Problems With Smoothing Buttercream Icing

Decorating By ConnieJ Updated 19 May 2010 , 2:36am by ConnieJ

ConnieJ Posted 15 May 2010 , 3:48pm
post #1 of 30

It seems that no matter what I try (towel method, hot water and spatula) my buttercream icing never comes out completely smooth. Is this because I only use butter and not shortening? Does anyone use only butter and have success with smooth icing?
LL

29 replies
mamawrobin Posted 15 May 2010 , 5:12pm
post #2 of 30

Yes. I can't even get it completely smooth using half butter and half shortening.

QueenMo Posted 15 May 2010 , 5:30pm
post #3 of 30

i've never had any luck with it to be honest. i usually use all shortening with butter flavor. And also it is HOT AS THE DEVILS TOENAIL in georgia so i never have any luck with all butter.

mamawrobin Posted 15 May 2010 , 5:40pm
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenMo

i've never had any luck with it to be honest. i usually use all shortening with butter flavor. And also it is HOT AS THE DEVILS TOENAIL in georgia so i never have any luck with all butter.




I've never heard that expression but it's a good one. icon_lol.gif It's hot and humid here in Arkansas as well. It was 90 degrees here yesterday and it's not summer yet icon_cry.gif I'm dreading summer because it's already so hot here. By August we won't even be able to swim in out pool because it will be too hot.

I have used butter in the winter months and I could NOT get it nearly as smooth as the all shortening buttercream.

Geechigirl Posted 15 May 2010 , 6:56pm
post #5 of 30

I am also in Georgia and my icing that I use smooths wonderfully. I have my own recipe that I have posted on CC. Mine is a shortening based crust icing and I smooth my cakes with Viva paper towels. Feel free to check out my cakes and you can see what I am talking about. I am not a fan of fondant so all of my cakes are done in buttercream.

If you are interested in trying my recipe for the icing, it is called Geechigirl's Crisco-Based Crust Buttercream Icing. I use it for both vanilla and chocolate icings.

mamawrobin Posted 15 May 2010 , 8:00pm
post #6 of 30

Queen isn't saying that because she's in Georgia she can't get her buttercream smooth. She was saying that when she used BUTTER she couldn't get it smooth.

The op ask if she couldn't get the viva method to work because she wasn't using shortening. Any ALL shortening based, crusting buttercreams should be able to be smoothed using the viva method. thumbs_up.gif

Elcee Posted 15 May 2010 , 8:00pm
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConnieJ

It seems that no matter what I try (towel method, hot water and spatula) my buttercream icing never comes out completely smooth. Is this because I only use butter and not shortening? Does anyone use only butter and have success with smooth icing?




I thing regardless of what recipe you use or what method you settle upon, it's really just about practice. Practice and more practice. Did I mention practice? I've been decorating as a hobby for about 2 1/2 years and am just now getting to the point where I think my buttercream is presentable. Not good, just presentable. I use either a 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening recipe or an IMBC. On the IMBC I use the hot spatula, for the other I use Viva with my fondant smoother. Both are becoming equally "presentable".

mamawrobin Posted 15 May 2010 , 8:17pm
post #8 of 30

Elcee, I agree with you that it takes lots of practice. thumbs_up.gif I can get my 1/2 butter buttercream "presentable" as well but not perfectly smooth like I can the shortening buttercream. It has something to do the the higher content of liquid found in butter than that is found in shortening. Like when you use all shortening to make buttercream you use more milk than when you use all butter (crusting).
I don't know the "scientifics" of these things but I've read that this is the reason why you don't get as good results with viva when your icing is made with butter.

ConnieJ Posted 15 May 2010 , 11:25pm
post #9 of 30

Thanks for the feedback, guys! Maybe I'll just only do fondant cakes! hahahahahaha

denetteb Posted 15 May 2010 , 11:30pm
post #10 of 30

I found that watching some youtube videos extremely helpful in getting smooth icing. I found tonedna and seriouscakes particularly helpful, although there are others out there.

mamawrobin Posted 15 May 2010 , 11:51pm
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by denetteb

I found that watching some youtube videos extremely helpful in getting smooth icing. I found tonedna and seriouscakes particularly helpful, although there are others out there.




Absolutely! I can't believe that I forgot to mention that. I've watched Edna's video several times. I find tutorials very helpful because I'm more of a visual learner.

krafticakes Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:21am
post #12 of 30

hi, i'm pretty new in baking but really proud of how i ice my cakes. i crumb coat my cake before i frost it. it's just a really thin layer of frost. and i make sure no crumbs gets in my bowl of frosting. after i do this i put my cake in the freezer for 5 minutes. after that, i then frost my cake. sometimes i use the wilton cake icer tip if i remember. but i always forget to prepare the bag. so the big spatula works. once i finish frosting, i put the cake back in the freezer for 10 minutes. after 10 minutes, i bring out my 4" high density foam paint roller that i bought from the paint department at Walmart and then roll it on my cake. it really works for me!

good luck!Image

mamawrobin Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:24am
post #13 of 30

Forgot to say that I do crumbcoat. It's essential. Guess I just assumed that everyone did that. I also have one of those high density rollers. It works great as well. I just forget that I have it most of the time until I'm finished with my viva icon_lol.gif

sarahcutiepieee Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:56am
post #14 of 30

Hi, i would not use shortening, it s nasty.
If you don't want to get crumbs just try not to go back where you just iced.
I ve never tried the foam paint roller but i m going to so you should try!

krafticakes Posted 16 May 2010 , 5:04am
post #15 of 30

My paint roller method has worked for me using an all shortening butter flavored icing and an all butter buttercream. I haven't found a half butter/ half shortening recipe.

I learned this from my Wilton Class. All of us are novice bakers and decorators. But we all have really good looking frosted cakes. Even the edges looked crisp. I don't know where I can find the Viva paper towels. I want to try out that, too.

mamawrobin Posted 16 May 2010 , 5:10am
post #16 of 30

You can buy Viva brand paper towels at any store that sells paper towels. They are a little more expensive than most paper towels but they are smooth so they don't leave any imprint on your cake. It just gives it a nice finish.

Edna (Design Me A Cake) and Sharon (Sugarshack) both have tutorials on youtube showing them using the viva method to smooth buttercream.

mamawrobin Posted 16 May 2010 , 5:13am
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahcutiepieee

Hi, i would not use shortening, it s nasty.
If you don't want to get crumbs just try not to go back where you just iced.
I ve never tried the foam paint roller but i m going to so you should try!




Some of the most respected cc members and business women use shortening based buttercream icing. Indydebi, Leah_s, Sugarshack, Tonedna to name a few. It really isn't all that nasty. thumbs_up.gif

mbark Posted 16 May 2010 , 5:28am
post #18 of 30

agreed Mamarobin.
butter or shortening, the fat is still clogging your arteries LOL

Bannette Posted 16 May 2010 , 6:24am
post #19 of 30

Are you guys using High ratio shortening or plain ole "Crisco" brand? When using shortening/butter icing I too use the Viva or roller method, I freeze my cake for a short time before I crumb coat and freeze again and finish coat. It seems to work for me, but you have to work fast because when you have a cold cake the icing gets hard faster and it sometimes sweats so you have to let the water evaporate before putting fondant on. As for the taste I have had several people actually request the "wilton buttercream" over real IMBC. I couldn't believe it it was what they were use to.

Butterpatty Posted 16 May 2010 , 6:45am
post #20 of 30

I don't like IMBC icon_redface.gif . Am I weird? Give me good old Crisco base everytime icon_confused.gificon_razz.gif

mamawrobin Posted 16 May 2010 , 7:58am
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bannette

Are you guys using High ratio shortening or plain ole "Crisco" brand? When using shortening/butter icing I too use the Viva or roller method, I freeze my cake for a short time before I crumb coat and freeze again and finish coat. It seems to work for me, but you have to work fast because when you have a cold cake the icing gets hard faster and it sometimes sweats so you have to let the water evaporate before putting fondant on. As for the taste I have had several people actually request the "wilton buttercream" over real IMBC. I couldn't believe it it was what they were use to.




Putting a crusting buttercream cake in the freezer or refrigerator is a no go for me. The only time I've had any trouble with my cakes is when I refrigerated them. Indydebi's buttercream crust within minutes of applying so there's never a need to speed it up.

noahsmummy Posted 16 May 2010 , 8:14am
post #22 of 30

angled spatulas are a dream come true for me. also, hear in aust, our viva paper towels havr ripples, so that doesnt work to well for us, lol.. ive tried! i use grease proof paper to smooth after i have smooothed it as much as p[ossible with the spatula. also make sure your crumb coat is as smooth as possible as well, because that going to be your base. i use a half shortening half butter recipe for my b/c too.

and do you have a turn table? i dont, but i use a bread board that spins on my bench surface and i find that if your able to turn the actual cake, insteadof moving the spatula, you get a better finish.

good luck!

Elcee Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:33pm
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConnieJ

Thanks for the feedback, guys! Maybe I'll just only do fondant cakes! hahahahahaha




Fondant does hide a multitude of sins! icon_smile.gif

Elcee Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:36pm
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

Elcee, I agree with you that it takes lots of practice. thumbs_up.gif I can get my 1/2 butter buttercream "presentable" as well but not perfectly smooth like I can the shortening buttercream. It has something to do the the higher content of liquid found in butter than that is found in shortening. Like when you use all shortening to make buttercream you use more milk than when you use all butter (crusting).
I don't know the "scientifics" of these things but I've read that this is the reason why you don't get as good results with viva when your icing is made with butter.




I haven't used an all shortening buttercream since I was taking classes. I'll have to give it a whirl. I'm making a cake for a friend's retirement soon and it's big and will cost so much to cover in fondant. I'd love to do it in buttercream.

Elcee Posted 16 May 2010 , 12:41pm
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

Forgot to say that I do crumbcoat. It's essential. Guess I just assumed that everyone did that. I also have one of those high density rollers. It works great as well. I just forget that I have it most of the time until I'm finished with my viva icon_lol.gif




I agree with mamawrobin, I just started crumbcoating fairly recently and it makes a world of difference! I'm not sure I like the idea of a paint roller on my cakes, although I know a lot of people use that method.

Bannette Posted 17 May 2010 , 10:10pm
post #26 of 30

Thanks mamawrobin. I have been hearing about IndyDebi's Crisco Based BC recipe I finally decided to look it up and check it out. You are right no need for freezer or fridge so it will cut out a lot of wait time and headache! I will be adding this to my options. I am sure some people will still prefer IMBC and some will want this.

mamawrobin Posted 18 May 2010 , 12:44am
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bannette

Thanks mamawrobin. I have been hearing about IndyDebi's Crisco Based BC recipe I finally decided to look it up and check it out. You are right no need for freezer or fridge so it will cut out a lot of wait time and headache! I will be adding this to my options. I am sure some people will still prefer IMBC and some will want this.




You're welcome Elcee. I just want to tell you that I make a couple of changes to her receipe. Not necessary, but I think it makes it creamier.
I beat my shortening for 15 minutes before adding any other ingredients. I also heat my milk (I use half and half) before adding. I just like the results I get by doing this
. Of course I sift my powdered sugar, I always sift any dry ingredient. I recommend adding only 1/2 cup of the liquid at first then add just a little at a time after that until you "get it right" I think you'll like her icing. It's really good and sooo easy to smooth. thumbs_up.gif

Cakelayer Posted 18 May 2010 , 1:29am
post #28 of 30

I saw a tv show about bakeries and one person used a fabric kitchen towel to smooth the buttercream. They don't use fondant on their cakes but it really looks like they do. I haven't tried it yet but I'm sure it's very much like the Viva method.

DianaJJ

denetteb Posted 18 May 2010 , 12:26pm
post #29 of 30

A kitchen towel would work but it would leave the imprint of the fabric weave. I can't think of a fabric that wouldn't leave the weave imprint, unless they used some kind of polyester knit. The advantage of the viva is that you don't have to wash to re-use it. For people that can't get the viva without ripples you can use parchment, wax paper or typing paper.

ConnieJ Posted 19 May 2010 , 2:36am
post #30 of 30

Thanks for all the great feedback, guys! I do crumb coat, but I don't usually let it set back in the fridge before going over it again. I'll definitely try that and be more patient with it, as well as the give the roller method a go!

I know a lot of people use the all shortening or partial shortening buttercreams, but it is just a personal preference to use all butter. I wouldn't say the buttercreams with shortening taste nasty, but I hate the sort of oily aftertaste with those shortenings. Plus, I like the taste of all butter much better.

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