Since I bake cakes so often, I like to jazz up my basic buttercream frosting whenever I can. My most recent experiment gained rave reviews by those who count – the grandkids. I paired that delicious favorite of many kids (and grown-ups) – bananas with a smear of peanut butter. I turned it into a banana cake with peanut butter frosting and sprinkled chopped salty cocktail peanuts on top.
(The recipe for this banana cake follows frosting recipes)
*½ cup butter, room temperature
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/3 cup of milk, added a little at a time
*If you like your frosting extra buttery, add another half-stick (1/4) cup of butter for a creamier frosting.
Add butter to a mixer bowl. Cream well. Add confectioner’s sugar. Beat on low until mixture begins to blend. Add half the milk. Beat well on medium speed. Continue to add milk until the frosting is of good spreading consistency. Be cautious on the light side of adding any additional milk.
Once you are happy with the spreadability of the frosting, turn the mixer speed to high and beat for about a minute. This whips air into the frosting and gives it a creamy, easy-to-spread consistency.
I use the same recipe as the vanilla buttercream frosting except:
Reduce amount of confectioner’s sugar to 3 cups.
Add ½ to 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (according to how chocolatey you like the frosting)
NOTE: This is another live and learn lesson – cocoa powder is so fine that it wants to float in the air and onto you and everything around it when it meets the beaters. So I cream the butter, turn off mixer, add in cocoa, add confectioner’s sugar on top of the cocoa, then start beating – low speed at first.
Delicious Add-ins to Buttercream Frosting
Be fearless. Experiment. What’s the worst that can happen – you have to make a new batch of frosting?
Remember to add these extras before your final addition of milk since they will add to the liquidity of the frosting.
- Add two generous tablespoonfuls of seedless strawberry preserves or jam to frosting. The result is a beautiful pink frosting with a light strawberry taste. A perfect finish for the little pink-loving girl in your life.
- Add two generous tablespoonfuls of seedless raspberry jam to frosting. This is especially good on chocolate cake. If the cake is for adults only, you may want to add a splash of raspberry liqueur such as Chambord.
- Experiment with different jams and preserves. I’ve used pineapple preserves and added some coconut after frosting the cake. I haven’t tried orange marmalade, but I imagine it would be a refreshing sweet/tart taste added to frosting.
- For a citrus-flavored frosting, use frozen lemonade concentrate (undiluted) to replace the milk. Again, add concentrate in small amounts until you have desired consistency.
- Add about three generous tablespoons of caramel ice cream topping to the frosting. If the caramel flavor is not strong enough for you, add more. Just remember to do this before adding milk. Add milk in very small amounts at a time. I’ve also used this on my banana cake.
NOTE: when adding coconut, chopped nuts, or any extra add-ons, make sure you lightly press the extras into the frosting right after placing frosting on the cake (before the frosting sets). That will help avoid having the extras fall off the cake when you cut it or try to eat it.
NOTE: If you add nuts, etc. to the middle layer of the cake, make sure you don’t overdo it, and that you push the add-ons down into the frosting. Otherwise, the two layers may not hold together tightly.
This recipe produces a nice, moist cake because it uses oil rather than butter.
Bakes at 350 degrees for 30-33 minutes.
NOTE: Use two 9-inch round cake pans. This makes a high cake and it might overflow during baking in 8-inch pans.
2 ½ cups flour
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk (or substitute with 2/3 cup regular milk with 2/3 tablespoon lemon juice added and allowed to sit for 5 minutes)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 or 4 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together in a mixer bowl. Beat in buttermilk, oil, and eggs. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Add bananas and vanilla.
Pour batter into greased and floured pans. Bake 350 degrees for 30-33 minutes.
Remove from pans when cooled. Frost and add chopped peanuts.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Use recipe for basic buttercream frosting. Add ¼ cup peanut butter (room temperature) to the softened butter. Beat well to blend before adding confectioner’s sugar. Follow basic recipe.
I used salted cocktail peanuts, chopped. Use as much as or as little as you’d like. I added some of the nuts to the middle layer with frosting. Don’t forget to press down peanuts after adding to the cake for both layers.
FUN FACTS About Butter: (Source: http://www.foodreference.com/html/fbutter.html)
It takes 21 pints of milk to make a pound of butter
The world record for butter eating is 7 quarter pound sticks of salted butter in 5 minutes by Donald Lerman
In 2009 U.S. butter production was more than 1.5 billion pounds (1,573,481,000 pounds) – (USDA 2010)
(Image of butter courtesy of SOMMAI at freedigitalphotos.net)
(Image of chocolate cupcake courtesy of piyato at freedigitalphotos.net)