Smoothing The Top And Icing Bulge Around The Top Of A Cake

Decorating By Joshua_Alan Updated 31 Aug 2010 , 2:19am by Joshua_Alan

Joshua_Alan Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 4:47pm
post #1 of 16

So, I keep getting this problem with buttercream (or in the case, cream cheese). I can get the sides fairly smooth, but when I go to do the top I always seem to wind up with the top edge sagging or bulging and I just don't know how to fix it. Am I using too much icing maybe?

Here's an example of a cake I did this weekend (that I absolutely hate) notice the bulge around the top of the bottom tier:

Here's my process if that will help:

1) Crumb coat - I keep my crumb coat super thin, and let set for 10 or so minutes before starting the final coat

2) Ice the bottom edge of the cake (a la Edna's video on youtube), I usually apply it rough to start about a 1/4 inch thick

3) Ice the top of the cake, generally applying it like a thick crumb coat, not trying to smooth it yet

3) Ice the top half of the side of the cake, trying to get it so the icing sticks up over the top edge of the cake.

4) Smooth the sides of the cake using a bench scraper, and at this point I'm thinking man this is starting to look nice.

5) Smooth the top with a bench scraper, and this is where it all goes to hell on me. I can never get the edges to look even or sharp

6) Viva paper towel smooth the cake, and a lot of times this is where I usually see the sagging/bulging around the top of the cake.

15 replies
shannycakers Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 4:50pm
post #2 of 16

I have this same problem?? someone help us ..please

sarkee Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 4:52pm
post #3 of 16

I personally smooth the top first then the sides with bench scraper. Then follow with the viva method, again top first. HTH

Loucinda Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 5:16pm
post #4 of 16

I ice differently than you do. After the crumb coat, I ice the top first, then the sides, making sure the icing on the side is taller than the icing on top of the cake (hope that makes sense) I then use the bench scraper on the sides, and then a spatula to take the excess off the top edges and across the top of the cake, going all the way around, pulling the spatula to the center of the cake until I have evened all the edges around the cake. Then smooth with the viva. Sugarshack's video would help you if you get it.

I have posted this cake in a couple of posts today already, but it fits for what is being talked about. You can see how well this works:!/photo.php?pid=31428537&fbid=1461623904118&id=1339078711

Joshua_Alan Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 5:19pm
post #5 of 16

That's a nice looking cake. I'm definitely ordering the DVD asap. Thanks!

newcakester Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 5:20pm
post #6 of 16

I can't tell you the method because I have not become perfectly proficient at it yet and I would not even know how to put it into words, but buy Sharon Zambito's DVD "Perfecting the Art of Buttercream". She walks you through it step by step and OMG have you seen the edges on her cakes? Perfect and sharp. The DVD is worth every penny.

She does the top, then the sides, them finishes the top. It is awesome.

mom2twogrlz Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 5:21pm
post #7 of 16

I too have that problem, but not quite as severe. I think maybe too much frosting on the top and pressing too hard during the Viva step is the culprit. I have started using a peice of wax paper instead of a papre towel and it seems to work better. It gives a smoother finnish and you can see through it, seeing if you are buldging or if you are missing any air pockets. I find I don't have to press as hard with the wax paper.

I can't wait to hear what the pros say....

Joshua_Alan Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 5:57pm
post #8 of 16

Hrm...just watched the preview to the Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD and, maybe I'm wrong here, but does she pipe a 'dam' around the top too before starting to ice the cake? It sure looks like she did...

mom2twogrlz Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 6:08pm
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by Joshua_Alan

Hrm...just watched the preview to the Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD and, maybe I'm wrong here, but does she pipe a 'dam' around the top too before starting to ice the cake? It sure looks like she did...

That would make sense. It would give you plenty to tkae off in the end for a perfect straight edge. That is another thing I found I wasn't doing right. When I have a huge amount of frosting on the top edge I seem to get a better edge. I just started using buttercream rather than fondant, so I am still learning.

By the way, I love your cake. Great design. So your edges were a little buldging, it was super smooth and the penguins are oh so cute.

Joshua_Alan Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 6:10pm
post #10 of 16

Thanks! I was actually pretty excited with how the bow and the penguins came out, but I guess I just can't stand looking at things I know I could have done better, ya know? icon_smile.gif

mom2twogrlz Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 6:21pm
post #11 of 16

Yes, I know. I think that is the caker's nemesis!! Our own eyes play tricks on us!!!

DSmo Posted 30 Aug 2010 , 11:38pm
post #12 of 16

I also use the Viva method. I smooth the sides first, then the top. And when I do the top, I only pull the smoother from the edges in toward the middle. It helps eliminate some of the bulging, but sometimes there is still a small amount. I think when you put any amount of pressure on top of that cake, it's nearly impossible not to push a little off the edge and get the bulge.

sugarshack Posted 31 Aug 2010 , 12:53am
post #13 of 16

Hi there!

tricks to no ledge on top:

*1) stiff icing
2) get the sides straight and smooth
3) pull the excess off the top sides creating a level top
*4) do not put a lot of pressure on the outer edges of the top when you do your viva smoothing up there.
5) practice

I did not pipe a dam on the top, I just use an open coupler as my "icer tip" to get the top iced, rather than using a spatula

HTH! icon_smile.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 31 Aug 2010 , 1:03am
post #14 of 16

It is totally worth it to buy Sugarshack's DVDs thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

tokazodo Posted 31 Aug 2010 , 1:14am
post #15 of 16

Yikes! I googled Sugarshack! We have one in Wisconsin, and I was almost in for an eye full! Yikes! icon_surprised.gif

Joshua_Alan Posted 31 Aug 2010 , 2:19am
post #16 of 16

Thanks Sharon! I'm definitely ordering the DVD next payday icon_smile.gif

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