Butter cream icing

Have you ever noticed how birthdays tend to cluster in families?  From March until the end of June our immediate family has a dozen.  Cakes for weeks.  And all different flavors…chocolate, banana, vanilla, carrot.  But each one must be iced with homemade butter cream icing.

This recipe was my grandmother’s.  It was taught to me by my mother.  And I taught it to my daughters.  There is a list of ingredients and there are directions…but it is all accomplished “by feel” and taste.  (You can do this JM!)  This is a technique more than it is a recipe.  I hope you will choose to try it, learn it (by heart…easy!), and pass it on to others.

Ingredients: (all are easily available at your local supermarket)

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature  (I use freshly made butter that I buy from my local farmers’ market…)

at least a 1 pound box of powdered confectioner’s (10X) sugar (I always have two at the ready or a large bag.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

at least 1/4 cup whole milk

Directions: Have all your ingredients in front of you, ready to use.

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl using an electric hand-mixer (I usually use my hand-mixer), beat the butter and vanilla for a minute or two, until fluffy.
  2. Begin adding….by heaping spoonful…the powdered sugar.
  3. Because the mixture will be dryish…not resembling icing…add some milk.  Just a little bit, a splash.
  4. This is where the technique and trying comes in.  Continue adding sugar and a little bit of milk until the icing is the consistency to spread with a knife or spatula.  Make sure all of the butter and sugar are incorporated.  Add sugar until the mixture appears dry BEFORE adding more milk.

  5. Stop and check the texture and, of course, taste.IMG_0122
  6. With that amount of butter you should have plenty to ice an entire cake.

  7. After the cake is iced, find someone to help lick the beaters and clean out the bowl…

This icing makes any cake great…a box cake or from scratch.  It’s the icing that raises the bar!

Butter was purchased from Hillacres Pride from the Collingswood Farmers’ Market.

The photos here are of my daughter’s banana cake iced for her birthday.  The banana cake recipe follows.


Banana Birthday Cake

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (1 1/4 sticks)
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease two 9-inch round pans using butter or baking spray.  I use baking spray with flour in it.

2.  Sift both flours, baking soda, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.

3.  In a second small bowl, mash the banana and stir in the buttermilk

4.  In the bowl of an electric mixer…cream the butter, oil, both sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

5.  Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed after each addition until blended, about 10 seconds.  Scrape the bowl each time.

6.  Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed for about 10 seconds.  Scrape the bowl.  Add 1/2 the banana mixture, mix for 10 seconds.  Scrape the bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the rest of the banana mixture and mix for 10 seconds.  Scrape the bowl and then stir the batter with a wooden spoon several times by had to mix thoroughly.

7,  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake on the center oven rack until the top is golden, springs back to the touch, and a tester inserted in the center comes out dry.  (30 to 35 minutes).

8. Place the cakes on a rack to cool completely.

9.  Eat as is, sprinkled with powdered confectioner’s sugar, or iced with butter cream icing.



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