Why, why, why can't I apply buttercream smoothly. It is so frustrating - I end up taking way too much off because I am trying to be a perfectionist. I just can't get the art of smooth buttercream, not matter how much I practice or how hard I try. Too much, too little - spatula marks, holes, always something!!!!!
Try the Melvira method. http://cakecentral.com/articles/126/quick-easy-smooth-icing-using-a-roller-melvira-method
You can get the roller at Walmart or Home Depot and it's not expensive at all. Here's my first attempt at the Melvira method:
First, stop trying to be a "perfectionist". There was only one perfect person ... that one guy ... they made a movie about him, .... oh yeah! JESUS CHRIST! And you know what? I ain't Him!
Ok, I promise to get serious now!
When you say you tend to take too much off, in your pursuit of perfectionism, what I envision is that while smoothing the icing, you find a blip in the icing, so to try to smooth it, you remove MORE icing. That is backwards. If you find a blip in the icing, ADD MORE ICING to that spot and resmooth. Took me awhile to understand that sometimes I have to 're-ice' the cake with more icing, so I can remove the proper amount to get a smooth surface.
Are you using a bench scraper to remove the excess icing? I used a spatula for years (decades!) and when I discovered the bench scraper, I was in hog heaven with a little BBQ sauce on the side! Wow, what a great tool that made icing-removal SO much easier!
And hands down try the Melvira method of using the paint roller! I discovered this a couple of years ago and absolutely refuse to make a cake without my handy dandy trusty roller in my hand! This is AWESOMENESS to the 199th degree!!!
And working TOO long on the cake and be detrimental to the end result. There are times that a person can spend too much time on it and end up doing more damage than good.
No one is "perfect". Stop trying. As Martha would say, "it's a GOOD thing!"
Is your buttercream smooth to begin with? If you start with icing that is airy, it's nearly impossible to smooth without a lot of extra work.
If your buttercream looks like it's full of air bubbles, you need to whip it more (just make sure your beater is completely covered or you'll whip more air into it).
After watching Sharon Zambito's buttercream dvd the next cake I made was amazingly smooth and I got tons of compliments on it. I made icing that came to the top of my beater and it was smooth and worked like a charm. Good luck!!!
is your butter cream too runny, try adding a little more icing to make it more spreadable. Alternatively if you want a smooth fondant like finish, i use a receipe called Hard Butter Icing, make your butter cream and add more icing sugar to the mixture, knead between your fingers and it should form a ball. flatten the ball between your fingers and place it on to your prepared cake. keep adding to the missing areas. When you have covered the whole cake, place your metal spatula in a jug of boiling water for 2 seconds, wipe with a clean cloth and smooth over the icing. the heat of the spatula will smooth the icing out. it will set firm and smooth. I have used this on several om my cakes. the 25th anniversary two tier cake, the pool table, fushia pink handbag, and aeroplane. Try it and let me know how you get on. good luck. aprilled
To smooth my cakes I have a thick square piece of plastic with round edges (Made from a flimsy plastic cuttingboard) Dollorama. lol
A hot knife for the sides/edges or top of cake also works very well! I have never even thought of a paint roller! Woot.. that'll be my next buy! hehe
I highly recommend sugarshack's "Perfecting the Art of Buttercream". It has helped me so much!!
Another thing that has helped me get 90 degree angles on the sides of my bc cakes is making the cake board a little bigger than the cake. You want the board as big as you want the icing to be thick on the sides. Use the board as your guide as you smooth around the cake with a hot bench scrapper. This ensures that you do not take off too much icing. You will have to apply a border if you use this method. This has also helped me out when stacking a tiered bc cake (no finger marks to fix).