Really Frustrated....why Can't I Figure This Out?

Decorating By cakeflake80 Updated 14 Mar 2011 , 3:53pm by Narie

cakeflake80 Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 6:47pm
post #1 of 24

Hi everyone! I am hoping for help in figuring out where I am going wrong in my buttercream process. This doesn't happen to all of my cakes, but I would say a good 75%. For some reason, once they are iced and completely smoothed, they have almost what seems like a mountain like shape to them. Not as severe...but I guess kind of just thicker around the bottom edge like there is too much icing on the bottom.

I have tried different methods....crumb coat, no crumb coat, applying icing with a spatula, applying with a piping bag and then smoothing with spatula. I also use the melvira method to finish it off so that it looks seamless. I just can't seem to figure out how to get completely straight edges!

My normal process is to apply a crumb coat with a spatula and smooth it out. I let that crust and then apply the final coat of icing with a piping bag. I smooth that out with a spatula, let it crust, and then smooth with the foam roller.

It's during the foam roller process that I seem to notice too much icing bulging towards the bottom, which ultimately results in the bottom of the cake being a certain width, and slightly getting smaller in diameter towards the top. It was really bad on Friday night...I was doing a fondant ball border and there was so much icing on the bottom that when I applied the ball, icing was seeping over the top of it! HELP!!!

23 replies
Bakingangel Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 7:00pm
post #2 of 24

Couple of things come to mind.

1. BC is too soft. Needs to be stiffer.
2. Possibly putting too much BC on the cake.
3. Pressure on the roller is uneven. I've never used the roller method. Just the hot spatula and Viva towel method. (Sharon Zambito's bc and method).

I think 1 and 2 are the problem. Hope you get it worked out. I know how frustrating it is. Don't give up!

CWR41 Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 7:01pm
post #3 of 24

To avoid the pyramidal shape, try removing the extra icing with a bench scraper that is held directly against the cake's side and keep the scraper's side edge flat on your turntable.

cakesnglass Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 7:18pm
post #4 of 24

I am no expert but will give you some suggestions. You may want to apply the icing with the spatula but when you go to smooth it out try a bench scraper (Metal one)this way you are smoothing towards yourself and able to see the scaper completely vertical (up n down on the sides)this is very hard to do with a spatula because you usually smooth the icing with your arm/hand over your cake and the spatula is at an angle. If you are right handed and smoothing sides of the cake on the right side you have complete control as you make sure the scraper is vertical.(Opposite side if lefty)Most important -make sure you trim any excess on the cake once it has settled before you crumb coat some cake pans have an angle. good luck!

cakeflake80 Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 7:31pm
post #5 of 24

Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions! I thought maybe I was putting too much on, but sometimes I have to go back and touch up the top sides of the cake because you can see the cake right through the icing...leading me to believe that there isn't enough on the top part of the sides. does make sense that maybe my BC is too soft, and I'm probably smooshing it to the bottom during my smoothing. That would also explain why it only happens 75% of the time, and not always.

And I am definitely going to try the bench scraper instead of the spatula...I never thought about it that way but it makes total sense. And if some pans have a slight angle, I am sure mine do since I only have the cheap Wilton pans. It's the one thing that I haven't upgraded on....probably time to look for some more durable, higher end pans! Thanks again everyone!

dldbrou Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 8:02pm
post #6 of 24

My first suggestion is to get Magic Line pans. The edges are very straight and if you don't start off with straight edges on your cake then the icing will not be straight.

I do not crumb coat, I coat with a sealer and let it harden, then ice cake with stiff icing. I use the metal scraper that you use to pick up veggies. It is wide and has a rolled handle to hold on to.

I get a large bowl of water, heat the water on an electric heating plate and smooth edges. If you use a turn table, make sure it is level and does not wobble when you turn it.

Good Luck

cakesnglass Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 9:45pm
post #7 of 24

Cutting back on the liquid you are using and adding a little more shortening will give you better consistency, if you can see threw 2 layers of icing this change may help. Medium stiffness can still be creamy but holds it's shape. icon_smile.gif

VaBelle Posted 13 Mar 2011 , 10:20pm
post #8 of 24

I had the same problem until I got a bench scraper. Target has a metal version for pretty cheap. They don't call it a bench scraper, but it works great as one and its metal. I also had the problem with too much icing in the center on top and the scraper has helped tremendously. Good luck!

Bluebelles Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 12:46am
post #9 of 24

dldbrou, what kind of sealer do you use? Never heard of a cake sealer?

dldbrou Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 1:37am
post #10 of 24

This is the recipe for the cake sealer that I was given by my instructor 30 years ago and I have used it ever since.

1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon flavoring
about 1/4 cup water

Mix ingredients to a spreading consistency. It should have the thickness of Karo syrup as it is on the shelf. Brush on the sides and top of cake with a pastry brush. Let dry completely.

Sealers are used to prevent your cake from drying up and helps retain moistness inside. It also aids in having the cake crumb free. Allow from 2 to 5 hours (depending on Humidity) for it to dry. A sealed cake stays fresh up to five days.

The one thing everyone tells me is how moist my cakes are and I know that it is because of this sealer. When I make a cake for my house I do not use a sealer and it is not as moist as the sealed ones.

bcarb Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 2:12am
post #11 of 24

Didbrou, what do you mean by "I get a large bowl of water, heat the water on an electric heating plate and smooth edges." Do you dip the spatula in the very hot water and then smooth the icing?

dldbrou Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 2:19am
post #12 of 24

Yes, I dip it in and dry it off quickly then smooth. The heat from the spatula melts the icing and it comes out smooth. I thought that is how most people did it. Like I said earlier, this is how I was taught 30 years ago and it has always worked for me.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 2:38am
post #13 of 24

Agree, use a scraper or a 6" (brand new) putty knife or something.

Its very common to accidentally hold your hand at the wrong angle and end up with your cakes being angled. It does take practice! I still have to crouch down a bit and look at how I'm holding my scraper at eye level and make sure its perfectly straight up and down before I go around my cake.

Also, another thing that helps a lot is ice your cake on the board that matches the size...for an 8" cake on an 8" board. Use the edge of the board as your guide for how much icing is on there. When your scraper hits the board you know you can just press along that....the scraper should be 6" tall so it will swipe the entire side of the cake at, you just have to make sure you are holding the scraper at a perfect 90 degree angle...and there you go...carefully go around the cake and you will have nice straight sides.

genevieveyum Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 3:01am
post #14 of 24

I have found that using meringue buttercreams makes this really easy because it gets solid when it's chilled. You can scrape down any unevenness and even put a level on top and fill in problems. You can continue to build and chill until it's perfect! Even melvira's becoem a fan of mbc!

Bluebelles Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 3:06am
post #15 of 24

dldbrou, thank you for such a quick response, I really appreciate the post.

EvMarie Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 3:30am
post #16 of 24

THANK YOU!!! Everyone for this topic. I think the bench scraper will work better for me as well. AND, Kitagrl.....I LOVE YOU!!! Thanks so much for the suggestion about the same size cake circle. I got so sick of trying & and really I gave up. Maybe I'll give it a whirl a couple more times using these suggestions.

I had been using an offset spatula, hot water/wipe method & finish off with viva. Worked okay...just not perfect. This should do it!

Thanks everyone & I hope OP has better luck!

cakeflake80 Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 3:32am
post #17 of 24

Thank you all for such helpful advice! I have three cakes to do this weekend, so I am definitely going to put it all to good use. Wish me luck! First, I need to find me a bench scraper!

CWR41 Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 4:39am
post #18 of 24
Originally Posted by cakeflake80

First, I need to find me a bench scraper!

shelbycompany Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 5:06am
post #19 of 24

I second the bench scraper icon_biggrin.gif I use it on every cake.

platinumlady Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 5:18am
post #20 of 24

would the wilton lifter (extras that I don't use) .... could I use this the same way as the bench scraper...the design is similar but not sure...never seen the bench scraper except for the pic on web

CWR41 Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 7:02am
post #21 of 24
Originally Posted by platinumlady

would the wilton lifter (extras that I don't use) .... could I use this the same way as the bench scraper...the design is similar but not sure...never seen the bench scraper except for the pic on web

That depends on if you're comfortable holding a bench scraper that's 4" x 6", or a lifter that's 8" x 8".

dldbrou Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 10:55am
post #22 of 24

Bluebelles, you are very welcome. That is what cc is all about, you get to try out ideas that work for other people and maybe you can improve on it or adapt it to your needs.

bcarb Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 12:56pm
post #23 of 24

Thanks for the pic of the bench scraper, as I had no idea what people were talking about. I've seen them at Michaels. My question is how does the bench scraper compare to a large putty knife. It would seem that the putty knife would be easier to use with the way the handle is made. I wonder which make you more likely to put uneven pressure and cause uneven application of frosting of the cake, though.

EvMarie, I agree that the people on this site are the BEST!!

Narie Posted 14 Mar 2011 , 3:53pm
post #24 of 24

With a spatula or putty knife you can in advertantly angle the blade and wind up with angle on the sides of your cake. But if the side edge of the bench scraper is firmly placed on the turntable the blade will be absolutely vertical. Then just rotate the turntable.

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