Viva La Buttercream

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    The Top 5 Most Asked Buttercream Questions!

    One of the best parts of this gig, is helping all of you find your way in Buttercream.

    I get lots of questions, and I love answering them. I get some questions more than most, so I thought I would the top 5 in a post, complete with links to more info, to get you started!

    1) “What Buttercream do you use?”

    I only use Basic Buttercream. Its easy, inexpensive, and versatile, and I like eating it, which is probably the most important part!

    Basic Buttercream can also be known as ‘American Buttercream’, but generally speaking, American Buttercream has at least some shortening added, whereas Basic Buttercream doesn’t, so to avoid confusion, I refer to it as Basic Buttercream.

    You might find mention that shortening helps with stability in heat and humidity, and yes it does. It also tastes and feels gross, so I don’t use it as a rule.  If its too hot, I keep my Buttercream cakes in the fridge, rather than resort to using shortening. Which leads into the next question..


    2) “Can I leave my Buttercream cake outside, in 37 degree heat, sitting for hours?”

    NO. No you can’t, and you shouldn’t.  This is cake we’re talking about! Would you leave potato salad outside for 5 hours and be upset when it spoils? No!

    Basic Buttercream IS room temperature stable, and can be kept at room temperature for a few days.

    That being said, its still dessert. It really should not be expected to look its best after 3 hours in the sun. I know I wouldn’t look my best after 3 hours in the sun! If its REALLY hot or humid, store the cake in the fridge, or aircon if you have to, and bring it out close to the time of serving.

    3) “How do you make your flowers stick to the SIDE of your cake?!”





    I love to say Sorcery, but in reality, its much more simple.

     Flowers fall off cakes mainly for two reasons: they are too heavy, and/or too soft.

    You’ll notice that I pipe my Buttercream flowers without a base, now not only does this keep the flowers lower profile, but it also reduces the weight.

    A heavy flower WILL fall of a cake, and the only way to avoid that, is to place heavy flowers either on the top of a tier, or on the ledge between tiers (as seen on my “Wintertide” cake. I braced the larger Anemones on the cake ledge, whereas the smaller ones could be placed vertically).

    So what about the small ones? I pipe my flowers at least the day before I need them, and put them in the freezer, uncovered, overnight.  Not only does this chill them so they firm up, but it helps to draw some of the moisture out of the Buttercream, helping to prevent them from going soft once they come to room temperature.

    You can freeze prepiped flowers for up to 3 months, but be sure to cover them in an airtight container if you plan to store them for longer than overnight, to avoid freezer burn.

    For more info, check out my blog on Defying Gravity.

    4) “How do you get your Buttercream so smooth?”

    It all comes down to patience, good tools, and chilling your cake. To get a really great result, you need take your time. Crumb coat, chill, and build up your Buttercream slowly.  If you add too much Buttercream to quickly, all your going to do is pull it off (and possibly some crumbs while you’re at it!) Let your layers set in the fridge, then have another crack at it. A chilled cake, means a chilled decorator!

    I also use and recommend the scrapers from Fat Girl Cakes.

    To see how I do it, check out Frosting a Cake with Basic Buttercream.


    5) “Can I do that with Buttercream??”

    Probably! Buttercream is HUGELY versatile. You can pipe it, spread it, mould it, paint it, airbrush it, stencil it, emboss it, carve it, sculpt it, and now I’m tired.

    There are limitless things you can do with Buttercream, you just need the right tools, a little know how, and some faith in yourself, and I’m here to help!

    If you are new to Viva La Buttercream, or Buttercream in general, have a look around! There is stacks of free content here to get you started, and paid full length tutorials as well, so settle in, and join the family!

    Viva La Buttercream xx

    20 thoughts on “The Top 5 Most Asked Buttercream Questions!

    1. Hello buttercream guru! Great website. Question. Is basic buttercream room temp stable. I have a disagreement with my council at present re butter and my only way out of it is to pay a fortune to a food analyst to test this. Are you aware or have you had any testing done regarding this query of mine??? Would love your help ?

      1. Thanks love! I haven’t had any formal testing done. Butter is fairly safe to store at room temperature, as long as its a fairly mild room temperature, as is was, butter used to be stored in the pantry under a ceramic lid before we had refrigeration! That being said, its downright painful arguing with councils. My area isn’t keen on ganache because of the cream. You could try to have it tested, but there might already be some literature out there on perishability of butter, so have a look before you go to any expense. I would wonder though, if you can guarantee that they will be refrigerated, will they bend then?


        1. It just takes some practice to get your consistency right. If you mix up Basic Buttercream as the recipe indicates, it should be perfect piping consistency. For colder climates, you may want to add up to 1 tablespoon of water or milk to thin the mix.

      2. If you are using a crusting Buttercream, like Basic Buttercream, your Roses will crust as they dry. Only meringue Buttercreams stay soft.

      1. Hi Carrie! You need about 1 teaspoon of Cornstarch to every cup of Powdered Sugar. It won’t make any difference to your Buttercream, it just means that you don’t need to sift your sugar. Check your sugar packet before you add anything though, as many powdered sugars already contain anti caking agents 🙂

    2. how do you make the icing sugar with cornstarch what are the measurements for the formula? How do you make a large amount for a wedding cake that is 4 or 5 tiers?

      1. Hi Cathy! You need about 1 teaspoon of Cornstarch to every cup of Powdered Sugar. It won’t make any difference to your Buttercream, it just means that you don’t need to sift your sugar. Check your sugar packet before you add anything though, as many powdered sugars already contain anti caking agents 🙂 It’s hard to say how much you will need, as how much you fill with, and how tall your cakes are, all play a part. I might be a good idea to invest in Jessica Harris’s Buttercream Calcuator. You can find it here

    3. Hi Kerrie,First of all, you are a true buttercream artist – your work is inspired, brilliant & beautiful!Secondly, perhaps I am missing it on your site, but could you please share the information on the scrapper you use.Thank you so much.

    4. Wanted to know what is good filling swiss meringue buttercream or italian meringue buttercream. Then covered on fondant i never made this filling because i was worryed about the egg not getting cooked .

      1. Lisa if you buy a pasteurised egg white ( I find it in the freezer section), you can use it for meringue buttercream without using a high temperature sugar syrup. Works a treat!

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