TYPES OF BUTTERCREAM
Did you know?... there are many different types of buttercream.
American, Italian, Swiss, French, German, and Russian
AMERICAN is very simple. It only involves butter and powdered sugar as the main ingredients. Then you can add vanilla, salt, and any other flavorant. This is the easiest kind of buttercream and most common for home bakers. This is the least stable in my opinion. Meaning, because of the main ingredient being butter, it is likely to melt in warm or hot environments. However, this type is the base for most cream cheese buttercreams. Which in my opinion, is fantastic! It also makes great fillings for cookies.
ITALIAN involves making a meringue which is whipped egg whites with hot sugar. The hot sugar cooks the egg whites so it is edible. And then you add your butter and flavorants. This buttercream is most common in bake shops. It is very smooth and silky when at room temp, but hard when refrigerated. Being hard makes it easier to do crumb coats and makes decoration easier. It is super stable, which means you can let it sit on your counter without worry. It has a heavenly texture and taste.
Italian Buttercream Recipe
SWISS is uses the same ingredients as Italian but you cook the eggs on the stove over a double boiler with the sugar while mixing constantly. This cooks the eggs and melts the sugar at the same time. Then you whip it to a meringue and then add your butter and flavorants. Same stability as Italian, just a different technique.
FRENCH is similar to Italian but it is made with egg yolks instead of egg whites. It comes out a pale yellow but it is more creamy than Italian or Swiss. This is good for your chocolate buttercream or something that has a richer taste. This buttercream is also known as Pate a Bombe- based buttercream. Pate a bombe is the whipped egg yolks with sugar mix. Different than meringue which is whipped egg whites with sugar.
GERMAN is different. It is a custard based buttercream. Instead of making a meringue or pate a bombe, you make a custard. Then you whip it up with butter. This is the least common buttercream from what I have seen. It has a lot of flavor but it is more steps making it from scratch and is the least stable since custard has to be refrigerated.
RUSSIAN is a new one I discovered. I learned from my idol and inspiration, and favorite Instagram star Chelsweets. I have yet to try this kind, but according to her and her recipe it is super easy. It is very similar in the technique of American buttercream, her favorite. Instead of using sugar, you use sweetened condensed milk. She describes it as “not overly sweet or heavy.” She prefers to add cocoa powder to make it chocolate buttercream adding “cocoa helps stabilize this frosting and adds a wonderful depth of flavor. The chocolate pairs so well with the sweetened condensed milk, which gives this frosting a hint of caramel flavor.”
Overall, I prefer to use Italian buttercream. It is also what I have been making at the different places I have worked. At home sometimes I use American. It is quick and easy. But if I am making something that is going to sit out or be for big project then I use Italian. Italian is just so silky and delicious!
While I have discussed six different types of buttercream around the world, there might be more that I'm unaware of. Who knows? But at least you have an idea of the different known types out there and best uses for them.