Heirloom Cooked Flour Frosting

I think I finally figured it out!

I never figured out why Red Velvet cake tasted different. Of course, I expected a difference from my grandmother’s cake, but, still, something was off.

When I got my grandmother’s recipe, I figured it out. It called for cooking flour and milk, then mixing with butter and sugar. I had never seen anything like it.

It is called a “cooked flour” frosting. (Catchy title, huh. I am thinking of going with “Heirloom Frosting.) Yet, the few times I made it (including under the supervision of my grandmother), it never seemed to come out right. It always had a grainy texture to it. I tried superfine sugar, but that still did not make a difference.

I was reading a few places online, and one recommended beating the frosting for a longer period. With other types of meringue based frostings, it says to continue beating after the point it looked curdled, until it comes together.

The very first time I made the frosting, I did not let the milk and flour mixture cool enough, so it melted the butter when I added it. The second and third time, I creamed the butter and sugar for longer periods of time, and added the cooled milk/flour mixture, and it still came up grainy.

This time: I mixed one cup of milk with four tablespoons of flour, and cooked until thick. I let this cool for about an hour.

I mixed the sugar in a food processor for a bit. I added some of the 1/2 cup of shortening to the food processor, to try to get the sugar to adhere better. (I have no idea if this worked.) I mixed the remaining shortening, and 1/2 cup of butter with the sugar/shortening mixture. I creamed this for about 5 minutes. I added the cooked flour mixture in, and let it mix for another 5 minutes.

I stopped it a few times to taste. The longer I let it mix, the more smooth it became.

I frosted a few of the red velvet pumpkin cupcakes, and put the rest in the fridge.

Just a note: This flour, like meringue based buttercreams, tastes like butter when refrigerated. So, let the cupcakes or cake sit at room temperature, or let the frosting come to room temperature and re-beat it before frosting.

Also, the last two times I made this, I did not include any extract (mostly because I was out of vanilla.) You can put extract into it. My next experiment with this will be to play with flavorings :)

Heirloom Frosting
24 Services, or enough for a 3 layer 8 inch cake.

1 cup milk
4 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (or you can use all butter or all shortening)

Whisk together 1 cup of milk and 4 tbsp of flour. Cook over low heat until very thick. Let cool to cool room temperature.

(Optional: You can process the sugar for a short period in a food processor. This may or may not make a difference, and was not in any recipe I have seen.)

Cream together 1 cup of fat (either the shortening/butter mix, or all butter), and 1 cup of sugar. Make sure to fully cream these together, at least five minutes. Once the butter is light and fluffy, add the cooked flour mixture. Mix until it looks like whipped cream. You can add vanilla extract towards the end of the beating process.


  1. I love love love red velvet cake and I’ve heard it’s really hard to make. Thanks for the recipe and the tips – I’m going to have to give it a try!! :)

  2. Amy B. said

    It prolly needs a lot of practice before I get to perfect this one, thanks for sharing tho! :-)

  3. Stef said

    Never heard of this frosting. Neat!

  4. Dusty said

    OMG! I’m so glad that there’s at least one other person in the world that realizes that Red Velvet cake is not supposed to be made with cream cheese frosting! I have been trying to educate people to this little tidbit for years, but they’re just not listening. The cooked buttercream is traditional for red velvet and it completely makes the cake. The flavor is so much better and no one realizes it.
    You just made my day.

  5. Phoebe said

    that sounds deelish!

  6. heather said

    try adding the sugar to the milk before the flour. keep stirring it over very low heat until you don’t see any grains,then add the flour, cook until the consistency is close to that of brownie batter, cool COMPLETELY, then whip whip whip in the room temp. butter.

  7. […] Heirloom Cooked Flour Frosting: A unique frosting made from milk, flour, butter, and sugar. Traditional for Red Velvet Cake. […]

  8. […] cupcakes in the entire city, (and, because I am a frosting snob, I contribute that to their use of Cooked Flour frosting (though, theirs is slightly different.) Step Four: Make Recipe, and take […]

  9. dorothy said

    What tpe of flour for mock whipped cream frosting?
    cake flour?
    Why do all recipes always say “flour”? I never know which type of flour to use unless it mentions soda and baking powder – if so, then I use plain of course

    • I used King Arthur Flour Unbleached All Purpose for “flour” in this recipe. I am pretty sure my grandmother used southern style bleached all purpose. I dont think the specific type of flour is important, though I would not use whole wheat. Most recipes will state “self rising” if that is the type of flour to be used.

  10. rebecca said

    Couple of things: I replace the milk with water and use slightly more vanilla when I do. I have also used all shortening when weather conditions here in the south call for it. This removes all worry of dairy spoilage and/or melting. You must use the professional baker’s shortening that’s made specifically for icing tho. The stuff you get in the grocery store these days does not have the emulsifiers that the pro’s does. Shortening will NOT melt at body temp unless using the pro kind, which means you can chew it up in pieces and it will coat your mouth in a grease film but will not be smooth or creamy in your mouth. Lastly, I use half a cup of sugar, but add powdered sugar at the end to my desired level of sweetness. This, plus the addition of a tablespoon of meringue powder (Wilton makes it) firm up this heavenly all purpose delight!!

  11. Sarah said

    I just made this frosting and it came out delicious! The sugar smooths out while beating in the mixer. I also added 1 cup of confectioners sugar after mixing the other ingredients. mm mm mm mm yummy!

  12. kelly said

    I always strain the milk / flour mixture to ensure no clumps get in my frosting. I have also made this with water instead of milk & used all shortening when the temps down here in Fla are hi and/or I know the cake will be outside. One last alteration is using only 1/2 c of sugar and add powdered sugar at the end to my desired sweetness level. This seems to make a stiffer frosting (no grit from powdered sugar either).

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