Fall in Love With This Vintage Flour Frosting for Your Layer Cakes

Perfect for making pretty whirls and decorative swirls on your dessert.

Before cream cheese frosting thickened with boxes of powdered sugar, home bakers relied on Flour Frosting, made with a simple roux of cooked flour and milk. Also known as Ermine Frosting, so named for its gorgeous white color and luxurious taste, this light, airy frosting spreads as easily as whipped topping, yet covers well and stays put like thick buttercream, so it's perfect for making pretty whirls and decorative swirls on your cake. Flour frosting tastes creamy and buttery with a whisper of salt for balance, with no risk of it turning out too sweet or heavy. It might remind you of the best whipped cream in the world (times ten) and it's quite tempting to lick the beaters and bowl after the cake is complete. Revive a classic, and use flour frosting on your next layer cake.

Frosting By Many Names

Flour frosting is an unusual concoction that begins with a cooked flour mixture that resembles vanilla pudding. Some handwritten, hand-me-down recipe cards call this frosting Gravy Icing because the cooks stirred it up in their trusty cast-iron skillets. The term "gravy" once referred to all sorts of recipes, both sweet and savory, that started with a roux of flour and flavorful fat—butter in this case. Other names for this type of frosting that you might see in old cookbooks include Boiled Milk Icing and Butter Roux Icing.

The Red Velvet Original

This was the original icing for a Red Velvet Cake, a popular Christmas classic in its own right. A brilliant red layer cake (or any richly flavored cake) covered in this fluffy white icing can serve as an edible centerpiece on a holiday table, especially when perched on an heirloom cake stand or plate.

Frosting Uses

Flour frosting spreads as easily as whipped cream and makes beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes, as well as fillings. It works well for decorative piping along the edges and for creating patterns on your cake. Use the frosting right away, or refrigerate and re-whip before using.

Flavoring Ideas

Flour frosting has the light, airy texture of whipped cream, and it is not as sweet as traditional buttercream. On its own, it tastes similar to Swiss meringue buttercream. You can flavor the frosting with cocoa powder, extracts, or small amounts of peanut butter or fruit jam.

Perfect for Holidays

If you've not tasted flour frosting in ages, one bite will remind you how quick, easy, and incredible it is. If you're new to it, you'll be equally happy to have it in your holiday baking repertoire, where it might become your new tradition.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles