Please note: this recipe has been updated. You can find the new and improved recipe here!
As promised, the second post of my ‘Battle of the Buttercreams’ series! Featured today: the buttercream that inspired me to this very test. The buttercream who had all the foodies out there shudder with excitement after The Pioneer Woman dubbed it ‘the Best Frosting’ she had ever had. Flour Buttercream!
As I explained in Battle of the Buttercreams, Part I, this buttercream is made by cooking a mixture of flour, milk and sugar until it thickens into a sauce and adding butter and vanilla to it once this sauce has cooled to room temperature. The cooking process kind of reminds me of making a béchamel sauce.
There are actually two ways of making this buttercream. The first – and probably the best known – way of making it is by combining the milk and flour in a saucepan and cooking it into a thick paste. Once this paste has cooled to room temperature, granulated sugar, butter and vanilla are added, after which the mixture is whipped for about 8 minutes until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
I chose a different strategy, though…
You see, I don’t really believe in whipping large amounts of granulated sugar into not-very-liquid-mixtures, as it can be tricky to get all of the sugar crystals to dissolve properly and it’s easy to end up with a grainy frosting. Therefore, I went with the second cooking method, in which milk, granulated sugar and flour are cooked together. This method reduces the risk of winding up with a grainy, unpleasant frosting as all of the sugar crystals melt into the milk as it heats.
However, I have to admit that I didn’t try the first method, so for all I know this whole beating-granulated-sugar-into-milk-paste works brilliantly too…
Anyway, moving on to everything there is to know about this buttercream:
Fat content: 24%
Sugar content: 26%
Texture: smooth and creamy
Level of difficulty: fairly easy. Making the ‘béchamel’ is the most difficult part.
As you can see, this buttercream contains a lot less sugar than the American buttercream. 26% against a whopping 58%!
So what did my helpful taste testers have to say about this particular buttercream? Well, many people found it just a little bit too sweet and too buttery. But I have to say, while reading through my testers’ comments on the different buttercreams, I kind of got the feeling that they weren’t really familiar with buttercream to begin with. Around here, most people just stick to whipped cream when it comes to frosting a cake…
On a more positive note, a lot of people loved the creaminess of this buttercream. One of my test subjects stated that it ‘melts in the mouth’, and another person raved about its “gorgeous flavor” with just a hint of “tangy freshness” in it. My old booze-loving English teacher actually thought there was alcohol in it!
He loved this one!
When it comes to texture, opinions varied strongly. Some of my test subjects thought the buttercream was too firm and heavy, while others mentioned that this buttercream did not quite hold it’s shape as well as some other buttercreams. I have to agree on that. While certain other buttercreams, such as the Swiss, held its shape perfectly, the flour buttercream had a tendency to ‘slouch’ a little. You can see it in the photo’s too. If you compare the edges of the piped flour buttercream kisses with the edges of the American buttercream roses, you can clearly see that the edges of the flour buttercream kisses look a lot softer.
But taste before looks, right?
At least, that’s how I roll…
Besides, this buttercream doesn’t look bad! Just look at that cute little swirl!
So is this buttercream really the ultimate buttercream? Can this modest newcomer really beat the traditional buttercreams? Does it really deserve the title of ‘Best Buttercream Ever’?
- 4½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 240ml (1 cup) milk
- 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 225 (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whisk together the flour, milk and sugar in a saucepan. Gently heat over low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil. Keep whisking and cook for about a minute then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and, using a mixer, mix until the mixture cools to body temperature. Keep mixing and add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next tablespoon. Once all the butter has been added, mix in the vanilla. The resulting buttercream should be smooth and thick. Use immediately. I haven't refrigerated it before I piped it on my cupcakes, but I'm guessing you can cover and refrigerate it until later use if needed.
- To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen) or microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it's soft. Then mix through until it's spreadable again.Thaw frozen buttercream in the fridge overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before use and, once at room temperature, mix briefly until smooth.
- Serve at room temperature. If you've assembled a cake or decorated cupcakes, allow cake or cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving (about 3 hours in a warm kitchen).