applesauce cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

Ermine Buttercream Frosting, Flour Based

Very simple and so good - perfect for fall (or anytime!!)

There are several Buttercream Frostings, and one that has increased in popularity recently is not very well-known is Ermine Buttercream. I was recently reading several posts about the different types of buttercream and Ermine wasn’t even on any of the lists! Ermine Buttercream Frosting is sometimes called a flour-based buttercream and sometimes called Boiled Flour Frosting or Pudding Based Frosting.

Grandma's Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

Grandma’s Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

While it might sound a bit “blech” at first thought – I know, flour in frosting? Trust me on this, It’s delish. This is just one gorgeous, silky buttercream with an absolutely rich, mellow taste. As a matter of fact, one taste and you’ll never forget it!

About Ermine Buttercream Frosting:

Ermine Buttercream Frosting doesn’t taste of flour and it has the advantage of being a lot less sweet than some buttercreams. It also doesn’t use egg so there is no worry about safety. Heaven help us for the amount of butter in this frosting, though! It’s rich and decadent.

My Mom made Ermine Buttercream Frosting for our favorite cake (see My Mothers Chocolate Cake) and she often told me how she & her friend, Bev, pulled it from McCall’s when Mom was at the doc’s, pregnant with me…way back in the late 1950’s. She made this cake all the time…the funny thing is she commented once how good it was but thought it was a shame it wasn’t prettier. The original recipe was skimpy on the frosting so I increased it. Now it’s a looker!

Ermine Buttercream Frosting is the original frosting for Red Velvet Cake, too. Over the years, Ermine Buttercream Frosting has fallen out of favor and is often substituted with Cream Cheese Frosting, probably because this frosting can be a bit finicky in the heat. That’s really not so much of a problem these days when so many of us have air conditioning, but if you’re thinking about putting this on cupcakes and letting it sit out in the sun for hours when it’s 95 degrees out, just beware. Although most frostings won’t fare too well in those conditions.

my Mom's chocolate cake from McCall's 1959 with Ermine Buttercream

My Mother’s Chocolate Cake with Ermine Buttercream

Making Ermine Buttercream Frosting:

Lately, Ermine Buttercream Frosting seems it is going through a bit of a resurgence. And with good reason! It’s really quite remarkable. There are a couple of things to know about this frosting, for ultimate success:

  • Cook the flour mixture, stirring until it boils, and let it gently boil for just a few minutes until it is quite thick.
  • Cool it thoroughly, but that’s best not done in the fridge. If you’re in a hurry and use the fridge, stir it frequently.
  • Most importantly, the butter has got to be at the right temperature. You should be able to pick up the stick and bend it without it breaking or losing its shape.
  • If the butter is too warm, the frosting won’t whip right and won’t set up properly and if the butter is too cold it won’t incorporate.
  • If the butter is too warm or if you’ve not properly cooled the base, save it by either placing ice packs around the mixing bowl or refrigerating it for a bit.

There are two different ways to make this frosting; in one the sugar is cooked with the flour and in the other, the sugar is creamed with the butter and the pudding-like flour mixture is added to the mixture. The recipe, below, is the first, and probably the easiest way, because it ensures the sugar is completely dissolved.

Keep the above hints in mind and you’ll have a gorgeous Ermine Buttercream Frosting. While the recipe says to keep refrigerated, that really depends on the temperature. I’ve never had a problem but I tend to keep my house cool. Now I’m staying at my folks, where it is always 300,000 degrees, and I had to refrigerate. Obviously, if it is too hot in the room, the butter will be melty! If refrigerated, it’s best brought out to come to room temperature for serving.

Saving Money on Ermine Buttercream Frosting:

Butter and most baking goods go on sale at every Holiday. There’s really no sense in paying full price for butter. Pick it up on sale and stash it in your freezer. Barring that, buy at Aldi or your buying club.

Grandma's Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

Grandma’s Applesauce Cupcakes


Ermine Buttercream Frosting, Flour Based

This silky, smooth, creamy frosting will win your heart. Ermine Buttercream was the original frosting for Red Velvet Cake.

  • Author: adapted from 1959 McCalls Magazine
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups 1x


  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened correctly – butter should hold it’s shape but bend
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Place sugar, flour, and salt in a small saucepan and whisk together. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook a very short time, stirring, until very thick.

Remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl. Cool to room temperature.

When cool, whisk in a stand mixer, using whisk attachment or beaters if using a hand-held. Add butter a tablespoon at a time until smooth. Add vanilla and beat in. Chill frosting for a few minutes before decorating.


It is recommended to refrigerate cake or cupcakes until ready to serve; bring out in enough time to reach room temperature.

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You know I’ll be bringing Ermine Buttercream Frosting to our Throwback Thursday #31 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!

Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!

Of course, I can’t miss bringing this to Fiesta Friday #112, hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine. Wow, 112 consecutive weeks!

if you like Ermine Buttercream Frosting, you might also like:

Of all the buttercreams, Ermine Buttercream is the real favorite at our house. You might know it as flour-based or pudding based. It's silky, smooth, substantial yet light. It's also the original frosting for Red Velvet Cake. I love Ermine Buttercream because it's not too too sweet. #Buttercream #Ermine Buttercream #Red Velvet Cake Frosting

25 thoughts on “Ermine Buttercream Frosting, Flour Based

  1. Cheryl Peters

    I use this as a cake filling, sort of like a Twinkie filling. I have never worried about refrigeration, but wondered now if it is fairly shelf stable. I know it has milk in it, but it is boiled and with all the fat and sugar, I always thought it would be good for a couple of days. Thoughts?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      A twinkie filling! I would LOVE to have one of those! I never really worried about refrigeration except when it gets too warm and it can kind of separate a bit because of the butter. I have never given a thought as to refrigerating for food safety reasons because it doesn’t contain any eggs. I tend to agree with you that the milk is cooked and would be fine. I’ve always kept this out (except at my folk’s house where they turn on the heat when it’s 80 degrees out.)

      Honestly, I just read a list, because a young friend is pregnant of all the things she can’t eat. It is long and extensive. How did we manage to survive as a species?

  2. toozesty

    This is my first exposure to ermine frosting but it certainly sounds interesting. I love, love, love buttercream but I know many find it to be too dense and sweet.

  3. My grandma used to make a frosting like this, although I think she just called it boiled frosting. It was delicious. Thank you for sharing this tutorial at Fiesta Friday this week!

  4. I love, love, love making frosting like this! I have never heard it called ermine frosting before though. I make a cream cheese version too (which I know you say you are getting sick of), but it has the cream cheese flavor without being so dense. I love doing that version on my favorite banana cake! I am a frosting girl though, so I love them all!!

    • Morning Carlee! I think it might just be that some cream cheese frostings are really dense. I always use Cream Cheese on my Carrot cakes & on a Banana Cake I make and maybe that’s why I get a little tired of it. I do love this frosting, though!!

  5. MaryJo

    I’ve been making this frosting for over 40 years, since I got the recipe from a woman whose mother worked at a bakery in Ohio where they made it with shortening. Shortening, obviously, won’t taste any where near as good as butter, but it would be cheaper, as well as more stable in hot weather. I love this recipe because you don’t need powdered sugar (must be sifted and it’s so messy!) and because I always have flour, sugar, butter, and milk in my house. My little secret is to add a little almond extract in addition to the vanilla.

    • Hi MaryJo! I feel the same way about powdered sugar, and some of the frostings made with it are SO sweet. Interesting about the Ohio bakery because it seems like this recipe might be more well known in the South – maybe because it is tied to Red Velvet Cake?

      Love the almond extract hint!


  6. I have never made an ermine frosting but want to, thank you for posting this recipe and your tutorial is wonderful. I make a similar whipped cream frosting but instead of flour I use cornstarch. You whip the pudding mixture into whipped cream it’s not as finicky as butter. I have to try this one yours looks just beautiful and perfect.

    • I think you’ll like this! But the frosting you described sounds like just the frosting I want for another dessert – is it like a stabilized whipped cream? Is it on your blog? Hmm, maybe your last post?

  7. I have never heard of Ermine frosting before or using flour in frosting. This would be a lovely change to using cream cheese because I find the cream cheese can be slightly over powering at times depending on flavour of frosting.

    • I feel the same way about Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s great on a Carrot Cake with lots of spices and I love it on my banana sheet cake, but it can be strongish and take over, and it’s becoming so popular sometimes I just get tired of it!

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