A Level Iced Top

Decorating By AnnieCahill Updated 11 Jul 2011 , 1:30pm by snocilla

AnnieCahill Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 10:52pm
post #1 of 25

So I've been doing cakes now for about 13 years...and I am still running into this problem which makes me want to slam my head into the counter/refrigerator/window/any available hard surface. I can get smooth sides on my cake-no problem. But a LEVEL iced top? No way. The actual cake is level, but I am seriously having difficulties when it comes to getting the top level and smooth.

Usually I crumb coat, then put a giant blob on the top and work it onto the sides, go around it with a scraper a thousand times, then take the "collar" of icing around the edges over the top.

Am I missing something? Luckily I put a bunch of crap on top and on the ledges of my cakes (when they are stacked), borders, etc. to hide the unevenness, but I have a cake coming up where the top edges should really look smooth and crisp (with no borders-eek!). I read about the upside down method which I was thinking about trying, but it seems so cumbersome and time-consuming.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Annie

24 replies
ramie7224 Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 11:11pm
post #2 of 25

You could try icing the cake upside down. Here's a link to a tutorial on how to do that.

http://cakecentral.com/articles/69/upside-down-icing-technique-for-perfectly-smooth-icing

AnnieCahill Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 11:53pm
post #3 of 25

Yeah I had looked at that method, but it seems like it's very time consuming and from what I've read it only works about half the time.

I was just wondering what the tricks were for those who get those perfectly level even iced tops.

Thanks!

sugarxosugar143 Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 11:59pm
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Yeah I had looked at that method, but it seems like it's very time consuming and from what I've read it only works about half the time.

I was just wondering what the tricks were for those who get those perfectly level even iced tops.

Thanks!




as long as you use a crusted buttercream it should work fine. That method has always wrked for me with the buttercream recipe she puts in the comments icon_smile.gif its time consuming but def worth it for me, hope that helps icon_smile.gif

pinkpiggie78 Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:04am
post #5 of 25

I use Linda McClure's method and cut off my icing with the agbay... works like a charm.

southerncross Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:09am
post #6 of 25

I've used the upside down method but I'm too chicken to try it on anything larger than an 8". Once I did a bit of practising with it, I've found it less time consuming than repeatedly fiddling with trying to get the top even and the edges sharp the usual way...and the upside down method never fails. It's the larger sizes that stump me.

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:29am
post #7 of 25

Yeah, I know what you mean about not doing it on large cakes. The problem is, the biggest tier is 14 inches so I will definitely need to be able to flip it.

Pink Piggie, do you have any info about the Linda McClure method? I don't have an Agbay but I'm sure that would make my life easier in more ways than one!

Thanks again!

Annie

pinkpiggie78 Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:38am
post #8 of 25

You pretty much set the agbay to the low point on your cake and then slowly work it through, scraping off the extra icing as you go. You do this about halfway and then start on the other side. Then you just smooth the cake with a small amount of buttercream and your preferred smoothing method.

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:43am
post #9 of 25

Oh ok. That sounds like it would be good if I had an Agbay-you are so lucky to have one! I was just checking out Sharon Z's video about buttercream and it looks like she may have some good tips in there. I have been wanting that video for a while now so I may go ahead and pick it up.

I may give the upside down method a try and see if I can get it to work.

Thanks!

Annie

Unlimited Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:50am
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Usually I crumb coat, then put a giant blob on the top and work it onto the sides, go around it with a scraper a thousand times, then take the "collar" of icing around the edges over the top.




Try icing the top first and leave it alone. It's easy to get the top iced smoothly and level with just a spin or two of the turntable. Rather than messing up the top by bringing the side collar icing over the top, do it the other way and knock the extra surface icing down to the sides by holding your spatula at a 45 degree angle along the top edge. Once you finish scraping the extra icing from the sides, it fills in the space that was knocked off from the top to match up perfectly.

If the top and sides aren't coming together to your liking, you may need to repeat the process by starting with the top surface again and knocking off more/less until you get the result you like. It doesn't take much practice to get in the habit of icing this way especially once you learn how much pressure to use on the edge and how far to go with the angle while trying to knock the extra to the sides. HTH.

cakestyles Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:51am
post #12 of 25
Quote:




I was just looking for that! lol It's a good little tool.

ConfectionsCC Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:54am
post #13 of 25

Checking out Sharron's DVD is a MUST!! She has the neatest little trick I NEVER would have thought of, and never heard any one suggest! My cakes come out with perfectly level and smooth tops (and sides!) icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:55am
post #14 of 25

I've also starting using the Agbay for getting a level top. I build up a good bit of icing on the top and then "slice" it off. Easy and quick.

Just another reason to buy the Agbay!

sweetsirten Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:56am
post #15 of 25

I tried the upside down method for the first time last week - the pic is in my photos, it's the chocolate 4th of July cake. I was THRILLED with the results and will probably use this method from here on out. For everything. It really didn't take me much longer with this method because I usually crumb coat then chill then frost then chill again - same steps exactly except for the time to flip it and wait to peal back the wax paper - and the perfect results are SO worth it. With larger size cakes, I think it wouldn't be too hard to flip it as long as you had something large enough and sturdy on the top and bottom. =)

Eva2 Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 1:04am
post #16 of 25

Thanks for this info, I'm having the same trouble.

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 1:09am
post #17 of 25

Thanks a lot for all of your suggestions. I am now racking up more reasons to buy an Agbay!! Woot!

I just bought the Sharon Z video. Hopefully I can learn something before this damn cake on the 30th.

http://blog.pinkcakebox.com/4-tier-wedding-cake-5-2007-07-21.htm

This is similar to what I think she is looking for. She sent me 23 pictures and all of them had a couple of things in common-no flowers, Swiss dots, and ribbon around each tier. I really like PCB's designs and I was lucky enough to find one buttercream cake in the mix of wedding designs to show her. I don't know if she's going with the dots yet. But I really like the edges on that cake!

Thanks again ya'll!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 2:43am
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Yeah I had looked at that method, but it seems like it's very time consuming and from what I've read it only works about half the time.

I was just wondering what the tricks were for those who get those perfectly level even iced tops.

Thanks!


To the contrary.....it's faster than the traditional method because you don't spend so much time trying to get the top smooth, and I don't know about only working half the time....I came up with the method and have used it for years and it hasn't failed yet! Give it a try!!!!!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 2:45am
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by southerncross

I've used the upside down method but I'm too chicken to try it on anything larger than an 8". Once I did a bit of practising with it, I've found it less time consuming than repeatedly fiddling with trying to get the top even and the edges sharp the usual way...and the upside down method never fails. It's the larger sizes that stump me.


Why are you afraid of larger tiers....unless you just aren't strong enough to handle it, it really works just as easily....I ice 16 inch tiers this way all the time with no problems.

bonniekaye Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 4:17am
post #20 of 25

I use the method I learnd from Linda McClure and use my Agbay leveler. I can level the icing on the top of any cake in a matter of a few minutes. I cover my cakes with fondant, so extra smoothing is not necessary.

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 10:42am
post #21 of 25

Jeff!

Thanks for chiming in! I thought I had seen your cakes a while back and you had mentioned something about that method. I didn't know you developed it!

I was planning on using a recipe with half butter/half shortening. Do you think that would work?

I am a pretty strong girl so I think I can handle larger tiers. I think as long as you have a cookie sheet or something to help you with the flipping then the upside down method can work for larger tiers.

When I mentioned about it working half the time, it was because I had done a Google search and found some older threads where it worked great for some people but not so great for others. I think it had a lot to do with whether or not they were using waxed paper or parchment, and how long they were letting the cake chill.

Jeff, do you have a buttercream recipe you can share? I trust a recipe from the creator dude, but if you can't share I understand.

Thanks so much everyone for keeping this thread going with your awesome ideas!

Annie

sugarxosugar143 Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:37pm
post #22 of 25
Quote:




what is this and how do you use it? lol sorry im kind of a newbie icon_smile.gif lol

Jeff_Arnett Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 12:48pm
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Jeff!
Annie




1. I was planning on using a recipe with half butter/half shortening. Do you think that would work?

******Sure will.even all shortening will work, but you usually have to chill longer.

2. I am a pretty strong girl so I think I can handle larger tiers. I think as long as you have a cookie sheet or something to help you with the flipping then the upside down method can work for larger tiers.

*****Heres how I do it.I have a set of masonite boards with different size circles and squares drawn on them. I cover the board with PLASTIC COATED FREEZER PAPER [works much better than parchment or waxed]. If the cake is a single tier, then I have its board ready to flip it on.I just center and flip it. If its for a stacked cake, I have a foamcore board the same size readplace it on top (really the bottom), then add a small piece of non-slip mat and then a larger board to flip onto and flip over the whole thingvery easily done!

3. I think it had a lot to do with whether or not they were using waxed paper or parchment, and how long they were letting the cake chill.

*****I abandoned waxed and parchment in favor of PLASTIC COATED FREEZER PAPER.it works so much better and releases much cleaner. I just cover my masonite boards with it, then when ready to release, I cut a slit in a corner then run a knife around to cut the paper loose from the board!

4. Jeff, do you have a buttercream recipe you can share?

*****Mine is 2 cups butter, 1 cup trans-fat shortening, 1/3 cup hot whipping cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 2 pounds powdered sugar.

ONE THING TO TRY..some people had issues with bubble on the top. To prevent this, first coat the freezer paper with just a smear of icing, then apply a heavier coat over that and proceed!

Give it a try and let me know how it works!

AnnieCahill Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 1:06pm
post #24 of 25

Jeff,

Thanks so much for your help and for sharing that recipe. I am definitely going to try this method. Hopefully I can get plenty of practice in before this cake on the 30th!

Thanks again!

Annie

snocilla Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 1:30pm
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkpiggie78

I use Linda McClure's method and cut off my icing with the agbay... works like a charm.




Another reason to add to my list of reasons for wanting a Agbay icon_smile.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%