Makes 2.5 cups:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
4-5 cups confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2-4 tablespoons milk
Beat butter and salt in a tabletop mixer with the whisk attachment until it is fluffy. 1-2 minutes.
Add vanilla extract along with 2-3 cups of the sugar. Begin beating on very low speed (so that you don't end up wearing the sugar) and increase the speed as the sugar gets absorbed then add 1 more cup of sugar. Once the sugar is combined, beat on high speed about 3-5 minutes.
Add about 2 tablespoons of milk and beat another few minutes until it is absorbed.
At this point taste the buttercream. If you like a sweeter, stiffer buttercream add more sugar. You may thin it out more by adding more milk.
Use immediately. If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container or until ready to use.
Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for almond buttercream.
Add 1/2 cup of your favorite jam (raspberry, strawberry, apricot...) for a fruit flavored buttercream.
Add 1/2 cup lemon curd for a lemon buttercream.
Have fun experimenting with your favorite flavors!