This recipe comes from the 1985 Wilton Yearbook, a time when cake decorating looked vastly different from the way it does now. No fondant to be seen anywhere, and buttercream reigned supreme. Cakes didn’t quite have that sculpted, not-sure-which-parts-are-edible look, and they were never pure white because real butter and vanilla were the norm. No wonder this recipe tastes so good!
Note: If you are looking for pure white buttercream, substitute Crisco for the butter, and clear vanilla for the regular. Water also works instead of milk. Check out this link for a pure white recipe from Wilton.
Use room temperature butter when possible, and make sure you whip it well with the Crisco. This will form your base, so you want it to be extremely light and airy. I like to let it whip for about 5 minutes. Also, many websites do not recommend using the whipping attachment on your mixture if you are planning to pipe with the buttercream as you might get air bubbles. I’ve never noticed a difference, but consider yourself warned.
Next, I add the milk and vanilla, then the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time while the mixer runs on low. When all the powdered sugar is added, I allow the mixer to run on high for about 5 minutes in order to really whip things up.
If you are planning to decorate with the frosting, make sure to check your consistency with a knife or spatula. First, scoop up some frosting with your knife. For stiff consistency, you should have to shake the knife several times to get the buttercream to fall back into the bowl. For medium consistency, you should only need to shake it once. For thin consistency, the buttercream should drop right back in without any help from you.
If you need to thin your frosting, add milk/water in very small amounts. If you need to thicken it up, add powdered sugar. This recipe tends to make a medium to slightly stiff frosting, which I find to work well if you’re just planning to ice cakes, brownies, bars, or cookies.
My favorite part of this recipe is that it’s so versatile. You can make just about any flavor out of it! Some of my favorite variations include:
Chocolate: add 3/4 cup cocoa and increase milk by 1-2 Tbsp (You can even use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa to make dark chocolate, which kind of rocks!)
Cinnamon: Add 1 tsp cinnamon (great for pumpkin bars!)
Lemon: Substitute lemon juice for the milk
Orange: Substitute orange juice for the milk
Strawberry/Raspberry/Blueberry/Mixed Berry, etc.: In place of one tablespoon of milk, use a tablespoon of jam or jelly. Jam makes the frosting really pretty since you get tiny flakes of the berry in the final product.
We're the Homans - Diane, Dustin, Alex, and Faith (not pictured - she's really new!). We love blogging deliciously simple recipes and kid-friendly crafts. Thanks for stopping by!Learn More ->