How Do You Get Cakes To Look So Smooth With Buttercream???

Decorating By chrissy410 Updated 10 May 2014 , 5:33pm by enga

chrissy410 Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 5:31am
post #1 of 26

I know i'm still a newbie but I could use a few helpful tips. I made a small cake tonight for my mom's birthday and I tried a method that was demonstrated to us in our Wilton class I to smooth out your cake and it didn't work for me. The instructor placed parchment paper over her cake and smoothed it with an icing spatula. It looked so easy but I struggled with this method. The icing kept getting stuck to the paper. I followed the instructions in my book and used the thin consistency icing then I placed it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. I have to make my cake for class this wednesday. It was also my first attempt at roses and leaves. I tried the shell border and just couldn't do it. We haven't covered this in class yet, I just tried it for fun from what she demonstrated. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
LL

25 replies
mushbug9 Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 5:34am
post #2 of 26

You can't refrigerate the cake before you smooth. You need to let it sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes because the icing dries out and "crusts" on the top, then it won't stick to the parchment. When you refrigerate it, it will set but not crust up, so it sticks. GL.

Lousaria Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 5:41am
post #3 of 26

I'm not sure if you've heard of the Viva paper towel method but it's the same concept as the parchment paper but I think it works better. You just wait until your BC crusts over and you place it on the cake and smooth over it. I myself have just got my hands on Viva(we don't have it here in Canada) so I'm excited to try it. I know a lot of people on this site use this method.

Viks Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 7:08am
post #4 of 26

I always run my spatula through hot water before smoothing the icing icon_smile.gif

Loucinda Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 12:44pm
post #5 of 26

The viva paper towel trick is the best way (IMO) all the cakes in my photos that are buttercream have that method used on them. It always amazes my students how well it works! (several of them have said that ONE tip alone was worth the price of all of the classes!!) I have tried to do it with parchment, wax paper and material, and none of those work as well as the Viva does.

(you can even double click on some of my photos to see the detail - they're very smooth)

emnjakesmom Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 1:04pm
post #6 of 26

I accidentally found a way that worked best with the parchment paper. I put the cake on my stove (make sure it's cool!) to crust whiled I cleaned up, and I had left the light over my burners on. I think the slight heat from the light helped it crust perfectly and I was able to get a nice smooth finish on my cake using the parchment paper. That one was my smoothest yet!

luvbakin Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:08pm
post #8 of 26

Here's something I just learned. I always add a crumb coat to my cakes (especially chocolate), unless I am using the icing tip (I don't always use if I don't have enough frosting) then set it in the fridge to set up. After it came out I added my frosting with my spatula and smoothed out best I could. While waiting for it to crust I realized that I had to wait for the whole cake to come to room temperature THEN wait for the icing to "crust" otherwise the viva or computer paper would stick.

cashley Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:18pm
post #9 of 26

I found that when you ice the cake if you get it close to being smooth then the parchment works great. I bought a drywall spatula at the hardware store which works great right across the cake and I almost don't even have to smooth afterwards.

MaryBun Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:39pm
post #10 of 26

I accidentally discovered that plastic wrap works well.
After it crusts, loosely cover in saran wrap. Gently take your finger (or spatula) and smooth it out. The clear plastic allows you to see what you're doing so that you can give extra attention to problem areas.
The wrap does not stick at all, as long as you allow it to crust icon_smile.gif

wifey Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:43pm
post #11 of 26

I let my bc crust and then I simply use a 4-inch very smooth paint roller and it does the trick for me. I have been doing this for years and for me it better than the Viva paper towels.

Chef_Stef Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:52pm
post #12 of 26

If using a regular buttercream, I've never used the viva or parchment, but I just get it as smooth as possible with a long spatula or bench scraper, then go over it with a spatula dipped in hot (and I've used cold too) water. I actually leave a bit of water on the spat, but it can't be a lot, and it has to be along the whole edge of the metal wherever it touches the cake (I point it straight up to get a tiny bit of water to travel down the whole edge before smoothing), and wipe and redip it often. Dip, tip spat up, smooth cake, wipe clean, dip, tip spat up, smooth...works great for me.

If you use a meringue bc, you can get it smooth as possible, chill it, then just use your (clean) fingertips to smooth out any imperfections in the icing. The heat of your fingers will melt it slightly and you can really work with it. I love that icing, for flavor and workability!

TheCakerator Posted 12 Aug 2006 , 2:52pm
post #13 of 26

I also use the viva paper towel method after my cakes crust over but instead of using a spatuala, I just use my fondant smoother because it has a handle right on it and it just seems to roll over the paper towel. I have been very pleased with this method ...

luciescakes Posted 9 May 2014 , 4:47pm
post #14 of 26

Where can you get Viva in Canada?? Do you have it shipped from the US?

cupadeecakes Posted 10 May 2014 , 12:51pm
post #15 of 26

AI have tried every method imaginable and I agree with [@]Chef_Stef[/@]- I think you can get a non-crusting buttercream way smoother than a crusting buttercream. Then work with it while it's nice and cold.

Http://tinyurl.com/buttercreamtut

costumeczar Posted 10 May 2014 , 1:25pm
post #16 of 26

For a crusting buttercream you can also use the Viva method, then when you're done with that, go back over the cake using a piece of printer paper to really get it smooth.

AZCouture Posted 10 May 2014 , 2:13pm
post #17 of 26

AYep, another supporter of non crusting buttercream here too. Not only is it smoother and shinier, but it's quicker to achieve. I can fill, ice and smooth a small round in about 5 minutes total. No waiting for settling, no waiting for crusting, just bing bang done!

acakedecorator Posted 10 May 2014 , 2:44pm
post #18 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Yep, another supporter of non crusting buttercream here too. Not only is it smoother and shinier, but it's quicker to achieve. I can fill, ice and smooth a small round in about 5 minutes total. No waiting for settling, no waiting for crusting, just bing bang done!

 

Ok, maybe a dumb question, but how does using a non crusting buttercream eliminate the need for settling??

costumeczar Posted 10 May 2014 , 3:51pm
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by acakedecorator 
 

 

Ok, maybe a dumb question, but how does using a non crusting buttercream eliminate the need for settling??

If you press down on the top layer of the cake to make sure there's no air between the layers you don't need to let a cake "settle." I'd never heard that term until I staretd reading posts here, and I'd been doing cakes for a looooong time before I found this forum.

 

I'll second the ease of use of the meringue buttercreams. I did one this week that was covered in meringue, and it's a lot smoother so you don't have to work it as much as you do confectioner's sugar icings.

Quote:

Originally Posted by acakedecorator 
 

 

Ok, maybe a dumb question, but how does using a non crusting buttercream eliminate the need for settling??

If you give the top layer of the cake a good press with your hand when you stack the layers, you don't need to let anything "settle." I'd never heard that term until I started reading online forums, and I'd been doing cakes for a loooong time before that. I assume that "settling" just means letting the cake sit there for a while but why bother, if it's built right and you've made sure that you've pressed the air out from between the layers there's no need to do that. I layer, crumb coat and do the final coat right away, no settling needed. and that's with both crusting and non-crusting buttercreams.

AZCouture Posted 10 May 2014 , 3:55pm
post #20 of 26

ANot sure, but in the many years at this point of using it on countless cakes, that's been my experience. Can't come up with a scientific explanation.

AZCouture Posted 10 May 2014 , 3:58pm
post #21 of 26

AMaybe the crusting and shortening type of buttercream is heavier too...might be why people experience the bulging. Don't have that problem, gotta chalk it up to the meringue bc. And thin fondant. Thick fondant will surely contribute to that issue as well.

remnant3333 Posted 10 May 2014 , 4:02pm
post #22 of 26

I use the poster board cut up in small pieces just big enough to smooth the height of your cake. The poster board is flexible and does an excellent job at smoothing the icing. I saw this trick at Cake Boss on TV. It works beautifully for me.

Sammy09 Posted 10 May 2014 , 4:27pm
post #23 of 26

AHi remnant. What episode was it? I would like to try and look for it in YouTube. Thanks.

roxylee123 Posted 10 May 2014 , 4:59pm
post #24 of 26

 Hi I have just started using the upside down method for my cakes and find it quick and easy.

remnant3333 Posted 10 May 2014 , 5:11pm
post #25 of 26

Here is a video of where Cake boss does the poster board. He doesn't show this until at the 2 minute and 35 seconds of the video. He does this before covering with fondant. I am not a fondant kind of person so I just use the poster board and it normally gets buttercream icing very smooth. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

 


enga Posted 10 May 2014 , 5:19pm
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by remnant3333 
 

I use the poster board cut up in small pieces just big enough to smooth the height of your cake. The poster board is flexible and does an excellent job at smoothing the icing. I saw this trick at Cake Boss on TV. It works beautifully for me.

Nice! Where do you get poster board? I've been using the thin plastic scrapers, your method sounds a lot cheaper.

 

*edited, I see they have it at Walmart for $.33 for a large piece. Thanks for the tip!

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