You might think Old-Fashioned Flour Frosting is just for those times when you don't have powdered sugar on hand for the usual American buttercream frosting, as was sometimes the case for my Southern grandma who lived through the Great Depression (which, I'm told, is when this kind of frosting was invented).
But I like this frosting ever so much more than American buttercream, and it is just as easy. No eggs, no temperature monitoring, no complications. And no raw cornstarchy powdered sugar taste. The texture is amazing, soft enough to spread on the cake and firm enough for piping. Best of all, it uses less than half the sugar of the typical American buttercream and, though plenty sweet, is not cloyingly so.
There are different methods to make this type of frosting, but I've only ever made it this way and have found no reason to try others. Some people just cook the flour, salt and milk and then cream the sugar with the butter. I can't imagine how long I'd have to beat that to get the grittiness of the sugar out of it. Why not just cook the sugar with the flour and avoid any possibility of grittiness?
I was in the mood for caramel cake--yellow cake with caramel icing--and decided to make it as cupcakes. Instead of my traditional caramel icing, I thought I'd try to come up with a caramel version of old-fashioned flour frosting. Instead of using granulated sugar, I used an equal measure of dark brown sugar.
What are your favorite cupcake and frosting flavors?
Caramel Flour Frosting
(Makes enough for 8-inch 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I use Organic Valley 2% milk and unsalted butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, whisk together dark brown sugar, flour and salt. Gradually whisk in milk until mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens; it should be very, very thick. Remove from heat; leave the whisk in it and give it a stir from time to time (helps it cool and prevents a skin from forming) and let cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.
2 In stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cooled flour mixture (I have always added it in three additions, but I don't know if that's really necessary) and beat on medium-high until it all combines and resembles whipped cream. With my Cuisinart stand mixer, that's speed 7 for 7 minutes, pausing halfway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3 If you're going to be piping a border or anything, put a little of the frosting into a piping bag and refrigerate the bag while you're frosting the cake. For these cupcakes, I didn't even chill the frosting at all, just used it straight from the mixer.
4 Refrigerate cupcakes until about an hour before serving time. Refrigerate a cake until three hours before serving time; it should stand at room temperature for about three hours before slicing and serving.