How to (Easily) Make Smooth Buttercream

 One of the biggest challenges to cake making is achieving very smooth looking cakes with buttercream icing.  Buttercream has an attitude if you don't treat it right.  Give it too much water and it will not hold for you, give it too little water and it will get pasty on you, don't let it sit or don't stir it enough and and it will keep it's bubbly texture... and I am sure you can think of more of the challenges!  So here it is, a post all about getting buttercream to the right texture and consistency to give you a nice smooth look AND to make decorating easier.  

 The Recipe.

 This has been the best recipe I have ever worked with.  You do need to use Hi-Ratio shortening (not Crisco) to achieve that extra smoothness (and extra yummy) results.  You can purchase this at Janis' cake shop (Every Baking Moment in Dixon, California) or search online.  I have adjusted this recipe for what I like and it is below.  For Janis' Original Buttercream Recipe click Here

25 oz of Hi-Ratio Shortening
16 oz of Salted Butter (or 1 tsp of salt per 16 ounces of unsalted butter)
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1/2  tsp Almond emulsion (can use 1 tsp extract in place of emulsion)
5 lbs C&H powdered sugar

9-10 Tbsp water
Make your buttercream at least a day or so in advance.
Step 1.  Bring out your shortening and butter and let warm to room temperature (I like to do this overnight).  This step will make preparing this buttercream go A LOT faster.  You can use the microwave but I warn you it is not the same.  We can't always take shortcuts:-/!

Step 2.  Place shortening, butter, vanilla, and almond in mixing bowl.  Using your paddle attachment cream well at low speed stopping if needed to scrap down sides.  Get it real creamy smooth at medium speed (about 10 minutes or so).  This will take a lot longer if the butter or shortening is not at room temp.
Step 3.  At low speed add about 1 lb of powdered sugar and blend well moving up to medium speed if you like.

Step 4.  At low speed again add another 1 lb of powdered sugar, blend well, and another 1 lb of powdered sugar AND the first 3 tablespoons of water and blend well.

Step 5.  Add another 1 lb of sugar & 3 tbsp water, and the last 1 lb of powdered sugar and the last 3-4 tbsp of water.

Step 6.  Store in a container with a lid (I like to use a large pot) at room temp for a week or in the fridge for a month or so.  If you do not keep a lid on it the buttercream will dry out and get pasty.


Ok, so now that we got the recipe down let's get it smooth!!   

 #1.  So here's what has to happen... the buttercream needs to rest and get 'firm'.  The bubbles do not like to come out when the buttercream is still fresh and soft.  You can accomplish this 2 different way, the first is to make it a day in advance (at least overnight - 8 hours) or store it in the fridge until the butterceam is cold.  If you do the fridge method you want it to come back to room temp so it is easy to stir.  Either way you slice it waiting is a must.
#2.  After waiting for your buttercream to 'firm up' get ready to start stirring.  Bring out your soft spatula, start stirring, and you will see as you stir in one area the bubbles will start to disappear.  If you let your buttercream firm at room temp run the spatula under water for a second and use your (now) wet spatula to incorporate just a little more water into your buttercream.  If you used the fridge method as the buttercream thaws the condensation will incorporate more water and you will likely not need to add anymore.  I have found that the fridge method smooths out a lot faster but either way will work.
#3.  Continue to stir as much buttercream as you think you will need.  I do like to do this manually (versus reusing your mixer) because then there are that many less dishes to rewash and this doesn't take long.

 #4.  Once you see the buttercream become smooth it is ready to use!


Here is a pix of my pot of buttercream.  You can see that the side where the spatula is at has a creamier looking buttercream (this is where I stirred).  And the buttercream above the spatula (top part) looks more bubbly and not-smooth.  Mix only what you estimate you need at a time. 

Once smooth use your buttercream but keep your container closed (I have a bad habit of not doing this step when I get busy with the cakes;-)).

That really is it!  Try it and share your results with us:)!

Thanks for reading and happy cake making!



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