Kansas City, MO

For decades, I didn't want to share my buttercream frosting recipe

CJ Coombs

This is one of my favorite cakes I made with the help of my daughter.Source: author.

I’m ready to share my recipe now, so get your pen and paper ready

As a side gig to my full-time job in a law firm, I made a lot of wedding and occasional cakes for years. The cake pictured above is one of my favorites because it involved a lot of time and art, and the room that had accents of gold highlighted the cake. The venue was the President's Hotel (nka Hilton President Kansas City). Edible paint was used for all the designs and I had a talented daughter to help me create this beautiful cake. Beco Flowers grace the base of the cake.

I’ve always said frosting makes a cake taste good or better. Without good-tasting frosting, disappointment on the palate happens no matter how good the cake is.

Since my attention started leaning towards a passion to be a writer, I cut down on making wedding cakes. But my daughter and my first granddaughter have the creative baking trait. Four generations of baking began with my dad. 

My dad ca. 1955.Source: author.

Buttercream Frosting

I make what I call batches of frosting. For example, two batches including decorating can take care of a half-sheet size cake. One batch can decorate two dozen cupcakes or one 8-inch two-layer cake. 

It takes experience to know how much you need and for what size. Generally, I don’t go heavy on the frosting for two reasons. It’s high in calories and you don’t need a lot to compliment a cake. 

I set this wedding cake up at Mission Hills Country Club.Source: author.

Recipe for one batch of frosting

Note: Butter tends to melt in warmer temperatures so you’ll want to keep the frosted cake in a well-air-conditioned space or refrigerator. If it sits out in the heat too long, it will get very soft. That’s why I use a brand listed below plus it’s lower in calories and non-dairy. 

Some people make buttercream with only butter flavoring and Crisco shortening. I cut the Crisco way down and started adding the butter substitute below. My thought has always been, nobody wants to solely taste the shortening aftertaste in a frosting. The only time I use real unsalted butter is when I make Italian Buttercream.

Another one of my favorite cakes made for a friend.Source: author.

Ingredients for one batch

  • One bag of powdered sugar

Note: some powdered sugar brands may leave a grainy or gritty taste in your mouth. Make sure your powdered sugar is made from cane sugar.

Beet sugar simply doesn’t dissolve as fast into the mixture as the traditional cane sugar does. (Source.)
  • Half & Half Cream
  • Two sticks of I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter (this is dairy free and made from plant-based oils)
  • 1/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 tsp. clear vanilla flavoring
  • 1 tsp. clear butter flavoring
  • 1 tsp. clear almond flavoring

Note: You can get the flavorings at your local cake supply shop or local hobby store that furnishes baking supplies. If you live in Missouri or Kansas, go to Baker’s Rack. It’s well-stocked and organized. 


First, make sure all your refrigerator items are entirely at room temperature. You also want to make your frosting in a cool room. Humidity will affect the consistency of the frosting.

At medium to high speed, mix your two sticks of butter and Crisco until it’s well-blended. Start adding powdered sugar and alternate it with the cream at low to medium speed. You want it to be smooth, not clumpy and dry. If you think it needs more cream, add more. If you accidentally added too much cream, just add more powdered sugar. Then add your flavorings at low speed.  

The smoother your frosting is, the easier it is to manipulate when frosting cake. If it’s too thick, it’s harder to frost your cake without making your cake crumble especially when frosting a chocolate cake. Spread it on smooth and it will dry to perfection. Note: it’s also easier to frost your cake if you apply a crumb coat first. Then, refrigerate for a brief period before applying your final coat.

You can also make your frosting in advance which I recommend especially if you’re making a large cake. You can store it for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Let it rest at room temperature before use. I’ve also run it at low speed in the mixer before applying to the cake.

As you gain experience making frosting, you will establish for yourself what your favorite ingredients are.

The below video is a good example of how to fill your layers, crumb coat them, and then put on your final layer of frosting. When you crumb coat a cake, you’re just locking in all the crumbs with a fine layer of frosting so they don’t resurface in your final layer of frosting. 

Thanks for reading!

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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