How to Make Flour Buttercream (or Ermine Buttercream)
Well, it’s time for the fourth post in my new ‘Battle of the Buttercreams’ series, which introduces the second type of buttercream: flour buttercream! The buttercream that inspired me to make the original ‘Battle of the Buttercreams’ series a year and a half ago.
If you missed the first three posts of this fabulous new series, here they are: first, second and third… The third post, which explains about the “whipped butter method,” is particularly important for today’s recipe.
Now, before we start, there’s something I think you should know: flour buttercream has a lot of names! It turns out that I call it flour buttercream here on the blog, because the flour in buttercream is really what sets this type of buttercream apart, in my opinion. But this is also known as ermine buttercream (or ermine glaze) or cooked milk buttercream (or, again, cooked milk glaze). And if you’re familiar with The Pioneer Woman (who doesn’t?), you might know this buttercream as “that’s the best icing I’ve ever had” (<, his words, not mine.
First of all, there are two ways to make this buttercream. Some people, including The Pioneer Woman, do this by combining flour and milk in a saucepan and cooking it until it becomes a thick paste. Once cold, this paste is beaten in butter softened with a large amount of granulated sugar.
Since I don’t believe in mixing large amounts of granulated sugar into not-so-liquid mixtures (I can’t stand granulated buttercream!) I came up with a different method. Instead of adding the granulated sugar to the butter along with the cooked milk paste, I add the sugar to the milk-flour mixture before it’s cooked. In other words, I cook milk, flour and sugar together! That way, all those little sugar crystals dissolve in the milk, which will thicken as it cooks because of the flour, and you end up with a soft, sweet, but otherwise tasteless pudding base. This pudding base is mixed with whipped butter. Add vanilla and you’re done!
The result? A super soft buttercream, super creamy and incredibly delicious. Trust me, if you want to make super soft flour buttercream (or whatever you prefer to call it) without having to worry about undissolved sugar crystals, this is the way to go!
But wait, I already came up with this method in my original flour buttercream post and this is the ‘Battle of Buttercreams 2.0’, so what’s new in this recipe?
Well, remember how my last flour buttercream recipe didn’t work very well? I mean, I guess it was fine, but the buttercream was a little mild, so it had a tendency to “slouch over” a bit. I’m proud to say that I solved that problem!
The key to super soft flour buttercream is the “whipped butter method.” Of course, you know all about it, right? If you don’t… Well, didn’t I tell you to read the third post in this series? Anyway, by whipping the butter until it’s super fluffy and adding the pudding base one tablespoon at a time, you’ll end up with a superbly smooth, creamy, fluffy buttercream that combines beautifully every time.
The days of hunching the edges of buttercream are over…
So let’s talk a little more about the ingredients, okay? For this buttercream, you will need 6 ingredients: granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, table salt, milk, unsalted butter and vanilla extract. And if you’re one of those readers who actually compare the updated version (aka this version) of the recipe to my 2013 version, you’ll notice that neither the ingredients nor the amounts of the different ingredients have changed. That just goes to show how much difference the right method can make!
okay, I added salt to this recipe. But that doesn’t really count…
Anyway, on milk, I’ve done this using whole milk and 2%. I guess you could also use cream, half and half, or even skim milk (almond milk maybe?), I just know I haven’t tried it yet…
When it comes to butter, you should soften it at room temperature. Yes, that means you’ll have to remember to take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to do these things. I use unsalted butter, because I like to control the amount of salt that goes into my buttercream, but you can use salted if that’s all you have on hand.
But be sure to use real vanilla extract. It’s much better than artificial things! If you can’t get a real vanilla extract, use a vanilla bean instead. Simply open it with a small, sharp knife, scrape off the seeds, and add the seeds to the buttercream instead of the vanilla extract.
So how do you make this new and improved flour buttercream
Step 1: Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk or stir until combined. For visual cues, although I don’t think you really need any, check out photo 2 of this post.
Step 2: Add the milk and beat to combine. Because you have already mixed the flour, sugar and salt together, there will be no strange lumps. Just look at photo 3!
Anyway, once all the ingredients are well combined, place the pan on the stove and heat over medium-high heat, beating constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once the first bubbles begin to appear, lower the heat to low, set a kitchen timer, and cook the pudding for 1 to 2 minutes, beating approximately every 10 seconds. When the kitchen timer rings, remove the pan from the heat and whisk for about a minute to remove some of the heat from the pudding.
Using a rubber spatula, pour the pudding into a plate and immediately cover with plastic wrap (pressing the plastic directly onto the pudding) to prevent a skin from forming (photo above). Allow the pudding, which, as you can see, will look like glue! – Cool to room temperature.
Lift your feet at this point. Just don’t forget to take the butter out of the fridge!
Step 3: Once the butter is soft, beat for 5 minutes with a blender, or until pale and fluffy. I made this batch in a stand-up mixer and accidentally beat the butter for 10 minutes because I completely forgot, so if you want to beat the butter for 10 minutes, that’s fine too.
In any case, whipped butter should look like this, or even paler:
See? Soft, creamy, fluffy and pale.
At this point, you can start adding the pudding base.
Step 4: Add the pudding base one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. As you may recall, my 2013 recipe for flour buttercream called for whipping butter cubes on the base of the pudding. However, adding the pudding to whipped butter one tablespoon at a time not only means that the buttercream will bind more voluntarily, reducing the risk of it separating, but it also means that the resulting buttercream is much lighter, fluffy and dreamy.
Trust me, doing it this way makes a BIG difference!
Once you have added all the pudding, mix the vanilla, then mix the buttercream against the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula for about a minute to get rid of large air bubbles.
This step is optional, but I always do, because the air bubbles in buttercream can make your pipe look like a five-year-old did…
This recipe makes about 780 ml or 31/4 cup of buttercream, which, in my world, is enough to generously freeze about 12-14 cupcakes or a two-layer cake of 20 cm (8 inches). But how much buttercream you actually end up with everything depends on how much air you can beat into the mixture. So make sure you beat hell that butter!
Anyway, here are some more facts about this buttercream
Color: Pale ivory Texture: GMO fluffalicious! Pipes: wonderful pipes Level of difficulty: medium, because you need to cook the pudding on the stove Fat content*: 26% Sugar content*: 45% Does it form a crust: no*
based on nutritional information.
So how does flour buttercream compare to American buttercream? Well, if I had to choose between the vanilla version of my American buttercream and the vanilla version of this particular buttercream, I would have to say, despite the fact that I really like both buttercreams, that flour buttercream wins, because it has a more delicate taste and is not as overwhelmingly sweet.
Oh, and it’s fluffier…
guess, and I’m almost afraid to say it, it’s also a little healthier than American buttercream. Just look at the facts: you have a lower calorie count, less fat, less sugar, and a lot more protein…
Of course, I wouldn’t tell you this if this buttercream tasted awful. I mean, come on, it’s buttercream! It’s not supposed to be healthy, it’s supposed to be delicious. And yet… I feel like I need to tell you this because this not only means that this buttercream beats the American version when it comes to taste and texture, but it’s also better for you than American buttercream.
That’s it for now guys…
But stay tuned for an amazing peanut butter cream and cookies!
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