it taste good but consistency wise…I failed! I made the creamcheese variation and its too loose. I did wait for about 3 hours for the custard to cool down, and yet it is still too loose. Any advice from you? Oh and I do live in a tropical country, I hope that’s not one of the reason why the buttercream doesn’t have the right consistency.
Feb 01, 2013 · 9:51 AM
Hi Dinard! Oh, no, how frustrating! It may be that your “room temperature” is just much warmer than mine. I would recommend refrigerating the buttercream for a few hours (or overnight as you might have already done) and then try whipping it. This super-chill may be all it needs to whip into shape. Let me know how it turns out!
Feb 03, 2013 · 4:58 PM
Thank you so much for the recipe! I’m making (and selling) mojito cupcakes for Mardi Gras, and I’ve been searching all over for a frosting recipe that will be not-too-sweet but still rich, and most importantly will let the rum and lime flavors shine through. I had pretty well settled on SMB (which I’ve never made, though I’m an old hand at meringues), but was nervous I wouldn’t be able to make it turn out without an electric mixer. BUT then I found this, and I know that I can make custard with only a whisk. Thanks again!
Feb 04, 2013 · 9:54 AM
Hi Ruth! You can definitely knock out the custard with just a whisk, but you’ll really need to power up your arm to beat the butter into the custard! Good luck!!
Feb 07, 2013 · 9:33 AM
Aw, thanks, Roxie! I love that having a blog gives me a chance to connect with so many people who love to bake. Our society has a strong DIY streak, we like making all kinds of stuff from scratch and have all sorts of time consuming hobbies like scrap booking or crafting, yet baking is often perceived as something too difficult or time consuming and “semi homemade” still dominates the scene. Anything I can do to make jumping into the kitchen less intimidating for someone else is a total joy for me.
Feb 12, 2013 · 10:43 AM
I made this buttercream for my daughter’s 4th bday cake. I added rasberry jam and frosted a dark chocolate cake with it. It was awsome! I refrigerated it and whipped it before I frosted the cake, and had a little trouble with it breaking (maybe too much jam?), but I used your microwaveing a portion and re-whipping trick and it came back together like magic! I’m going to make the cream cheese var. for my youngest’s 1st birthday over carrot. Now that will be a smash cake!
Feb 12, 2013 · 7:12 PM
Hi czipp! Oh, take pictures! I bet that smash cake is the cutest! I’m sure the jam was fine in the buttercream, when it stats to break like that, it’s usually a temperature-related issue (to cold). So glad to know the previous comments could guide you through the issue. With the cream cheese variation, I’ve found if you cream the cream cheese and butter together first, it softens them up and combines them really, really nicely and makes the buttercream easier to work with. Happy baking!
Mar 04, 2013 · 9:04 AM
Hi Chomper! Oh, just perfectly smooth and creamy, no streaks of butter or “curds” of frosting (which happen when the mixture is cold).
Mar 06, 2013 · 9:05 AM
Hi derpy. Hmmm, that “translucent looking” business sounds odd! Did you use whole milk, or substitute something else? With two eggs and two yolks, it should definitely have some substance to it, rather than being translucent.
The custard in this recipe should not be eaten on its own; the sugar ratio and the way it’s formulated are to make it a good buttercream not a good pudding, so I don’t think you’d enjoy it on its own or with whipped cream folded in. Instead, I’d whip in the butter as per the recipe and use it as a frosting. It’s very light and creamy, and terrific on cake.
Mar 07, 2013 · 5:53 PM
Hi dad sharpe! So happy to hear you liked it, it’s one of my favorites. Good luck on your English recovery program, haha.
Mar 22, 2013 · 6:07 PM
I wanted to make this for cupcakes and have a few questions. I would love to make and decorate them today and serve them tomorrow. Will the frosting hold up and taste the same? I’ve made the swiss meringue once and it tasted great the first day but way to buttery the second day, so I’m worried german buttercream will do the same.
On a side note, do you think I messed up the swiss meringue and that is why it was a different consistence on the second day? Since I’ve never made it before, I wasn’t sure if it was just a bad recipe that I used or user error.
I really enjoy your blog, can’t wait to try other recipes. Next time, I’ll try your SMB to see if I suck or the other recipe did
· Believable Baker · believablebaking.blogspot.com
Mar 23, 2013 · 11:37 AM
Hi Believable Baker! The German buttercream pretty much behaves just like the Swiss, but has a much less overtly “buttery” flavor. It should be find to make on one day and serve the next. My first thought, if you liked the taste of the Swiss on Day 1 but not Day 2, is that the buttercream got warm. It’s fine being out of the fridge and held at room temp for a day or two, but since everyone has a different “room temperature” it may be that it was just a little warm in your house, which softened the buttercream too much. This would make it seem butterier, because it may have lost some of its air volume in the heat. Let me know if that jives with your experience, and we’ll figure this out!
Mar 26, 2013 · 3:19 PM
I think this is just the frosting I’ve ben looking for. I wondered though— How well does this buttercream do made ahead and frozen or at least refrigerated for a couple days? Also, what if I wanted to add strawberry puree, think it would become too loose, particularly if I went with the cream cheese version?
Mar 26, 2013 · 5:21 PM
Hi Mona! This buttercream is a dream to make ahead, you can freeze it for months, or refrigerate it for a week or two.
I don’t ever recommend adding pure fruit purees to any sort of buttercream because of their high water content (raw fruit purees are literally more water than fruit). I’ve got a recipe here for a strawberry reduction, which will add the flavor you’re looking for, without watering down the buttercream.
Even so, I’d take care adding anything to the cream cheese variation. It’s much softer than the all butter version, and by the time you add enough reduction to get the flavor you want, it may wind up too loose for decorating. Since the strawberry flavor will overwhelm the cream cheese flavor anyway, I’d recommend doing the all butter version, and adding in a squeeze of lemon juice for a similar tartness.
Hope the info helps, happy baking!
Mar 31, 2013 · 3:35 PM
HI Stella, like quite a few people I find swiss meringue butter cream like eating pure butter, however I do find it a dream to pipe. Which leads me on to my question. What does this pipe like? Could I pipe swirls onto a cupcake using the german buttercream? Thanks for your help and your amazing blog!!! Much love x x x
Apr 01, 2013 · 9:35 AM
Hi Corky! This buttercream (especially when made with all butter, not the cream cheese variation) behaves exactly like Swiss, in terms of texture and piping.
Apr 02, 2013 · 9:38 PM
This thread is so long, I’m not sure if this has been said before, but… I find it easier to make this using a different method. Beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixture until homogenous. Whisk the room-temperature custard and add about 1/4 to the butter/cream cheese mixture. Mix in the stand mixer till combined. Add the remainder of the custard in 3-4 more additions. It’s way faster than the “one tablespoon of butter at a time” method, and I don’t find any disadvantages as long as the butter/cream cheese mixture and the custard are within a few degrees temperature of each other. I’d have to do a side-by-side test, though, to be really sure that there is no difference, but I like it this way and easy is fine by me However, I’ve only tested this method with the butter/cream cheese version, not with the all butter version.
Apr 03, 2013 · 9:09 AM
Hi Katie! Smart girl! I’m working on making this recipe even easier, for the version that will be included in my book. In the meantime, I hope everyone tries out your method, it sounds like a great way to achieve the same results!
Apr 10, 2013 · 6:10 PM
Hi Jennifer! Oh no! That’s definitely not normal. What sort of butter did you use? Let's get to the bottom of this!
Apr 11, 2013 · 10:03 AM
Hi Jennifer. I would definitely pin that as the problem. For baking, one-ingredient butters work best (the ingredient’s should say, “cream” or “pasteurized cream” or something to that effect). Shame on Raley’s for sneaking something extra in!
Apr 11, 2013 · 11:13 PM
Thanks so much, Jennifer! I love how a blog lets me make connections with bakers all over the world. Happy baking!
Apr 14, 2013 · 9:21 AM
This frosting turned out just as you described it, light fluffy and tasting very much like vanilla ice cream. DELICIOUS! I was nervous to try this recipe for the first time, so I halved the recipe and it turned out great. Your directions were awesome, describing very well the custard making phase which is what I was most anxious about. This will be my go to icing recipe now, especially since I can do all those additions. THANK YOU!!!
Apr 14, 2013 · 10:02 PM
Hi Lisa Ann! Oh, I’m so happy it turned out for you and delivered on your expectations, hurray! Thanks for pointing out the vanilla bean issue, I’ll edit the recipe to be a little more accurate. This recipe was first published on the same page as my red velvet cake recipe, which is where the seeds are supposed to go. But now that they’re split up on two pages, it doesn’t make as much sense. I’ll go fix it now!
Apr 16, 2013 · 4:27 PM
Hi Stella. Is there a way to make a lemon version of this? …maybe by adding lemon curd or will that still curdle? And if possible, can I make a lemon cream cheese version? Sorry if this question is a repeat in case I have missed something while going through all the comments to know the answer to these questions.
By the way, I followed your tutorial for carrot roses to decorate a carrot cake and it tuned out pretty good ‘I think’ haha…. I would love to send you a picture of it soon sometime.
Apr 17, 2013 · 9:29 AM
Hi Saima! Oh, that’s an intriguing idea! I think you could whip some lemon curd into the finished buttercream, but I’m not sure how strongly the flavor will shine through. I am so intrigued, I’ll see if I can’t puzzle out a lemon option. It may take a bit of time, but I’ll let you know the results!
Apr 18, 2013 · 9:45 AM
Hi Stella! This is Ike, I don’t know if you recall my name (From Swiss BC color mystery). So I’m thinking of making this German BC,i’ve always make Swiss BC,never try another,but this recipe sounds real delicious. I have 1 question though, I just made a whole batch of Swiss BC today and I still have my frozen old batch Swiss BC too, can I mix German and Swiss BC in a cake, I mean use German BC as the filling and Swiss BC as the frosting or vice versa, would it be okay? Thanks Stella!
Apr 18, 2013 · 10:21 AM
Hi Ike! There wouldn’t be any problem with mix-n-matching at all, but that said, there’d also be nothing wrong with just leaving the Swiss in the freezer. It’ll keep for like 6 months, so you could just leave it tucked away for an emergency while you give the German buttercream a shot. But if you wanted to use it (if it were the color you wanted, etc), that’d be fine. Happy baking!
Apr 19, 2013 · 3:29 AM
Hi Stella! Thanks for the oh so fast reply. I have another question,this might sound silly but i just wonder if using a whisk or paddle attachment will give you any different result? In here you clearly state to use whisk attachment,so when you add the butter it will still be using the whisk attachment? Cause i usually use paddle attachment when making my Swiss bc. Thanks again Stella!
Apr 19, 2013 · 9:50 AM
Hi Ike! Yup. I’m a whisk kinda girl. The whisk attachment helps aerate the buttercream, to make it lighter. The paddle attachment will certainly make it creamy when adding the butter, but much more dense. I don’t think you could foam the meringue in the first place using the paddle…
For the German buttercream, you can beat the pastry cream with a paddle, then continue beating while adding the butter. But using a whisk will help lighten it further.
Apr 19, 2013 · 7:00 PM
Hi Corky! Absolutely. Just replace the sugar in the recipe with dark brown sugar and you’re there! If the flavor winds up not being quite as pronounced as you’d like, you can hit it with a Tablespoon of molasses to bring out a deeper flavor, as molasses is what flavors brown sugar.
Apr 23, 2013 · 9:17 PM
Hi Corky! No sweat, glad you’ve got it all sorted out. Hope you enjoy the buttercream, happy baking!
Apr 26, 2013 · 7:58 PM
Aggghhh the cream cheese demons are cavorting again. I can’t think of anything I did wrong…the butter and cream cheese were perfectly room temp, having sat out (covered) for 7 hours. Buttercream is loose. So I tried your trick and just-barely melted a bunch of white chocolate, let it cool and added that. Still soupy (although the traces of white chocolate clinging to the spoon, counter etc. hardened up rock-hard in minutes). So I did what you’re supposed to do when buttercream is finicky—cranked up the mixer and beat the crap out of it. It’s now even soupier. Perfectly homogenous and creamy, just SOUPY. It’s not too warm—my kitchen’s around 68-70 degrees. I cannot get over how it just ATE all that white chocolate without changing at all. It’s like a black hole. Do you think there’s any hope for it?
Apr 27, 2013 · 9:45 PM
Hi Psyche1226, ahhh, that’s so frustrating! How did the custard itself look before you added the cream cheese and butter? Just wondering if something might be up on that end. I’d say to refrigerate the buttercream overnight, then see how it sets up once it’s had a chance to chill. Let me know!
Apr 28, 2013 · 9:28 PM
I made this cream cheese-buttercream and tried to a raspberry variation by adding some homemade raspberry coulis. The BC on its own was superb, texture and all. I added in the coulis and whipped it and it was fine. After refrigerating for about an hour I decided I wanted to add a tablespoon more of the coulis. I added this in and whipped and I got the “separated” (Broken?) look. I tried your idea of reheating a portion and rewhipping and it seemed to help a bit but its still not one smooth pink colour (more like white and pink dots). The texture is also so much less fluffy and more liquidy. I’ve filled my cake and put the rest of the frosting in the fridge. Will figure out what to do about piping/decorating tomorrow…
· Natasha · theecstaticflash.wordpress.com
Apr 30, 2013 · 9:22 AM
Hi Natasha! Awww, bummer!! The problem is that the cornstarch is already working a full time job to bind the liquids int he pastry cream, and the coulis simply added more water than it could handle. It’s funny, it really can reach this sharp breaking point where it can hold exactly X amount of an extra add in, and then even a drop more is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Warming and rewhipping the buttercream may help, but in the future what you can do instead of adding coulis is to add a homemade reduction. Reducing the fruit puree with sugar cooks out the water content while preserving the bright, fresh taste. Because it concentrates the flavor, you can use less but get more flavor. I’ve got a berry reduction recipehere.
May 31, 2013 · 1:22 PM
love your site! thanks for this recipe! after much deliberation, i’ve decided to try the cream cheese variation to frost a lemon-curd-filled vanilla layer cake. also, because i prefer it in frostings, i am going to replace the cream cheese with mascarpone.
now, forgive me if i missed a comment that covers this in the thread, but i was wondering how this recipe would be affected if the milk was replaced with heavy cream. too much? any thoughts?
Jun 01, 2013 · 12:04 PM
Hi jescaloo! Haha, normally I get people asking me how to make this LESS fattening. Between the eggs, a pound of butter and a pound of cream cheese (or mascarpone!!), the buttercream has plenty of fat and richness as is; but I don’t think there’s any technical reason it wouldn’t work.
Jun 06, 2013 · 6:30 PM
Oh, haha, that makes sense! I was thinking you were just like Paula Deen Junior, ready to start putting in more fat. Lol. I’m glad you liked it with the milk!
Jun 30, 2013 · 12:28 PM
So, yesterday i thawed about a 1/3 recipe in the fridge over night for a sheet cake. When i went to re-paddle it the butter cream separated; in an act of desperation I put a spoon of mayo in to emulsify it back together and good as new! I thought i would share. Also, what did i do wrong to make in separate like that?
Jul 02, 2013 · 7:00 AM
Hi Nir, nice save!!! Generally, this buttercream is pretty forgiving to be whipped cold, but even so it may have just been too cold when it was rewhipped. So happy the mayo worked, but if it ever happens again (or for someone else reading in the future) you could do the same thing by adding in some melted butter. Alternately, you can melt the buttercream a little over a water bath (just until the edges get melty and the bowl is warm) and then rewhip. Knocking the chill off the mix can do as much good as the extra fat.
Hi Hala. For the cream cheese variation, you make the recipe as written above (which includes sugar), but with half butter and half cream cheese, rather than all butter.
Jul 08, 2013 · 8:08 PM
Hi, first things first. Your blog is amazing and such a comforting resource of information for bewildered bakers like me. So thanks!
Onto my question, Im planning to make this GB (cream cheese version) but scaled down to 1/4 of what your recipe calls for since I only need a small amount for a couple of cupcakes. (Pls dont judge me hehe) I was wondering what to do with the egg component. Should I keep it to 1 egg and 1 yolk despite scaling down everything else or is it safer to just scale down to half. Any tips on scaling down recipes?
Jul 10, 2013 · 7:09 PM
Hi Barbs! Sorry for the delayed response, hope I’m not too late. Generally, I don’t like splitting a recipe down any smaller than a single egg batch, so with this recipe I wouldn’t recommend making anything smaller than a half batch. The problem is that you have to either have to work super hard to get a half egg and a half yolk, or you have to fundamentally change the ratio. Once you go there, it’s hard to promise success since the buttercream relies on eggs (in part) for a good texture.
I know you only need a tiny amount, but with a half batch you can at least guarantee well behaved results. It’s not any extra work or time, though it will take more ingredients if cost is a concern. On the plus side, the buttercream freezes almost indefinitely so you can squirrel some away in a freezer safe bag to pull out next time a baking emergency pops up (like you forgot your friend’s birthday, or have unexpected company).
Jul 12, 2013 · 3:16 PM
I made a half batch and results exceeded expectations! Although, it didn’t turn out as white as yours in the photo. Could it be the butter?
Really surprised myself here as I’ve never made this kind of buttercream before. (I live in the tropics so I tend to shy away from stuff that may not hold up to our version of “room temp” . One last thing, I’d really appreciate it if you could recommend any type of frosting that fares better in high humidity. Or is the answer simply to refrigerate before serving or transporting?
Thanks again and more power!
Jul 12, 2013 · 5:56 PM
Hi Barbs, oh, that’s great! The color can vary a lot depending on the color of your eggs and butter, and also how long it is whipped (more air = paler). Generally, this buttercream is very stable even in warm weather (well, say a Kentucky summer where it’s humid and about 95 F outside). If it seems a little loose, toss it in the fridge for 15 minutes, then whip it again. It should be much thicker.
I always refrigerate my cake after crumb coating, then once it’s solid, I finish decorating. To travel, I chill cakes for 45 minutes so the buttercream is nice and hard, which “locks” the cake to the plate and keeps it sturdy for transport. Hope that helps!
Jul 14, 2013 · 2:01 AM
Re: Adding chocolate to buttercream
I would suggest making a semi-thick ganache (room temp) first before adding the chocolate to the buttercream which may help with the chipping issue with cold buttercream being mixed and giving a smoother finish. Making buttercream at room temp is impossible in our tropical weather.
Any alcohol used can also be added to the ganache already to help flavor the buttercream. I use the same technique when making chocolate mousse.
Jul 14, 2013 · 5:26 PM
It helps heaps! So I went ahead and made the Red Wine Velvet to go with the buttercream. Everything devoured and demolished in no time.
Happy to report that the GB withstood the weather which was at around 28 C (82.4 F says my converter) with 90% humidity (compared to 50% in Kentucky these days), left at indoor “room temp”. The long search for the perfect buttercream is over. The little extra I’ll pack in small dollops for when I have pancakes Cant thank you enough!
Jul 16, 2013 · 10:00 PM
@kayenne, true! I like adding pure chocolate because, ounce for ounce, you get more flavor. So long as the chocolate’s slightly warm or room temp and the buttercream’s not cold (which it shouldn’t be, given the temp of the butter) everything should work out fine. But for those in colder climates, ganache can be a safe bet. And yes! Alcohol is a great way to add flavor.
@barbs, omg, on pancakes?! That sounds outrageous!! Sign me up, or at least let me know what time you’re serving breakfast! So happy you approve and that the buttercream behaved for you. Happy baking!
Jul 17, 2013 · 10:52 PM
Hi Jennifer! You can pretty much just whip it in to taste, depending on how intense you’d like the flavor. If you’re making a fresh batch, I’d omit the salt since PB can get pretty salty, then start with 6 ounces of creamy peanut butter whipped in after the butter. Give it a taste and work your way up from there until you’re happy.
Jul 19, 2013 · 3:49 PM
No prob, Jennifer! Hope it turns out just the way you want it.
Aug 23, 2013 · 8:17 AM
I just made this frosting (the NON cream cheese version) and while I love the taste, I do find it a smidge greasy. Perhaps I did something wrong. At any rate, I was considering adding in 8 oz of cream cheese after the fact, in an attempt to “cut the grease”, so to speak. If I whip up my refrigerated frosting would I be able, in theory, to then add in room temp cream cheese? I don’t know if adding too much fat could somehow ruin it…or if flavor-wise, this might be a disaster since it already has a full portion of butter. Thoughts?
Aug 25, 2013 · 12:44 AM
Hi Lynne! A few quick questions just to make sure we’re on the same page: did you use a scale, whole milk, and unsalted butter? I hate to ask, they’re such run of the mill questions, but I’ve had a few people wind up with problems because they either switched to cup measurements, used a milk replacement, or even margarine. You never know until you ask.
But presuming you made the recipe as written, it may be that the buttercream is just a little cold. When cool, butter melts quite slowly on the tongue, which makes it seem greasy. You can try warming the buttercream by melting a 1/2 cup or so, then whipping it back in. This can help improve the texture.
But given the fat content of cream cheese, I don’t think you’ll want to whip any more in after, because it will just make it feel richer and the cream cheese is likely to curdle. If melting a bit of the buttercream doesn’t help, you could try whipping in a Tablespoon or two of lemon juice, the acidity may help cut the richness.
As a last note/idea, many grocery store brands of unsalted butter list some sort of “flavor” as an ingredient, which can give the buttercream an unnatural butteriness (which you may find objectionable). Hope all that extra info helps!
Aug 25, 2013 · 8:08 AM
Well, here’s what happened: I made everything exactly as written using the correct ingredients. I did measure the milk by volume, since it was only in closely reading the comments I figured out it should have been weight. :/ Also, the butter I used was Sam’s Club brand, and right now I don’t have another box to check the label for ingredients; maybe it was partly to blame? When I asked about fixing the frosting, it was room temp. So who knows exactly what happened there. I was reading other websites for ideas on how to improve it, and found this type of problem described as “mouthfeel”. That’s the perfect description. But…because I was in a hurry (about to leave town!)and didn’t get a response RIGHT THEN I made the decision to try the cream cheese. I took an 8 oz, room temp block and whipped it with about 1/2 C. powdered sugar. Then I whipped it into the frosting, a little at a time. It seemed to come together fine and because it was a small amount of cream cheese in relation to the frosting, it didn’t drastically alter the flavor. I stuck it all in the fridge and left. Now, two days later, I just pulled it out to soften up so I can frost with it. I took a little taste and didn’t get any “greasiness”, though maybe that will change in today’s mid-90 heat? I look forward to seeing how it holds up and hearing the comments I get on it! Thanks for your reply, and for the recipe!! It’s the only one that I have seen on the internet, and in no way comparable to the sickening powdered sugar stuff.
Aug 25, 2013 · 4:50 PM
Hey Lynne! The Sam’s Club butter may play a small role- I actually stocked up on their butter recently to make my little brother’s wedding cake. I bought it because I didn’t want to unwrap a hundred million sticks, haha. Anyhow, when I used it I noticed a strong fake-butter smell, and that’s when I read the label and saw it had added flavor.
But it may just be a mouthfeel issue, as you say! Powdered sugar buttercream has a lot of texture, that slightly gritty feel, and for most of us Americans German, French, and Swiss buttercream all feel so silky it can be a little freaky at first.
For a lot of people, this sensation goes away after making the recipe a few times, kind of like coffee seems so overwhelmingly bitter at first but then one day you realize you’re drinking it black! (Or is that just me?)
I think that by adding some powdered sugar to the buttercream, you wound up “texturizing” it, lessening the extreme silkiness. That actually sounds like a good “trick” for people who are making this style for the first time and not used to the super smooth mouthfeel. A little bit like a splash of cream in that coffee.
Aug 26, 2013 · 10:51 AM
Just wanted to follow up and let you know that the frosting turned out perfectly, and held up extremely well in the 95 degree/50% humidity day that we had. As I whipped up the frosting in the morning it curdled (too cold?) but I gave it a couple of short hot-water baths and it fluffed up beautifully. I used this to top a strawberry-filled white cupcake, and the whole thing tasted like a strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. Lovely! Thank you for your help!
Sep 04, 2013 · 6:10 PM
Dear Stella! I made the caramel variation and your recipe and method works perfectly (as always!).Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and know-how with us. The buttercream was fluffy, airy – I could eat half of it at once , and the caramel sauce was the best caramel sauce I’ve ever made or taste. The cake was a great succes and everybody was impressed. I tried your custard making method (long mixing as a cooling method) and recipe (with less more sugar of course and only egg yolks) as a home-made chocolate puding – now my children want me to cook it every other day
I’d like to ask if it is possible to change of the proportion of the custard and the butter to reach softer cream if the cake is kept in the fridge?
· piszke · piszke.blogspot.com
Sep 04, 2013 · 9:44 PM
Hi Lynne, Thanks so much for the follow up. I’m so happy to hear you were able to fix the buttercream by warming it up a little, hurray!
Hi piszke. Sorry for the delayed response, things have been a little crazy around here. You can play with the ratio a liiiitle, but any major changes tend to cause the buttercream to break or curdle as there’s not enough fat in the emulsion.
I know there are a lot of reasons to refrigerate a cake (like if you have a whipped cream filling or something like that), but this buttercream doesn’t need to be refrigerated itself, so if that’s the reason then you don’t have to bother. Hope that helps.
Sep 09, 2013 · 12:47 PM
I wrote to you a while back. I just wanted to let you know that I tried the cream cheese var. for my baby’s 1st bday and it was wonderful. (And she was covered from ear to ear!) I didn’t see your suggestion about whipping the cream cheese until after the fact, but I think I will do that next time. Birthdays are usually in the cold months at our house so room temp is around 68, so the butter and cream cheese don’t get quite soft enough.
Just one question, when you cook the custard, do you just time it or do you ever go by temperature?
Thanks for your recipies and your help!
Sep 15, 2013 · 4:52 PM
Hi czipp! I’m so happy the cake turned out so nicely for the party, hurray! When I make it, I usually set a timer because I use the same burner and pot every time, so it always cooks to the right temperature in the same amount of time. When I use a different pot (or work at home), I take the temperature to make sure it’s fully cooked (about 195). Hope that helps!
Hi disha! You know, I think it’s such a shame that this is a little “secret.” It’s called German buttercream, but once upon a time it was pretty standard in America! (We’re talking 19th century here… So happy you like it!
Sep 19, 2013 · 10:51 PM
Hi Christine! I haven’t tried it with arrowroot, but everything that I’ve read indicates the two should work very well when swapped for each other. I think you’d be safe to give it a shot; in your place I would definitely start with a 1:1 ratio. Please let me know how it turns out for you! Good luck.
Oct 11, 2013 · 11:30 AM
Hi Fiqah! You can absolutely make a white chocolate version, you can pretty much add in melted white chocolate to taste (at the end), probably up to a pound. Get it hot enough and any buttercream will melt, but this one is very stable! I’ve heard from several people who have used it for outdoor weddings, etc, without any trouble. Of course that’s always relative to their location, I don’t know how hot it is where you are.
It will firm up in the fridge, so after refrigerating I always suggest leaving a cake at room temperature for at least 6 hours before serving. The buttercream does not need to be refrigerated, as the eggs are thoroughly cooked in the custard. It can survive at room temperature for several days.
Oct 27, 2013 · 9:33 PM
I used your caramel German buttercream recipe to frost a dark chocolate cake this weekend and ohhh lordy, it was divine! Smooth and rich but not too buttery (yes I belong in that odd camp of liking a buttercream that isn’t overly buttery), fluffy despite the richness, and wonderful to work with. Thank you so much for sharing!
Now I’m looking at making a coconut and lime version of this, would I be able to substitute the milk with coconut milk or cream? Also, should I fold lime curd into the basic buttercream recipe (minus the vanilla) or is there a way to incorporate it at the custard-making stage? I don’t want the texture to become too loose, I’m enough of a spaz with frosting cakes as it is!
Oct 28, 2013 · 10:44 PM
Hi dani! Oh, I’m so happy you liked the buttercream. You can absolutely make the custard with whole coconut milk, just make sure it’s unsweetened. I haven’t tried to make it with a curd before, so I’m not really sure the best way to go about it. My first inclination would be to beat the curd into the finished buttercream. I’m not sure what curd recipe you’re using, but you’ll definitely want to make sure it packs a punch so the flavor will still shine through after it’s “diluted” by all the butter.
Nov 03, 2013 · 11:35 AM
I made this yesterday. Wow! So yummy. I’ll be using it to frost my cake today.
I have a feeling I’ll be quality taste testing quite a bit today while I’m decorating the cake.
· Miss Tori · mycakebytori.blogspot.com
Nov 05, 2013 · 10:13 AM
Wow, Miss Tori, you’re on a buttercream roll! I’m glad this one turned out well for you too! Hope the cake was a smash hit!
Nov 12, 2013 · 9:44 AM
I’m back! I only allow myself to bake during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays . My goal this week is chocolate cupcakes, a filling, and buttercream frosting that I can pipe easily. I’ve not tried piping or filling. Would the caramel sauce work as a filling? Does the buttercream pipe well? Thanks!
Nov 12, 2013 · 10:59 AM
Hi dj! Welcome back to the world of baking!! The caramel sauce won’t make a great filling as it is definitely saucy, I think it would just soak into the cake. But the buttercream does pipe well! As far as swirls and borders, writing, etc goes. Because it doesn’t crust or harden, it’s not as good for things like buttercream roses. It can definitely be done, it just take a bit of a different approach. Hope that helps, lemme know if you have any other questions.
Nov 13, 2013 · 2:48 PM
Last year I used vanilla extract. This year I’m trying vanilla beans. I scraped the pod and put it in the milk (for my buttercream frosting). There are still a lot of seeds in the pod, apparently, because my milk is speckled. Also, what do I do with the seeds. How do I store them. Thank you!
Nov 13, 2013 · 5:08 PM
Your German Buttercream sounds exactly what I am looking for!! My only question is do I go with the regular or cream cheese version…… I will be using this on pans of chocolate brownies, and would like the buttercream to “stand up” when they are cut in squares, and piled high. Does it “crust” to be able to do this?
Nov 14, 2013 · 12:27 PM
Hi dj! Sorry for the delayed response. I use the vanilla pod in this recipe because I am always using the seeds elsewhere (anywhere!) and lots of extra pods are always around my kitchen. You can simply whisk the seeds into the sugar and egg mixture, or you can store them with a bit of sugar and save them for another recipe. Just make that vanilla sugar a part of the sugar measurement for that next recipe.
Hi ArubaMan! I recommend starting out with the plain version, just to get a feel for the process. Cream cheese can be more likely to curdle (because it is a different consistency than butter), so knowing how the mixture should look from an all butter experience can make the cream cheese round a little easier. That said, I’m not sure this would be the best recipe to pair with brownies. The buttercream would certainly pile up nice and tall, it’s very sturdy, but it might be a little overkill considering how rich it is. But I’ll leave that up to you!
Nov 15, 2013 · 11:20 AM
Hello, I have a big question! I made the custard last night and wrapped it with plastic wrap sitting on top of the custard in the bowl. The custard was very loose. I just took it out of the fridge and it is still loose. Is this normal? Should I reheat and cook the custard longer? Will it still thicken? Does it thicken when you are whipping it?
Please help! I have a party tonight and need to get these cupcakes frosted!
Thanks a bundle!
Nov 15, 2013 · 12:33 PM
Hi aunty buggy! Oh no, that’s not good. No, it should definitely be nice and thick after only a few hours. There are a couple of reasons why this could have happened. The first would be if the cornstarch wasn’t measured properly, like when using cups rather a scale to measure. The second would be if the mixture wasn’t cooked at a bubbling-hot temperature for the full minute.
Does any of that line up with your experience? Let me know and hopefully we can get to the bottom of this. If all else fails, a French Buttercream can be whipped up in about 30 minutes…
Nov 16, 2013 · 8:22 AM
My caramel buttercream frosting on chocolate cupcakes was a hit! It took me 3 days to make it. lol. Caramel sauce one day, the custard on day 2, and whipping the butter and caramel into the custard on day 3. And I finally figured out how to pipe frosting on a cupcake.
Thank you for taking the time to answer silly questions like what to do with all of those tiny vanilla seeds!
Nov 16, 2013 · 1:46 PM
Hi dj! That is totally the way to go. I think it’s a little crazy to spend 12 hours in the kitchen to make something when you can knock it out bit by bit over the course of a few days. Congrats on the smart pacing, and the cupcake piping! I’m always happy to help, especially since you’ve only got these questions once a year, haha.
Dec 02, 2013 · 8:56 AM
Made my very 1st GBC today to frost my Mini Yule Logs & they tasted divine! The plain version held up well, but the choc version had to b fridged coz it seems to b “melting” along the edges. Add some meringue mushrooms, crushed pistachios & snow powder, über cuteness in mini size!
Dec 02, 2013 · 1:06 PM
Hi Sophia! Ahh, yeah, if the chocolate was a bit warm it can definitely get a little melty, but I’m glad you saved it! Sounds like you’ve got some serious Yule-log cuteness coming up.
Dec 04, 2013 · 8:14 PM
Oh my GOSH, this buttercream is simply amazing – I will never use just a standard sugar/butter cream filling again. It will go simply perfectly with my white chocolate mud cake!
Just a quick question though – could I use this for the outside of a cake? Does it set with a crust?
Such a beautiful filling, thank you so much for posting!
Dec 05, 2013 · 12:26 AM
I’m back again Stella – after reading through the users comments I can safely say I made my GB today with arrowroot powder and it wasn’t a problem! Yes, the arrowroot did turn the custard ‘slimy’ and gross (as arrowroot does!!) but I beat is on the lowest setting for roughly 15 minutes, and after the addition of the butter, it was fine. It turned out just lovely! I was also concerned about the refrigeration of the buttercream, but after reading that you’ve left your cakes out for up to 4 days and they have been ok, I’m feeling better about it!
Unfortunately it’ll be covered by fondant, but that magnificent taste will be there when the lady cuts into her cake! Thank you
Dec 05, 2013 · 9:48 AM
Hi Siborne! Sorry I didn’t get to your comment sooner. As you’ve discovered by now, the buttercream won’t crust up at all. Even so, I think it makes a splendid “outer layer” for cakes, mostly because I never use any techniques that require crusting (like roses, etc). And it’s well suited to go under fondant too, all you’ve gotta do is refrigerate the frosted cake until the buttercream is hard. Thanks so much for reporting back on the arrowroot issue, that’s wonderful to know! Every now and then someone comes along to ask me about that, and I still haven’t tried it for myself. So happy you’re enjoying this new-to-you style of buttercream! Happy baking.
Dec 16, 2013 · 12:08 AM
Hello Stella! Ive literally sat here and read through all your red velvet cake comments and all these comments and have learned alot!!! First of all it is amazing how fast you respond to people and then you apologize for “not getting back quicker”…crazy! It is so hard to get responses sometimes on blogs and such and you’ve responded quickly everytime. I was going to ask if arrowroot or tapioca flour would be a better replacement for the corn starch since I dont have any of that on hand. I did see someone said that arrowroot worked fine…would you happen to know if tapioca does also or if it would be a better option? It was nice reading everything! Dont ever change!
Dec 16, 2013 · 1:06 AM
Hi Alexis! Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner….hahaha, just kidding. I always imagine someone in their kitchen, spatula in hand, hitting reload over and over. I wish I could have a chef’s hotline to dish out emergency advice.
I think tapioca would be a great option, as it holds up better in the fridge/freezer, which may improve the buttercream’s stability in the long run.
But!! Tapioca flour doesn’t have quite the same thickening power, so you’d need to use a little more. I’m a hesitant to give you the green light since I haven’t done this myself, but if I had to start somewhere I’d try 2 1/2 ounces Tapioca flour/starch. After refrigeration, the custard should seem almost sliceably firm. If not, I wouldn’t even try whipping in the butter…
Dec 26, 2013 · 9:27 AM
Hi Stella. I froze the previous batch of Choc GBC & thawed it today to frost a cake. After rewhipping, I find that it doesn’t hold up well in the tropical climate. My previous Yule Logs that I fridged overnight (I was not sure it can hold up even in a AC room @ 24C) sort of went really soft after an hour out (no need for 6 hrs).
I made a plain batch recently for a Oreo Cake n I needed to pop the GBC in the fridge to firm up now n then (I think I’m just too slow in frosting…LOL).
Will adding more butter during rewhipping help give it more “structure”?
Dec 26, 2013 · 4:17 PM
Hi Sophia! Sorry to hear you’re having troubles with the buttercream as you rewhip. It might help to switch to tapioca starch rather than cornstarch (if you scroll up, there’s a comment about how much to use) because tapioca holds up better in the freezer, and through the thawing/refreezing process.
I’ve had good luck freezing and rewhipping this buttercream, so the tropical climate may very well be a factor since “soft” and “room temperature” can be so subjective. To be specific, I thaw the buttercream to roughly 67 F; colder and it’s likely to curdle a bit, but once it gets into the 70s, it’ll be quite soupy. It’s better to err on the side of too cold, though, since it’s easier to warm it up than cool it down. But I don’t think extra butter would improve its stability (unless you’re making the cream cheese variation!!).
Hope that gives you something to go on, let me know if you have any other troubles and we’ll figure it out!
Jan 05, 2014 · 2:35 PM
Hi, Stella, On the note of quartering the recipe, I’ve tried it with 1 yolk (from 2 × 1/2 yolk) + (guestimating) 1/2 white. The finished product filled and frosted a 3-layer 5” round cake comfortably, and behaved much the same as the half-recipe I tried earlier… which was fantastic, fluffy and flavourful. So those who feel a need to to make a tiny batch can rest assured… You just need a very small pot !!
Just curious what difference it will make if I use 4 egg yolks instead of 2 eggs + 2 yolks in the full recipe… i.e., minus the whites in the custard… Will that make it French BC ? The emulsifying power is still the same, and I’ve eaten some yummy custards made with yolks only… What do you think of this way to use up some yolks ?
Finally, THANK YOU for sharing such a wealth of information with us all the time… especially busting myths, which I truly appreciate… I wish you a wonderful 2014… Heep on inspiring us !! AG
Jan 07, 2014 · 9:45 AM
Hi cakester! Thanks for reporting in on the micro batch, that’s great!
The blend of yolks and whole eggs is about flavor, rather than texture. When it’s made with all yolks, it’s much harder to taste the “dairy” in the recipe. What I like about the blend is that it tastes creamy, but not overtly custardy. So if you’d like a stronger flavor, you can by all means use egg yolks.
That being said, if you’re making an all-yolk buttercream, my Faux French would be easier to make. You could whip it up and have it ready to use in about 30 minutes, no downtime for chilling the custard.
Hope that gives you the info you need! Let me know if I can answer any other questions.
Jan 31, 2014 · 9:40 PM
Hi Wanderlust! Omg, that’s awesome, yay!! So glad the recipe turned out to your liking, even BF approved. I saw your comment about Red Velvet, I will go answer that one over there.
Feb 01, 2014 · 5:25 PM
Oh! One last thing. I was reading over the directions again. When I made the custard, I put both whole vanilla bean pods into the milk to steep. Then I scraped out the goo, which still had the seeds inside and whisked it into the sugar mixture. It seemed weird at the time and now I understand that I read it wrong. Although it turned out amazing, I want to make sure I understand it correctly for next time. I’m to split the pods and scrape out seeds BEFORE steeping the pods sans seeds? Then when I scrape out the goo, it goes directly into the milk to return to simmer while the reserved dry seeds go into the sugar mixture? Do I have it right now? Thank you!
Feb 03, 2014 · 3:01 PM
Hi Wanderlust! Actually, I think this is a “me” thing. Rereading the recipe I think the directions are a little awkward. It doesn’t make a difference when or where the seeds go in, the flavor will turn out the same.
If you’d rather (in the future) you don’t even have to use the seeds. The pod is powerful enough to flavor the milk, and you can save the seeds for another recipe. I’m going to go edit the text to clear things up, thanks for pointing that out!
Feb 27, 2014 · 11:30 PM
First of all I just discovered your blog recently and tonight I have been reading it like a book! It is awesome! I made your brown butter sage marshmallows last week and they were amazing! Quick question: I will be making a “strawberries and cream” cake for my baby’s baptism and had planned to do Italian buttercream and then incorporate the strawberry reeducation to make it strawberry (I did this per your instruction last yr)…. Now I usually make Italian but do you think Swiss TASTES better or different than Italian? I know you said it is the gold standard. I love how pretty and shiny the Italian turns out but Swiss does seem easier. Also I had planned to do whipped cream and strawberries in the layers but now am re-thinking that …. Should I do this German buttercream in the layers with strawberries instead?? It honestly looks waaaay too delish and dying to try it!! Sorry this is so long! Just love you and your blog. I graduated from the CIA too but on the other side of the kitchen hee hee I have often wondered if I should have studied the sweeter side and so now I am just destined to be a wanna be pastry chef! Hahaha
Feb 27, 2014 · 11:35 PM
Hi! One more thing…. The way I found out how to do that berry reduction last yr and add it to my buttercream was through my friend Marnely Rodriguez. She tweeted you and asked you for me. I did not even know who she was talking with…. So that now leaves me two ask if that reduction is on this blog? Couldn’t remember the exact measurements and not sure where it is on the blog. Thank you!
Feb 28, 2014 · 11:36 AM
Hi Jojo! Really, I simply prefer Swiss because it is less fuss. No thermometer, no sticky pot, no boiling syrup, etc. As far as taste goes? I think they’re virtually indistinguishable (hence I don’t find Italian worth the extra effort).
But if you want to incorporate a liquid ingredient, I’d recommend the Swiss because it has a lower moisture content, which means you can add greater volume of reduction. I wouldn’t recommend the German because a) it has a very high liquid content and b) a pronounced custard flavor, which would distract from the fresh fruit flavor of strawberries.
Mar 06, 2014 · 8:12 PM
Hi Paula! Actually, I don’t recommend making German buttercream with traditional pastry cream. If you take a look at this recipe, it has roughly twice as much sugar as a typical pastry cream. Without that extra sugar, German buttercream takes on an almost savory flavor. That said, it’s a 1:1 ratio of sweet pastry cream and butter. Hope that helps!
Mar 13, 2014 · 3:27 PM
Hi luv2cook! I’m not sure I follow? After chilling the custard, there was a layer of oil on top, or something else? I also use heavy cream so I don’t think that’s a problem, but maybe something else was going on. Lemme know!
Mar 14, 2014 · 11:17 AM
Hi luv2cook! Oh, whew! I’m glad everything worked out in the end!
Mar 14, 2014 · 8:43 PM
Hey Stella, can you tell it was a Bravetart
fest at my house last week (pave, caramel, Neo-German cake). This, I’m almost done-just have to put the custard, cream& butter together. For some reason, it’s a little scary but will do after I make another batch of caramel. Thanks for telling us it can be frozen- big relief since the cake part didn’t turn out company-pretty.
Mar 15, 2014 · 12:44 PM
Glad you’re enjoying a baking extravaganza, MA! There are definitely a lot of moving parts with a buttercream like this, but it sounds like you’re moving at a comfortable pace. Just remember, 99% of the problems in a recipe like this are about temperature. If the buttercream seems curdled, it’s too cold. If it’s soft and loose, it’s too warm. So there’s always a way to save it, which makes it much less scary compared to cakes or cookies which have a more permanent sort of failure (if that makes any sense!).
Mar 15, 2014 · 11:03 PM
Wonderful recipes. I will definitely be testing your German Buttercream as I am experimenting with frostings for the wedding cake I am making for my niece. My German mother and grandmother made a similar buttercream by making the pudding but they would beat the butter until white then add the set, room temperature pudding one spoon at a time. I can remember as a child helping by dropping spoonfuls of the pudding into the stand mixer. Patience was required so it did not split. What are your thoughts about this method?
Mar 16, 2014 · 4:08 PM
Hi Lynette! I love hearing about your family’s recipe, how wonderful! I think their method sounds fabulous. Creaming the butter all at once may help minimize the risk of curdling, since it would mitigate the use of overly cold butter by warming it through friction. You’ll have to let me know how you like it!
Hi Luv2cook! Sounds like your daughter has a sweet tooth! A really easy way to add sweetness without altering the texture would be with melted white chocolate, which has a mellow flavor that is easily lost within the buttercream. But its sweetness would shine through! You could also beat in corn syrup, honey, caramel, or even a sweetened fruit reduction. Worst case scenario, you could beat in powdered sugar, but I would hesitate to do that since it will create something of a gritty texture… Hope one of those options doctors the recipe just how you’d like it!
Mar 16, 2014 · 10:52 PM
So glad you could doctor it to her satisfaction, Luv2cook! Wonderful to hear.
Mar 26, 2014 · 11:36 AM
Hey NerdDad! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note on your variation, that sounds like a fantastic punch of chocolate. I hear you guys have been having an especially cold winter! My husband is a huuuuuge Packers fan, and during football season he announces the current temperature at Lambeau Field every morning. LOL. Definitely cold enough to freeze a cake!
Mar 26, 2014 · 2:40 PM
Hi kary! Oh no!! Did all the other ingredients make it in alright? You may very well be able to make the buttercream without the yolks, which are there primarily for flavor (and a little extra body). Let me know what happens!
Mar 26, 2014 · 3:28 PM
Thank you for your fast reply!!
Yes the other ingredients made it lol I was so concentrated on wrapping other cake that I forgot to add the yolks that i put on top of the microwave lol
So if I add cream cheese or raspberry filling(the one is used for cake filling.. not so sweet.. yummm.. Im eating some now lol with white cake left overs and chocolate ganache.. oh oh LOL)to the GBC will it be ok?
Apr 02, 2014 · 11:39 PM
Hi kary! Sorry for the delayed response, you’ve probably sorted it all out by now. Without knowing the details of the cream cheese/raspberry filling, I wouldn’t have been much help anyway. Hope it was a success!!
Apr 13, 2014 · 7:00 AM
Hey Stella, The last bit of my Neo-German Choc cake saga regards the buttercream. I made it w my rescued caramel (thanks, again for that!), and it turned out gorgeous! Perfect, caramelly, and creamy.
Anyway, I finished about midnight, so I covered it and put it in the fridge. When I took it out the next afternoon and tried to re-whip it until creamy, it got all curdlely looking and lost about half its volume. It still tasted great, and I didn’t have time to redo it, so…everyone enjoyed it as part of the Mudslide cake.
Was that “breaking” the bcream? What did I do wrong? It tastes so phenomenal, I have to master it. Thanks for the recipes and the help!
Apr 13, 2014 · 9:12 PM
Hi MA! It sounds like the buttercream was simply a little too cold. If that happens to you again, you can scoop out a cup of the buttercream and melt it completely. Then, add it back to the rest and whip again. This warm, melty buttercream will help soften the rest so it can have the creamy texture it did in the beginning. Alternately, you can let the buttercream stand at room temperature for a few hours until it warms up.