Editor’s note: Sadie Davis-Suskind, 14, is an eighth grader at Jane Addams Middle School and an aspiring chef. A former “MasterChef Junior” competitor, Davis-Suskind will share a recipe each week that other kids can make as well.

When I was 8 years old, I had the most amazing dream: I walked out to the backyard of our house in Seattle and, magically, not only did we have a pool in our now huge yard (it’s actually very small in real life), but it was filled with buttercream — luscious, buttery, silky buttercream!

Of course I jumped in. Best dream EVER.

Clearly, my relationship with buttercream has been a long and loyal one. In Part 2 of our building-blocks series, I am going to share two favorite recipes for buttercream. You can top or stuff your vanilla cakes with these creamy concoctions! It will have you also dreaming of pools filled with the delicious stuff.

First a note about buttercream: There are a few different kinds and most chefs feel very passionately about which one is better. Let’s talk about two types: American and Swiss meringue.

American is the most basic recipe and the easiest to make. It’s great when you need a fast buttercream, but some people think it tastes grainy and lacks depth. With the proper ingredients and preparation, in my humble opinion, it tastes great, is the most affordable and is easy to work with!

Swiss meringue buttercream is a bit harder to make, and is absolutely worth the extra time and energy. You can start with the American version and work your way through each, and then make up your own mind.


American Buttercream


1 cup unsalted butter, softened (your butter MUST be very soft, but not melted)

2 cups powdered sugar (Wholesome organic powdered confectioners sugar, or powdered sugar that doesn’t contain cornstarch, is best)

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

In your stand mixer, add the very soft butter and beat for about 4 minutes until it is fluffy and almost white in color. Slowly beat in the sugar, a half cup at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add salt. Then add the cream and vanilla and beat until your buttercream is smooth and silky.

If your buttercream is too thick, add a bit more cream. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. ENJOY!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


5 egg whites at room temperature

2 cups unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, add your egg whites, sugar and salt. Give the mixture a quick whisk.


Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the whites and sugar constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the entire mixture has thinned out a bit. It should be thick to start, then thin out and appear frothy on the top of the mixture. It is ready when you can rub a bit between your fingers and you can’t feel any sugar grains.

Put this warm mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a whisk attachment until you get glossy peaks (and its gets to room temperature).

Switch to a paddle attachment. Put the mixer on a low setting and add your softened butter by the tablespoon, making sure to let the butter incorporate before you add another spoonful. Once all the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla extract. Change back to the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for 30 seconds  or until the mixture is smooth.