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Course: Sweets
Keyword: Condiments, Desserts

American Butter(milk)cream

American Butter(milk)cream on a slice of Alton Brown's gold cake plated on teal plate.
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
If you've ever had qualms about making classic buttercream because of the raw eggs, then this one's for you. American buttercream uses a similar roster of software, but eliminates the eggs and corn syrup, and uses fine confectioners' sugar and a bit of shortening.
Also, in a twist on most of the American buttercream recipes out there, my application finishes with buttermilk and sour cream, which provides a tangy rebuke to the haughty sweetness of most examples of the form.
A note about the sugar: Domino brand powdered sugar is ideal to use here; Dixie Crystals yields a slightly gritty frosting.
This recipe first appeared in Season 2 of Good Eats: Reloaded.
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Software

  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, cold
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream, cold
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature (about 65°F)
  • 3 ounces unflavored shortening, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Specialized Hardware

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Fine-mesh sieve
American Butter(milk)cream on a slice of Alton Brown's gold cake plated on teal plate.
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 cups

Procedure

  • Combine the buttermilk and sour cream in a small bowl and stir well. Park in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
  • Place the butter and shortening in the work bowl of your favorite stand mixer and sift in the sugar. Install the paddle attachment and beat the mixture on low to incorporate. Add the vanilla and salt and increase the speed to medium. Continue to beat until light and airy — 5 to 6 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the buttermilk-sour cream mixture and beat on low until integrated. Stop and scrape the bowl, then return the speed to medium until smooth — 15 seconds. Use immediately or tightly seal and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to use. The frosting is fairly spreadable straight from the refrigerator, but it is even easier to use at room temperature.
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