Basic Butter Icing

Makes enough to pipe onto 12-16 small cupcakes or 8-12 large (depending on how you apply it):

125g butter, at room temperature
250g icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp milk

Making good buttercream is quite labour intensive if you do it by hand, so make sure to have the butter at room temperature. If you have electric beaters or a food mixer, lucky you! Soften the butter really well until it goes a much paler colour, nearly white. Add half the sifted icing sugar and put a tea towel over the top of your mixer, if using one. This avoids the icing sugar flying out! Beat, beat and beat. Add 1 tbsp of milk and beat a bit more.
Add the second half of the icing sugar and beat again. Add the rest of the milk a bit at a time and keep beating until the mixture is white and fluffy. If it is still butter-coloured, you need to beat longer. This can take 3 – 4 minutes using the food mixer, and much longer by hand. Finally, add any flavourings (eg 1 tsp vanilla extract), but don’t over-do the liquid as the icing may split.
Pipe or spoon onto the cakes once they are cooled.

More later on filling a piping bag…

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