How To Make Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting


This was my first time making any kind of buttercream frosting, and it was ridiculously easy. And it was Oh My God good. We’re thinking of making another batch and just eating it as a dip with fresh fruit. Super simple and super yummy.


090707-212515_Lg1 cup milk
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter)


Stir the milk and flour together and mix over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until it thickens. It changes suddenly, so don’t walk away from it.

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Set the milk aside to cool, and combine the sugar, butter and vanilla in a mixer.

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Beat on medium speed for 5-10 minutes — colder butter will take longer — until the sugar is dissolved and you don’t taste the graininess of it any more.


Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture and stir until smooth.

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The finished texture is surprisingly light and fluffy, considering what went into it.


I’ll be back soon with the banana cake this went on.

Yes that’s right, not banana bread: banana cake.

Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting


  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter)


Stir the milk and flour together and mix over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until it thickens.

Set the milk aside to cool, and combine the sugar, butter and vanilla in a mixer. Beat on medium speed for 5-10 minutes -- colder butter will take longer -- until the sugar is dissolved and you don't taste the graininess of it any more.

Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture and stir until smooth.


  1. jenncuisine says:

    Oh yum!! I've never had brown sugar frosting, but now I think I must!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Drew, Did you MEAN cook or did you mean cool?

  3. Oops! Why didn't the spell-check catch that one? Yes, I meant "cool". Thanks. I've fixed it above.

    • My dad made almost this exact same frosting except with white sugar. He always let the flour mixture cool overnight in the fridge covered with plastic so it didnt dry out. He also used a stick of butter & 1/2 C of shortening as another person wrote in their reply. Sometimes he added a Tbs of Amaretto to the butter mixture. VERY good.

    • Adela Hernandez says:

      This is the perfect recipe,easy to follow thank you so much.

  4. Bella Vita says:

    I just found your blog and truly appreciate your down to earth goodness. This frosting looks incredible….Drew, I have always wanted to make buttercream frosting (vanilla) and was wondering if you could tell me how to do it? Thanks, and I hope you stop by and visit me sometime too. Roz (bella)

  5. onlinepastrychef says:

    I've never played with starch-based frostings, so I find it kind of odd. I bet that it holds up better than a European-style egg-based buttercream. I can imagine that the brown sugar/molasses-y flavor would work well as a fruit dip.

  6. Bella, this was my first buttercream. Maybe Jenni can help you.

    So Jenni, since you've never done a starch one, maybe you can point Bella to a good vanilla buttercream?

  7. onlinepastrychef says:

    Okay, then, Drew.

    Hi Bella,

    The problem with the term buttercream is that it means different things to different people. There are simple buttercreams where you basically whip butter (and maybe another fat) with powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and a little liquid (cream, milk, even water or lemon juice) to get the right spreading consistency.

    Then, there are the egg-based buttercreams. Some are based on egg whites and some are based on egg yolks. You basically cook the egg foam with a sugar syrup, whip to cool and then whip in butter and flavorings.

    Both types are lovely and have their place. So, I guess the question goes back to you. Exactly what sort are you looking for?

  8. michelleinlaguna says:


    I haven't had this since my Grandma was alive, and couldn't remember what all went into it to attempt making it myself. I kept thinking it was Coke for some reason.

    Cannot wait for Banana bread and cake!!!

  9. This frosting is DANGEROUS! I was dying to try it ever since you posted the recipe, so last night I pulled out my trusty Joy of Cooking and found a quick cake recipe that only required one egg (didn't feel like going to the store.) I also had some strawberries that I wanted to use up so I sliced them and put them in a paper towel to take off any residual moisture. Between the two cake rounds I put a layer of frosting and a layer of sliced strawberries, then I iced the rest of the cake with more strawberries on top. It was freaking delicious! The strawberries really worked well with the brown sugar. I was amazed how smooth and fluffy the frosting turned out. Thanks!

  10. Tell the truth … how many strawberries did you dip in the frosting and never made it onto the cake?

  11. Ha! If I had my way I would have tossed the cake and sat on the couch with a bowl of strawberries and the frosting.

  12. bakingblonde says:

    I have been addicted to bananas lately but recently have had a few turn too brown for my liking to snack on. This cake will be my solution next time!

  13. Bakingblonde, it's either that or smoothies for me.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hey Drew!

    Thanks for the recipe! A friend and I are testing it out right now both in Cake form AND in Muffin form! (Well. muffin tops to be precise). The problem we're having at the moment is with this icing :(

    We decided to make a batch and a half of the icing so that we could put extra icing on top of the muffins (yum!). As soon as we combined the sugar mixture with the thickened flour mixture it became instantly watery and dark, dark brown. Nothing like any of the pictures you show. We've gone over the recipe over and over and can not figure out where we've gone wrong…. we fear that we'll have to either go to another recipe, or even worse go to store bought. Egad!!

    Any help?


  15. I suspect the flour/milk mixture was still too hot when you added it. I don't know if there's still time to save it, but I would try refrigerating it and trying to beat it again once it cools down. If you've already melted the sugar and butter then I don't think you're going to get a fluffy texture, but it's worth a try.

  16. yours truly says:

    Will it make enough to cover the entire banana cake?

  17. This batch was plenty to cover the 3-layer, 9-inch diameter cake, plus in between the layers, with a bit to spare. If you look at the first photo, you can see it's laid on pretty thick on top. I normally don't do that, but what else was I going to do with it? (Meaning I ran out of strawberries to dip in it.)

  18. I followed the recipe exactly and the frosting turned out super runny and I couldn't thicken it up.

    • This happened to me as well. I just finished making it. I stuck it in the fridge hoping I could save it.
      1.) Do you stir the milk constantly?
      2.) How thick is thick? I stopped when it was a bit thicker than milk usually is.
      3.) Does it need to cool completely (like stick-it-in-the-fridge-for-a-while cool?)

      I think that information would be helpful to new bakers like myself. I am making the cake, it’s in the oven as I type =D

      • Katie, I’ve gotten lucky and never had this one fail, but from the comments here it seems like the cooler the better.

  19. I hate when someone tries something and it doesn't work. Did the milk and flour thicken up properly? How warm/cold was the butter when you added it?

    I don't do pastry that often, so I may have just gotten lucky. Maybe you can drop Jenni an email and ask for ideas.

  20. Do you know if it keeps its form (can you decorate with it)?

  21. Amy, I found this very soft, and someone mentioned above that theirs was watery. I'm sure with a little experimentation it could be thickened up, but I haven't taken the time to do that.

  22. Hi:
    When I saw where Drew was from, I knew why I spent time writing this recipe down.
    Hey Drew, I’m from Cleveland too. The ethnic foods, as well as American dishes are well
    represented there. Please keep these recipes alive!

  23. Dolores, I’m always looking for more classic recipes. Got any you’d like to share?

  24. Fantastic cake recipe, but the icing is a complete failure. I’m assuming, upon retrospect, that the thickened flour-milk mixture should be refrigerated?

    I tried twice to make the icing and both times it separated completely. A complete mess. On both occasions I let the flour and milk cool for a good ten or fifteen minutes; didn’t mix it right off the burner. To be honest, this is a pretty weird recipe for icing, anyway: brown sugar, not white or icing sugar, and white flour, but no eggs!? Bizarre. Adding a significant amount of icing sugar thickened it up slightly, but couldn’t keep it from separating. No offense, Drew, but I wish I had read the comments here beforehand.

    Nonetheless, the cake itself turned out picture perfect and it tasted amazing to boot. The icing may look silly but it’s still delicious!

    • Definitely needs to be fully cool before mixing or it will melt the butter. Cold is even better. I usually cool mine in an ice bath double-boiler style. Whisking whole cooling this way also prevents a skin from forming. Good luck next time!

  25. Rikushix, I’m really starting to wonder if I got lucky with this. Or if I tracked the amounts as well as I thought while I was adding them.

    Looks like I’m going to have to give this one another go and report back.

  26. I don’t know what went wrong for the people above, but my icing came out great-tasting, nicely textured, and actually looks smoother than in the picture. The texture is loose and light (a little like Kool-whip maybe? Not the taste, just the texture).

    I followed the recipe exactly except I did it all at high speed with the whisk attachment, used dark brown sugar, used a splash more vanilla, and included the “gravy” mixture when it was still just a bit warmer than room temperature. The reason I did that was that after 10 minutes of whipping, my brown sugar had not begun to dissolve (Before I started, I was skeptical that it would dissolve that way, so I started to panic a little at that point). It de-crystallized very nicely once the milk mixture was added. Thanks for a great recipe!

  27. P.S. The dark brown sugar gave it a strong carmelly-tangy flavor, almost like a cream cheese frosting. This would be awesome on brownies or chocolate cake.

  28. Hi Drew, just wanted to add my two-cents worth, so to speak. I had already made a banana cake from another website, but didn’t have any cream cheese to make the frosting, so I got online and found your brown sugar buttercream frosting. I had never made a frosting like this before, but followed your directions to a T, and the frosting turned out beautifully. I did let the milk-flour mixture sit out quite a while (I was also making dinner) so it had gotten pretty cool. Same with mixing the brown sugar/butter/vanilla, I let it mix for at least 10 minutes because, again, I was busy. Not sure if those two things made the difference or not. Maybe the point is not to be in a hurry. In any case, the frosting was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Next time, I’ll try your banana cake with it too. Thanks!

  29. I should probably also include that I started out using the wisk attachment on my KitchenAid mixer to mix the brown sugar/butter/vanilla, but it didn’t seem to be doing the trick, so I switched to a beater blade attachment, the kind with the rubber along the edges to continually scrape the bowl as it’s mixing. It did a much better job of getting the brown sugar mixed in, and it did eventually dissolve. Also, as to the taste, someone remarked last night that if they hadn’t known better, they would swear there was cream cheese in the frosting. It was that creamy and good.

  30. Debbie, I’ve got to get one of those beaters with the silicone. I’m just trying to get past the $30 price tag on it.

    • Drew, once you have one, you’ll wonder how you got by without it. Definately worth every penny! In fact, we don’t even use the blade that came with our KitchenAid anymore.

  31. Sheehan Connors says:

    So I read the receipe in a real hurry and somehow overlooked that you had to heat the flour and milk over medium heat. Stupid I know , so what I ended up with was something that looked like oatmeal. I also blame the fact that I was watching the Olympics at the same time. That said, I was able to take the whole oatmeal looking mess, heat it on the stove and make a lovely thick yummy glaze to use cover a cake.

  32. Sheehan, some of the best recipes started out as failed versions of something else. Congratulations, you win!

  33. Judy Bodnar says:

    I have made frosting using flour & milk cooked & cooled many times. two secrets to the success of this type of frosting. 1. start with butter that is cool but soft.
    2. Make sure your flour mixture is completly cooled before adding it to the butter mixture. If you are in a time crunch put the pan of cooked flour /milk paste over a large bowl of ice will cool quickly., or put it in a bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Don’t worry if you still have some sugar grains in your butter…if you have beaten it well and it started with cool soft butter the cooled flour mixture somehow makes them disappear. I will now prepare this recipe and I have no doubts that it will be a delicious success …Thanks for the recipe

    • Dana Greenwald says:

      I soooo wish I would have read through these comments. I didnt know the flour mixture had to be completely cooled. I ended up with a light brown gravy. Had to run out to the store just for more butter late at night because the cake was for my son to bring to school for his birthday! I have yet to make the second batch because I have a newborn to tend to also…. Lets hope it comes out right!!

  34. The Banana Cake and Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting are delicious! I made them this morning, but instead of making a 3-layer cake (which would be way too much for my husband and me), I made it into 2 small cakes — a 6″ round 2-layer cake and a 5-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ oval 2-layer cake. Then I took one of the cakes to a friend who doesn’t bake.

    The recipe for the cake and frosting were the perfect amount to do both little cakes.

    And Judy is right about the frosting. I couldn’t get the brown sugar to dissolve completely, so I came and read everyone’s comments to see if anyone else had the same problem. Sure enough, once I combined the milk/flour mixture with the butter/brown sugar mixture, it smoothed up quite nicely. My friend even thought that the frosting had whipped cream in it!

    Thanks, Drew! (Maria thanks you too!)

  35. Carol, I was completely amazed by the texture, too.

  36. I just came across this recipe and it sounds soooo delish! I love to bake and I follow recipe’s to a T, no short-cuts! So my question is, about how long should the milk & flour mixture cool? Also, this may sound dumb, but is there a strong brown sugar taste to the frosting, or just a hint? Thanks in advance!

    • Sorry I missed this question when you first posted it. But to answer it, allow it to cool until it won’t melt the butter on contact.

      And no, there’s not a strong flavor to it. Just a light sweetness.

  37. I wanted to try something different for a birthday cake and found this recipe. I was a little bit worried because of the comments from people who had problems with it, but I found it very easy. I did cook the flour and milk mixture about the time that I took the butter out to soften; so, it had a long time to cool. And as someone who frequently “cheats” and softens butter in the microwave, I was surprised to find how soft butter can be while it is still cool. The finished icing was incredibly easy to work with, and the cake was one of the most attractive ones I’ve made. I was uncertain whether the cake needed to be refrigerated. I finally put it in the fridge overnight and took it out a few hours before serving. I will definitely be using this recipe again.

  38. So I just finished making this Frosting, and its like soup! What the hell am I suppose to do with soup frosting?? Seriously. I came up to check the recipe, I added all the right amounts, and SOUP!

  39. Jenn, you’re not the first person who’s had problems with it. I haven’t done a side-by-side test to confirm, but it looks like the problem is most likely that it was too warm when the butter was added. You don’t want to butter to liquefy.

  40. Solution jenn< refridgerate it…It works, my first time i just made this and it was soup so i put it in the fridge for a little while and the butter cools so that you have frosting =)

  41. Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to go try it now and I’ll get back with you:)

  42. I made this but mine turned out runny and off coloreed. ): I dont know what i did wrongg..

  43. Killie, the most likely reason for it to have come out runny is that the milk wasn’t cool enough when you added it to the butter.

  44. Hi Drew,

    I tried out the recipe but letting the milk mixture cool for about half an hour first and it worked! This frosting is the best frosting I’ve ever tasted. Thank you for it!

  45. J Lyndsay says:

    I was pretty dissapointed. It was devoid of flavor. If I ate paste, I would guess it tastes like the recipe provided above.

  46. Sorry you didn’t like it. They can’t all be winners.

  47. I cannot wait to try this recipe,I am waiting for my bananas to ripen.I am glad I read the comments first.Will get back to you!

  48. I made this along with the Banana cake yesterday and it is very lovely. The frosting reminds me of mousse. I added some coffee granules to the mixture for some flavour.

  49. This is a real old fashioned frosting recipe. I believe it’s from an era (30’s?) when you typically did not have an abundance to work with hence the thickening of milk with flour to get your base then adding the butter and whipping adds the depth for the lack of tons of confectioners sugar. This frosting has a great lightness to it almost mousse-like. The old recipe I use is actually for vanilla whipped frosting and the sugar is cooked with the milk and flour so it dissolves nicely. But, it must be cooled completely for the butter to whip it up correctly. In fact the recipe I have calls for throwing the stick of butter in the pot and not stirring it and then cooling completely in fridge and then whipping. I like your method better, however I am going to try adding the brown sugar to the milk mixture and see what the result is. I’ll let you know. P.S. I’m making this for “cookie dough” cupcakes- a vanilla cupcake with brown sugar whipped frosting that will have mini-chocolate chips and chopped walnuts stirred in!! Yuh-um-my! Love your blog and love old fashion cooking with a healthy modern twist. Good cooking to you.

  50. Judyma, that supports what I’ve come to suspect, that it fails if you try to whip it while it’s still too warm. Thanks for the confirmation.

  51. I have not had issues with the frosting ever.. I mean, I only made it 2 times, but both times it turned out as it should.. Oh, the first time I think the flour/milk mixture was just a little warm… I popped it in the fridge and it firmed right up… The cake is a dream too!! :)

  52. Just made this!! Came out great!!! Now I have to figure out what to put it on!!! :)

  53. I just happen to have 3 bananas who need a home in cake. And this sounds like perfection.

  54. Does it matter that the milk is 2%? And other than banana cake what is it good frosted on? Thanks

  55. Came out perfect!! Thanks to all the comments! :)

  56. This reminds me of a recipe for “Fluffy Icing” I have, passed down from my mom. It uses flour and milk, cooked & stirred until thick. Then I cool it in the fridge, not on the counter. Then a stick of butter/margarine and 1/2 cup shortening, with white sugar (granulated not powdered), and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix the sugar/margarine/shortening together, then add the cooled flour/milk mixture. It is important to make sure the flour/milk mixture is cooled. And to make sure it is cooked until thick. (kind of like wallpaper paste). I think this recipe was from back in the depression days when folks did not have powdered sugar.

  57. Barbarainnc says:

    I have made the white sugar version of this frosting. I just love it. Can’t wait to make the brown sugar version. Since it has milk and flour cooked together, this type of frosting must be stored in the refrigerator. I found this out on another site about making frostings. I have to get another 9 inch pan to make the banana cake. I think this would be good on a chocolate cake.

  58. The first time I tried this I failed. Miserably. It came out like soup.
    You have to really follow the instructions! I’ve never made the milk/flour combo – you have to let it get REALLY thick. I thought stirring around for a few minutes was enough the first time.
    You really do have to beat the hell out of the brown sugar. I didn’t do that either and it was very gritty. Came out great the second time.

    Follow the instructions EXACTLY and you will have a delicious brown sugar buttercream. Trust me.

  59. Perfect, but doughy floury taste, is it because I let the flour mixture get too thick /over cook? Other than that it is great

  60. Eve, if it still tastes floury that sounds like you didn’t let it cook long enough.

  61. LOVE LOVE LOVE the banana cake recipe! It was everything I wanted it to be. Everyone who ate it said it was delish. :)

    Now, I did mess up the icing however we still ate it. My mom said an “ugly” cake is always a good cake. She was right in this case. I did not read the comments of others and b/c the recipe didn’t say how thick the flour/milk mixture should get, I took it off the heat as soon as it began to thicken. I’m pretty sure that was my mistake b/c I followed the rest to the “t” and it separated like butter and pancake syrup do after they sit awhile. I also used margarine. Wondering if that was the cause.

    NO matter how it looked, it was very good; icing tasted kinda like carmel flavoring in it. We will definitely be having this cake and icing again. I hope to succeed at the icing texture now that I have read the other comments.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  62. Karen, I’d bet the margarine had as much to do with it as your technique. Margarine is just oil and water processed so they don’t separate while on the shelf. Cook with it and it will separate.

    I grew up on margarine. Trying to melt it for popcorn was always challenging. You had to stop it the second it started to melt or it would separate every time.

  63. as someone who doesn’t like cookie dough, this frosting didn’t work for me. It wasn’t bad, but I could taste the raw flour in the frosting. It was like when you eat a vegan baked good, and it’s fine but you can tell it’s missing eggs and milk: it’s not bad, it’s just off. the cake this goes with is good stuff though. i think maybe try this with it instead

  64. Milla, if you still tasted raw flour then it wasn’t cooked long enough before cooling it. I should go add a note telling people to taste it before it cools to make sure it doesn’t still have that raw flavor.

  65. Melanie Withrow says:

    I tried this recipe today to fill a devils food cake I am making and OMG…heaven on Earth!!! I read the previous suggestions, thickened the mixture until it was very pasty, put it in the fridge and when I added it to the butter mixture it was a solid disc. I put my kitchenaid to work for about 10 minutes whipping it up. After filling the cake (6 layers), there wasnt enough frosting for me to eat by the spoonful :( Luckily, I’m not above licking a bowl clean 😉 Thanks so much, amazing!!!

  66. Markel Simpson says:

    This was a delicious recipe and very easy, we had everything in the pantry to whip it together. Thank you for sharing! :)

  67. My father had been wanting a banana cake for a while so i decided to try and make one for him. I just finished the frosting, my cakes are still to warm to frost but I don’t care. I LOVE the frosting it came out wonderfully!!!! I’m going to have to make another batch of the frosting for the cake because I doubt that this frosting will last long. If the cakes turn out half as good as the frosting this will be wonderful! Thank you!

  68. I just made the banana cake with buttercream icing yesterday for desert and it was a hit with the family! I ran into the same problem with a running icing, most likely because I didn’t let the milk cool completely before adding it to the sugar mixture. As soon as we finish this cake, I think I’m going to try again :)

    Drew, when you first made this icing, what kind of milk did you use? I only had 2%, but I’m wondering if whole milk might work better?

    • I always use whole milk, but I think your first guess is right. Everyone who’s had this come out runny rushed it. Anyone who does it again and lets it cool more, it comes out fine.

  69. Hiya, cool the mixture means cool it to a point where it is cool not lukewarm not even a tad warm. Thats where people went wrong I think and also, maybe they didn’t whip the butter and sugar until it wasn’t full of granules. This is a beautiful recipe and worked wonderfully for me. This is my first time making buttercream frosting, usually I purchase it and seeing I followed the directions to the T it seemed to work for me! Thank you for the recipe… I put it on my carmalized apple spice cake for thanksgiving dinner today.

  70. I had the same problem with extremely runny and separating frosting! I have made the same thing for the filling for “gobs” or “whoopie pies” , only that uses shortening and white sugar. I didn’t rush anything because I have made this before and I know how the flour “gravy” should be when it is cooked, and it should be totally cooled before making the frosting. I’m baffled. I really don’t know why it didn’t turn out for me. In the bowl, it became creamy and fluffy but as soon as I turned off the mixer, it almost like melted. It separated. Turned mixer on, fluffy again. Turned mixer off, blah. Runny and melty again. I really have never had such a “flop” in my baking. Ever. As I said, I make an identical fluffy frosting with white sugar and shortening and never had the problem. Maybe the problem could lie in the softened butter or maybe because it was a damp and rainy day. I’m clueless. The cake is great though!

    • Tina, I’ve heard of humidity ruining baked goods, so I can believe that might have been it. This has worked the three times I’ve made it, though, so I’m really just making educated guesses at why it might fail.

      One last guess is something went wrong cooking the flour. Just like with gravy, you have to cook it enough to cook out the dry floury taste, but not so long that the gluten completely breaks down.

  71. OMG! I just made this brown sugar butter cream and it turned out absolutely amazing! I cooked the flour and milk mixture on med-low and stirred it constantly until it was really thick and pasty but still smooth; and then refridgerated it while I whipped the butter and sugar. I used a hand mixer so the brown sugar and butter took a long time to not be granular (maybe 20 minutes) but it eventually it became smooth. I added the flour/milk mixture a tablespoon at a time and it turned out light and fluffy and delicious. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  72. When do u add the salt? I didn’t see it?

    • Oh, that’s a good point. I use salted butter, so I didn’t need to add it. Just add the salt to the milk/flour mixture before you cook it.

  73. Hi! I just found this website and seen all the comments about the icing being too runny and thought maybe I could help. I make a cooked icing that’s pretty much exactly the same. After you cook the milk and flour, put it in a bowl and cover tightly with saranwrap (place it directly on the mixture and seal completly if that makes any sense!) and put it in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. It makes a world of difference!

  74. Wow, just made this and your banana cake recipe, and it is to die for. I had two pieces and am thinking of having it tomorrow morning for breakfast. At this rate I’ll be putting on some winter warmth!! 😉

  75. Wow, just made this and your banana cake recipe, and it is to die for. I had two pieces and am thinking of having it tomorrow morning for breakfast. At this rate I’ll be putting on some winter warmth!! 😉 I made 2 x 10″ cakes and it turned out lovely!

  76. This is the second time I’ve..hmm? third time I’ve made this- Its fabulous!! I’m making it again tonight to go on top off a delicious spice carrot cake..thank you!!

  77. Hi Drew, (long time since having heard from you in my mailbox, must have fallen off the grid somewhere along the line, but I’m back (with a vengance) hahha.)

    Can I use our dutch brown sugar (beet sugar) as a substitute for the brown sugar? Or is it better to use raw cane sugar (that’s brown too)?
    Want to make the bananacake with frosting, finally after having tons of apple bundt cake my husband is ready to switch over from his favorite cake channel.

    • I’ve heard lots of the sugar sold in the U.S. is actually beet sugar, and there’s nothing on the package indicates the difference. I think — but I haven’t done any side-by-side testing of my own — that cane sugar and beet sugar work pretty much interchangeably in recipes.

      • You *can* smell the difference between cane and beet sugar. In the US if the bag does NOT say pure cane sugar, you can bet it has at least part beet sugar in it…..Things I learned from my SIL who bakes beautifully decorated cakes etc…..that said, if you are used to using the beet sugar, you won’t notice the difference. In the US C&H is the predominant cane sugar brand.

  78. Yum! I followed your directions exactly and the results were fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  79. Can you do this without adding the flour and milk mixture????

  80. I too had the soup problem. I had followed the recipe (added 50%) to a tee, everything looked good (except the brown sugar graininess never totally went away) I added the flower/ milk mix (room temp) and then mixed with the paddle attachment to incorporate. The consistency was like a very thick bisque. I added boxes of powdered sugar to make it usable. so either I need to add milk a bit at a time, for use less butter. I don’t know.

  81. Use 1/4 to 1/2 the milk to overcome soup. I had to double everything else once I dumped the milk mixture in. Otherwise it turned out well.

    • Now I have had the chance to taste the cake YUMMY, it was gobbled up today by lots of friends and family. I made a bundt cake and a loaf because I was serving it for breakfast with a group of friends and had to leave some home for DH and DS to eat as well. They both turned out very well, and I served the frosting on the side which set up after I doubled everything but the milk and flour mixture and salt. Everybody loved it!

  82. I really want to make your banana cake with brown sugar buttercream frosting for my daughter’s first birthday. I am using a shaped cake pan and will need 5 1/2 cups of frosting to frost it. Do you know approx. how much frosting this recipe makes? Should I double it to get 5 1/2 cups. Thanks so much. This frosting ( and cake) sound so delicious.

    • 5½ cups is a lot of frosting. This probably makes about two cups or so, meaning yes you could double it and get close to 5½. I’d like to see the size of the cake you’re doing that calls for that much.

      • I think 5 1/2 cups seems like a TON of frosting! I looked up the baking instructions for the pan and that is what it indicated. Still, it seems like a lot. I will double the recipe and hope for the best. I might just have to use it as a fruit dip as mentioned above. Besides, you can never have too much frosting

  83. Sorry, I forgot to ask this before. I will be piping some decoration on this cake. Is this frosting thick enough for some basic piping and shell borders or is it too thin? Thanks so much for your help.

  84. Is this frosting an ok consistency for some basic piping and shell borders or will it not hold shape? Thanks for your help.

    • Sorry for the double post, didn’t think that first one posted.

    • If you really want to do some piping, you could put it in the freezer for a while and it will firm up enough. But this is about a soft as whipped cream, so I’d treat it accordingly.

  85. Wendy Cunningham says:

    OH!!! MY!!! GOD!!! This was deeeeeelicious!!! Thank you so much for this recipe! I must now go and dislodge the beaters from my husband’s throat!!! hahahahah

  86. jessica says:

    i tryed this out for the first time.. and yeahh it did work out it was all liquidy. i dont know what i did wrong, i followed all the steps. tried it 2 times but still no progress..

    • Jessica, based on other people’s comments, I think the key is to make sure the cooked milk mixture is very well cooled down before adding the butter.

  87. Hi Drew…This is the first that I have been to your site. I made your cake and frosting for a party today…and it is perfect. I had read a lot of the comments and thought I better be very careful with the frosting…I was…and it turned out fabulous! Thanks so much…can’t wait to look around at more of your recipes!

  88. I’ve been looking at this recipe for the brown sugar buttercream for quite some time. I finally made it and it’s delicious! My only suggestion is to push the cooked “gravy” through a fine mesh strainer. It will be difficult if you cooked it long enough and it’s thick enough, but mine had a few chunky bits of the gravy in the frosting. Otherwise, it was perfect. It was mapley from the brown sugar and beautifully fluffy. Thanks!!

  89. This was honestly some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had

  90. Once when making my family’s buttercream I ran out of powdered sugar and just replaced it with normal, granulated sugar since we were topping the cupcakes with crushed up graham crackers anyway. My little sister came across my bowl of frosting and went to town, and now requests “crunchy” frosting each time I bake. I just called her to try this frosting and it passed her test! (I just didn’t beat it until the sugar was all smooth, knowing with the pineapple cake I’m making her, it will work well) Thank you for sharing, this is amazing!!

  91. Grandma Smith says:

    First of all, I feel very offended because you cook nothing like grandmas, second of all when my very young children decided to make them for their preschool graduation, it turned out like poo. Their graduation sniffed and died. Thanks a lot :)

    kiss kiss,

    • You’re welcome. Kiss kiss.

    • I kind of agree. Just looking at this, my stomach is churning. This is NOT buttercream. Not even CLOSE. Raw flour? Seriously?

      Real brown sugar buttercream is heavenly and is not made in a manner anywhere close to this. It also doesn’t look broken and runny.

      This breaks my heart, that all the people here are being so misled.

  92. My husband loves banana cake. (We had it at our wedding 36 years ago.) He also is allergic to corn and cannot have powdered sugar, so I made a frosting similar to this one using white sugar for many years. I got the recipe from my grandmother. I ran out of white sugar today, so I looked online for a brown sugar frosting. This was delicious and will be the new favorite frosting for my banana cake. BTW, I always let the milk and flour mixture get very thick and let is cool all the way before I mix it with the butter. Sometimes if I am in a hurry I will put it in the fridge for a while.

  93. I just made this frosting for some Sticky Date cupcakes and it is delicious! I’m glad that I read the comments first though so I knew to chill the flour/milk paste. I’ve been a little skeptical about buttercream recipes using flour but I’m so glad I tried it! It is a super fluffy light whippy frosting. Some coffee and cinnamon were added to this batch but I’ll definitely be trying other variations as well. Thanks Drew!

  94. I wish I had read the comments too! I just assumed that if I let my mixture cool at room temperature while I measured and mixed it would be ok… it isn’t. Throwing the whole bowl in the fridge and hoping that saves it. If not my brown sugar cookies are good with nothing and I’ll try again another day!

  95. Julie pierce says:

    Oh my gosh! This recipie is so good! U must have strawberries with the frosting!!!!!!

  96. Backa-Jade says:


    I made this Icing last night, between it and the Valentines day cupcakes it was a smashing success! I was told that it was the best icing i have ever made. Even though it was two soft, it was such a blast using with a icing bag I got as an early gift. I figured out a few things though.

    1. If you use 1% add a teaspoon of your butter to the milk.
    2. When you mix the flour to the milk add the MILK first… ( First one i accidentally browned the flour, that was fun! )
    3. Whisk the flour and milk and let thicken till it forms a paste.
    4. Chill till completely cool mixing occasionally so it don’t lump
    5. With an electric mixer, Beat the Milk flour paste till its fluffy, then the butter then them together.

    Fortunately all my screw ups were the first bit of the milk base. But WOW! I will use this from now on. Thank you!!

  97. virginia m. barilla says:

    Well, I made a spice cake and wanted an easy good fluffy brown sugar frosting. Yours’ looked good cause my mother used to make frosting with the milk paste. I used evaporated milk, it’s a thicker milk for recipes and it compliments brown sugar. I followed your directions and I made sure everything was cool. It’s a real nice frosting, all creamy and tasty. Oh and I made the milk paste thick like soft school glue. It’s a keeper thankyou. Recipe made allot too.

  98. Kathie (katmom) says:

    I bought some $2.50 cupcakes (that’s each cupcake!) last month. The frosting had brown sugar, cream, sea salt, karo syrup listed as ingredients. Instead of trying to recreate it myself, I searched and found THIS recipe. It looked right, just like what was on my cupcake.

    Oh my gosh! So good! I agree with letting the flour mixture cool, and then get ready for the WOW factor!

    And for those that asked, yes, you CAN pipe it on a cake or cupcakes. AND it keeps it’s shape. It was lovely.

    Thanks, Drew!

  99. I was going to try this tonight on some cupcakes but I’m worried with so many people having issues with it. Since these aren’t for home consumption (bringing them to an event) I think I’ll stick with my go-to brown sugar IMBC.

  100. I have made this three times and it turned out perfect EVERY time! The only thing is, when I tried to color one batch for my daughter’s birthday cupcakes I got grey instead of purple, no matter how much red and blue I added. Would you by chance know how much confectioners sugar I would need to use to change this to a white buttercream? AND, by the way, I couldn’t stop eating the frosting right off the spoon! Tastes like cookie dough!

    • I’m no good with coloring. Wish I could give you a great answer, but from the feedback, I probably got lucky that it even worked on my first try.

  101. I have made the white sugar version since childhood, which was more than a few years back..perhaps hundreds of times. Never made a brown sugar version until today. It was dynamite on carrot cake. To all those afraid of ermine frosting, just remember to make the flour /milk portion to resemble a large glop of wall plaster and make sure to let it cool for quite awhile. In fact, I usually make the paste before I start the cake. The rest is easy. I have never had a bad batch of this..but Italian buttercream is another matter. There is also a version of this kind of ermine icing that uses flour without making the paste for those who have a glop aversion, it is good too.


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