Classic Italian Buttercream


by Heather Harris Brady

I once used this on a wedding cake for a lovely cardiologist’s daughter, despite the fact there’s over a pound of butter IN ONE BATCH, he had two servings. It’s that good! I only make it on special occasions now, but back in the wedding cake heyday I made two or three batches a day. There’s nothing like it: warm ivory in color, silky, delicate, with a beautiful sheen and mild flavor that enhances any type of layer cake. I do recommend storing the icing and the finished cake in the fridge. The buttercream will set up rock-hard, so take it out at least 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.

This recipe is from Dede Wilson’s Wedding Cake Book. I’ve made it more times than I can count, and it has never failed. You do, however, need a large Kitchenaid with the 5 qt. bowl. The meringue will come right up to the top.

Classic Italian Buttercream, Makes about six cups (enough for one 10″ layer cake)

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vinegar or lemon juice
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 lbs. butter at cool room temperature, soft but not melting (that’s not a typ0 – six entire sticks of butter)
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract

Combine the water and the 1-1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan with the vinegar over medium heat. We’ll be boiling it to 248 degrees.


While the sugar syrup is bubbling, put the egg whites in the mixer bowl and beat them to soft peaks. Beat in the 1/3 c. sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks. Your goal to to have the syrup at temperature and the egg whites ready at the same time. It’s okay if the whites are done early, just turn the mixer down to 2 and let them wait.

When the sugar syrup has reached 248 it will get a thick film of bubbles on the top, kind of like this:


Turn the mixer up to high and drizzle the sugar syrup into the whites. They will puff up to the top of the bowl.


When the bottom of the bowl is comfortable to the touch you can start whipping in the butter a tablespoon at a time. I just start hacking the sticks into chunks and let them fall into the bowl. You’ll lose a lot of volume right away but don’t worry. When you get to your last couple of sticks it will all magically come together into fluffy clouds of deliciousness.


Lastly beat in the flavorings and assemble your cake.


The cake sandwich with a blob on top ready to spread.


Then I add a skim coat to the side and put the cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. This will lock all those unsightly crumbs into the bottom layer of icing.


Then add the second layer of frosting to the side.

One year ago: Date Conserve



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