Seriously Citrus Buttercream

Mild Coconut Cake with Tangy Key Lime ButtercreamYou know how when you have lemon icing it is...underwhelming? It tastes kind of fakey and chalky.  And then you're sad.  Same goes for key lime.  Or any other tangy goodness, for that matter. The sharp wonderfulness of citrus seems to get muted by all the powdered sugar and butter and Other Stuff.  A teaspoon of extract and some zest is just not enough to cut through the creamy sweetness.

Well, citrus lovers. Be sad no more. I am Here to Help, and I have devised a citrus frosting with every bit of zing that a citrus lover could want.  Seriously.  Remember back when I made the flour based frosting for a birthday cake?  I Opined at the time that this method could work very well with citrus. Just substitute citrus juice for the milk and go from there.

Yesterday, I made that Happen, and I am here to tell you that I have found the Citrus Buttercream Promised Land.  And now, I shall share it with you.  Make this. You will Love It.

Seriously Citrus Buttercream
Recipe type: Dessert Component
Take a standard flour-based frosting (which is delightful) and sub any citrus juice you like for the milk. You'll basically end up with a citrus pudding that you then cool and whip butter Into. Day-um, it is good. This recipe makes about 2½ cups of frosting. Double it so you can eat a bunch right out of the bowl. Also, before you whip the butter into it, you could use it as a filling for donuts or cupcakes. You should probably do this and then tell me all about it. If you're using fresh-squeezed citrus, by all mean whip in some of the zest to underscore the goodness.
What You Need
  • ¾ cup citrus juice (I used Nelly&Joe's key lime this time)
  • ¾ cup sugar (to taste, I added an extra 1½ tablespoons this time)
  • 1 whole egg (optional, but I added it for richness and to tame some of the Tang)
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (it needs it--but use it to taste. Just don't leave salt out. Ever).
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla (optional. I used it for a hint of Mellow)
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, soft but not melty
What To Do
  1. Put the juice, sugar, egg, flour and salt into a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking quickly and constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Let boil for about 1 minute, still madly whisking, and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.
  4. Press all of it through the strainer with a flexible rubber or silicone spatula, making sure to scrape any that is sneakily sticking to the underside of the strainer.
  5. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of your pudding (that's what it is, after all), and cool to room-ish temperature in the fridge.
  6. Scrape your pudding into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
  7. With the mixer on medium, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, incorporating each addition before adding the next. Scrape the bowl and beaters often.
  8. When all the butter is in, whip in the vanilla and beat on high speed for a minute or two to lighten the texture just a bit. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
Other Stuff to Know
I found that the flavor mellowed and matured in the fridge overnight. You can frost your cake immediately, but I'd recommend waiting until the following day to serve it. Also, you can just refrigerate the frosting immediately and then ice and serve your cake the next day. Make sure to re-whip the frosting once it comes to room temperature.

So, for all of you looking for a Remarkably Citrus-y Frosting, you need look no more.

You're welcome, and have a lovely day.





  1. Janestarling30 says

    I’m very new to your fantastic FB page & now your blog, but I will be here often! I love the sound of flour buttercream, & will definitely give it a go. Thank you so much!

    • says

       I’m glad you’re here, Jane! I do hope you try it, and please let me know how you like it! Also, I’m always happy to answer any questions, either via email or on the fb page:)

  2. Maranda H. says

    Hi, I adapted this recipe to make it raspberry and it turned out well. It isn’t as strongly flavored as lemon or lime would be obviously, but it isn’t underwhelming either. It ends up turning out purple, I think mainly due to the egg white being so basic, plus I added a smidgen of cream. (The pudding prior to adding the butter is almost a shocking purple.) I’ve made a raspberry curd in the past using just egg yolks, and it stayed pretty well red. I don’t know how much the butter would affect the color in that case. (I wonder if cream of tartar would help?) Not an ugly color, just not the pretty red and pink I always hope for… Either way it went well with my unspiced carrot cake! 🙂 I’ll let you know when I get around to making it in a citrus version. I’m sure come blood orange season, I will be trying it out with those! Maybe a blood orange cake with raspberry filling and blood orange icing. (Can you tell I’m nuts about raspberries?)


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