Hey guys, now that I’ve shared my big baby news with you, it’s time for some more buttercream!
By the way, thanks everyone who has taken the time to congratulate me in the comments 😀
Anyway, today I’ll be discussing German buttercream, which is deeeeeeelicious! It has a luxuriously velvety mouthfeel due to a generous amount of butter and a gorgeous, silky texture. Like I said: delicious. Or, um: deeeeeeelicious.
Just to recap, I’ve so far posted new and improved recipes for American buttercream (including a to-die-for chocolate version and a crazy peanut butter ‘n cookie version), flour buttercream (also known as ermine buttercream) and French buttercream (including a coffee version). I’ve also posted about the two different buttercream preparation methods: the beaten butter method and the cubed butter method.
But today is about German buttercream. German buttercream is also known as custard buttercream, because it’s made by adding butter to a custard base. This new and improved recipe beats the old 2013 recipe in a number of ways. First of all, back in 2013 I still used the cubed butter method to make this buttercream. Which can be finicky. Which can result in separated buttercream. Which is annoying. So naturally I tried to make this buttercream using the beaten butter method, and it totally worked. Seriously guys, I’m loving the beaten butter method more and more! It hasn’t failed me yet 😉
On top of the fact that I’ve changed the preparation method, I’ve messed around with the quantity of ingredients quite a bit. If you’ve been reading my blog since December 2013 (hi mom!), you know that my old recipe for German buttercream didn’t pipe very well. It was just a bit too soft. But I’m thrilled to announce that that has been fixed!
So let’s dive right in…
So, starting with the ingredients again, what do you need to make German buttercream? Like I said, German buttercream is made by mixing a custard base into beaten butter. This means that on top of unsalted butter, you’ll need everything to make custard: egg yolks, sugar, milk and a bit of cornstarch. I also added a bit of salt, and, because this recipe is for vanilla German buttercream, I made sure to add a splash of vanilla extract.
Those of you who like to compare my new and improved buttercream recipes to the old recipes I posted in 2013 will quickly notice that this new recipe calls for a bit more cornstarch and almost twice the amount of butter than the 2013 recipe! The extra cornstarch makes for a thicker custard base, while the added butter ensures that this new and improved German buttercream – as opposed to my old recipe – pipes just as beautifully as all the other kinds of buttercream.
Moreover, in this recipe, I use regular milk, but you could also use whole milk or half-and-half if you prefer. In fact, if you have a favorite recipe for custard, you can even use that as your custard base! I have yet to try making this buttercream with store-bought custard or pudding, but I bet even that is a real option…
And once again, this recipe, like the other buttercream recipes, calls for unsalted butter that has been softened at room temperature. So don’t forget to take the butter out of the fridge! Oh, and yes, you could of course also use salted butter, but I prefer to use unsalted because it gives me maximum control over how much salt goes into the buttercream and, consequently, the flavor of the finished buttercream.
So. On with the custard-making process.
The first thing you need to do is whisk milk and sugar together in a small saucepan. If you want to, you can flavor the milk first by infusing it with an ingredient of choice, such as fresh herbs, spices, dried fruits, tea, or toasted nuts. Or add cocoa powder to the milk to first make a chocolate custard, which you can then turn into chocolate buttercream!
Because this recipe makes vanilla buttercream, for which I used vanilla extract, there was no need for me to infuse the milk.
Anyway, once you’ve whisked the milk and sugar together in the saucepan, set the pan aside and combine egg yolks, cornstarch and a splash of the milk mixture in a medium-sized, heatproof bowl. Whisk together until foamy, like so…
In the meantime, gently heat the milk mixture over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then crank up the heat and scald the milk. Once the milk mixture has reached scalding point, carefully drizzle it into the yolk mixture in a thin stream, whisking continuously to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once you’ve combined the two, pour the resulting mixture back into the saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring or whisking continuously with a heatproof rubber spatula or a whisk, until the custard thickens and the first bubbles start to appear on the surface.
By the way, don’t worry too much about overcooking the custard. While custards that are made without cornstarch tend to separate if they’re brought to a temperature that exceeds 85°C/185°F, the cornstarch in this recipe prevents the custard from curdling.
And no, sorry. No pictures of the custard-cooking process, because I needed one hand to hold the pan, and the other to stir the custard…
Once the custard has thickened, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk or stir the custard for another minute or so to knock some of the heat out, then transfer it to a shallow dish or a plate to cool. Using your hands (be careful, the custard is hot!) press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming, then allow the custard to cool to room temperature. If you want to, you can even make the custard a day ahead and chill it in the fridge overnight.
Whatever you do, make sure the custard has cooled completely before you start adding it to softened beaten butter by the spoonful.
We all remember the beaten butter method, right? Beat softened butter, add a base (such as custard, pâte à bombe or pudding) one spoonful at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the buttercream comes together. It’s laughably easy, but it works every time!
This recipe makes about 560g of buttercream, which is about 3 cups. In my world, this means that this recipe makes enough buttercream to generously frost about 12-15 cupcakes. But that’s not all, of course. Let’s look at some more characteristics of this buttercream:
Color: pale yellow.
Texture: silky, smooth and perfect.
Piping: pipes beautifully now that I’ve adjusted the custard to butter ratio!
Level of difficulty: pretty easy. If you can make a basic custard, you can make German buttercream.
Fat content*: 46,4%
Sugar content*: 17,6%
Does it form a crust: no.
* based on nutritional information.
And just so you can all see exactly how gorgeously this German buttercream pipes…
So, where does that leave us? How does the flavor of the German buttercream compare to the American, flour, and French buttercreams? Well, to be honest, it’s getting harder and harder to say! I love all the new buttercream recipes, including this one. Having said that, this particular buttercream is a bit more buttery than the others, because there’s relatively more butter in it, which is great if you want your buttercream to have a buttery flavor. So to all the butter lovers out there, this is the buttercream for you!
Next up, a delicious caramel version of this German buttercream! So stay tuned 😉
- 150ml (or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons) milk
- 100g (or ½ cup) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks (55g, or a little over 3 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 350g (or 1½ cups + 2 teaspoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- table salt to taste, optional
- Combine the milk and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the yolks, cornstarch and two tablespoons of the milk mixture until the yolk mixture looks foamy and smooth.
- Place the saucepan over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank the heat up to medium-high and scald the milk mixture. Once the first bubbles appear, remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously to keep the eggs from scrambling.
- Once combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, whisking continuously, until the first bubbles appear and the mixture thickens considerably.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk for another minute to knock some of the heat out. Pour the custard onto a clean plate and immediately cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the custard. This keeps a skin from forming. Allow the custard to cool completely.
- Once the custard has cooled, beat the butter in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the cooled custard, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the custard has been added, mix for another few minutes, until the buttercream looks thick, smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla (and salt to taste) and mix to incorporate.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container or a zipper bag in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to two months. To use buttercream that has either been refrigerated or frozen, first allow to come to room temperature then beat until smooth and spreadable again.
- Cakes or cupcakes decorated with buttercream generally keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow buttercream to come to room temperature before serving (for a big cake, this may take up to four hours!).