In the past two weeks I have completed and delivered my first two big (larger than two tiers) wedding cakes. In each of them, there were different flavors for different tiers. I'll sort of deconstruct them and give you each recipe I used on these cakes over 5 different posts.
First off, here are the pictures of the two cakes:
Between the two cakes, something like 10 pounds of butter and 20 of powdered sugar were utilized to make the icing. I went with the simple buttercream recipe I know the best for each of the two cakes. I tested out swiss buttercream and viewed recipes for other buttercreams in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, but the people for whom I made the cakes are used to and like the simple buttercream, and I know how it behaves the best, so simple buttercream it was.
The recipe posted below is not an original, and it's certainly not new, but it is a great basic recipe whose flavorings can be switched out to suit your taste. I have substituted most of the vanilla flavoring with almond and if you like almond, it's great!
1 pound (16 oz) powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 oz) butter, softened^
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring*
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy. Mix together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup.
Working in batches, add the powdered sugar and milk mixture alternately, occasionally scraping the sides of the mixing bowl until all ingredients are incorporated and you have a fluffy texture.
^If you want pure white icing but a bad texture in the mouth, use vegetable shortening. I don't recommend this, unless you're only making this icing to practice your piping skills.
*If you want your icing to be whiter, use clear vanilla flavoring. If you intend to color your icing anyway, feel free to use extract. This is also the part where other flavorings or extracts may be used.
Enjoy this easy and addictive icing!