Why Room Temperature Butter Is Essential When Making Buttercream

Whipped cream frosting and ganache are truly sweet to eat, but when it comes to the U.S.'s favorite type of icing, buttercream is at the top of many Americans' lists. In fact, according to The Spruce Eats, one of the most popular buttercream recipes, simple buttercream, is colloquially known as American buttercream — which is only right considering the U.S. uses this type of icing in and on every baked good you can imagine.

But although American buttercream is a delicious way to finish off a cupcake and can even be a tasty truffle filling, as suggested by Shugary Sweets, you don't have to be a 5-star pastry chef to make this treat. All you need to successfully whip up a bowl of spoon-licking good buttercream is butter, powdered sugar, milk or cream, and salt. However, don't let its simple ingredients deceive you. Just like any other recipe, you can easily mess up this beloved icing if you're not careful. And there is one step, in particular, you need to follow if you want to ensure your buttercream is birthday cake worthy. Because if you don't warm your butter before mixing it into the recipe, you'll have a chunky, sugary mess and an icing-free batch of cupcakes on your hands.

Warm butter makes buttercream, cold butter breaks it

Without butter, buttercream icing would be nothing but sugary milk. And, according to Kitchn, throwing cold butter from the refrigerator straight into your icing mix may yield the same watery results. The outlet explains that cold butter will make it very hard for your buttercream to form properly. And even if the icing does become solid, cold butter will give your buttercream a clumpy consistency.

However, although you want to use soft butter when making buttercream, it's important to note you do not want melted butter. As Delish shares, overly-warm butter won't mix well with your icing's other ingredients. That means you need to avoid microwaving it. Even if you're short on time, it's not worth the risk of a disaster.

So if it can't be too hot or too cold, what's the butter temperature sweet spot? The Kitchn states that using room-temperature butter is the secret to making a perfect batch of buttercream. The outlet notes that your butter should sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before you prepare your icing. Then you can mix it in with your other ingredients and get ready to give your chocolate cake a delicious vanilla-buttercream makeover.