Melvira Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 3:48pm

I have been asked to document the foam roller technique that has been referred to as the Melvira Method. I have compiled some information, but those of you who have tried this method may have additional tips or points of interest that you would add, and someone who hasn't tried it may be able to point out something that seems unclear, SO, please read (if you have time) and give me any feedback that may make this better! Who knows... maybe someone will want it to become a tutorial! icon_wink.gif

The Melvira Method for smooth icing

Over the years, many creative people have come up with a menagerie of methods and tools in the quest to create a flawlessly smooth cake surface, perfect for decorating. After attempting many of these methods, and always falling short, I was left wondering if I would always be plagued by issues like drag marks and finger dents in the icing, air bubble holes, and uneven patches. No matter how good the decorations looked, the canvas was always flawed. One day, in the middle of brainstorming over a pock-marked cake I began to design in my head the ideal tool for smoothing and perfecting my icing surface. As I pictured it, detail by detail, it struck me that I had seen such a tool before. It was just never intended for use on a cake.

A quick trip to my local hardware store brought me face to face with the tool in my minds eye. With a small, dense foam paint roller in my hand (intended for use on walls), I headed home to test the theory, and was immediately rewarded by perhaps the smoothest cake I had ever turned out. The difference was amazing!

The theory behind this method is that the dense foam is strong enough to push the icing in on itself, smoothing out any wrinkles or air bubbles, while being malleable enough to not damage the icing surface. Through trial and error I was able to develop the method, and mostly through error, created a list of tips that will help this method succeed for most individuals who attempt it. I have had an amazing outpour of positive results from both professional bakers, as well as home novice bakers, so it is a method that is accessible to all skill levels!

The roller that I purchased is called Quick Solutions - 6 Fine Finish Foam Roller. I also purchased the 2 model after using the 6. It is an excellent idea to have replacement heads on hand in case it gets wet or compromised in any way in the middle of a cake. You never want to have to run to the store in the middle of the project!

(Picture of rollers will go here)

To get started: Insure that you are using a crusting buttercream recipe! This is imperative if you do not wish to have a sticky mess all over the roller! After baking, cooling, and icing your cakes as you normally would, either with a spatula or the icing tip, allow it to sit and crust for at least 10-15 minutes, longer if humidity is high. If you are using a cake that has been frozen, be sure that it is completely thawed and any condensation has dried, or the roller will simply pull the icing off of your cake. This method will not work on a cake that is tacky to the touch or on icing that does not crust, please do not attempt it!

After the cake has crusted, gently roll the foam head over the cake as though you were painting it. I usually start with the sides of the cake, and then proceed to the top, bringing the edge together as crisply as possible. The 6 roller is excellent for any shape cake, especially for doing the top of a sheetcake, as it will not leave drag lines like the wooden fondant roller normally does. The short 2 roller is excellent for the sides of short sheetcakes, or for getting into smaller areas of a 3-D cake.

Following are some helpful tips and troubleshooting!
  Always use a crusting icing that has thoroughly crusted before attempting to roll it.
  Use the most dense foam roller available, the higher the density, the smoother the surface. Low density roller heads will give you a velvet texture on your cake.
  Always wash your foam roller head before first use, and after each subsequent use.
  Insure that roller head is completely dry before using on cake.
  Keep refill heads available in case you must wash one and dont have time for it to dry before it must be used again.
  Use a light touch in smooth back and forth motions. Do not press too hard or roll back and forth rapidly in a small area.
  If the roller leaves a texture on your cake, the icing is not crusted well enough, or your roller head is not high density foam.

(Picture of before and after cakes will go here, showing how the method helped me personally)

This method is also fantastic for those of us who use edible images! I have found it to be the most valuable tool in my arsenal for applying those images. After smoothing the cake using the roller method, take a spray bottle full of clean water set on a fine mist, hold approximately a foot above the cake and release one light spray. Allow it to float down onto the cake surface to lightly moisten the surface which will allow the image to stick. Immediately apply your image while the icing is tacky. Using a very dry foam roller, gently roll over the image to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles. Allow your image to sit for 5-10 minutes to completely adhere to the cake and re-roll to again remove any air bubbles or wrinkles that may have formed.

(Possibly a picture of roller being used on an image will go here)

I hope that this information will help you learn and adopt this method for the most smooth and flawless icing surface that will give you the perfect canvas for your amazing decorations! Good luck!

147 replies
Zmama Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 4:50pm

Ditto!

I don't worry about my Viva being stolen anymore by the family, just DON'T TOUCH MY ROLLER!!!!

starrchaser Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 4:50pm

Wonderfull! Here in Nova Scotia I have not been able to find a papertowl without a pattern so the papertowl method is not that usefull to me. I thought i was doomed to have flawed frosting forever. This would be a great tutorial. Very informitive. thumbs_up.gif

Melvira Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 4:52pm

Zmama, that cracks me up... you know what blasphemous thing I did the other day? I put a roll of Viva paper towels on the TOWEL BAR!!! I let people USE THEM! I didn't SLAP ANY HANDS!! OMG!!! icon_lol.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 4:56pm

I think it's great so far. My question now is

Do you need separate rollers for use with white icing or chocolate icing? How about a separate roller for edible images? How well does this roller wash out? I am afraid that chocolate icing or edible images might stain the roller.

What's the verdict?

I will be watching this thread, and bumping it again later, if necessary. There were so many responses to the original thread that I truly believe it is worth pursuing.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Melvira Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 5:32pm

Theresa, I have a pack of refill rollers handy at all times, however I do not use different rollers for different colors, etc. I have found that they wash perfectly with dish soap and hot water. I later up the dish soap with my clean hands, then rub it all over the roller, then rinse thoroughly and sqeegee the roller head between my fingers, then let air dry. I suppose I should add a section to this on roller care, maybe with pics! That would be a good idea. And, even if the roller were to be stained with icing color, if you wash thoroughly and it IS in fact a stain, it should not come off on a white cake! Thanks for posing these questions to get my brain moving!!

Zmama Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 5:42pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira

Zmama, that cracks me up... you know what blasphemous thing I did the other day? I put a roll of Viva paper towels on the TOWEL BAR!!! I let people USE THEM! I didn't SLAP ANY HANDS!! OMG!!! icon_lol.gif




ROFL - My fiance had started putting the blue shop towels (basically blue Viva) on the holder so they were color-coded. He was floored when he saw me actually use a WHITE VIVA to wipe up a mess!

"IN TODAY'S NEWS - Cake decorators' familes are no longer banned from white paper towels.
TOMORROW - Paint supply stores can't keep foam rollers on the shelves."

cncgirl00 Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 5:47pm

How many times can this roller be washed before it needs to be replaced? Will it start to fall apart with age? I've never used this type before and I was just wondering what the "shelf life" would be.

Melvira Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 6:00pm

Well, I have been using this method for quite a while, and I have only been through 1 replacement head. But I replaced it because it was a lower density foam and I wanted the higher density. It was starting to get a little worn, but again, the lower density stuff doesn't last as long. With proper care, I think a roller head could easily last a year with average use. If you are cranking out six cakes a day, you are looking at a lot less. but 3 cakes a week or so...? I really can't say exactly how long.

EROTIC-BAKER Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 6:05pm

wow i think this is a fantastic idea thank u for sharing.

minnow Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 6:05pm

I bought the foam roller and refills the other day to use on my halloween cakes. I'm hooked now! This method beats the VIVA method hands down. Not only does it smooth better but I like the idea that I can see where I'm going as I'm smoothing and don't have a towel to move.

Thanks so much for sharing this idea!

tirby Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 6:06pm

My husband is going to think I have totally lost it! I am going to Home Depot ASAP! I cant wait to try this!!!!!!

veejaytx Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 6:34pm

This does work so very well, it was a great idea, Melvira.

You do realize you have eliminated yet another excuse for messy looking, or should I say unsmoothed (not sure thats even a word) cake icing?

Way to go! Janice

gibson Posted 1 Nov 2006 , 10:21pm

I tried this method the other day and have to say "YIPPEE! I CAN FINALLY HAVE A SMOOTH CAKE AND I'M NOT CURSING ANYMORE!" I love this method and will be using this from now on. Even my husband said it was the smoothest cake I've done!
(My Thomas the train cake - the 9x13 is what I used it on)

Thanks so much Melvira, you've made my life a whole lot easier!

Tammy icon_lol.gif

Fascination Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 3:16am

Hi,
sorry, but I have to ask.... You are using paint rollers to smooth BC; how did you determine that the foam on the rollers is actually food safe?

let me share what I have been doing...
I have the same problem as stargazer in Nova Scotia; it is impossible to find paper towels with no pattern.
With a BC that crusts... once crusted, I cover the cake with a sheet of wax paper, and smooth it with my fondant smoother.
Works pretty well

ciao

Melvira Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 3:47am

Well, from a legal standpoint I cannot *yet* guarantee beyond any doubt that the foam is 100% food safe because I have not had any tests done personally. However, I am currently in contact with the company that manufactures these items and am obtaining detailed information about them for safety reasons. I will post that information as soon as it is available. In the mean time, for anyone who is concerned about safety, I have been encouraging use of parchment, waxed paper, or paper towels between the frosting and the roller. I do stress that these rollers should be washed before use. Since they are made of porous foam it was my contention that washing with antibacterial dish soap would remove anything that may be on the roller, but that could be faulty thinking, and the manufacturer should be able to confirm or refute it. I will hopefully have more information about that in the coming week. If I should find that this foam is not safe for use, I will be pushing even harder to get my prototype pushed through production using a foam that is food grade and perfectly safe. Thanks for your interest in keeping us all as safe as possible!

Cakerer Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 3:59am

I'll take my chances and assume they are food safe. Off to Home Depot tomorrow - I haven't actually looked at any of these - can they go in the dishwasher? Maybe microwave them for 30 seconds or so?

This will be a big time saver for me! Thank you for sharing!!!!! icon_smile.gif

ceolivari Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:08am

I haven't tried this method yet, but I'm very excited to do so. However, reading the food safe comments made me think a bit. If you've used these rollers on your cakes and then wash them and let them dry, don't you think bacteria could grow within your roller? Washing them and drying them makes them much like a dish sponge. Would you use that to smooth your cakes? Just a thought. It may be expensive to use a new roller every time, but I'm not sure how safe washing them are.

sweetviolent Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:16am

maybe if you are really concerned you could nuke them- like a sponge ??? that is s'posed to kill bad stuff- would they last in the high temp dishwasher cycle????

maybe we need little"jackets" for the rollers!

either way im gonna try it this weekend!

LaceyLou Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:17am

ill think about it this way: if there is in fact bacteria on the roller, it is such a tiny amount that someone would have to eat the roller itself to get sick...and im not sure that would even do it. i wouldnt worry about it one bit. if you look at it that way, then you can say everything you eat or eat off of has bacteria.

AlamoSweets Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:19am

I will be at Home Depot tomorrow a.m. when they open. I have a large groom's cake to do for Saturday with cut outs and lots and lots of corners. I bet this works great on the corners??? I have the worst time getting crisp corners. Anyone know?

sugarlaced Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:25am

I had my husband pick up one of these rollers at Lowe's. You had such a great thought on this...I should have known this roller would be good, it is my favorite to paint with(doors and such).

I used this for the first time to smooth the BC on my Western Shirt cake before adding the MMF and WOW!! it worked fabulous. What a time saver!!!

Thanks for sharing with all of us you treasure. icon_biggrin.gif

Melvira Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:31am

Yes, it works great on corners! I get a lot of compliments on my corners!

Now, Ceolivari you raise an interesting question, however, I don't think they would be any more prone to growing bacteria than anything you wash. I use antibacterial soap, so by nature it should kill most of anything that might happen to exist. (As previously mentioned, anything that was on it would be so miniscule...) And truthfully, I wouldn't use a sponge to smooth a cake just because they aren't smooth, if they were, then heck ya, I'd use it. Anything that works!! Granted, not the same one I washed my dishes with! Haha!! But no, I don't think that washing them is an issue. If it were... what about the wooden fondant roller? You know wood used for food prep in the form of cutting boards, etc. carry some of the highest bacteria content if not handled properly. I stress properly because I don't want an onslaught of people yelling at me because they use a wood cutting board and it's perfectly safe. I know it is, my point is, if handled incorrectly it is not, so it's all about taking the necessary precautions.

I think at this point, until I hear back from the manufacturer, it's all acedemic.

mhill91801 Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 4:49am

Ok, Ok, we just had a new Lowe's open in our town. I'm going to have to go there and get one of these rollers. Until now, I've been standing by my VIVA....but I may have to stray and give this a try. It sounds too good to pass up. Thanks for the great info!! thumbs_up.gif

cupcake Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 7:05am

I have used a small roller for the look of texture, especially on things like footballs and basketballs, it works great and gives the look of pigskin.

CupCake13 Posted 2 Nov 2006 , 3:00pm

Fascination, I've found a piece of parchment works pretty well too in a pinch.

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