The Best Frosting
Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.
Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.
Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. I suspect if you chill it for an hour or so, it would be stiff enough to actually pipe with instead of frosting with a rubber spatula.
Chocolate Version: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt mixture in the first step. Once the frosting has been mixed for five minutes and is light and fluffy, mix in 3-4 ounces of semisweet chocolate that has been melted and completely cooled to room temperature.
I tried a recipe like this from another website. You know- the frostings that you cook. It did not turn out well! It tasted great, but the butter didn't absorb into everything else...and it wasn't very thick. Enter this recipe- I was drawn to it because the cook at this website had my same problem and this recipe was her happy ending. I loved the taste of this frosting! It was light and well, perfect. It wasn't heavy or overly sweet. If you are feeling adventurous and are wanting to try something new on your cakes/cookies, give this one a go.