My honey buttercream contains butter, honey, powdered sugar, and salt, and it’s a variation of my American Dreamy Buttercream. It comes together in minutes and tastes like a rich, creamy honey butter that you can frost onto cakes and pipe on cupcakes.
This frosting is wonderfully simple and complex at the same time. It’s simple: all we have to do is add honey and powdered sugar to whipped butter. The underlying technique relies on my American Dreamy Buttercream concept: the butter can hold a liquid-based sugar in an emulsion. In this case, instead of using corn syrup, we’re using honey.
This buttercream is very butter-forward, so I’d make it for those who really enjoy honey butter. It’s also a good frosting for heavier and spicy traditional holiday cakes such as pumpkin or gingerbread. Otherwise, I’d recommend it for smaller cakes, such as cupcakes, or maybe smearing atop a small sheet cake. This will help lessen the overall sweetness if you like honey butter but don’t want it to be overly heavy.
Unsalted butter is the main ingredient of this recipe. The butterfat in butter allows us to frost and smooth the frosting onto large layer cakes like a dream, and it also adds that creamy mouthfeel. The reason why I always use unsalted butter is that salt content varies between brands. Also, what may not be salty for me, maybe incredibly salty for you. It’s best to customize based on taste and add salt at the end.
Honey is the primary sweet flavor profile for this buttercream. You can buy wide varieties of honey, all of which will taste different based on the flowers the bees visit. The flavor I see most commonly in the US is clover honey, which has a light floral essence. Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution mainly containing fructose. If you’re used to my American Dreamy buttercream, you may notice that honey is much sweeter than corn syrup. This is because fructose is sweeter to humans than glucose.
Powdered sugar is added at the end of making this frosting to round out the sweetness. We can’t use all honey because the buttercream can only hold a finite amount of liquid before the emulsion breaks. The frosting becomes too runny to frost or pipe.
Salt is a flavor enhancer and is added at the end. Don’t skip adding the salt... I promise it works wonders in taming sweetness and giving your buttercream a complex flavor profile, especially when it comes to honey, which is super sweet.
This buttercream naturally has a yellow-cream color due to the butter and honey. This will depend on the brand and variety of honey you choose. I think the natural color is beautiful, but you can whiten it a tad if you want.
The best way is to color correct by adding purple food coloring to offset the orange/yellow tones. I use a toothpick and add a tiny amount to the finished buttercream. Let it mix for a couple of minutes to incorporate fully, and you’ll notice that the buttercream will whiten slightly.
Step 1. Whip up butter.
Add the slightly softened butter to a large bowl (1a). Using the whisk attachment (I know, I’m using a paddle attachment here, I was having a brain fart while filming... you can still use a paddle, but a whisk is far more efficient.) Whip for at least 5 minutes (1b) until the butter is whiter in color and lighter in texture (1c).
Step 2. Add honey.
Continue with the whisk attachment and add the honey slowly while mixing at low speed (2a). Scrape the bowl down at least once (2b) and mix on high for another minute when all the honey is added (2c).
Step 3. Add sugar and salt.
Add the powdered sugar and salt and mix on low speed. The amount in the recipe is the right sweetness for me, but you can add more powdered sugar to add more structure and sweetness, so be sure to give it a taste to check.
Step 4. Smooth out buttercream.
Mix the frosting on low speed with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes until silky smooth. It’s now ready to use or store for later.
Here, I'm using this frosting on a pumpkin spice cake. You can see the smooth sides and the pipeability. I colored this honey buttercream with orange ColourMill oil-based food coloring.
Below is the recipe to make 3 cups of Honey Buttercream - that's plenty for about 1 dozen cupcakes (maybe more) as well as a small 6 inch cake with 2 layers. If you need another quantity, use my Cakeculator to choose the pan size of cake you're making and "Honey Buttercream" for the the frosting.
*I use clover honey, which has a pleasant floral, sweet flavor profile. Use any honey you like but please remember, never feed honey, including foods made with honey such as this buttercream, to children under the age of 1. (Mayo clinic explanation here.)
**The amount I’ve given can be increased based on how thick and sweet you want this frosting to be. Start with this amount and add more at the end based on what you need.
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