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Simple Vanilla Frosting

Everyone who bakes, whether it's occasionally or on a regular basis, should have a quick go-to frosting that's prepared in minutes with a minimum of fuss.  This simple vanilla icing is instantly familiar to most of us who grew up spreading home style frostings onto baked goods from those little tubs found in the supermarkets right next to the cake mixes.  You know the ones!  With only a handful of ingredients from one's pantry a homey vanilla frosting can be made in no time to be used for tender cupcakes or on a favorite cake.  The icing is delicious on a red velvet cake, a classic yellow cake, a chocolate cake, a perfect white cake or even a carrot cake. 

One can make this frosting several days in advance as long as it's properly sealed in the refrigerator, but since it is so simple to make, I personally find it best to prepare it the moment I want to frost something delicious.  There's nothing new about this icing and in fact, it's pretty much a standard back-of-the-box recipe in terms of quantities and preparation.  It's worth repeating so that you can make it at home with ease.  

By the way, don't blame me if you find yourself licking the spatula or the mixer beaters after you've finished making this frosting.  

This delicious cake is swathed in Simple Vanilla Frosting
It's quite good.

The Ingredients
  • 1 stick or 8 tablespoons {113 grams} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups or 1 lb. {455 grams} confectioner's sugar, dip & sweep to measure
  • 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons {60 milliliters} milk
  • pinch of fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 teaspoon {5 milliliters} pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 milliliters} pure almond extract
Yield: about 2 cups, enough for one 8" double layer cake.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until it's creamy, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  This can also be done in a medium-sized bowl using a handheld mixer.  Stop the machine and scrape down the bowl & paddle.   

Add half of the confectioner's sugar on low speed and then increase the speed to medium.  Add the milk, pinch of salt now.  Beat this for about 1 minute or until it's creamy.  Stop the machine and scrape down the bowl and paddle.  Add the remaining confectioner's sugar, along with the vanilla extract & almond extract.  Beat this on medium-high speed until the frosting is quite creamy, about another 2 minutes or so.

When the frosting is done, it should look creamy, thick & spreadable.  You may use it now or you can hold it for a few hours at room temperature until you're ready to frost those cupcakes or layer cake (cover it with plastic wrap if you're going to hold it for a few hours).  How simple was this? 

The vanilla frosting can also be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days, well-covered.  To use, bring it to room temperature and beat the frosting with a mixer or rubber spatula until it's smooth & creamy.

I love the simplicity of this frosting.  Doesn't it look positively delicious?

Don't omit adding the almond extract & pinch of salt to the frosting, because in my opinion, they give this simple recipe a bit of depth without overpowering it.  If you're one of those people who have to pile on the frosting in great big heaps onto cupcakes or cakes, make a second batch.  This sweet & humble, yet positively satisfying icing is going to transport you back to childhood and hopefully put a smile on your face.  It's the kind of recipe you'll want to make if you plan on having a bake sale for one of those end of summer lemonade stands.  Enjoy every speck of it and do not leave a trace on your cake stand, cake plate or platter! 


  1. This looks so good David. Thanks for posting.

  2. Sure thing Nancy! I'll post the cake that I used this frosting on very soon. Enjoy.


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