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!
As for why it’s perfect, well, it pipes and holds its shape perfectly, as the cupcake down below will attest to. It’s a crusting buttercream, so if you leave it alone for a few minutes, it develops a slightly hard “crust.” If you’re new to cake decorating, this is desirable in a decorator’s icing as it makes piping and decorating much easier.
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.
So the absolute best part of this icing recipe is how versatile it is. You can make so many flavors with just a few changes, and the buttercream keeps its consistency, making it super easy to pipe and decorate with, no matter what flavor you’re using!
Here are the flavor options, in no particular order:
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!)
This is probably my favorite, and here it is used on a cake. You can see it pipes and crusts gorgeously!
Add 1 tsp cinnamon to base recipe. Really. That’s it. This goes great on apple flavored stuff, or my personal favorite, pumpkin chocolate chip bars. See it here (I might have spread it on before the bars cooled…):
Substitute lemon juice for the milk. This one comes out a fluffy, gorgeous white.
Just like the lemon, you simply substitute orange juice for the milk. I don’t have a picture for this guy, but he comes out a sort of creamy orange off-white color.
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.
Alternately, you can use a couple of spoonfuls of very finely chopped (food processor sized) berries and mix them in. This is a slightly less sweet version, and it can become a little more runny as time goes by, but you can’t beat the fresh berry flavor, so if you’re planning to eat your cake/cupcakes quickly, I highly recommend this. Isn’t it pretty?