To Those Who Can Get Flawlessly Smooth Buttercream....

Decorating By Mug-a-Bug Updated 10 Jan 2010 , 7:08am by dandelion56602

Mug-a-Bug Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 5:56pm
post #1 of 79

My buttercream technique has come a long way icon_rolleyes.gif

But I still can't get that flawlessly smooth look!! Grrr icon_mad.gif I use the Viva towl witth the fondant smother and Melvira's roller and get it looking pretty good. But no matter what I do I can't seem to get it flawlessly smooth. I still have those tiny little pock-mark air holes and other little imperfections. What am I doing wrong; or not doing right? Please help icon_biggrin.gif

78 replies
grammynan Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 6:09pm
post #2 of 79

In my opinion, buttercream doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. Mainly because you can't get it that way. Buttercream iced cakes will always have imperfections in the surface.

I use computer paper to square up my corners and smooth it a little, but I'll never get it to look like a fondant covered cake, (and I don't want it to look like one) so I've stopped trying.

Stop beating your head against the wall and let a buttercream cake look like a buttercream cake!

CakesbyCindi Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 6:17pm
post #3 of 79

I too have struggled with wanting the "flawless" look. But have been to many an event, where the cakes were provided by a commercial bakery, and their buttercream was not totally smooth either. I am not sure, if pictures always show the imperfections, camera angles can hide alot. I have taken pictures of some of my cakes, and wow... in pics they look great, but if you see them in person, not so great.....HA!

peg818 Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 6:17pm
post #4 of 79

well, in order to have a smooth buttercream cake you have to start with smooth buttercream. What i do is mix my icing the day before i need it and let it set overnight, then the next day before i ice my cake, i place it back in the mixer with the paddle attachment and just stir, for a little bit, any pockets of air that i have mixed in to the icing will dissipate for me.

in2cakes2 Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 6:31pm
post #5 of 79

Ah air bubbles are my nemesis!! I don't have a Kitchen Aid so no paddle to get the air bubbles out so after I am done making the bc while it is still in the bowl I take a large rubber spatula and smoosh the air out of the bc then apply to the cake. Also I found if I let it crust on the cake to long then try to smooth with the Viva method it will look cracked so I try to smooth right after it crusts. Hth

_Jamie_ Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 7:06pm
post #6 of 79

I beg to differ grammnan. Beg to differ.

I found that as soon as I stopped using a crusting BC, and switched to a meringue type, everything changed. I don't let a cake out the door without flawlessly smooth BC. I use the Sugarshack method until she gets to the paper and viva towels. It is sharp as a knife, and smooth as glass.

_Jamie_ Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 7:08pm
post #7 of 79

Meringue style BC+hot bench scraper and spatulas=flawlessly smooth as glass BC finish.

sherrycanary62 Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 8:08pm
post #8 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Jamie_

I beg to differ grammnan. Beg to differ.

I found that as soon as I stopped using a crusting BC, and switched to a meringue type, everything changed. I don't let a cake out the door without flawlessly smooth BC. I use the Sugarshack method until she gets to the paper and viva towels. It is sharp as a knife, and smooth as glass.




Jamie

Could you please elaborate just a little? When using meringue based frosting under fondant...do you need to refrigerate? if so what about refrigerating the fondant? Does it support fondant well?

_Jamie_ Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 8:18pm
post #9 of 79

And I'm not saying to change your BC, as if my way is better....thought I'd throw that in there. icon_smile.gif

Some people fridge it, some don't. I always fridge mine before applying fondant, as a hard surface is easier to smooth and get sharp corners on. I roll fondant really thin...like 1/16th of an inch. I refrigerate afterwards and keep it there until a few hours before delivery as well. It holds up beautifully!

Bakingangel Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 8:45pm
post #10 of 79

Jamie - As you know, I'm an admirer of your beautiful cakes. What percentage of your wedding cakes are meringue bc only vs. fondant? How does the meringue bc hold up in the hot summer weather? Would you be generous enough to share the recipe and any tips with us?

sherrycanary62 Posted 2 Jan 2010 , 9:52pm
post #11 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Jamie_

And I'm not saying to change your BC, as if my way is better....thought I'd throw that in there. icon_smile.gif




I appreciate the reply...have been wanting to find something other than American Buttercream.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 12:57am
post #12 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by grammynan

In my opinion, buttercream doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. Mainly because you can't get it that way. Buttercream iced cakes will always have imperfections in the surface.

I use computer paper to square up my corners and smooth it a little, but I'll never get it to look like a fondant covered cake, (and I don't want it to look like one) so I've stopped trying.

Stop beating your head against the wall and let a buttercream cake look like a buttercream cake!


I don't know....if you try hard enough.....check out some of my icing jobs.....the cakes that look like fondant are actually buttercream too....took years to get there, but it can be done.

Go to www.webshots.com and search "jsarnett" to bring up some of my cake albums.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:08am
post #13 of 79

Jeff, your cakes are AMAZING icon_eek.gificon_eek.gif

I guess I just need more years of practice? I let my buttercream sit overnight, should I rebeat it before icing my cake? Thanks for all the comments everyone. icon_smile.gif

sugarshack Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:22am
post #14 of 79

my tips for flawess BC:

use an icing with very little air in it... see here how i make it:





make it as stiff as you can work with for sharp edges

put on a lot then take off excess

hot bench scraper

practice!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:22am
post #15 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinCityCakes

Jeff, your cakes are AMAZING icon_eek.gificon_eek.gif

I guess I just need more years of practice? I let my buttercream sit overnight, should I rebeat it before icing my cake? Thanks for all the comments everyone. icon_smile.gif


Here's how I do it:

1. I make my icing [in a 20 qt mixer] at the beginning of the week.

2. When I am ready to use it, I remix a portion in a SUNBEAM MIXMASTER STAND MIXER with TWO BEATERS on SPEED 1, scarping the bowl often until the icing is perfect.. This is the best way I ever found to get icing completely free of air bubbles. I could never accomplish that with a Kitchen Aid type mixer.

3. I fill and crumb the layers, then chill the cake several hours [usually over night] before icing.

4. When ready to ice, I place the cake on my turntable and ice the sides and tops.

5. I then dip a 6 inch wide drywall blade [stainless steel $4 at Lowes in the paint department] into boiling water, dry quickly on a paper towel.

6. I hold the blade against the side of the cake at about a 45 degree angle, reach my free hand around the back as far as I can and turn the turntable one complete turn WITHOUT STOPPING....if you stop it will leave a mark.

7. Once the sides are smooth, use a small angled spatula for the top. I mist the top lightly with warm water from a spray bottle, then use the hot spatula to smooth the edges in toward the center, then finally smooth out the center. The light misting of water makes the spatula glide smoothly....don't use too much water, just a light mist.

8. I then chill the cakes again for several hours until very firm. The mist will evaporate during this time.

9. Decorate as desired, then back into the cooler until delivery.

Works great for me!

alene Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:26am
post #16 of 79

Jeff, may I ask how long you have been decorating cakes?

Kitagrl Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:39am
post #17 of 79

I can get a cake pretty smooth with a non crusting buttercream....the crusting ones are harder. I have been able to sometimes get a nice crusting buttercream fairly smooth if I add a bit of extra milk to get it more creamy...but its hard to get it perfectly smooth without air bubbles, but maybe its my mixer as Jeff mentioned.

For some reason my biggest challenge is getting the top of the cake perfectly level! I use a bench scraper/putty knife for smoothing sides and top, and old credit card for perfecting the edges....but often when I kneel down to check how level the top is, I find one side slightly higher, or the middle slightly rounded.... that is my biggest frustration with icing cakes LOL.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 1:41am
post #18 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by alene

Jeff, may I ask how long you have been decorating cakes?


Way too long....about 30 years on and off now....I started at age 12, but had been interested in cooking and baking from childhood.

I left decorating for many years to pursue other interests, but never completely lost interest and always stayed well read on what was happening in the decorating world.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 2:12am
post #19 of 79

Thank you everyone. I have some new techniques to try now. Sharon, I just ordered your DVD and look forward to watching it. Jeff, thanks for the misting and fridge tip; I can't wait to try that. I always feel like my scraper is doing more scraping than sliding icon_smile.gif

Now, I'm going to go punch the practice cake I just made, haha, just kidding.

_Jamie_ Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 2:40am
post #20 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakingangel

Jamie - As you know, I'm an admirer of your beautiful cakes. What percentage of your wedding cakes are meringue bc only vs. fondant? How does the meringue bc hold up in the hot summer weather? Would you be generous enough to share the recipe and any tips with us?




Thanks Angel! 99.999 of my cakes are SMBC or SMBC/fondant. I have used a crusting BC in the last year or so one time. It was hi rat shortening at that, and I just couldn't talk this lady out of keeping her cake inside. When it was 115 degrees out. icon_sad.gif

Elcee Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 7:24pm
post #21 of 79

So, first I read this....
In my opinion, buttercream doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. Mainly because you can't get it that way. Buttercream iced cakes will always have imperfections in the surface.

I use computer paper to square up my corners and smooth it a little, but I'll never get it to look like a fondant covered cake, (and I don't want it to look like one) so I've stopped trying.

Stop beating your head against the wall and let a buttercream cake look like a buttercream cake!

_________________
Nancy

...and I was so happy icon_biggrin.gif ! Hey, buttercream doesn't have to look as smooth as fondant.

But then I read this...

I beg to differ grammnan. Beg to differ.

I found that as soon as I stopped using a crusting BC and switched to a meringue type, everything changed. I don't let a cake out the door without flawlessly smooth BC I use the Sugarshack method until she gets to the paper and viva towels. It is sharp as a knife, and smooth as glass.


...and now I'm back to beating my head against the wall because I can't get the dang BC smooth! icon_razz.gif Oh, well! Now I'll continue reading to see if there's tricks here I haven't already tried. icon_smile.gif

Chippi Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 7:41pm
post #22 of 79

Edna's tutorial on buttercream is what got me to making smooth buttercream. As in her tutorial you do not mix your buttercream for long. Here is her website http://designmeacake.com/index.html and click on Tutorials > How to make buttercream. Edna is a great teacher! The last cake I did, my birthday cake has her buttercream on it. HTH's

Chippi!

FromScratch Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 7:52pm
post #23 of 79

Jeff... what kind of BC are you using? Powdered sugar based or mernigue based. Beautiful cakes!!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 10:14pm
post #24 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

Jeff... what kind of BC are you using? Powdered sugar based or mernigue based. Beautiful cakes!!




I usually make a 20 qt bowl at a time, but here is how it breaks down:


Jeff's Icing

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons hot whipping cream as needed to thin

Thoroughly combine butter and shortening. Add vanilla.
Add sugar all at one time and mix on slow speed until smooth....it will be very dry at first but will come together in a few minutes.
Add the hot cream as needed to reach desired consistency.

When I am ready to use, I rebeat a portion in a SUNBEAM MIXMASTER TWO BEATER STAND MIXER on LOWEST SPEED until smooth as silk. If icing has been made a day or so ahead, an addition tablespoon or so of hot whipping cream may be needed to reach a good spreading consistency.

in2cakes2 Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 10:37pm
post #25 of 79

That is the exact mixer I use and really love it. Glad to hear a pro uses it too.

janeoxo Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 10:54pm
post #26 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_Arnett

Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

Jeff... what kind of BC are you using? Powdered sugar based or mernigue based. Beautiful cakes!!



I usually make a 20 qt bowl at a time, but here is how it breaks down:


Jeff's Icing

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons hot whipping cream as needed to thin

Thoroughly combine butter and shortening. Add vanilla.
Add sugar all at one time and mix on slow speed until smooth....it will be very dry at first but will come together in a few minutes.
Add the hot cream as needed to reach desired consistency.

When I am ready to use, I rebeat a portion in a SUNBEAM MIXMASTER TWO BEATER STAND MIXER on LOWEST SPEED until smooth as silk. If icing has been made a day or so ahead, an addition tablespoon or so of hot whipping cream may be needed to reach a good spreading consistency.




Just a question about your recipe. As a Brit could you give me an idea how much a stick of butter weighs as I have no idea, we don't use that terminology so it's kinda hard for me to try the recipe.

Thanks

FromScratch Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 10:58pm
post #27 of 79

113 grams to a stick of butter (so it says on my sticks icon_wink.gif)

aej6 Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 11:29pm
post #28 of 79

Will refer back to this many times.....thanks!!!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 11:43pm
post #29 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by janeoxo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_Arnett

Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratch

Jeff... what kind of BC are you using? Powdered sugar based or mernigue based. Beautiful cakes!!



I usually make a 20 qt bowl at a time, but here is how it breaks down:


Jeff's Icing

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons hot whipping cream as needed to thin

Thoroughly combine butter and shortening. Add vanilla.
Add sugar all at one time and mix on slow speed until smooth....it will be very dry at first but will come together in a few minutes.
Add the hot cream as needed to reach desired consistency.

When I am ready to use, I rebeat a portion in a SUNBEAM MIXMASTER TWO BEATER STAND MIXER on LOWEST SPEED until smooth as silk. If icing has been made a day or so ahead, an addition tablespoon or so of hot whipping cream may be needed to reach a good spreading consistency.



Just a question about your recipe. As a Brit could you give me an idea how much a stick of butter weighs as I have no idea, we don't use that terminology so it's kinda hard for me to try the recipe.

Thanks




So sorry....a stick of butter is 1/2 cup or 4 ounces by weight.

madgeowens Posted 3 Jan 2010 , 11:50pm
post #30 of 79

for real.....use melvira's paint roller method..............its grea, and so smooth so fast

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