Piped swirl of Ermine Frosting on a small plate on a blue tea towel.
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eat-o.org – How to Make Ermine Frosting (Flour Buttercream)


Ermine Frosting is an easy and delicious buttercream made with flour, sugar, milk, and butter. It may sound a little strange but, trust me, it’s delicious!

Piped swirl of Ermine Frosting on a small plate on a blue tea towel.

I may never go back to Swiss Meringue Buttercream again.

I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s true! And I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to try Ermine buttercream. I don’t know why I thought it would be complicated to get right. It’s the easiest frosting I’ve made aside from American buttercream.

Ermine Frosting on a stand mixer whisk with a blue cloth in the background.

What Is Ermine Frosting?

Ermine Frosting is an old fashioned French-inspired buttercream recipe. It’s also known as flour buttercream, heritage frosting, or boiled milk frosting.

The first step is cooking the flour, sugar, and milk into a thick paste (or roux). The texture is similar to pudding.

Flour mixture (roux) in a bowl.

Once that’s cooled, you add it to your whipped butter… and that’s it! Super easy and delicious. The frosting is silky smooth and not too sweet.

Ermine buttercream was traditionally the frosting used on a Red Velvet Cake, though cream cheese frosting is more popular with it these days.

Ingredients shown against a blue tea towel -- milk, sugar, flour, butter, and vanilla.

How to make Ermine Frosting

Making flour buttercream is very simple. The process is similar to that of  German Buttercream, but it requires fewer steps.

STEP #1 – MAKE THE ROUX/Pudding

Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium pot. Whisk to combine.

Flour, sugar, and salt in a pot.

Add milk and vanilla.

Milk added to the pot with the flour, sugar, and salt.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils. Continue cooking while stirring constantly for 1-2 more minutes until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency.

The mixture thickened and boiling in a pot.

Step #2 – Cover and Cool

Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature.

Flour mixture in a glass bowl with plastic wrap directly on top of it.

You can make this a day in advance and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature again before using in the buttercream. 

If you’d like to cool it faster you can pour it onto a plate instead and cover it in plastic wrap. Or pop it into the fridge once it’s cooled a bit. But be sure it bring it to room temperature if it gets too cold.

STEP #3 – BEAT BUTTER UNTIL PALE & FLUFFY

Whip it for a good 3+ minutes on high. I use a paddle attachment because I like that mine scrapes the sides of the bowl, but you can use the whisk attachment if you prefer.

Creamed butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.

STEP #4 – ADD FLOUR MIXTURE

Slowly add the (room temperature) flour mixture, about 1 Tbsp at a time, while the butter is whipping. This is kind of like adding butter to a Swiss meringue buttercream. Incorporate it slowly.

Adding the flour mixture (roux) to the creamed butter 1 Tbsp at a time.

STEP #5 – WHIP UNTIL FLUFFY AND SMOOTH

Once all of the mixture is incorporated, whip the buttercream on high for 2-3 minutes until it is smooth and fluffy. Add any other flavourings.

Light and fluffy buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer.

If you feel like your buttercream is too soft at this point (mine was), pop the whole bowl into the fridge for 20-30mins (or freezer for 10mins) and give it a good rewhip. 

It should be perfectly pipeable.

Angled photo of a piped buttercream swirl on a small glass plate.

Flavouring Flour Buttercream

You have a few options when it comes to flavouring the buttercream. You can infuse the milk — I talk about this a bit in my Pastry Cream post — or you can add flavour at the end. Here are some options:

Add either to the milk mixture before cooking or to the buttercream at the end:

  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried berry powder
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter powder
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Add to the buttercream at the end:

  • 6 oz cooled, melted chocolate (will make the buttercream softer)
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water (cool before adding)
  • 1/4 cup caramel or dulce de leche (will make the buttercream softer)
  • 1/4 cup lemon curd (will make the buttercream softer)

Another option for lemon or any other citrus is to beat the butter with 1 Tbsp citrus zest before adding the pudding.

Does Ermine Frosting need to be Refrigerated?

Like most buttercreams, Ermine frosting will be fine at room temperature for a day or so; beyond that, it should be refrigerated.

I like to store mine in an airtight container in the fridge, but if I’m freezing it I spread the buttercream on a large sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, flatten it, and place it in a freezer bag. 

Bring it to room temperature and give it a good rewhip before use. Be sure it’s completely at room temperature (but not too soft) before rewhipping. See troubleshooting section below if you run into issues.

Ermine Frosting on a whisk attachment.

Troubleshooting Ermine Buttercream

Ermine frosting is easy to make, but you can run into issues with it at times. As with all buttercream recipes, it’s important that your ingredients are at room temperature (but not too warm/soft) or this can wreak havoc on your buttercream.

Here are some common problems as well as my tips and suggestions on how to avoid/fix them:

  1. My frosting is too soft. This happens either if your butter is too soft or the flour mixture was still warm. Pop the whole bowl and whisk into the fridge for 20mins (or freezer for 10mins) and rewhip. Depending on how warm it was, you may need a couple of sessions in the fridge.
  2. My frosting is curdled. If your butter or flour mixture are too cold, this can cause the buttercream to curdle. If you keep whipping it, it will come together.
  3. My buttercream still looks curdled. If whipping didn’t get it to come together, you need to warm it up a bit. You can do this by either placing the bowl briefly over a pot with 1-2″ simmering water, or warm the sides of the bowl with a hairdryer. You can also try to microwave 1/4 cup of the buttercream for a few seconds then drizzle it back into the buttercream with the mixer until it comes together.
  4. It’s too sweet. You can add a bit more salt to help cut the sweetness, or cut back on the sugar next time you make it. 
  5. The buttercream gets hard in the fridge. This is normal. Just like the butter it’s made from, it will firm up to the consistency of butter in the fridge. When you let it come to room temperature it will soften again.
  6. It tastes too buttery. The buttercream should be light and fluffy, not thick and greasy. If yours tastes like you’re eating a stick of butter, it probably just needs some more whipping. 

Ermine Frosting FAQ

  1. Can I make it in advance? Yes. The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temperature and rewhip before using.
  2. How do I make it more/less sweet? You can reduce or add sugar to the recipe if you’d like to adjust the sweetness. You can also add powdered sugar at the end to add more sweetness or stiffen it up. It will change the texture though.
  3. How do I flavour it? Refer to the Flavouring Flour Buttercream section above.
  4. Can I color it? Yes! Just add color like you would to any buttercream recipe. I recommend color gels or powder for best results.
  5. Can I make it Gluten-free? Yes. Just use your favourite GF flour blend.

Ermine Frosting on a stand mixer whisk with a blue cloth in the background.

Ermine buttercream is perfect for those of you who don’t like the sweetness/gritty texture of American buttercream but want something a little easier than a meringue buttercream. 

It is a little softer than meringue buttercreams, but I found it very easy to work with and easy to pipe. You just might need to chill it for a bit if you find it too soft.

The buttercream has a yellow tint to it due to the butter, but you can check out this post on How to Make White Buttercream.

I’m so excited for you guys to try this one. Let me know how you like it!

Looking for more tutorials?

Tips for making this Ermine Frosting

  • This recipe makes enough to frost and decorate a two-layer 8″ cake or a three-layer 6″ cake.
  • Make sure your flour mixture and butter are both at room temperature before combining.
  • The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temp and rewhip before using.
  • Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
  • To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my How to Bake Flat Cake Layers post!
Ermine frosting piped into a swirl on a glass dish.

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Ermine Frosting (Flour Buttercream)

Ermine Frosting (also known as flour buttercream or heritage frosting) is an easy and delicious buttercream made with flour, sugar, milk, and butter. 

Course Dessert

Cuisine Buttercream

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Chilling Time 2 hours

Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Servings 6 cups – enough to frost a 2-layer 8″ cake

Calories 891kcal

Instructions

Ermine Buttercream:

  • Place sugar, flour, and salt into a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine.

  • Add milk and vanilla, stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils. Continue cooking while stirring constantly for 1-2 more minutes until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat.

  • Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of to prevent a skin from forming.

  • Cool to room temperature.*

  • Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the (room temperature) butter on high until pale and fluffy (3 mins).

  • Add the (room temperature) flour mixture 1 Tbsp at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Add other flavouring (optional). Beat for 2-3mins until smooth and fluffy.

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Allow buttercream to come to room temperature and rewhip before use.

Notes

* The flour mixture can be made a day in advance. Place it in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature before using. The recipe makes enough to frost and decorate a two-layer 8″ cake or a three-layer 6″ cake. Flavour options: Add either to the milk mixture before cooking or to the buttercream at the end:

  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried berry powder
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter powder
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Add to the buttercream at the end:

  • 6 oz cooled, melted chocolate (will make the buttercream softer)
  • 2 Tbsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water (cool before adding)
  • 1/4 cup caramel or dulce de leche (will make the buttercream softer)
  • 1/4 cup lemon curd (will make the buttercream softer)

Another option for lemon or any other citrus is to beat the butter with 1 Tbsp citrus zest before adding the pudding.

Calories: 891kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 4gFat: 64gSaturated Fat: 40gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 44mgPotassium: 136mgFiber: 1gSugar: 71gVitamin A: 2023IUCalcium: 110mgIron: 1mg

The nutritional information and metric conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or metric conversion tool.

Ermine frosting photo collage with text.

 



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