Cake decorating Cakes

Buttercream recipe

Buttercream recipe

Buttercream is one of those parts of cake decorating that I do without really thinking about it, which is why it’s never really occurred to me to share my recipe with you all. That is until I was asked to by a reader. I mean I have included the recipe in the past but when it comes to searching blogs for anything specific you do tend to get all sorts of other random stuff mixed in with it and actually the reader wanted to know how much to use for different sized cakes. So anyway, here it is. Nice and easy to find.

My buttercream recipe

My recipe is pretty basic and easy to remember. These ingredients will fill and cover an 9″cake. Some people find that this is too sweet so you can always try it with 50-100g less icing sugar. Taste it till you get it how you like it. I personally think this is a good taste- especially with the vanilla essence.

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.
  1.  Start by beating the butter so it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar over the top of the butter then mix until well blended. I place a tea towel over my Kitchenaid and hold it carefully in place whilst mixing to prevent the dust from the icing sugar from going everywhere (and I mean everywhere! It will look like you haven’t cleaned your kitchen in a year otherwise!)
  3. Once combined add the vanilla essence and mix for 2-3 minutes so it becomes really light and fluffy. This consistency is good for a filling between two layers of cake as it’s thick. I’ve been piping buttercream between layers recently as it stays thicker than when I used a palette knife. It’s also easier to control and get flat.
  4. When covering a cake with a buttercream crumb coat before adding sugarpaste or for a decorative finish you need the buttercream to be more fluid. You can get this consistency by adding a drop or two of milk and mixing it in well. Do this slowly as once it’s too soft it’s a pain in the bum to get it to firm up again. How soft you want your buttercream is a personal choice. I like to be able to smooth the buttercream on with a palette knife easily and have it come off the sides with a side scraper without breaking the cake, but I don’t want it too soft.  You get a feel quite quickly on how you like it to be.

Chocolate buttercream 

Chocolate cake covered in chocolate buttercream and raspberries

For a chocolate version simply add the cocoa powder when you add the icing sugar but make sure you sieve it or you’ll have lumps.

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.

Buttercream will last for two weeks in a sealed container in the fridge but remember to take it out and let it get to room temperature a good few hours before you want to pipe it.

Buttercream quantities for different sized cakes

And for that lovely reader who asked for quantities of buttercream for different sized cakes. Here you go…


Some baking books you may enjoy 

Lucy Young and Mary Berry’s Mini Banoffee pies

Book Review: How baking works … and what to do when it doesn’t by James Morton

Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake – book review

Leiths Cook Book

Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe

Interview with the experts: Lucy Young

Mary Berry and the best butter tip ever!

Best Book of British Baking

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EmmaMT from

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  1. HI Emma
    I’m going to try this out on my next cake but I’ve also got to say that I absolutely love your white chocolate buttercream and I used it on a stacked wedding cake recently because it’s firm and can take the weight of all the sponge and fondant without squidging out at the side.
    Would it be over-doing it to add melted chocolate to the chocolate buttercream recipe as well as the cocoa powder?

    1. ruthie do you have the recipe for the white choc buttercream please ? i saw your comment and can’t find it

  2. Perfect! Thank you – that is soooo useful.

  3. I’m so glad to see that you use the same as I do – twice the icing sugar to butter and a dash of milk.
    Someone posted a recipe online a while back that was equal quantities of butter and sugar, and I queried it saying that it would be too wet and never set, and slide all over the place. It ended up in a big argument with the poster saying “people use different recipes” – but I was angry at them for sharing one that won’t work! Rant over. 🙂

    1. EmmaMT from says:

      Do know what. Peggy Porschen uses equal quantities. I just don’t like the taste. I suppose it’s personal choice but your right how can it work??

  4. nadine peart says:

    Hi Emma. I have had great success with your madeira recipes and am using them to make my first wedding cake. Can you tell me if these buttercream quantities are enough for filling, crumb coating and a finishing layer for 3″ tall madeira?. Many thanks in advance

    1. EmmaMT from says:


      Yep the recipe here is enough to fill, and do both a crumb coating and a top coat. I always have some left over but I never put enough in the filling!

      Hope that helps


  5. Hi Emma,

    Can I make the buttercream one week in advance and keep in the fridge. And also how long can I preserve the buttercream? Your response will be very helpful to make football cake for my sons fifth birthday.


    1. EmmaMT from says:

      Hello again Sunita,

      Yes you can make buttercream ahead. It keeps well in an air tight container for a week in the fridge. Just let it come to room temperature and give it a whisk before you use it. You can also freeze it for a month. Let it thaw out over night in the fridge then again let it come to room temperature when you need to use it.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with your football cake. Let me know how you get on.

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