Pipe Dream #5: To Pipe Frosting Like The Pros – Boiled Buttercream Frosting

I weally with I could pipe frosting well. This cupcake isn’t too bad of a job considering I piped it out of the end of a Ziploc bag that broke after the second cupcake. (This was before I had my new piping tips. Oh ma word.) But most of the time, I can’t pipe well at all. I hope to get better at this. In the meantime, I decided to spray this cupcake with chintzy pink spray for a birthday gathering. They’ll forgive me.

This frosting recipe is awesome though. In fact, I might venture to say that it is my favorite frosting. It is the creme de la creme of ‘creams, if you will allow me to make that uneducated guess. There are a lot of frostings in this world.

It doesn’t crust over like a lot of fake-r buttercreams, and it tastes like a home-cooked meal after you have been eating Ramen noodles for weeks (hello again, college). In addition, I have tried a number of variations of this recipe, and this one dissolves the sugar perfectly. It is also neat because one of its primary ingredients is flour. Weird, eh? But don’t judge until you try it. I promise it is amazing.

The cake itself left something to be desired. I didn’t have any red food coloring, which meant that this “red velvet” cake was really just a velvet cake. That wasn’t very velvety. It was springy, but not moist enough for my taste, and the chocolate flavor was too light.

When it comes to chocolate, go big or you can go home.

Hm…what does it need?

Oh happy. :]


Fake Red Velvet Cupcakes (i.e. Flavorless Chocolate Cupcakes)

Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

makes 24

1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 tablespoons red gel food coloring (or not)
1/4 cup boiling water 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces 
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I just used more butter)
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon fine salt 
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 325º F, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water. Set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture.

Sift the flour and salt together into another medium bowl. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, to the egg mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beat until incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir until the baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among the liners and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Perfect Boiled Buttercream

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes. You gotta wait until it is super thick. Mine took longer than 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. I let mine cool in the fridge for a bit too. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly: then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

21 Responses to “Pipe Dream #5: To Pipe Frosting Like The Pros – Boiled Buttercream Frosting”

  1. 1 Jamie April 8, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Lauren, I love reading your posts. Question from someone who only likes to eat the cupcakes and not design them…Why don’t you frost them all the way to the edge?

  2. 2 Lauren April 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Ha. Because I’m not good at frosting… :] Actually, it is kind of common to think you’re piping to the edge. Next time, I’ll go past the edge and see how they turn out.

  3. 3 Auntie Andrea April 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm


    If you want a spectacular recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes, try Ina Garten’s – VERY good.

  4. 4 Lauren April 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I will! Love you, Auntie A.

  5. 5 trialsinfood May 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    the frosting sounds good.

  6. 6 Caroline April 7, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Ooh I’m ABSOLUTELY going to try this! I have a friends birthday coming up and will be baking the cake. I love reading your posts! Do you have a delicious Cream Cheese frosting you could share? or a Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Thanks!

  7. 7 Deepta @ little miss muffin May 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I arrived at very similar recipe while experimenting but I cannot seem to whip it to the right consistency for piping. The sequence of your steps is different, which I will have to try next. Can you tell me if this recipe refrigerates well? And how well/long does it hold up out on the counter? PS: I live in a very humid climate! Thanks!

  8. 8 Lauren May 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I think the key is to whip the paste for a really long time. If you don’t dissolve the sugar in the milk, you may need to add the sugar more slowly. Also, if you find it too thin, stick it in the fridge for a while, then beat it again. If it is too thick, try putting it in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water to soften it. I hope this helps!

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