In large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
Gradually add milk or water; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Note: This recipe is for stiff consistency buttercream, which is excellent for piping decorations like flowers. However, it will need to be thinned for icing cakes and borders.
For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency): Omit butter; substitute an additional cup shortening for butter and add teaspoon Clear Butter Flavor. Substitute Clear Vanilla for Pure Vanilla Extract.
Keep bowl covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
If using a hand mixer, beat shortening, butter (if used) and liquids first, then add sugar, as above. Make one batch at a time to prevent hand mixer from burning out.
Depending on the humidity and climate, it may be necessary to adjust the liquid and the sugar in your icing. If icing looks dry, add small amounts of liquid (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon at a time). If icing is too wet, add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time. The key for both adjustments is adding small amounts until you achieve the right consistency.
This recipe can be made with all butter by replacing 1/2 cup of shortening with 1/2 cup of butter. An all-butter recipe will make a noticeably softer buttercream and will also melt faster than a recipe made with shortening.
If you find that this recipe is too sweet, consider using a pinch of salt, which will help cut the sweetness. Let the pinch of salt dissolve in your liquid to avoid granules of salt in the buttercream. Try substituting some of the butter in the recipe with salted butter.
Adding Flavor: Buttercream Icing recipe is a great base for your favorite flavorings and extracts. Add flavoring to taste, but be mindful not to add so much liquid that it affects the consistency of your icing. If you like using a lot of flavor, try substituting some of your liquid with flavoring.
Storing Buttercream: Leftover buttercream can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Buttercream can also be frozen for up to six months. Before reusing, bring buttercream back to room temperature and rewhip using a paddle attachment until itís back to the correct consistency.