The different types of buttercream
To a lot of people buttercream is buttercream! But there are actually many different types of buttercream, they all differ slightly to suit different types of bakes and what flavours you would like to achieve.
If you’ve ever mixed icing sugar and butter with a splash of milk and/or vanilla extract, then you’ve already ticked American buttercream off the list. American buttercream is the most popular and traditional buttercream as it’s so simple to make and it’s a great base for adding flavour and colour. It’s great for piping decorations onto cakes as its soft, but also holds a shape and stiffens once left.
American buttercream is best used for filling, icing, and decorating cakes and pastries.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
A light and fluffy buttercream made from egg whites and sugar, heated to make a meringue. Then butter, flavouring and salt is added to flavour it. Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet than American buttercream. It is super smooth and light and is great for filling cakes or cupcakes when other jams or curds are used as flavouring. Swiss meringue buttercream is very pale in colour so it’s great for adding colour.
Italian Meringue Buttercream
Italian meringue buttercream is the most difficult to make but is worth it as it is the most stable of all buttercreams. In order to make Italian meringue buttercream you have to cook sugar to turn into sugar syrup, then stream the hot syrup into the egg white as they are whipped. Please be careful if you’re going to attempt this one, you could pour hot syrup on you or be flicked by the whisk. Italian meringue buttercream great for more intricate designs and warmer climates as it’s a lot more stable.
Italian meringue buttercream has a high butter content and is rich and creamy in flavour. It is less sweet than traditional American buttercream, so it’s great to pair with a rich chocolate cake!
It is Identical to Italian meringue buttercream, though you only use egg yolks and not the whites. French buttercream is rich and creamy due to using egg yolks and is used for cakes, cupcakes and other similar deserts.
Otherwise known as crème mousseline, is a custard-based buttercream. It is light and smooth, and only has a subtle sweetness. It’s best used in cream puffs, pastries, and cakes.
Made with whipped butter and condensed milk. It has a strong milk taste, and the texture is slightly thicker than whipped cream. It is best used on cupcakes or cakes that will be served quickly. It is very light so doesn’t hold up for a long period of time, and it doesn’t cope with heat well.
Identical to Italian meringue buttercream, though the butter is cold when beaten in, creating a completely different texture and look. It has a glossy finish, which is slightly transparent and therefore makes beautiful, piped flowers. It is great for piping intricate designs on cakes and cupcakes.
American, Swiss meringue and Italian meringue are the most popular in the world of baking due to their versatility. Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to a week in an airtight container. When you want to use it, just leave it come to room temperature and re-whip it, so it gets its fluffy texture back. You can also freeze buttercream frosting for up to 3 months! Pop it in an airtight bag or container, the day before would like to use it take it out of the freezer and pop it in the fridge for 24 hours to let it thaw. Then again let it come to room temp and whip it up! If you are defrosting a large amount of buttercream, please allow for more time for it to thaw.
We have a wide range of both unflavoured and flavoured sugars here at The Vanilla Valley which are perfect for making buttercream! If you wish to colour your buttercream, we suggest using a spot of gel or paste colouring as this won’t affect the texture as much as other mediums.