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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Buttermilk Frosting! YUM!

A fresh batch of GORGEOUS yogurt is tucked into the fridge, a large jar of spicy kimchi is fermenting in the basement, a newly cultured quart of buttermilk is cooling on the counter, and I am in the thick of the hunt for local milk kefir grains. . .so I think I can take a quick breather from the fermented healthy foods/probiotic delicacies and focus elsewhere for a moment or two.

And what better thing to focus on than FROSTING! :)

I mentioned a recipe my beloved grandma used to make in my blog post on buttermilk. I hadn't thought of it for years. . .but as I eschewed the glories of tangy, creamy homemade cultured buttermilk, my mind just drifted right to that little delicacy: Buttermilk Frosting!

Food has such a strong connection to events and memories for me. I smell bacon and fried potatoes, and my mind is always drawn back to family camping trips. Smoking meat? Sunday gatherings to watch football and cheer the 49ers on. A shred of homemade corned beef? I'm back at my aunt's St Patrick's day extravaganzas.

But one taste doesn't take me back to a place or event. . .it takes me back to a person: My grandma, Marjorie Ellen Tucker.

My gram had a shy laugh, a gentle spirit, and an inner strength I admired pretty much from birth. She had a perfect blend of impeccable character mixed with an ever-so-slight hint of cheekiness.  She sewed and played cards and kept a very tidy house.

And she cooked.  Oh!  How she cooked!

By today's culinary standards, she would be regarded mostly with indifference.  She was a 'plain' cook who stuck to the standards of roasts and vegetables and alternating dishes of baked or mashed potatoes.  It was all solid and comforting and delicious.

But then came dessert!

As subtle and homey as her main courses were, her desserts were just Out. Of. This. World.  (And, frankly, that is saying something because I am NOT a sweets kinda girl.)

She was the queen of pies and cobblers, cookies and cakes, turnovers and puddings.  All made completely from scratch.  And abundant love.  Every single time.

And a frequent addition to many of her creations was a simple frosting recipe, featuring her own homemade butter and cultured buttermilk.  Slightly tangy and flexible to your own taste and needs, I offer it to you here:


  • 1 pound Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure unsalted Butter (homemade is best!)
  • 4 Tablespoons homemade Cultured Buttermilk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Plus, 1/4-1/2 Teaspoon of any desired flavorings (lemon or orange or almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange or lemon zest, etc.)
  • (Gram sometimes did a chocolate version by upping the vanilla to 1 teaspoon and adding a tablespoon or two of pure cocoa, depending on what taste she was after)


  • Soften butter in mixing bowl.
  • Cream with mixer for at least three minutes on medium speed.
  • Add vanilla, salt, and any other flavorings and mix well into butter.
  • Gently add sugar and 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk.
  • Mix on LOWEST speed until incorporated, adding the last tablespoon of buttermilk near the end.
  • When all is incorporated, scrape down sides and mix for another minute or two on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Frost cakes, spread on cookies, or drizzle over cinnamon rolls and turnovers.  As there is a lightly tangy taste to the frosting, it is especially good on carrot cakes or to glaze zucchini breads, etc.

When she wanted a fluffier frosting, she went light on the buttermilk.  When she was after a runnier glaze, she added a little more.

However you choose to use it, this frosting is absolutely wonderful. . .just like the woman who taught me how to make it.

I wonder if this counts as a probiotic food?

Here's to you, Gram.  Thank you so much for all the sweet memories!

 (photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)

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