This lemon ermine frosting is one of the best citrus buttercream recipes you’ll find. It doesn’t contain eggs, so the flavor is pure citrus goodness, and since it isn’t based on powdered sugar, it is creamy and fluffy without a hint of the grittiness that American buttercream can have.
You can find my recipe for plain ermine frosting here and for ease of browsing, you can find all my frosting and icing recipes in one place. Enjoy!
What’s So Great About This Frosting
You 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.
The first time I made ermine frosting, 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. This lemon ermine frosting is the stuff of citrus-lovers’ dreams, friends.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this lemon buttercream:
- lemon juice: provides the liquid for the “pudding” and a lot of the “zing” of the frosting
- lemon zest (optional): while optional, the oils in the zest provide a more rounded lemon flavor, because they add the floral notes missing in the juice alone
- sugar: provides the sweetness, and you really need a lot of sweetness to balance out the tangy citrus juice
- flour: in this case, the we’re using the starch in the flour to thicken our pudding and bind up liquid. This provides the body for the pudding so it can be whipped with butter into a light and fluffy frosting
- salt: important in all desserts, even when just a tiny bit is used. In this instance, salt counteracts the bitterness of the lemon leaving pure citrus tang
- vanilla: mellows and rounds out the citrus flavor. You certainly can leave it out if you prefer
- butter: tempers some of the tanginess and provides all the fat that gives the frosting its consistency
This ermine frosting is pretty straightforward to make. For more detailed instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card itself.
In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll be doing:
- Cook lemon juice, zest (if using), salt, sugar, and flour over medium heat until it thickens.
- Strain and cool your lemon pudding.
- Beat butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add the cooled pudding, a bit at a time, until it’s all in.
- Whip the buttercream until light and fluffy.
Ermine icing can be a little temperamental, and this lemon ermine frosting is no different.
If it seems a little thin, refrigerate your mixing bowl for about 15 minutes and re-whip.
If your frosting is too thick or not getting fluffy, it could be too cold. Heat the bowl over simmering water for a few seconds to melt some of the butter and warm it up, and rewhip.
Can I Make Other Citrus Flavors?
Absolutely. the same principle stands as for lemon. Substitute with your favorite citrus juice.
- grapefruit juice
- orange juice
- key lime juice
- passion fruit puree (not citrus, but tangy and wonderful, so it will work here as well)
- mango puree (which isn’t technically citrus, but still)
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- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar, (to taste, I added an extra 1 1/2 tablespoons this time)
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, (it needs it--but use it to taste)
- zest of 2 lemons (optional but lovely)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, (optional. I used it for a hint of Mellow)
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- Put the juice, sugar, flour and salt into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
- Heat over medium-high heat, whisking quickly and constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Let boil for about 1 minute, still madly whisking, and then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- With the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Once the butter is smooth, beat in the cooled pudding, a bit at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Switch to the whip attachment and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy, about 3 additional minutes.
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.
Sub in an equal amount of any citrus juice for the lemon juice. Key lime works particularly well, but you may want to increase the sugar by a couple of tablespoons since otherwise it will be really puckery.
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Nutrition InformationYield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 196Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 36mgSodium 165mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 1gSugar 16gProtein 1g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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You’re welcome, and have a lovely day.