An old fashioned dessert topping with a million names; Classic Ermine Frosting is made by boiling flour and milk and whisking in butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
When I was younger, my mom would often make a cake on the weekends. She loved to bake and would make many cakes from scratch. I have fashioned my Tomato Soup Cake after her version. And she would make Gumdrop Cake quite often too.
But when it comes to regular, everyday baking, she would just break out a boxed cake mix. It was very rarely chocolate or vanilla though. Nope, she preferred the flavoured cakes. Should loved the yellow cake, and she would make the cherry chip cake often enough.
Whatever flavour she picked, it was topped with one of two things. The first was Dream Whip. There was always a box of that in the cupboard. If it wasn’t that, it was Ermine Frosting. Of course, she never used the word frosting in her life. She called everything icing. I remember mom using the flour-based frosting, but it took me years to track down the recipe. Finally, here it is in all it’s glory!
WHAT IS CLASSIC ERMINE FROSTING?
I’ve tried to put into words – to describe – what this frosting is, but I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I found this description on the Wilton website and it describes it perfectly!
It is a French-inspired topping that is smooth and rich. The flavour is very similar to a cream cheese frosting. Known also as heritage frosting, boiled milk frosting, and flour buttercream, it is firm enough to hold its shape, but can also be used as an airy filling.
This unique twist on vanilla buttercream frosting is light, not as sweet and also egg-free. It’s perfect for pairing with rich cakes like red velvet, butter, or chocolate. Although it takes a bit longer than other frostings to make, it’s simple to whip up and pipes beautifully.
A FROSTING BETTER THAN THE REST
To be perfectly honest, Dear Reader, this frosting is just plain wizardry. If you make it, you will know exactly what I mean. When you see the gloppy, glutenous mixture from the boiled flour and milk, you might be tempted to toss it out and start again. But, don’t – it supposed to look like that!
The secret to making this frosting super creamy is to cook the flour and milk mixture until it becomes extremely thick. To do this, you will need to stand over the pot for the entire 20 minutes. You need to keep stirring/whisking to prevent the flour from clumping or worse – burning!
When the mixture cools down, it looks disgusting. I’m serious! Again, don’t throw it out no matter how tempted you are to do so. Continue on and watch the magic happen right before your eyes. Whisk in vanilla and the gloppy mess loosens up a bit.
But, when you add flour mixture to the beaten butter and sugar, it becomes light and fluffy and airy. It’s a great dessert topping option that is not overly sweet. You can show of your decorating skills by piping it. Or, if you’re like me, spread it on with a knife!
If you want a different flavour, you can change it from this vanilla version to another flavour very easily and very simply. The first option would be to switch out the vanilla extract for another extract. I think this frosting would work very well with a coffee extract!
But why stop there? Try peppermint extract at Christmastime. Or pumpkin spice extract for all your autumn-themed desserts. And of course, who could live life without almond, orange, or pistachio? Am I the only one who has a small collection of extracts?
Second to the extract options, you can incorporate powders to change the flavour. Based on the recipe below, you could add up to 6 tablespoons of really good cocoa powder to get a creamy, chocolate frosting. In addition, Jello is good to add too! Just beat in a tablespoon or two of the Jello powder mix. (Grape is my favourite!)
What flavour will you make? Or will you just leave good and well enough alone? I think life is too short to live by vanilla alone! Bring on pumpkin spice season – yes, I said it!
Classic Ermine Frosting
- 10 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (any % milk will do!)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups salted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- Add the flour and milk to sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking continually. It's important to slowly whisk to prevent the flour from clumping at the bottom of the sauce pan and to prevent the mixture from burning.
- Allow the mixture to cook until it becomes very thick. It should look like a gloppy mess! Set it aside to completely cool.
- Once cooled, whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Next, in a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Don't take any shortcuts – beat until the sugar is dissolved into the butter.
- Transfer all of the flour and milk mixture into the butter mixture and beat until well combined. Beat until the mixture looks like whipped cream.
- At this point, you can use a small spatula to frost your cake or transfer the frosting to a piping bag with your tip of choice.