A velvet smooth cream made by blending butter with caster sugar, then gradually beating in a warm liquid which dissolves the sugar crystals. This cream can be spooned, spread or piped and can be stored at room temperature for 2–3 hours before serving.
Vanilla butter cream: Heat 3 tsp milk with the seeds scraped from a finger of vanilla pod for 4 minutes, set aside but keep warm. Blend 100 g / 3½ oz unsalted butter with 100 g / 3½ oz caster sugar until pale and light, gradually beat in the vanilla milk a tsp at a time. Taste the cream, and if need be add a few drops of home-made vanilla essence. Chopped nuts such as toasted hazelnuts or almonds can be mixed into this butter cream before using, if desired.
Coffee butter cream: replace half the vanilla milk with hot strong black coffee.
Orange butter cream: mix 1–2 tsp strained orange juice and ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest into the vanilla butter cream.
Lemon butter cream: mix 1–2 tsp strained lemon juice and ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest into the vanilla butter cream.
Chocolate butter cream: blend 60 g / 2 oz melted plain chocolate into the vanilla butter cream.