November is a month of anticipation. After the quick month of October’s festivities, sugar, and pumpkin-filled days, November rolls along with the anxiety-ridden weeks of being crazy busy as both the calendar and academic year come to an end. Christmas paraphernalia appears earlier than usual to replace the spooky skeletons and pumpkin spiced goodness and you’re left wondering where the year went. What happened to spring? Summer? Fall seems far away as malls and coffee shops constantly remind us of the brisk winter ahead with their red and green displays with frosted windows. But worry not, because pumpkin still lives on. And why slather pumpkin in dense and creamy cream cheese icing, when you could wrap it in a blanket of vegan ermine frosting?
My last pumpkin recipe of the year comes to you on Wednesday, but before I share that, I need to share this frosting recipe, because it deserves a post of its own. This frosting is a beautiful fluffy cloud that is reminiscent of the rich feathery lightness of swiss meringue buttercream. I want to live on a cloud of this. It’s like a pillow around my cake.
I’m surprised this frosting hasn’t become all the rage yet. It’s smooth and buttery, which makes it totally understandable why it’s called ermine frosting. While a little more high maintenance than the easy 3-ingredient cream cheese frosting, the extra step of cooking the flour and milk is worth the trouble. The cooked mixture makes a thick, pudding-like mixture, and when gradually beat into butter and sugar, it creates this lusciously light yet still very rich frosting. It’s not too sweet, but it’s a great complement to a subtly flavoured cake like red-velvet or this pumpkin apple spice cake that I’m sharing on Wednesday. Although the gluten in the flour is a key component in the chemical structure of the frosting, I imagine that a xanthan gum-enriched GF all purpose flour would have a similar effect.
The best part is, I made this frosting totally vegan. Instead of milk, use almond milk, and instead of butter, use a vegan butter replacement. You can add different flavours to the frosting: cocoa powder for chocolate, different extracts like orange essence, rose water, or even some cocoa butter would take this frosting to the next level.
I think I’ll just have a bowl of vegan ermine frosting and a spoon to myself as I try to power through the next few days of work and deadlines. Ah the life of the student, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’m finally ready to stop being a student.
For those that know me, that’s a big deal.Â I’ve had a hard time letting go. But anyway, more about that later.
I’ll share this cake recipe on Wednesday. Happy Monday everybody <3
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or other milk alternative
- 2 cups butter (Earth Balance)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp clear vanilla flavouring (or natural extract, it just might not have the same white colour)
- In a pot under medium low heat, continuously whisk together flour and milk until you get a pudding-like consistency. It'll be ready when you can lift the whisk and drip some of the mixture and it'll leave a trail. (About 10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and let cool, whisking every so often to get prevent a skin from forming and to speed up the cooling process.
- Meanwhile, beat 2 cups butter (chopped into smallish pieces) with vanilla flavouring and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the completely cooled flour/milk pudding 1 tbsp at a time, or in a very slow, thin stream into the butter mixture, beating constantly. Once you slowly incorporate all of the flour mixture, you'll have a beautifully light and fluffy frosting.
- Keep frosting and frosted cake in a cooled place, this frosting isn't that great in the heat.
Linda Hopkins says
Well, that’s what I get for trying a new recipe for my son’s birthday. I followed the instructions to the letter and it came out a gloppy mess. The sugar and Earth Balance completely separated. So I had a syrupy buttery soup. Yuk.
Lisa Mai says
Oh no! Did you make sure that the roux mixture was completely cooled? When I was researching the recipe, I found that if it was too runny at first, people just put it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes for the Earth Balance to reset as cold and then beat it again (kind of like what would happen with swiss meringue buttercream) and it would fluff up.
Hi Lisa, I ADORE this ermine frosting – just discovered it now. You don’t perhaps think if Linda used coconut cream (that’s quite thick in itself as her liquid base). I do SO hope she gets it right because everybody now just loves this stuff. I think you’re perfectly right about it being cooled down properly. Thank you for your version.
If you use the yellow Earth Balance (the whipped which spreads more easily) it will stay runny. The orange tub or the sticks work.
This is my second time making this recipe and so far it’s come out fantastic both times. I think it’s my new favorite frosting recipe!
Lisa Le says
So glad to hear! I love this frosting >< So silky and buttery.
I found your site looking for red velvet cake using beetroot and was going to tell you how it was worth making ermine frosting, then I saw in the comments that you’d already come to the same conclusion! The recipe I used has you melt the sugar in with the flour and milk (I used soy milk), and I used a mix of half coconut oil and half Vitalite (margarine) for the fat. So smooth, creamy and delicious! I will be trying it with your red velvet recipe :)
Lisa Le says
Thanks Emily! I haven’t tried melting the sugar in with the roux, but I might try that next time. Thanks for spending the time to comment =) Let me know how your red velvet cake comes out ^_^
Penelope Wang says
I made the mistake of making this on a hot day, so while it’s big in volume, it’s also runny like cake batter.
Threw it in the fridge and leaving it there overnight to harden. I’ll only beat it again and pipe it right before serving. Here’s hoping it won’t be hot again! Stupid weather… Scorcher in winter?! Really?!
I halved the recipe and added some salt, but otherwise followed the directions completely. Except I set my pan in cool standing water to cool the flour-milk mix. Worked great, and the flavor of the frosting was just what I wanted. Thank you!!
Lisa Le says
Ah yes cooling your pan that way is smart! Glad it worked great for you :) Thank you for the feedback!
This recipe is great! It is my go-to. The recipe does make a lot; I can halve it for a smaller layer cake. Thank you!
Hi! I just made this recipe. I used half almond milk & half coconut cream. My frosting was nice but almost too buttery. Should I cut back the buttery sticks to just 1.5 cups or…?
Lisa Le says
Hi! Yeah that’s probably too much fat from the coconut cream. I’d recommend sticking to the almond milk or use soy milk instead. Coconut cream has too much fat (and not consistent across brands) for me to help you determine how much butter you should use, sorry!
1. Can I use 2 cups of solid coconut OIL in place of the butter?
2. Can I add the sugar to the flour and milk mixture (I don’t want to risk a grainy texture; I’ll be using brown sugar)?
Lisa Le says
Hi Yvette! I haven’t tried any of those substitutions before so I’m not sure how it would work. In beating the sugar and butter though, the idea is to incorporate a lot of air with the butter and the sugar will melt into that as you beat it. You could probably try adding it to the milk and flour mixture instead but you find find the mixture burns faster because of the sugar.
I find that if you add the sugar and heat it with the milk to melt it , then follow the rest of the recipe it turns out perfectly.
I used vegan butter and icing sugar instead of regular sugar so it wasn’t so grainy before I added the roux mixture but it did come out a bit curdled looking but once I piped it onto the cupcakes it was ok and tasted fine
Can the butter be a nut butter, like Peanut butter?
Lisa Le says
No I don’t think so
Would this work with gluten free flour ?
Lisa Le says
Hmmm I’m not sure, I haven’t tried it before ^^;
Would this be a bit easier if i made a roux with the flour, sugar and vegan milk…. Let it cool to room temp and then whip it into the room temp earth balance? Im curious because thats how i usually make my non vegan ermine frosting. Having to cream the butter and sugar seems like a pain.
Lisa Le says
I haven’t tried it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work :)