Learn how to make this silky smooth french buttercream frosting. An egg-yolk buttercream can sound intimidating to make, but I have step by step photos for you so you can master this french buttercream frosting the first time out the gate. Take your cupcakes to a whole new level with this French Buttercream.
So when it comes to the art of sweets, the French do it best. And so of course, a French buttercream you know can’t disappoint.
But it’s not at all. I promise. Let me pull back the buttercream curtain on this one and show you how it’s done. Let’s kick it up a notch from the regular powdered sugar versions and really show off our buttercream skills by whipping up a batch of this French buttercream. So….
What is French Buttercream?
Well first of all let’s establish there are two major types of buttercream out there. A beaten butter method- like traditional American buttercream that uses powdered sugar to sweeten it, a flour buttercream that is made by heating flour, milk, and sugar on the stove until it becomes a thick paste, and a German buttercream which is made by making a custard with egg yolks.
Unlike it’s sister buttercreams, swiss and italian, french buttercream gets it richness and it’s color from using egg yolks that are whisked into a foam.
You will heat a sugar water syrup over the stove and then drizzle that into the egg-yolk foam, with the mixer running (so a stand mixer is recommended, but you will see by my step by step photos it can be done with a hand mxier if that’s all you got).
Of course, because it uses egg yolks, it’s recommended you use pasteurized eggs because of the risk of salmonella. Pouring the hot sugar syrup into your egg yolks, probably doesn’t get the temperature up to the recommended 160ºF temperature to kill any bacteria.
If you are worried, or can’t find pasteurized eggs you can also try making this buttercream using the swiss meringue method which is to heat the sugar with the egg yolks over a double boiler until the temperature reaches 160ºF.
Once you have added the hot syrup, then you will mix until it is cooled then add in your cubed butter. It’s important to not add this to early before the mixture has had time to cool because then you will have just a soupy mess on your hands!
This buttercream is light, and silky and less sweet than a traditional American buttercream and totally worth giving it a try.
A Breakdown of French Buttercream
Taste: Rich in flavor due to the use of egg yolks, and mildly sweet
Texture: Silky smooth and light in texture
Difficulty: This buttercream is also one of the more difficult to make.
Pros: Great flavor and texture:
Cons: Does not hold up heat well, can be a bit more difficult to pipe more intricate decorations with (aka buttercream flowers). The buttercream has a bit of a pale yellow color that is not ideal and a bit more difficult to tint with color.
How To Make French Buttercream
Here is a step by step photo tutorial for you to master french buttercream!
Step 1: Gather your ingredients.
Here is a picture of the ingredients you will need for this buttercream. You will need softened unsalted butter, granulated white sugar, pure vanilla extract, and egg yolks (the water for the syrup in step 1 is not pictured)
Step 2: Make your sugar syrup
Combine your sugar and water in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then increase your heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
Step 3: Whisk your egg yolks into a foam.
You will do this in your stand mixer or medium sized bowl if using a hand mixer. You can even do this with a whisk at this point if you want. The egg yolks will be a bit foamy and pale yellow.
Step 4: Stream in your hot sugar syrup.
You want to do this step with the mixer running. So if you have a stand mixer, it’s recommended. If you have a hand mixer only, I recommend you add a little at a time, mix, then repeat. But don’t just add all the mixture at once or you will end with scrambled eggs instead! Your mixture should increase in volume, and become a lot lighter in color.
Step 5: Add in your cubed butter
You want to continue to mix to bring the temperature down before adding the butter. So keep your mixer running, then feel the bowl. Does it feel cool? Now you can add in the butter, just a few tablespoons at a time. Mix the butter in, and continue to add the butter until all has been added and incorporated.
Step 6: Continue mixing until light and creamy.
This step may take about 5 minutes or so, longer if you are using a hand mixer. And don’t forget to stir in a bit of pure vanilla extract.
You could flavor it any way you like really. If you want to move beyond the traditional vanilla flavoring, then download my buttercream cheatsheet. It gives you 13 ideas on how to flavor your buttercream.
Step 7: Time To Frost!
If you need helping frosting that cupcake then check out this post (+ video!) on how to frost the perfect cupcake. And if you need help in baking the perfect cupcake, here are 15 tips in baking the perfect cupcakes as well.
If you like this tutorial and want more, then be sure to check out my Buttercream Basics Guide!
Until next time, happy baking!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Increase heat to medium-high and allow syrup to come to a boil.
- 2. Place yolks in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk (or, if using a handheld mixer, in a medium mixing bowl) and beat until thick and foamy.
- 3. Cook syrup until it registers 235°F, then immediately remove from heat. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle hot syrup into the bowl with the yolks: don't pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl; instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
- 4. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- 5. Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until the buttercream looks smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. (If the buttercream separates, keep mixing: it will come together eventually.)
Recipe NotesTo frost a dozen cupcakes you will need to double this recipe if you plan on making those fabulous high swirls!
Get My Buttercream Cheatsheet!
Join the community to get the tips, tricks, and simple from scratch recipes so you can start baking delicious desserts today. PLUS I will send you my Buttercream Cheatsheet with 13 ways to flavor your buttercream!