Sunday, August 30, 2009

Frosting Makes The Cake

Cooking, for me, is a challenge and a necessity. Don't get me wrong---I love to cook, but I'm simply not as passionate about it as I am about baking. For me, there is something almost zen-like about putting together a pie, a cake or a batch of cookies for someone to ooh and ahh over. Most weekends find me baking something to take to work (if my husband will let it go out the door), or something to satisfy my mother-in-law's sweet tooth. This weekend was no exception. I had made a cake for someone's birthday at work last Wednesday and I had been hearing about how good it looked ever since. Someone was hinting around about wanting some chocolate cake.....

Now, I am not a fancy baker. I do believe that you eat with your eyes first, so I do try to make my baking (and my cooking) look as appealing as possible. But, I just don't have the talent or the patience to do the whole fondant thing. Someday I may step out of my comfort zone and give it a try, but for now I will concentrate on taste and simple presentation. I have just a few recipes for chocolate cake that I use and I mix and match the frosting to make several different kinds of dessert. With a basic cake recipe you could say the the frosting makes the cake (or the cupcake). Today, the family requested a white frosting, so I will concentrate on showing you how I make an old fashioned buttercream.

First, the cake recipe that I used. This produces a really nice 9 X 13"  moist, flavorful, chocolate cake and/or cupcakes. Originally, it came from a turtle cake recipe---I swap things around all of the time.


1 egg
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (I like to use the Hershey's Dark Chocolate for this)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 c. hot coffee


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch pan.

Combine egg, oil and buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Combine the egg mixture and the flour mixture, mixing well. Slowly mix in hot coffee. Turn into prepared pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes. Frost when cooled.

Since I'm not used to blogging about every step yet, I forgot to take a picture of the process. Suffice to say, the batter is very thin---as evidenced by the remnants left in the bowl.

The buttercream is a bit of a process. I wouldn't say that it is hard to make, but it can be tricky. I thought it was the weirdest recipe when I first saw it, but this has turned out to be the creamiest, tastiest white frosting I have ever had. And it is versatile. I pipe it on cupcakes, frost cakes with it and use it as a filling for my cream filled cupcakes. Need something for St. Patrick's Day? Use a little green food coloring. Want to make lemon cupcakes? Use some lemon extract. I think I've painted enough of a picture. Here is the recipe:

Old Fashioned Buttercream Frosting

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or any flavor extract--lemon is very good)

In small saucepan, whisk the flour and the milk until smooth.

Place over medium heat and cook until thick and bubbly, whisking the entire time. Place thickened mixture in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Allow it to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (I swear by my KitchenAid!), combine the butter and the sugar.

 Beat with the paddle attachment (those new ones that scrape the sides of the bowl are perfect)on high speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the cooled flour mixture and beat for an additional 5 minutes, or until the frosting is smooth with no gritty sugar.

Looks kind of gross at this point, doesn't it. Don't taste that flour/milk mixture yet---yuck!

 At this point, stir in whatever flavor extract you prefer and maybe a bit of food coloring if you want to be festive. ;)

If the buttercream turns out a little thin, refrigerate it for a few minutes before frosting. This particular cake looks a little boring by itself, so I drizzled a little chocolate and caramel syrup over the top of each piece.

Tint it green for St. Pat's Day...

...or just whip up some yummy vanilla cupcakes!


  1. Wow!! That chocolate cake looks GORGEOUS!

    I'm not much of a baker... so I'll be taking notes here!

  2. The chocolate cake looks amazing. I'll have the try the chocolate and carmel syrup idea some time.

  3. Man, I need to eat breakfast before hitting the blogs. Before I had wanted eggs, now I want cake! :D

  4. How funny I make both of those recipes all the time. The cake really is, sorry, moist. But so delicious. The icing is my very favorite, it just seems less sweet to me than most icings. I guess it makes up for that in it's richness though. I love the idea of drizzling the cake, that made it look so much more decadent!

  5. omg...I'm gaining weight (and loviing it) as I sit! can I lick the bowl please?

  6. HaHa, you guys are too kind. Patti, I'm thinking we have very similar tastes!

  7. Hi Cathy...count me as a follower I saw your link on CCC. Those are some beautiful looking baked goods!

  8. this is the BEST frosting i have EVER made!!! i was looking 4 a more stable frosting for bakesales, & saw this thru babette's recommendation on made a small practice batch a month ago, it was OK, but not fantastic..BIG mistake..this time i made a double batch, divided it in 1/2, made 1/2 chocolate (just added cocoa powder) & left one as was WONDERFUL!!! fluffy and billowy, tasted like a cross between heavy cream and butter cream..MMMMMMMMMMMMM! tasted just a little to check flavoring, & without a HUGE amt of dicipline, could have just eaten both batches with a spoon..tasted like bakery butter cream USED to taste like when i was a child. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! nancy nurse.

  9. Thanks, Nancy! I've been wanting to try it with cocoa powder---I'm so glad it turned out. That's how I'm going to make chocolate frosting next time!