Shortening makes the frosting more stable and reduces the tendency to melt in warm weather. Butter gives this frosting a rich and luscious taste, but using butter and vanilla extract produces a frosting that is not pure white. For a whiter frosting use clear vanilla extract. For a pure white frosting, omit the butter and increase the vegetable shortening to 1 cup along with clear vanilla extract. I’ve never liked the thought of eating a pure shortening frosting, but it does produce a snowy white frosting if this is what is desired.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting, enough to fill and frost a 9″ two layer cake. For large cakes increase the recipe by 1½ or 2 times. A recipe like this is very forgiving. If you feel you don’t have enough to finish your cake, just add a little more butter or shortening, and a little more powdered sugar plus enough milk for the right consistency.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk, plus additional if needed (preferably whole milk)
- In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon and beat the butter and shortening until smooth. Add vanilla and beat until well mixed. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will appear dry after all the sugar has been added. Add milk and beat until frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Add additional milk if necessary to make a good spreading consistency.
- Using an offset spatula, spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.
- Cover unused frosting tightly or place in an airtight container. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks. Rewhip frosting when ready to use to bring it back to a fluffy texture, adding a small amount of milk if necessary.