This post is for a friend who asked about frosting recently. It's birthday time around here, and I've made two rounds of cake and frosting for my little man. And one more is yet to come.
Frosting is one of those things that can turn an ordinary cake into something special. And what can make it even more special is to whip up a little bit of frosting yourself. It seems we're in a world where that shortening-laden frosting that comes on the Costco cake has become the standard. That makes it hard to recognize a basic butter frosting that comes straight from your mixer. The flavor is different, absolutely rich, and that richer quality comes through with butter rather than shortening. And the texture may seem strange, not quite as fluffy, and the look, well, for most of us, it actually looks like we frosted it. And there is nothing wrong with a little homemade look when it comes to a cake.
So next time you make a cake, pull together a little frosting, too. It's simple and comes from ingredients you probably already have in the house. This is the basic recipe that comes straight from my Better Homes and Gardens cook book. If you like chocolate, add unsweetened coco powder like I did. Make it pink with some food coloring or add an extract for flavor if you like. Substitute orange juice for the milk and add zest for an orange frosting. The possibilities are endless.
Just remember that the best part of making frosting at home is saving a little to lick right off the whisk. That's when you'll know it was worth the effort.
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
In a mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy (a stand mixer is best). Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. Slowly beat in remaining powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk as needed for desired consistency. This recipes is enough to frost the tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers.
Note: The butter is easiest to work with if it is cut into smaller pieces and allowed to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before beginning. Remember that it may soften more while mixing but will set up again if refrigerated.
Tip: Place sheet of wax or parchment paper underneath the edges of the cake before frosting. Then pull them out once you're done, and you'll have a clean platter instead of one that has frosting smudged all over it!