Icing Cakes

Decorating By Kitagrl Updated 11 Apr 2010 , 3:48am by Bakingangel

Kitagrl Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 1:54am
post #1 of 14

You know, its crazy...but I would say that my biggest challenge in doing any cake is icing the dumb thing smooth..that, and getting a nice buttercream!

Even with a nice buttercream, I have the worst time getting the top level and smooth. I know my photos look fine and all but I can tell when my cakes aren't iced level or when the buttercream has too much air in it, because the fondant will get some bubbles or the cake will not be perfectly level and straight...(That's what lots of "bling", stars on wires, and a light coating of pearl dust is for! haha)

I have been trying to get this buttercream-icing thing down for a long time...I know all the tricks...and sometimes I can do it okay (mostly with noncrusting buttercream because it comes out perfectly smooth...cannot get a crusting buttercream to be perfectly smooth). But even then sometimes my top is not level. (Sides will be straight...top not squared across the top)

Anyone else find icing the cake their biggest challenge? Sometimes I'm standing there thinking "This step should NOT be taking me as long as this...."

Especially if I'm icing a 3D cake...I end up with so many spatula marks in the thing its not even funny.

When I worked at a catering place, after my boss saw my icing job, we decided I would fill the cakes and crumb coat them all on Tuesday... HE would ice the cakes pretty on wednesday...haha....and I would decorate them all on Thursday. icon_smile.gif

13 replies
aundrea Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 2:06am
post #2 of 14

i understand what you are saying. sometimes it takes me longer to try and smooth a cake then actually decorating it.
but looking at your cakes i would never guess this is any type of issue for you.
your cakes are amazing!!!

deesweets Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 2:35am
post #3 of 14

I am glad I am not alone with this. I know that I am no expert but I feel like this is a joke or something that I can't get the cake smooth. My biggest problem is with chocolate cake when the crumbs keep getting in my frosting even after I have "crumb coated" the cake. Very, very frustrating. icon_mad.gif

Kitagrl Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 2:38am
post #4 of 14
Originally Posted by deesweets

I am glad I am not alone with this. I know that I am no expert but I feel like this is a joke or something that I can't get the cake smooth. My biggest problem is with chocolate cake when the crumbs keep getting in my frosting even after I have "crumb coated" the cake. Very, very frustrating. icon_mad.gif

For that you just have to make sure you always have a BIG glob of icing on the spatula...if you don't use enough icing, you will spread it too thin and pick up crumbs.

mpetty Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 4:02am
post #5 of 14

Kitagirl, it does my heart good to look at the beautiful pictures in your gallery and know that someone with your talent has the exact same problem that we hobbyists and beginners do!

I read a suggestion elsewhere tonight about taking a laminated sheet of paper and gently dragging it across the top of the cake to level it. The tip came from someone who works in a bakery and she said that she never uses a knife to smooth the top because it's too heavy to control consistently. I suppose it's yet another trick to use in this never-ending quest! icon_rolleyes.gif

I also think that Sugarshack's method for smoothing a cake is a good one; it'll just take me a lot of practice to get the hang of it!

cheatize Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 4:24am
post #6 of 14

I swear it's one step forward and three back for me. First, I couldn't get buttercream to smooth. Now I can smooth it but it's crusting so hard it's dry, dry, dry when you eat it. Who ever heard of dry icing? There was also the drama of droopy buttercream in between those two problems.

I used to be able to get cakes fairly level by pressing them down when they came out of the oven. That stopped working so I bought a leveler. Problem solved. Now the baking is all messed up somewhere. At the first test, they aren't done by a long shot. By the second test, they must be overdone. The tester comes out clean but the edges are way too hard and the cake is dry.

Don't even get me started on fondant problems.

Aaarrrggghhh! At this point, I'm hoping the cake fairies eventually visit my house and everything will be magically perfect from that day forward.

dalis4joe Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 5:01am
post #7 of 14

lol.... I just tried ganache for the first time tonight.... did it all wrong... took me forever to get it right...

I take a long long time crumb coating and icing... I want it to be perfectly smooth with NO Spatula marks at all... and it takes forever... then you go and see a how to vidoe and it just looks sooooooooooo simple... u r like... WHY CAN'T I?!?!? lol

I have tried everyone's method...

1. Sharon
2. Edna
3. Norm
4. Buddy

but... one thing is for sure... I won't give up lol... I love what I do and I will keep trying until it becomes second nature...


poohsmomma Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 12:33pm
post #8 of 14

Can I jump in this boat?

Just when I think I've got buttercream halfway figured out, I have a problem that never happened before. I use the same recipe all the time, make it exactly the same way all the time, but never get the same results!

I'm like dalis4joe, I've tried everybody's tips and tricks, and some work one time and not the next. It's like the icing gods are laughing at me. It can take me hours to ice two tiers and get them so that I'm halfway satisfied!

Oh, well, I feel better now; I know others whose talent I envy are riding in this boat with me. Now let's just be careful we don't swamp the boat!

mpetty Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 1:45pm
post #9 of 14

And yet, when we look at each other's galleries,we think they look fine.

Poohsmamma, your gallery looks great - especially the b&W 50th birthday cake. That one looks especially perfect to me. Hope you get the Member Spotlight soon!

Kitagrl Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 2:24pm
post #10 of 14

I use a 6" spackle knife and it works perfect for the sides! But for the top even when I drag it across, I still might end up with one side a bit higher than the other...or I don't keep an even enough pressure and the middle of the cake will be slightly higher than the edges...or something dumb like that.

Bakingangel Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 3:08pm
post #11 of 14

Getting the top icing level was always the hardest for me until I watched Linda McClure use her cake leveler. After she smoothed the sides and had icing built up along the top edge, she adjusted the Agbay (sp?) and ran it across the top of the cake, stopping to scrape the excess icing off the blade of the leveler with her spreader. She did this going across the cake in one direction and then turning the cake to go across the other way. I bought my Agbay (?) mostly for this reason (even though I had wanted one for years for leveling cakes). It worked like a charm for a perfectly smooth, level iced top on each of my tiers. Sorry I can't seem to spell "Kat" today icon_lol.gif

Kitagrl Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 3:33pm
post #12 of 14

Hmmm I don't have an Agbay yet but I may have to think about it!!!!

mpetty Posted 10 Apr 2010 , 5:56pm
post #13 of 14

Wow, the Agbay sounds like a dream come true. I know they're expensive, but it would be worth it to have an even cake top!

Bakingangel Posted 11 Apr 2010 , 3:48am
post #14 of 14

After I got the Agbay I could have kicked myself for not having bought it years ago! It is worth every cent!

Quote by @%username% on %date%