I'm really new to decorating (I've decorated 2 Wilton character pans so far and they have both turned out great), but I want to take the Wilton courses as soon as I can. But I have a job that is not conducive to making a 6:30 class. So, in the meantime, I want to try to do a smooth buttercream this weekend just for the heck of it. I think the Viva method is probably best for me. But I don't drink soda, so the pop bottle tool is not something I have handy (and I hate buying a bottle just to dump it so I can make the tool). Does anyone use any alternatives?
Also, I got an oven thermometer last night, and even though I was sure my oven was running cool it turns out it's at least 25 degrees too hot (I was supposed to be cooking something at 425 and the thermometer read 450). If I am baking my cake at 350, does that mean I really just set the oven to 325 and bake for the same amount of time as the recipie calls at 350?
I don't know what the soda bottle thing is because I just use the palm of my hand to smooth the icing using the VIVA towel. The warmth of your hand helps to smooth it.
Regarding the oven temp, I would believe that you would bake it at 325 for the time period. Just check it at the end of the time, if not done just adjust the time.
Ditto on the soda bottle; I tried it and like using my hand better (but still favorite method is the 'melvira method').
Regarding your oven, run a test by setting to 325, if the thermometer registers 350 your OK - you may need to play with it. With mine just because it is 25 degrees off at one tempature does not indicate it is 25 degrees off at another temp (hopefully yours is because its a pain to use mine).
I use two things that you can find in any hardware store. One is called a spackle razor, the other is just a regular spackling tool. I wait until the bc is crusted, then I take a paper towel, place it on the area that needs smoothing, and run the spackler over the paper towel pressing gently. I do the same for both the top and sides of the cakes.
Here's a recent one using this method:
Can't help you with the oven part, I would do a trial run and see if it works though.
I think you only need the soda thing IF you are wanting a rounded edge. I don't use it when I do the viva method. I prefer the strait edges myself.
I personally prefer the Melvira method also. All you do is use a small FOAM paint roller. And gently roll in smooth strokes over your crusted BC. It works like a charm. Much faster too.
I too am a believer in the Melvira Method. I have tried countless other ways to smooth cakes and Melvira's is the best! Here is the link from this site.
i tried the melvira methond this weekend and found that it didn't do much, however i didn't do the viva trick. to be fair, i first covered my cake with buttercream icing, then i made it get hard, put still did not get the finish i wanted so i tried the crusted buttercream icing and covered the cake on top of the other buttercream icing, made it crust and still not much different with the melvira method. i found that it lifted the icing off the cake, not sure if it's because of the softer icing under the crusted icind, but i really liked the crusted icing and am willing to give it another try along with the mevira method. did anyone else have this same problem?
I'm not sure about the oven issue but I may be able to help you out with the other issue. I have not tried the Melvira Method yet but I do plan to. I use the Viva paper towel to smooth out my icing. I was taught to use a fondant smoother and viva towels to smooth out the cake. You just let the icing form a crust then lay the viva towel on top and smooth out with the icing smoother. They are found where ever cake decorating supplies are sold. I even think my Wal-Mart has them and they are fairly cheap. I think they are around $3. This is the way that I learned to smooth icing in my Wilton Course I class. Hope this helps,
Hmmmmmm...Melvira Method? Viva Method? I'm afraid I've never heard of nor tried these. I smooth my buttercream the way my Grandmother and Mother taught me...hot running water and a metal spatula. You hold your spatula under scalding hot tap water, then use the hot water that is clinging to it to smooth your icing. The water lubricates the spatula so it glides over the icing and the heat from the spatula smooths it out. I've never done anything other than this and my BC always comes out smooth as silk. Takes some practice...but it works great!
I highly suggest that you get a DVD from Sugarshack...Perfecting The Art Of Buttercream. And a bench scraper from Bed and Beyond-it would be your new favorite tool