Back in my day (ugh, when did I get old?) special occasion cakes - birthday, class parties, etc - came from the bakery section of our local grocery store 95% of the time. If you're familiar with a good ol' basic grocery store cake, then you've probably noticed that grocery store frosting has a very distinct flavor.
Why does grocery store frosting have such a unique flavor? Primarily, the taste you remember from your childhood is caused by using most or all shortening (instead of butter) in the recipe. Also, since most supermarket icings begin as bright white, they only use imitation flavorings which won't add any unwanted tints to the frosting. These artificial flavors have a different essence than their natural counterparts. Finally, many grocery store cakes are decorated with brightly-colored piped designs using lots of food coloring which can add a tang or slight bitterness to the flavor.
Some would argue that this kind of frosting is inferior to the more pure types of buttercream using real butter and pure vanillas/other flavorings. Even if that's true, there's still something so nostalgic about the flavor of a grocery store buttercream.
I tweaked a couple of recipes together to come up with a frosting that does use partial butter but still maintains that special supermarket flavor from our childhood birthday parties. If you're after that kind of specific taste, I think you'll be very happy with this recipe! Enjoy!Print
Grocery Store Cake Frosting
- Total Time: 5 mins
- Yield: Will frost a 2-layer 8-inch cake or about 3-4 dozen cupcakes depending on how thick you spread it.
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup Crisco or other vegetable shortening
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp Wilton no-color butter flavoring (see notes)
- 1 tsp Wilton no-color vanilla flavoring (see notes)
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- 1-3 TBS heavy cream or half and half, to thin.
- Place room temperature butter and Crisco into a mixing bowl and using a hand or stand mixer, mix until smooth and fluffy. Start adding in the powdered sugar a little at a time, keeping the mixer speed low to prevent messes. Stop at 3 cups of powdered sugar and if your frosting is too thin for your needs, add a little more a bit at a time until desired consistency.
- Add in both flavorings and a small pinch of salt and mix until combined. The purpose of the salt is to cut the sweetness of the frosting a bit, so start out with just a very small amount and then taste and add more as needed.
- If your frosting is too thick, add heavy cream or half and half 1 TBS at a time, mixing well after each one. If you accidentally make your frosting too thin, you can add more powdered sugar a little at a time.
If you want a pure white buttercream, you'll need to use the colorless butter and vanilla flavorings, which are usually imitation. If you want a more natural flavor and don't care if your frosting isn't pure white, use pure vanilla extract and natural butter flavoring.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
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My goal in cake decorating when I was young (before you were born I’m sure!) was to NOT taste like the grocery store frosting! Haha! I can understand the nostalgia though! My nostalgia is my mom's homemade mocha frosting. Yummy. I still make it myself.
I totally get it! I prefer the "real" buttercreams so much more!