I Can't Get My Buttercream Smooth! What Am I Doing Wrong?

Decorating By mskavon Updated 18 Mar 2010 , 7:53pm by Melvira

mskavon Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:33am
post #1 of 37

it seems like no matter how hard i try, i can't get my buttercream to be smooth on a cake. i can always see lines and it just doesn't look like the buttercream work u would see in a bakery, etc.
Am i not using enough buttercream? the consistency is right. please help!

36 replies
indydebi Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:44am
post #2 of 37

whats the recipe you're using? describe the consistency .... does it run like glue? soft like whipped cream? Like toothpaste? Like play-doh? What consistency are you calling "right"? How are you applying it? what initial smoothing method are you using ... just the spatula? Melvira? bench scraper? Viva? Parchment? Is it a crusting BC?

miasuzzette Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:48am
post #3 of 37

icon_biggrin.gif indydebi. OMG, you just made me laugh, It's like you was in front of the person asking all those question. I enjoy your recipe very much.

Thanks thumbs_up.gif

mskavon Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:05am
post #4 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

whats the recipe you're using? describe the consistency .... does it run like glue? soft like whipped cream? Like toothpaste? Like play-doh? What consistency are you calling "right"? How are you applying it? what initial smoothing method are you using ... just the spatula? Melvira? bench scraper? Viva? Parchment? Is it a crusting BC?




ok here goes....
it's soft like whip cream, but i mix it for a couple minutes in the Kitchenaid mixer. makes it a little more stiff but not much of a difference. could that be the problem?
i use a spatula and a scraper. what's the melvira method? and yes, the buttercream crusts

indydebi Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:18am
post #5 of 37

That helps. If you can list the recipe, that can help us out, too.

HEre are some pics of my Finger Poke Test for consistency: http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-650745-finger.html

Here is the Melvira method: http://cakecentral.com/articles/126/quick-easy-smooth-icing-using-a-roller-melvira-method I discovered it a little more than 2 years ago and have never done a cake without my trusty roller ever since. It is the most AWESOME way to get smooth icing!!!

When you use the bench scraper, are you holding it straight up and down so it smooths the entire side of the cake all at once? Also, don't smooth to the shape of the cake .... smooth it straight up and down regardless of any bumps or 'dents' in the cake. This is something that I had to learn and it took me awhile to confirm to it! icon_wink.gif

If you look at the pics in the first link above, you can see a crumb coated cake that has been melvira'd. When smoothing it with the bench scraper first, I used the cardboard on the bottom as a guide for the bench scraper. This kept the icing at a uniform 'thickness' and helped keep the bench scraper perfectly straight.

mskavon Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:29am
post #6 of 37

ok! looking at the link for the malvira method, i was stoppin at picture #2. i wasn't pleased with how that looked at all. i'llhave to go get a roller. do suggest a certain store? should i try a hardware store? i don't know the first thing about a high density roller lol

thanks for you help!!

indydebi Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:36am
post #7 of 37

You'll need to get it at a Lowe's or Home Depot. I've never found one at walmart or any place like that. Be sure it says HIGH DENSITY or it won't work. Get a couple of packs of them.

It will become your most valuable decorating tool, I SWEAR!!!!!

cammyblake1 Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:41am
post #8 of 37

Melvira method is great for someone just starting out, but you'll want even smoother sharper edges eventually. Sharon Zambito has a great line of DVD's out that show you how to do it perfectly. Planet Cake has a method using ganache that is about the best you can do as well.

Melvira Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 1:41pm
post #9 of 37

No matter how many years you've been doing something, if a method works for you, it works. I'm not saying that the roller method is GOING to work perfectly for you, but for those who have embraced it, they get amazing results. (See Indydeb, 30+ years of experience, still uses the roller)

I don't think it has anything to do with how long you've been doing cakes, it's about learning the method that works best for you. Try everything then pick what you like best. They each have their benefits. For example, the roller methos is quick as heck, so once you've learned it (which takes almost NO time) you can whip out a smooth cake in a matter of a few minutes. Invaluable when you are busy or against the clock. I've seen all kinds of amazing methods, (upside down icing? WOW!!!) but unfortunately some of them are a very long and arduous process and I guess I don't have that kind of time! icon_lol.gif

Melvira Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 1:45pm
post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by mskavon

ok! looking at the link for the malvira method, i was stoppin at picture #2. i wasn't pleased with how that looked at all. i'llhave to go get a roller. do suggest a certain store? should i try a hardware store? i don't know the first thing about a high density roller lol

thanks for you help!!




Hahahaha!! Aw, come on, give me the benefit of the doubt and at least look at ALL the pix! haha! Just teasing!! icon_lol.gif But seriously, I wonder if other people have done that? icon_confused.gif

mskavon Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 1:46pm
post #11 of 37

i agree. i'm going to try that method tho. it seems like it would work for me. i like the way the finished product looks as well.

thanks for the input everyone. it's really going to help me out a lot icon_smile.gif

i'll post pictures if i do anything soon.

snocilla Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:06pm
post #12 of 37

I have to say that the first time I used the Melvira method I hated it! But then I realized that my buttercream hadn't crusted. After trying it the second time, I fell in love with it and now I won't do it any other way! The key is waiting until the buttercream crusts. If it sticks to the roller or starts looking like stucco, you need to let it sit longer to crust more. But don't let it sit for hours or overnight because then it will crack. HTH!

alvarezmom Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:47pm
post #13 of 37

I've been saying for the past year that I will try the Melvira methed on my "next" cake and never do...This weekend I have a cake and guess what???? You guessed it I'm going to try your methed. I have one of facilities guys at my wk going to the hardware store today to pick up a roller for me! LOL

myKzooKid Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:55pm
post #14 of 37

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, indydebi & Melvira for sharing your tips. I've recently discovered them and am so thrilled with the results, though I still need more practice. I'm wondering, indydebi what speed do you mix your buttercream on for those 15 minutes? I have an old Sunbeam (I think) mixer that goes from 1, fold to 12, frostings. Do you beat it on a lower speed, medium speed, or the highest speed?

indydebi Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 2:56pm
post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by myKzooKid

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, indydebi & Melvira for sharing your tips. I've recently discovered them and am so thrilled with the results, though I still need more practice. I'm wondering, indydebi what speed do you mix your buttercream on for those 15 minutes? I have an old Sunbeam (I think) mixer that goes from 1, fold to 12, frostings. Do you beat it on a lower speed, medium speed, or the highest speed?


My 20-qt had 3 speeds: slow, medium and "beat it to hell". I actually used all 3, depending on how rushed I was, but normally just put it on medium. I'd use high to really pulverize the fat, then reduce the speed when I added the sugar.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:38pm
post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by cammyblake1

Melvira method is great for someone just starting out, but you'll want even smoother sharper edges eventually. Sharon Zambito has a great line of DVD's out that show you how to do it perfectly. Planet Cake has a method using ganache that is about the best you can do as well.




I agree, the Melvira method is okay, but I can't really get flawless buttercream that way. You should really invest in Sharon Zambito's DVD, flawless buttercream. The biggest thing for me is heating up your spatula or scraper in boiling water and scrape your excess icing off. Then smooth it up with a Viva. Good luck. thumbs_up.gif

jdelaney81 Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 3:52pm
post #17 of 37

The first time I tried the Melvira method I didn't like it either. But I had a small roller (about 4"), it was the only size that WalMart carried. It left lines in the icing at each end of the roller. After I bought a longer one it has gone much better. I kind of combine methods. I use a hot spatula, then "melvira" it after it crusts. HTH

myKzooKid Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 4:07pm
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by myKzooKid

I'm wondering, indydebi what speed do you mix your buttercream on for those 15 minutes? I have an old Sunbeam (I think) mixer that goes from 1, fold to 12, frostings. Do you beat it on a lower speed, medium speed, or the highest speed?

My 20-qt had 3 speeds: slow, medium and "beat it to hell". I actually used all 3, depending on how rushed I was, but normally just put it on medium. I'd use high to really pulverize the fat, then reduce the speed when I added the sugar.





Thank you! I think that was my problem with my last cake. I kept it on high after adding the sugar. I think I got too much air in it.

tonedna Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 4:26pm
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvira

No matter how many years you've been doing something, if a method works for you, it works. I'm not saying that the roller method is GOING to work perfectly for you, but for those who have embraced it, they get amazing results. (See Indydeb, 30+ years of experience, still uses the roller)

I don't think it has anything to do with how long you've been doing cakes, it's about learning the method that works best for you. Try everything then pick what you like best. They each have their benefits. For example, the roller methos is quick as heck, so once you've learned it (which takes almost NO time) you can whip out a smooth cake in a matter of a few minutes. Invaluable when you are busy or against the clock. I've seen all kinds of amazing methods, (upside down icing? WOW!!!) but unfortunately some of them are a very long and arduous process and I guess I don't have that kind of time! icon_lol.gif





I always wanted to try your methid, I been lazy to go to Home depot and buy a roller! icon_redface.gif So I keep using my scraper..lol
Edna

tonedna Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 4:29pm
post #20 of 37

Check this video




I use a scraper, and works great for me. But be careful, too much bubbles in your icing can become problematic when you are icing a cake. So you need to make sure that the problem is not coming from the icing.

Edna icon_biggrin.gif

FierceConfections Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 4:47pm
post #21 of 37

I don't use crusting buttercream, so I can't speak to any method that requires it. However, I'm assuming that methods that work with non-crusting can also be used with crusting. And for me, the key to getting a beautiful finish has more to do with removing icing than putting it on.

After I crumb coat, I add TONS of icing all around and on top of my cake - I don't even attempt to make it even/smooth. Then I use a bench scraper to remove the excess. That way I get even coverage, crisp edges and a lovely finish.

Just practice. That's the #1 way to find out what works best for you, and to get better. thumbs_up.gif

greengyrl26 Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 4:48pm
post #22 of 37

I use a scraper and it works wonders for the side! I still can't quite figure out how to make the top and the edges perfectly smooth, but I'm working on it! (Any tips on those two issues are appreciated!)

snocilla Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 5:27pm
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Quote:

I always wanted to try your methid, I been lazy to go to Home depot and buy a roller! So I keep using my scraper..lol




LOL!!! I was too lazy too! Except that my husband pratically lives in Lowes, and so I've started trying to find things that I can use for cakes every time he drags me in there!

tonedna Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 5:30pm
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by greengyrl26

I use a scraper and it works wonders for the side! I still can't quite figure out how to make the top and the edges perfectly smooth, but I'm working on it! (Any tips on those two issues are appreciated!)




That's where the Viva paper technique or the roller from melvira's help.
Check the video I posted above.
Edna icon_biggrin.gif

tonedna Posted 4 Mar 2010 , 5:31pm
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by snocilla

Quote:
Quote:

I always wanted to try your methid, I been lazy to go to Home depot and buy a roller! So I keep using my scraper..lol



LOL!!! I was too lazy too! Except that my husband pratically lives in Lowes, and so I've started trying to find things that I can use for cakes every time he drags me in there!




Lol..my husband aint a do it yourself kind of guy, I know more about tools than he does.
Edna icon_biggrin.gif

cookieswithdots Posted 5 Mar 2010 , 11:34pm
post #26 of 37

I've mainly used fondant but I really want to get into buttercream. Could someone pls suggest a good buttercream to make? I would really appreciate that.

Thanks!
Melissa

Bull Posted 6 Mar 2010 , 2:14am
post #27 of 37

Where do I find indydebi's bc recipe? I've enjoyed reading this post. I don't do well with smoothing buttercream and would like to try a different frosting. Thanks, Opal

JaeRodriguez Posted 6 Mar 2010 , 2:17am
post #28 of 37

Indydebi's recipe is the best, it's in the CC recipes just search it! Has anyone tried the upside down way to ice a cake? the one there is a tutorial on?

mskavon Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 3:47pm
post #29 of 37

lots of great suggestions. Thanks! i'll try to post a pic of my next buttercream cake.

MsLadyCakes06 Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 5:54pm
post #30 of 37

[quote="tonedna"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by greengyrl26

I use a scraper and it works wonders for the side! I still can't quite figure out how to make the top and the edges perfectly smooth, but I'm working on it! (Any tips on those two issues are appreciated!)




That's where the Viva paper technique or the roller from melvira's help.
Check the video I posted above.
Edna icon_biggrin.gif[/quote

I WATCHED YOU VIDEO AND LOVE THE VIVA TECHNIQUE...WORKS EVERYTIME!!! THANKS icon_biggrin.gif SOPH]

Quote by @%username% on %date%

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