Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cooked Milk Buttercream

Once again, I have to ask myself why-oh-why did a classic old-fashioned recipe go out of style? This retro kind of frosting is SO good, tasting like a cross between homemade vanilla pudding and whipped cream. I don't know why nobody makes it anymore. There are many different recipes for this, but the one I tried recently was from the book United Cakes of America by Warren Brown. This book is a treasure trove of old-fashioned recipes. I do take exception to certain things in the book (like the strangely flat and un-authentic looking Whoopie Pies, for example) but overall the book's concept of capturing regional favorites is great, even if it doesn't quite live up to its FULL potential. Okay, this isn't a book review, so on to the recipe:

 Warren Brown's "Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream"

1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
1 Cup Unsalted Butter (if you only have salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe)
1 Cup Superfine granulated sugar (put regular granulated sugar through a food-processor)
Pinch of Salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put 4 Tablespoons of the milk and all of the flour into a small saucepan. Using a wire whisk, whisk them together vigorously to mix well and make a slurry.  Press out any lumps with a rubber spatula if necessary. Turn the heat on under the pan and add the rest of the milk. Whisking continuously, bring the mixture to a simmer for about 30 seconds (it is thick, but you will see it bubble up. Let it bubble while stirring constantly, for a good thirty seconds to cook off the starchiness of the flour). Take the pan off of the heat. To avoid getting a "pudding skin" on the surface, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the milk (which will be thick like a custard at this point). Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed for about 5 minutes (don't shorten the beating time - you need the butter to be fluffy and the sugar to be less grainy. The sugar will dissolve even further when you mix the thickened milk in.)

When the milk mixture has cooled, spoon it into the butter/sugar and beat for another five minutes, or until you have a spreadable consistency.

This will frost a regular 9" two-layer cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Note: This buttercream is a great choice for standard layer cakes or swirls on cupcakes. It is not for piping intricate decorations. It will stand up just fine at room temperature, but on a hot day you should refrigerate your cake/cupcakes until about 30 minutes before serving. (The butter solidifies in the fridge making the frosting hard, so take them out 30-60 minutes prior to serving, depending on how hot the day is).


  1. I don't think I have ever tried that one...sounds good!

  2. this recipe is a family favorite and we find it the best on Chocolate cake! Divine!