Help With Square Buttercream Cakes And Stacking Tiers . . .

Decorating By fruitsnack Updated 12 Oct 2010 , 5:56pm by KSuhre

fruitsnack Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 2:38pm
post #1 of 13

*sigh*

I did a two tier (9"/6") square cake for a bridal shower last weekend. I used indydebi's buttercream. It was my first square cake. It went . . . okay, I guess. I was lucky that the design I was doing allowed me to pipe a border around all of the corners, because . . . man, it was looking rough. I could *not* get the corners right. First there was a bulge at the top, then at the sides, then the icing was uneven, then I got the corners somewhat smooth, but left marks on the sides from where I smoothed the corners . . . ugh. I worked for probably 30 minutes trying to smooth one tier. I know it wasn't the frosting - it was my technique. I tried the roller, I tried wax paper, I tried the hot knife, I tried just about everything and it wasn't looking the way I wanted it to. Like I said, luckily I was able to hide most of it with the borders.

And then . . . I had to stack it. Double ugh. When I tried to stack the 6" on the 9", I ended up smooshing the top of the bottom tier, almost like the top tier skidded into place. So all that time spent trying to smooth the bottom tier . . . .and I had to do it all over again. *in tears*. It was just rough. I watched a couple youtube videos on how to stack and tried to follow that, but I must have put the front of the second tier down too hard or something.

After I stacked it and finished the design, it sat overnight and travelled 45 minutes without any issues, so I know the support was there. Again, it was my technique.

Unfortunately, the design I'm doing for this same girl's wedding cake is - just guess - a three tiered square buttercream cake. She wanted the "simple" design with no decoration on the tiers except for a ribbon at the bottom - even though I know it makes it ten times harder because there's no distraction from any issues.

So . . . if you've read this long-winded post . . . how do I figure out between now and then (October 30th) how to make square buttercream tiers with actual straight corners? I don't do that many cakes - between now and then, I will only have two family birthday cakes to do, and one of them will be carved. I don't have tons of money to make a bunch of practice cakes. What can I do differently? What about stacking? How do you stack?

Thank you so much for any help. I'm feeling a bit frazzled.

12 replies
Erin3085 Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 2:47pm
post #2 of 13

Yikes, how stressful! Can you get ahold of a square cake dummy and practice with that? Or maybe just take a day, bake a few small square cakes and practice icing and then scraping and re-icing them? It just takes a lot of practice to get your technique down. I did the same thing...watched youtube videos and just baked away! I mostly do round and it still takes me a long time to get it perfect. I'm a perfectionist too. lol. icon_smile.gif

erincc Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 2:52pm
post #3 of 13

If you can get it, Sharon Zambito makes a wonderful DVD "Perfecting the Art of Buttercream" that really helped my square cakes. I'm sure you could use the techniques with Indydebi's BC. She also has a DVD on stacking, although I haven't seen that one yet, I'm sure it is great.

If you can't get the DVD's the best thing I can tell you is to get a bench scraper, then after you apply your icing roughly, you take the scraper and start at the corner, pulling back with the scraper to remove excess icing.

It is so difficult and stressful doing square cakes with no borders!!! Practice really does make perfect.

sugalips Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 2:59pm
post #4 of 13

I feel your pain. I just did a western wedding cake for my neice with both square and round. It was cream cheese buttercream and try as I may, I could not get it smooth. I put it on, took it off, plastered, tucked, patched and pleaded and it still was messy. icon_cry.gif

Maria_Campos Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 3:14pm
post #5 of 13

Ditto! Highly recommend Sharon Zambito's DVD... all of them!
But especially this one mentioned for buttercream cakes! Good luck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by erincc

If you can get it, Sharon Zambito makes a wonderful DVD "Perfecting the Art of Buttercream" that really helped my square cakes. I'm sure you could use the techniques with Indydebi's BC. She also has a DVD on stacking, although I haven't seen that one yet, I'm sure it is great.

If you can't get the DVD's the best thing I can tell you is to get a bench scraper, then after you apply your icing roughly, you take the scraper and start at the corner, pulling back with the scraper to remove excess icing.

It is so difficult and stressful doing square cakes with no borders!!! Practice really does make perfect.


cakeythings1961 Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 3:15pm
post #6 of 13

Square corners are a whole new experience aren't they?! I, too, am just learning to make those suckers look decent. The Sharon Z. dvd really did help me get started--I seriously couldn't have made a decent corner without it!!! I've also found that trimming around the whole cake made for a smoother application. And a thick layer of BC on the sides also helped.

What's been working for me lately is to get the corners looking "pretty good"--straight sides and nice right angles--and then chill the cake for about 20 min. in the freezer. Then I clean them up a bit with a really hot knife (I dip it in boiling water!) Then I stop messing with them!!!

Remember that the corners will look much better when viewed from 5 feet away!! icon_lol.gif

CWR41 Posted 9 Sep 2010 , 4:40pm
post #7 of 13

Some people do a crumb coat first, chill in the refrigerator for a while and then the final coat is easier to build up for straight corners.

When stacking, if you were using the single-plate separator between the tiers, it's easy to set the top tier (on its own board) down on the plate and slide it across the plate to the correct position.

If you aren't using the SPS, you can use a cardboard cake circle in place of the SPS between the tiers so you'll be able to slide the cake (on its own board) into the correct position. Much easier than denting the cake below.

fruitsnack Posted 10 Sep 2010 , 1:16am
post #8 of 13

Do you think I could practice on the bottoms of pans? I have some leftover frosting, but no cakes (and live in the middle of nowhere, with nowhere to buy dummies). If I make cakes to practice on, I will end up eating them. Which I would love to do . . . but my jeans would not love that. icon_smile.gif

Franluvsfrosting Posted 10 Sep 2010 , 5:35am
post #9 of 13

If you look in the tutorials on this site there is one on frosting squares. I have a hexagon wedding cake this weekend and I suck at corners so believe me when I say I've looked for help! icon_biggrin.gif Between the tutorial and tonedna's youtube videos on frosting a cake and of course some practice, I think you can do it. If you have a square cake pan just frost that. Nice crisp corners to work with so all you have to worry about is your technique. Good luck!

http://www.designmeacake.com/tuts.html

http://cakecentral.com/articles/109/how-to-frost-a-square-cake

KSuhre Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 2:30am
post #10 of 13

I have a question. I have a square cake to do for this weekend as well. I did a practice today and used Indydebis BC. I am not sure what went wrong but it seemed too sticky and it wouldn't smooth at all. I used a bench scraper and the icing just kept sticking and parts of the cake were coming off. Before I knew it, I had tons of crumbs in my icing. HELP!! icon_smile.gif

Franluvsfrosting Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 2:42am
post #11 of 13

Did you do a crumb coat? Did you chill the cake? I haven't used indydebi's recipe but I have seen people talk about it and how you shouldn't refrigerate it when you're working with it. I think the condensation that forms on it makes it sticky. Try crumb coating the cake and allow it to crust over then give it a top coat. Once you have it as nice as you can get it let it crust over at room temp and then do the Viva paper towel trick to really smooth it out. Worked great on the hexagon cake I just did.

If you keep having trouble with the frosting, search the forums. I know there have been several threads regarding this frosting so you should be able to find some answers. Good luck!

indydebi Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 2:45am
post #12 of 13

HEre's a thread with pics of how I use a spatula to set the tiers in place: http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=6849089#6849089

Here's a thread with pics on how I "push" the icing around the corners:
http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=529543&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Quote:
Quote:

but it seemed too sticky and it wouldn't smooth at all. I used a bench scraper and the icing just kept sticking and parts of the cake were coming off.


I'm about to render opinions that seem in conflict with each other. icon_redface.gif

If the icing is too sticky, I'd say it's too thin and you need to add more sugar. however ..... I'd like you to better describe what you call "sticky" because the conflicting advice is the icing is too thick, so it needs more milk added ..... icing that is too thick won't stick to the side of the cake and will pull that cake away.

Unless .... the cake is too moist (i.e. "wet") and the icing just isn't sticking to the cake no matter what the consistency is!

Now that I've been way less than helpful icon_lol.gif , let us know if any of the above seems to describe what's happening more than the other.

I vote for "its too thick".

KSuhre Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 5:56pm
post #13 of 13

Thanks for the tips, you are right, I think it may be too thick for frosting the cake. I used 1/2 cup of milk I will probably have to add a little more to get it a little thinner for spreading.

As far as the cake goes, it did seem a little too moist. I used the WASC recipe and it was delicious but the cakes stuck to the boards and I could barely get them off. It was also hard to level b/c it was so moist.

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