Smooth Finish

Decorating By impressivecontr Updated 22 Feb 2005 , 2:14am by suzyqqq27

impressivecontr Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 3:05am
post #1 of 41

ok ~ I give up! I have tried half a dozen buttercream recipes and tried everything from the paper towel to the parchment paper to the fondant smoothers to the warm spatula to smooth it. I do just fine on the corners and the edges (i could do better but i'm happy with it if only i could do the rest of it smoothly). My crusting buttercream doesn't even seem to want to crust in a reasonable amount of time. What am I doing wrong? How do you smooth a sheet cake ~ I can't even get a smaller cake quite right? I must have been meant to use fondant!

Help me please!

40 replies
MrsMissey Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 4:11am
post #2 of 41

Hi Debbie! Most of what I do are sheet cakes so maybe I can help. At first I thought I would pull my hair out trying to get the top smooth but then I tried that really big flat spatula, I think it's 14" (something like that). Anyway, I run that longways across my sheet cakes a couple of times and that's it. Regarding the crusting issue...I use 1 Tablespoon of meringue for each cup of Crisco. It usually crusts over in about 15-20 minutes. I have heard about another technique where you turn the cake upside down after it has crusted and it flattens the top...but I have never resorted to that method....... icon_eek.gif sounds too scary for me! Hope this helps! Happy baking, Missey

impressivecontr Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 12:27pm
post #3 of 41

Thanks for your help! At this point i'll try just about anything!

Debbie icon_biggrin.gif

briansbaker Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 3:50pm
post #4 of 41

MrsMissey, How ya doing? icon_biggrin.gif
I have a question. How can I get a clean smooth line for the edges? Everytime I Ice the top and the sides I get this thin line of icing on the egdes and there I go again smoothing those out and then I've done messed up the top for messing with the edges and lord knows I need a new method. It just drives me crazy. icon_cry.gif It makes it so difficult to pipe a border. Any tips?

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 5:46pm
post #5 of 41

I am convinved that icing a cake smooth with buttercream is a skill you are born with. How can I make what I've been told are beautiful cookies and fondant-covered cakes, but I can't get buttercream to smooth evenly? I think God only gave this talent to certain people to cut down on the competition. icon_biggrin.gif

SquirrellyCakes Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 6:15pm
post #6 of 41

Haha, I like that line about God giving the talent to only a few to cut down on the competition!
I use a half butter, half shortening, whipping cream and milk icing. It doesn't crust so much as is sets. That seam line is always a challenge. Honestly sometimes I literally pinch with my fingers all along that line. Other times I use my little fondant roller or fondant smoother on an angle to take dare of it. Some folks use the pop bottle routine that Sewsweet uses for her Faux Fondant.
Some folks have better luck with icing the sides first, others with icing the top first the sides last. So maybe try reversing whatever you do normally.
I agree the larger the icing spatula the better, Some prefer the straight one, others the lifter/bent one.
It does come eventuallly though. Then the trick becomes trying to remember what the heck you did this time differently and wondering if it was only to tease you into thinking you finally figured it out! icon_cry.gif
A folded piece of parchment or waxed paper all along the edge and pinching it as you go. I hve even hear of someone taking a sheet of craft board the same size as the cake. Put a fold in it and place it over the top of the cake with the fold lined up to the seam and pinch.
Until you get that line right, though, choose to make your top border in the same colour of icing as the top and side of the cake. The same colour won't jump out as much and draw the eye to the imperfect cake edge. Also instead of trying to pipe your border all along this seam, go in slightly along the top and keep your cake at a level where you can see that you are piping in a straight line. I hope that makes sense. What I am trying to say is as long as you pipe your top border perfectly straight, even if your seam line isn't, it won't be noticable. But if you follow a crooked seam line, it will just make it pop.
A vertical dropped shell border is another good camoflauge. You know, the one where you do each shell vertically from the top of the cake down, resting on the side? Well as long as you train your eye to make these in a straight line, they will hide this seam line. So will a really large star type of tip.
And keep practising!
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

MrsMissey Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 8:40pm
post #7 of 41

...yeah...what Squirrelly Cakes said!!! thumbs_up.gif If all else fails, take a deep breath and say a prayer to the cakes goddesses...they are out there somewhere! icon_biggrin.gif Good luck, Missey

briansbaker Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 8:42pm
post #8 of 41

" I think God only gave this talent to certain people to cut down on the competition." icon_biggrin.gif
Hmmm...I think god gave me the skill to challange myself! icon_cry.gif UGH!!!
Thank you for all the tips!!!
I am going to try the upside down thing one day. icon_surprised.gif I will let you know what kind of mess I make!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 9:03pm
post #9 of 41

Unfortunately Mrs, Missey, I suspect that there are more Cake Gremlins than Cake Goddesses, haha!
I know a lot of people swear by that upside-down method, so you might as well give it a try. Personally, I can see it making the top smooth (same principle as buttercream transfers), but I think the seam will still be an issue. But hey, whatever works for folks, right?
I can tell you that upside down on the floor, does not work and don't ask how I know that, haha!
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

MrsMissey Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 9:37pm
post #10 of 41

...hey Squirrelly Cakes...would that be a story you would want to share with us in the "Cake Disasters" section of this forum icon_biggrin.gif

SquirrellyCakes Posted 27 Jan 2005 , 10:40pm
post #11 of 41

Haha, nope! Joking! Heck I thought of posting to that thread, but figured by the time I was through, it would fill up all available space, haha! The Internet would come crashing down!
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

jscakes Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 2:35am
post #12 of 41

Briansbaker and Squirrelly Cakes and MrsMissey, I would love to see you three working together, what a great time I'm having reading all the replies! Thanks!!! icon_smile.gif

SquirrellyCakes Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 4:21am
post #13 of 41

Haha Jscakes, we would all make quite a group, cake fight! Girls just gotta have fun.
Hugs Squirrelly

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 5:26am
post #14 of 41
Originally Posted by impressivecontr

OK ~ I give up! I have tried half a dozen buttercream recipes and tried everything from the paper towel to the parchment paper to the fondant smoothers to the warm spatula Help me please!

It's a HOT knife, not a warm knife that does the trick. I can't tell you how many people have told the method doesn't work, I get them to use a HOT knife and all of a sudden they are in love.

BOIL WATER!!!!! Yep!! Boiling water will do it. I boil a pot of water and have my cake smooth in literally a couple of minutes. If the icing doesn't melt off the spatula almost as soon as you dip it back in the water, it's simply not hot enough.

I use more than one spatula so that the one I just used can be getting very hot again while I'm using the second one to smooth.

My cakes have pretty crisp edges (still some room for improvement- but pretty darn good) and it's all because of a HOT knife.

jscakes Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 8:22am
post #15 of 41

Cali4Dawn...I did the extremely hot water once, but like a not-so-smart move, or lack of intelligence moment, I knocked the container over with all the water in it and turned my good hand into a lobster color red! (Good hand because you know how it is, catch it before something happens...luckily it didn't hit the cake and you know where that story would have ended up at :O) What type of container do you keep the hot water in and still have it deep enough for the knife, and safe? Any ideas would be appreciated. I did switch to the Viva paper towel method and was real pleased with the results.

MrsMissey Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 2:43pm
post #16 of 41

...ok girls.......cake party at my house!! We could have the best darn DOS out there!! icon_biggrin.gif Happy baking, Missey

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 3:55pm
post #17 of 41

FYI--We're all not ladies out here! icon_cool.gif

MrsMissey Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 4:19pm
post #18 of 41

Soooooooooo Sorry Cookieman! I didn't realize that you had posted under this topic! My mistake. I could have gone back and edited my oversight but I'd rather apolgize for my ignorance! Forgive me??? Missey

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 5:16pm
post #19 of 41

jscakes- I use either a stock pot and keep it on the stove simmering for a quick cake. If I have a lot of cakes or a large cake, I have an old peculator type coffee pot (go to the thrift store) and use it. I keep it on a different counter than I am working on. Yes, it gives me a few extra steps, but if I were to knock it over, no worries. I pull the spatula from the water, give it one good shake to remove excess water and smooth the cake.

Sorry, cookieman.... we certainly are not practicing our PC-ness .... I also have to be reminded that men are here.

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 7:10pm
post #20 of 41

Oh, I was just having some fun. No worries...I'm not at all offended!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 7:13pm
post #21 of 41

tapedshut.gif Yikes, I guess that means no male-bashing, haha! Not that the ladies would ever do that Cookieman! icon_wink.gif
Hugs SquirrellyCakes

jscakes Posted 28 Jan 2005 , 11:41pm
post #22 of 41

cookieman, for some reason I thought you to be female. But no male bashing from here as SquirrellyCakes says...ahmmmm...

briansbaker Posted 29 Jan 2005 , 2:32am
post #23 of 41

Briansbaker and Squirrelly Cakes and MrsMissey, I would love to see you three working together, what a great time I'm having reading all the replies! Thanks!!!

I am replying from first page icon_redface.gif
I would be the one looking like this tapedshut.gif and the tape didn't get there on it's own..I can go on and on and on...Know what I mean..
Well I gotta tell ya I have been working on my first CCC and my Tinkerbell frozen transfer.. Whew I am done and will post. Someone once told me that others always make cakes a day early, so I said what the heck make it!! This is for my daughters birthday tomorrow. She and I have been working all day on this.. Hope you all like it Men and Woman!! icon_wink.gif

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 29 Jan 2005 , 3:21am
post #24 of 41

Can't wait to see it! BTW, many times I make mine several days ahead.

jscakes Posted 29 Jan 2005 , 4:05am
post #25 of 41

oh, cali4dawn...thanks for the information about a container for the "boiling" water! Now I have another item to search for at the thrift shops-as if I needed an excuse to go there!
I bake my cakes 2 days ahead of decorating day.

impressivecontr Posted 31 Jan 2005 , 12:44am
post #26 of 41

wow! sounds like i started something here and wasn't here to enjoy it! just where is this party anyway? did i miss it? i was away on a long ski weekend with friends and family. they had a really cute snowman cake in one of the restaurants. pretty large two tier rounds with fondant accessories ~ must have just been a display though ~ it was there Thursday evening and still there when we left this morning. didn't get a picture of it. i kept thinking it would be gone so i never took my camera back with me. thank you for the hot knife tip. i'll give it a try. my husband is a contractor and does some drywall work ~ he told me to practice on drywall for a while and i'd get the hand of it icon_lol.gif i told him to just do it for me icon_razz.gif just how thick do you gals (and guy) do your icing - just to make sure i'm doing that part right!

thanks again! icon_biggrin.gif

GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 31 Jan 2005 , 12:59am
post #27 of 41

On a standard cake, mine is probably 1/4 inch thick or a bit less.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 31 Jan 2005 , 4:16am
post #28 of 41

How thick, good queston, thick enough would be my answer, I have no idea.
Regarding the hot spatula method, which is probably the most common and oldest method around for smoothing cakes. Most commercial bakeries still use this method today. Just wanted to add this. When you use this method you also have the option of drying off your spatula, not just shaking it dry. I mention this because some beginners are likely to soak their cakes. Water will change the appearance of some colours - give you shiny spots in spaces and faded areas of icing. If this may be an issue, dip the spatula, dry it off quickly on paper towels and work with it that way. If you flat ice your cake while it is on a board, remember to sponge up that water with a paper towel afterwards - the water that will fall at the seam where the board meets the cake. Otherwise, when you put your bottom border on, you will get a mess. Sounds like I am stating the obvious, but I have know folks who didn't think to do this.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

thecakemaker Posted 31 Jan 2005 , 2:12pm
post #29 of 41

Thank you for all of your help! I'm going to have to make a cake soon just to try it out!


smiling1809 Posted 19 Feb 2005 , 12:59am
post #30 of 41

I am a godess when it comes to smoothing buttecream. I must have been born with the gift b/c in my first class where we baked and iced a cake, everyone was crowding around me (sorry to brag icon_wink.gif )

Anyway, I use Viva and a fondant smoother, but then, I take a very small, off set spatula, cut a Viva paper towel to the height of the spatual, wrap the towel around the spatula, and use a small piece of tape to secure it. I then use this tool to lightly tap out lines and wrinkles. It works like a dream. You just have to make sure that the tape you use to secure the paper towel isn't on the bottom of the spatula, or it will leave an indention in the cake when you pat it down.

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