Learn how to make German buttercream with this step by step photo tutorial! German Buttercream, or custard buttercream, is less sweet than traditional American Buttercream but easier than a meringue style!
So you want to up your buttercream game from the traditional American style of powdered sugar and creamed butter, but the thought of tackling a meringue style like swiss buttercream is still a little bit outside your comfort zone.
Enter German Buttercream.
This is the perfect buttercream solution when American is too sweet for you, but making Swiss Meringue scares the pants off of you.
What is German Buttercream?
German buttercream falls into the same creamed butter buttercream category as American buttercream and Flour buttercream (boiled milk icing, ermine icing). The basic 3 steps are:
- Cream Your Softened Butter
- Add Your Sweetened Base
- Add your flavoring and cream until smooth.
Now for German Buttercream the sweetened base is an egg-yolk custard that you make that is similar to pastry cream. It’s almost like a vanilla pudding in a sense. If you can make pastry cream or pudding you’re good to go. If you haven’t before, don’t worry I got step by step photos. Don’t worry I got your back 😉
Here’s the breakdown of German Buttercream:
Taste: Light in taste
Texture: Smooth and light in texture
Difficulty Level: Medium. A bit more difficult to make than ABC, but a good stepping point from ABC to the cubed butter/meringue-based buttercreams.
Pros: Great flavor and texture, definitely a step up from ABC.
Cons: Involves egg yolks, so can result in a scrambled egg frosting if not done correctly. Has a bit of a yellow color, so a bit more difficult to tint. A bit soft, so will not hold up well in warmer conditions.
How Do I Make German Buttercream?
To make German Buttercream, you are going to need the following ingredients:
Here are the step by step instructions on how to make your own German Buttercream:
Step 1: Combine the milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Set aside.
Step:2 In a seperate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla, extract, and salt. Whisk until the mixture is combined and foamy. Set the mixture aside.
Step 3: With the saucepan from step 1, heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching and for the sugar to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Then pour a 1/3 of the mixture into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs (which simply means to bring the eggs up temperature so they don’t scramble). Continue to add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking vigorously to combine.
Step 4: Pour the mixture back into the same saucepan. Place it back on the stove on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard mixture becomes thick. At first sign of bubbling, remove the mixture from the heat.
Step 5: Transfer the custard to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Be sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the custard, to prevent a skin from forming. Chill the custard until completely cool (this could take about 2 hours). But don’t rush this step! You could always do this a few days ahead of time when making German Buttercream.
Step 6: Cream your softened unsalted butter in your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer) for about 2-3 minutes until soft and creamy.
Step 7: Add the cooled custard a few tablespoons at at time, creaming until combined. Scrape down with a rubber spatula as needed.
Step 8: Cream Until Smooth. You can use this buttercream immediately, or store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. You will just need to re-whip it again until it smooth and creamy again. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to use, just let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and re-whip again until smooth.
And if you want to switch it up from vanilla, here is my buttercream cheatsheet for you. 13 ideas on how to go from boring old vanilla to wow! (ok I actually love vanilla, but if you want to mix it up, be sure to download that cheatsheet)
To learn how to frost cupcakes like a pro check out this post. I included a video tutorial for you as well so your cupcakes look like they came from a bakery! Plus here are 15 tips for perfect cupcakes, so you can bake them like a pro.
If you have any questions on making this buttercream, let me know in the comment section!
Until next time, happy baking!
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted
- butter, softened
- 1. Combine the milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Set aside.
- 2. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk vigorously, until the mixture is combined and little bit foamy. Set the mixture to the side for the moment.
- 3. With the saucepan from step 1, heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching and for the sugar to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat.
- 4. Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking the egg mixture as you pour the hot milk (this keeps the eggs from "setting" and forming lumps). Whisk vigorously to combine. Slowly add the remaining milk mixture, whisking all the while. The mixture will be quite liquidy.
- 5.Pour the mixture back into the same saucepan; no need to wash. Place the saucepan back over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard mixture becomes thick. At the first sign of bubbling, remove the mixture from heat.
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