Ermine Frosting Recipe

Ermine frosting is light and airy. This vintage recipe is what bakers used to frost their layer cakes before the days of cream cheese frosting that were thickened with powdered sugar. Ermine frosting holds like buttercream but will also remind you of whipped cream. This recipe makes about 4 cups, which is plenty to generously frost and fill a 9-inch triple layer cake.

Ermine Frosting on Cake
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox
4 cups


  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 cups unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Whisk together milk and flour in small saucepan until smooth. Whisking constantly, cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until it reaches the consistency of pudding.

  2. Remove from heat, add sugar and salt, and whisk until sugar dissolves.

  3. Scrape into medium-size bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.

  4. Place butter in a large metal bowl and beat with mixer set to medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

  5. With mixer running, add cooled flour mixture in heaping spoonsful. Beat in vanilla. Scrape bowl with a rubber spatula.

  6. Switch to whisk attachment if your mixer has one. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until light and fluffy with the consistency of stiffly whipped cream. Use immediately. Baker’s Tip: If loose cake crumbs are mixing into the frosting, cover the cake in a very thin coating of frosting (called a skim coat) and refrigerate for 15 minutes before applying the rest of the frosting.

Chef's Notes

If making the cake ahead, cover loosely and refrigerate overnight, and then return to room temperature for serving.

Related Articles