Buttercream frosting has to be my all-time favorite frosting. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and it’s easy. It tastes good with any cake flavor, and it’s consistency is perfect for piping beautiful cakes and cupcakes.
Buttercream frosting recipes are a dime a dozen, but this buttercream frosting has a magic ingredient: bakery emulsion. For years a friend who is an expert baker who told me to use bakery emulsion in my frosting instead of typical vanilla extract. When I finally did it, I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. Something about it took the flavor of my frosting from great to outstanding, and I’ve never gone back to vanilla extract.
If you’re not familiar with bakery emulsion, it’s basically a different type of flavor extract. While typical flavor extracts are flavoring dissolved in alcohol, emulsion is based in water with an emulsifier. Water is a more neutral carrier than alcohol (so it’s great for buttercream frosting-or any frosting), and no alcohol also means that the flavor doesn’t burn off at high heat (so it’s great in baked goods). I buy it at my local gourmet kitchen supply store, and a few people have told me they’ve seen select flavors at their local grocery store. Of course every flavor is available on Amazon.
Using bakery emulsions instead of flavor extracts doesn’t reduce your flavor options either; there are still many different flavors to choose from. My go-to flavor is Butter Vanilla, but there are many possibilities. Princess Cake and Cookie, Raspberry, and Lemon are a few of my other favorites. Butter Vanilla costs a little over $5 for a 4 ounce bottle, and it’s absolutely worth it.
All that being said, yes you can use vanilla extract in this recipe and, let’s get real – it’s butter, sugar, cream and vanilla flavor. It’s going to taste good.
A lot of buttercream recipes call for unsalted butter, but I don’t always have that on hand. I use salted butter, and I think a little bit of salt is perfect to offset the sweetness of the buttercream frosting.
The method for making this buttercream frosting is simple. Whip the butter until smooth. Add one cup of powdered sugar and whip, then another cup. Add the heavy whipping cream and bakery emulsion, then whip again. Add two more cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
At this point, you will need to decide if the frosting is the right texture. It should be smooth and fluffy, but still hold its shape. Sometimes brands of powdered sugar vary in how much moisture they absorb. If your frosting is too stiff, add more heavy whipping cream, a half tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired texture for piping or spreading.
If you want more information about how to pipe frosting onto cupcakes, this video from CakesbyLynz is one of my favorites.
No-Fail Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup salted butter room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon Butter Vanilla Bakery Emulsion or vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter. Beat butter on medium speed with the whisk attachment for about 1 minute, until butter is smooth.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Repeat with 1 more cup.
- Add bakery emulsion and heavy whipping cream and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
- Beat for about one additional minute, until frosting is thickened, smooth, and fluffy.
- The frosting should be smooth and fluffy, but stiff enough to hold its shape. If it's too stiff, add more whipping cream, half a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired texture (2-3 tablespoons total).
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