Help!! Smooth Butter Cream

Decorating By justbyangela Updated 20 Oct 2009 , 3:05pm by laceycakes

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:58am
post #1 of 18

Please help. I have been at this all evening long and have been preparing for days. I am finally at the frosting phase. I already did the crumb coat and let it sit for 5 hours before frosting making sure it was nice and hard. The frosting has been sitting in the fridge for a few days seeing as I don't have a lot time during the day so I wanted to do this in steps. WHAT IS THE TRICK TO SMOOTH BUTTER CREAM on a cake? I am at my whits end with this and I haven't even begun the bigger tiered cake!! (I am currently doing my son's "smash" cake for pictures). Is there something I am doing wrong. I have watched videos beyond videos and I know there's the "straight edge" tool that people use to use at the end for the "finished look." I don't have one of those... is that a must-needed item? So far I have just been trying to do it all with a spatula. Please help. His pictures are on Wednesday and this is supposed to be my practice cake even though I would like to use it for his 1st Birthday pictures!

17 replies
prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:08am
post #2 of 18

First, the buttercream needs to be rewhipped once it reaches room temp if you've had it sittin in the fridge.
Second, the buttercream must be the correct consistency. If it is too thick or too thin it's not going to cooperate.
Third, is patience. It takes TONS of practice to be able to get that perfect smooth look. I've been doing cakes for years and years and years and there are days that I still have a cake that just gives me trouble.
Fourth, if you are using a crusting buttercream, once it is crusted you can put a piece of wax paper onto the icing and gently smooth with your hand. This ONLY works with a crusting buttercream.

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:11am
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

First, the buttercream needs to be rewhipped once it reaches room temp if you've had it sittin in the fridge.
Second, the buttercream must be the correct consistency. If it is too thick or too thin it's not going to cooperate.
Third, is patience. It takes TONS of practice to be able to get that perfect smooth look. I've been doing cakes for years and years and years and there are days that I still have a cake that just gives me trouble.
Fourth, if you are using a crusting buttercream, once it is crusted you can put a piece of wax paper onto the icing and gently smooth with your hand. This ONLY works with a crusting buttercream.




Ok, how do I know if the frosting is too thin or too thick? Also, should I buy one of those straight edge things? I believe I watched a video where one was used and it seemed to have worked wonders. I used Indydebi's butter cream recipe and it seemed to be as though it crusted.

Amylou Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:13am
post #4 of 18

Okay, first, take a deep breath!

The trick, you ask...is actually practice practice, practice. It comes with experience and the correct tools. Everyone has their own method that they prefer.

What recipe did you use for buttercream? If it's in the fridge, you'll want to get it to room temp first to go on easier. Also, make sure it's the right consistency...you'll want it thinner than thicker, but not so thin that it doesn't stay put on the cake.

Do you have a big icing tip? I would start with that. Fill a bag using that tip, and the go all around the cake in "rows" making sure that the tip is flat side out/jagged side to the cake.

Then take your spatula and firmly but gently blend the icing together so the rows disappear. I start along the sides and then the top. Get it as smooth as you can...and then (if it's a crusting bc) you can let it crust and do the paper towel or paint roller method, both found here:

http://cakecentral.com/articles/category/cake-techniques


Just do the best you can. It really does take practice (and patience). Your son will love it no matter what!

prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:16am
post #5 of 18

Yes, Indydebi's is a crusting recipe. You want the icing to have the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

As for the straight-edge thing...are you talking about a bench scraper or a bowl scraper? I've seen people using the bench scraper (it is metal with a wooden or plastic handle) online. I personally use a bowl scraper to help smooth the icing (they are all plastic, thinner, and not as heavy, so easier to use for this purpose). It is helpful, but not completely 100% neccessary.

Is this your first-ever decorated cake? If so, I hate to tell you, you may have to get it the best you can, which might not be perfect. It really does take years of practice to get it just so.

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:20am
post #6 of 18

Also, while letting the frosting crust should I have it in the refrigerator or out on the counter?

prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:21am
post #7 of 18

out on the counter. Indydebi's buttercream does not have to be refrigerated.

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:23am
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

out on the counter. Indydebi's buttercream does not have to be refrigerated.




Ok. How long should I be letting the butter cream get back to room temperature if it's been in the refrigerator? I had it out for over an hour and it still seemed cold to me. I know this probably sounds silly.. I'm a mess.

prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:25am
post #9 of 18

Do you have an instant read thermometer? If so, just take the icing's temp! If not, well, it can take several hours actually. If you have the time, it might be best to just let it sit until tomorrow morning and then use it.

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:27am
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

Do you have an instant read thermometer? If so, just take the icing's temp! If not, well, it can take several hours actually. If you have the time, it might be best to just let it sit until tomorrow morning and then use it.




I was just worried it would go bad because there's milk in the recipe.

prterrell Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:28am
post #11 of 18

No, it won't go bad! The high sugar content prevents the milk from spoiling.

Texas_Rose Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:32am
post #12 of 18

It won't go bad from the milk...the sugar in it keeps the milk from spoiling, something about controlling moisture action (we need JanH and her cake chemistry knowledge here icon_biggrin.gif )

I've left it out a few days and not had any problem.

About the straight-edge thingie, if it's a bench scraper, you can buy it at Ross for about $5. If you're ever planning to do fondant stuff, a bench scraper is a lovely tool to have on hand. Also, you can use a fondant smoother with the waxed paper to smooth the buttercream once it's crusted, if you need something smoother than your hand. Lots of people use a viva paper towel to smooth their cake. I haven't tried it, I keep buying a roll of viva but then the kids use it for a spill before I need it for the cake icon_biggrin.gif

justbyangela Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:11pm
post #13 of 18

Okay, thanks! I will be going to get some Viva paper this afternoon. I have one more question (not really, but for now. icon_smile.gif I am doing fondant circles and fondant stripes on my butter cream layers. How exactly should I go about doing this. Should I do the cut outs and let them sit out? If so, for how long. Also, are they going to stick on without having any type of adhesive?

dreamcakesmom Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:34pm
post #14 of 18

Just like all the other cakes have mentioned, it really takes lots of practice to get a perfectly smooth edge but all these little tricks will vastly improve your chances of a more "professional" look. I found when I switched from a spatula to a bench scraper I improved and then on top of that For my last coupl passes over the the sides and top I dip the bench scraper in boiling water, wipe off and then pass over my buttercream. The warmth sort of smooths out and melts way air bubbles, etc.
For fondant decorations I cut all mine at one time so they sort of stiffen a bot before I transer them on to the cake, makes it easier to handle and then I use a small paint brush with water to lightly moisten the backs to adhere to the cake. Hope this helps!

laceycakes Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:38pm
post #15 of 18

Sorry, I have to jump in with a quick question.... Viva paper towels.... what is the "something special" about Viva that other paper towels don't have? Always wondered about that. Thanks

Melvira Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:45pm
post #16 of 18

If you're using Deb's recipe, then it's fair to tell you she swears by my smoothing method!

http://cakecentral.com/articles/126/quick-easy-smooth-icing-using-a-roller-melvira-method

The only thing special about Viva is that there is no texture on it.

janeoxo Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 2:52pm
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by laceycakes

Sorry, I have to jump in with a quick question.... Viva paper towels.... what is the "something special" about Viva that other paper towels don't have? Always wondered about that. Thanks




From what I understand (cos we don't have Viva in the UK), it is because they are smooth and don't have any textured pattern on them, other towels would leave an imprint on the cake.

laceycakes Posted 20 Oct 2009 , 3:05pm
post #18 of 18

Thank you for the quick responses. That makes sense then. I will have to invest in some Viva also!!

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