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Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and vanilla extract and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the remaining milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture.
Stir in the food colouring, if using, until well combined.
For the orange buttercream variation, omit the milk and vanilla from the basic recipe. Stir in the orange zest and juice until thoroughly combined.
For the chocolate variation, omit the milk from the basic recipe. Cream the butter and sugar, as above, also adding the cocoa powder. Allow the melted chocolate to cool for 10 minutes before adding to the whipped butter and sugar. Beat until well combined.