Many years ago I was watching a show on the PBS Create channel about a family that opened a restaurant in their small, rural hometown. They used to work in fancy kitchens in New York City and decided to move home and start a family and open their own business. This resonated with me this year with how many of my friends have been moving out of the city of Chicago to their hometowns or just to the suburbs. When my brain started making these connections, I remembered an episode that I was watching where the host went to a family friend’s house to learn how to make boiled milk frosting. When I heard about this, I remembered thinking that there is no way that can taste good! Then, a few weeks ago my mom told me that she made Ermine frosting while decorating banana shaped birthday cakes with my niece and nephew (she is the most amazing Nana around). So, I started to do some research and realized that ermine frosting is also called boiled milk or flour frosting. I knew that I needed to learn more about this frosting. I learned that this is the original frosting for red velvet cake. I learned that there are different techniques for when to add the sugar to the recipe and how much sugar is needed. I learned that when done correctly it can whip up like Swiss meringue buttercream without any eggs needed (this is wonderful for my family since one of my boys keeps trying to hold on to an egg allergy). Also, that it can be pretty finicky, so it take some time to get it just right, but when you do…it is sooooooo worth it!
The ingredients needed for this recipe are 8 tablespoons of all purpose flour, 2 cups of granulated sugar (I think this is too much sugar – next time I will add less sugar), 2 cups whole milk, 2 cups of salted room temperature butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla.
For the first part of the frosting, I poured the flour and sugar into a heavy bottomed, medium sauce pot and whisked them together, then I added the milk to the pan off the heat and whisked until there were no more clumps of dried ingredients.
Next, I moved the pot to the stove and placed it over medium high heat. I whisked ever few moments until I saw the mixture begin to boil. Then I whisked it consistently for about 3 more more minutes. The directions told me to whisk until I reached a pudding like consistency. I think the next time I make this I will whisk for 5 minutes and reduce the mixture down a little more. After it thickened, I poured the pudding into a bowl and let it rest for about 5 – 10 minutes. I whisked it once every minute to release some of the heat from the bowl and not let a skin form on the top. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap, being sure to have the wrap touch the surface of the pudding to keep a thick skin from forming on the top of the pudding as it cooled. I left the mixture on the counted while it cooled down to room temperature. This took about 2 hours. You could also place the bowl in the fridge to speed up the process, but it has to be at room temperature for the next step, so if it gets too cold, you will need to give it some time on the counter to warm back up.
Once the pudding had cooled to room temperature, I put my butter in my stand mixer and whipped it until it was nice and fluffy. Then, while the mixer was on low, I added the pudding one spoonful at a time and let the mixture fully mix in before adding the next spoonful. After all the pudding was added in I mixed in my vanilla extract. It was at this point that I realized that I was supposed to be using my whisk attachment, so I changed it out and turned the speed up on my mixer to high and let it whip for a full 5 minutes. I checked that it was ready when I pulled my whisk out and the frosting stood up a nice peak on the top.
I wish that I would have taken the time to get more detailed pictures of how luxurious this icing really is when it is finished. I put it into a piping bag with a large start tip to show how smooth and creamy this icing is, but also how well it keeps it shape. I kid you not, I left this plate of icing on my counter ALLLLLL DAY LONG to see if it would weep, or slide or break down. It stayed exactly the same! It got moved around the counter and little fingers tried to eat it about 100 times, but at the end of the day it looked exactly like this! I really hope that the next time you need to ice a cake, you will giving this recipe a shot, especially if you like your icing less sweet than typical American buttercream and if you love the silky texture of Swiss meringue buttercream without the eggs!
** A few notes, I think that this recipe is a little sweet, but adding less sugar is a super easy change to make if you like your icing on the less sweet side. That being said, it is for sure less sweet than typical American buttercream recipes though as is. I did find when I was using this icing to decorate a cake, that if it sat for too long, it needed a quick whip to become silky smooth again. Also, this does not make a huge amount of icing. If you have a ton of cupcakes to ice or more than a 2 layer cake, I would probably double the batch. The recipe that I used for this post is from Liv for Cake and she has tons of other great tips on her site that are worth checking out! **
Recipe: Ermine Frosting
- 8 tablespoons all purpose flour (63 grams)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (or less if you like a less sweet frosting) (369 grams)
- 2 cups of whole milk (16 ounces)
- 2 cups of salted room temperature butter (452 grams)
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (14 grams)
- In a heavy bottomed, medium sauce pan whisk together the flour and sugar. Pour in the milk and whisk to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated and there are no pockets of flour and sugar.
- Place the pan on the stove over medium high heat and stir every few moments until the mixture begins to boil. Then, stir continuously for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens to thick pudding.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour the pudding into a bowl. Let the bowl begin to cool for 5 – 10 minutes, being sure to stir every minute to release steam and not let a skin form. Then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and over the edges of the bowl to keep a skin from forming while it cools. Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature (about 2 hours or faster in the fridge).
- Whip the butter with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer for 3 – 5 minutes. Make sure it is light and fluffy. Add the room temperature pudding into the butter 1 spoonful at a time. Be sure the pudding is fully mixed in before adding the next spoonful. Nice and slow is the way to go.
- Add in the vanilla.
- Turn the mixer up to high and whip the frosting for 3 – 5 minutes or until the frosting is silky smooth and stands up with a peak when the whisk is pulled from the mixer.
Recipe adapted from Liv for Cakes