Corinne77 Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 1:43am
post #1 of

Anyone have tips for smoothing buttercream? I know the water trick and the papertowel trick, but I really am just not good at it. Any advice would be awesome!! I love buttercream cakes that look like they are fondant.

 

TIA!!

32 replies
Norasmom Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 2:11am
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Do you have a bench scraper and a fondant smoother?  I love my bench scraper, it smooths like a charm.   Then, and I know you've tried the Viva method, I would use the fondant smoother over the viva towels gently pressing as I turn the cake on the cake turntable.  Also, do you make round or square cakes?  Square cakes are much harder to smooth than round cakes.

denetteb Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 3:52am
post #3 of

I tried and tried and never could do a good job until I switched to a bench scraper.  For some reason that made a huge difference to me.  And for the top edge, I was going around when I should have been going from the outside in.  Check out the youtube videos by tonedna1 and seriouscakes.  They both have a bunch of really great videos but their smoothing (and stacking) are soooo helpful.  Also check out the technique called melvira. 

meriem Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 12:39pm
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As mentioned above, a scraper is essential. I can't do without it, i dollop a whole load of buttercream on the edges then a scraper does all the work, keep on going till its all smooth. Try watching videos on youtube, inspiredbymichelle has a great ganache tutorial, and the same technique can be use for buttercream. Good luck and just keep practicing that's the key :)

cazza1 Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 12:54pm
post #5 of

Craftsy.com has a free video on Buttercream and how to get it smooth.

denetteb Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 12:56pm
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meriem reminded me of another big trick.  What you do is start with a LOT of icing on the cake.  Either with the big icing tip or with a spatula.  Just put a lot on, enough so that you aren't pulling at the cake or crumb coat.  Then as you turn the turntable you use your scraper and remove the icing as you turn the cake, a little at a time, round and round, scraping off your scraper often.  You really don't smooth it on so much as you smooth it off.

AnnieCahill Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 1:36pm
post #7 of

Denette is right-smoothing is more about taking off than adding icing.  Put on twice as much as you think you need.  Also, you need to make sure your buttercream is the right consistency.  Mine is like stiff whipped cream.  You should have no resistance whatsoever when you go to smooth it.  If you have to press it hard and smush it to get it to spread then it's way too thick.  Put on twice as much as you think you need and smooth it the best you can with an offset or a straight spatula.  Then get a bench scraper and go to town.  I only have to go around a few times to get it smooth.  I start at the back and dig the scraper in a bit (I'm right handed so I hold the scraper with my right hand).  Left hand is right next to my right hand at the back of the cake holding the turntable.  I keep my right hand in the same spot, but the left hand moves the turntable until I've made one swipe around the whole cake.  I hope that makes sense.  You should only have to do that three, maybe four times to get it smooth.  I don't use paper towels or anything like that-just my scraper.  Really, your turntable is doing the work.

meriem Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 1:46pm
post #8 of

AYup putting on and taking off is definitely the key here, it's better to have more then less. Also I use my cake board as a guide it helps in getting it all straight. So get a board the same size as your cake and make sure hat you have a decent gap between the actual cake and the edge of the board for the icing. This shouldn't be a problem as cakes tend to shrink slightly when cool, otherwise you can carve the cake just a little bit to accommodate

cupadeecakes Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 4:17pm
post #9 of

I work with an all butter icing and I find that helps in getting a perfectly smooth finish, especially when you work with it cold.

 

http://youtu.be/-ICDz6kYgiw

 

http://youtu.be/WH2sfcXT79A

Corinne77 Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 7:26pm

I love Cake Central and all it's members! Thank you all so much! I do have a bench scraper, but it's kind of small, so I got a larger one today. I will load on the frosting to begin and just smooth it off. All the tips were very helpful. I'll check out the videos, too.

 

Thanks again everyone!!!

AnnieCahill Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 8:26pm

Check back and let us know how it goes.  I can take some pictures the next time I ice a cake if you need me to.

V_Dizzle Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 8:35pm

Wow, this is what I've been doing wrong. I just used an offset spatula and then tried the VIVA towel, no wonder it wasn't smooth. Guess I need to go buy a scraper...oh and a turn table would be great too! haha

AnnieCahill Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 8:42pm

I used a Viva once.  It was a brand new roll and it left lint all over my cake.  A bench scraper and a good turntable is all you need.  If you're really obsessive over spatula lift marks, then you can smooth those with parchment or waxed paper.  I usually just make the "lift" side the back of the cake.  You can't even tell.

ellavanilla Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 9:18pm

be patient, and remember that no cake is perfect. you only see the mistakes on your own. 

Paperfishies Posted 20 Mar 2013 , 11:08pm

The only way I can get buttercream smooth is if I use the heat method.  Basically I heat my bench scrapper or my spatula, it melts the buttercream a tiny bit and it smooths...anything that doesn't smooth, I let the buttercream crust and I go back with a viva paper towel and a fondant smoother.

 

i think it takes a LOT of practice.

hgunn23 Posted 17 Apr 2013 , 7:55pm

Corinnie77, How did it work for you? Did you have success? I am excited to try some of these suggestions tomorrow! icon_biggrin.gif

kazita Posted 17 Apr 2013 , 8:40pm

AI see this post is a few weeks old but thought I would put a utube video that shows how to smooth buttercream .

m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=6Vgcx5GZTnM&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D6Vgcx5GZTnM

Crimsicle Posted 17 Apr 2013 , 8:56pm

I've been decorating cakes for decades, and I JUST NOW figured out that my buttercream is probably too stiff.  No matter what I did, it wouldn't smooth out.  My next cake will be done tomorrow, and I'm going for a much thinner icing this time.  Bet it'll work out better.  I'll report back. 

kazita Posted 17 Apr 2013 , 9:05pm

A

Original message sent by Crimsicle

I've been decorating cakes for decades, and I JUST NOW figured out that my buttercream is probably too stiff.  No matter what I did, it wouldn't smooth out.  My next cake will be done tomorrow, and I'm going for a much thinner icing this time.  Bet it'll work out better.  I'll report back. 

I'll be looking for your post to see how it turned out for you. I never use to crumb coat and just by accident last year I was in a rush to go somewhere so I put a thin layer of icing on and put my cake in the frig for a few hours until I had time to finish decorating it, when I took it out and put a second coat on it to cover it better it went on SOOO much easier! Now I know a lot of people don't even crumb coat but I just do what works best for me. And to the OP it does take time and practice.

Corinne77 Posted 18 Apr 2013 , 8:47pm

Loading on the frosting on and taking it off with a bench scraper definitely helped me out. I still have a ways to go to get it perfect, but I'm already so much better. I used SMBC last week and that was really easy, but it was hot in my house and the buttercream was very soft. Not sure if that helped or hurt me...  I have two cakes this weekend and will practice some more. One sheet cake and one small round cake.

 

Thanks again everyone!

kazita Posted 18 Apr 2013 , 9:15pm

A

Original message sent by Corinne77

Loading on the frosting on and taking it off with a bench scraper definitely helped me out. I still have a ways to go to get it perfect, but I'm already so much better. I used SMBC last week and that was really easy, but it was hot in my house and the buttercream was very soft. Not sure if that helped or hurt me...  I have two cakes this weekend and will practice some more. One sheet cake and one small round cake.

Thanks again everyone!

Hi there, I see that you have a sheet cake to do, I've read that those are harder to do than a round cake just because it's hard to do sharp corners. So you'll need to practice on square cakes too. Practice makes perfect.

Crimsicle Posted 19 Apr 2013 , 6:52pm

OK...I said I'd report back in after I thinned my icing. 

 

It helped a LOT!  My standard answer to the "How can I get my icing smoother?" question will now be..."Thin your icing!"  I am still having problems, but it will get better now, I'm sure.  The concept of putting too much on...and scraping off the excess...is easier said than done.  It requires a steady hand and even pressure.  I had sections where it was thinner than others, which seemed fine at first, but when I started sharpening the edges and corners, where there was an excess of icing I had issues.  I also need to work on getting it smoother while it's still soft.  Once it crusted, I had marks that I just couldn't smooth out.  BUT, having said all that - it was so, so much better with thinner icing.   Previously, my texture was like stiffly beaten egg whites.  Now, it's more like soft peaks. 

 

 

Sorry...I don't understand why this photo is sideways.  It is NOT sideways in my graphics software.  Frustrating!

remnant3333 Posted 20 Apr 2013 , 12:44am

Hey, I think you did an excellent job!!! It can only get better each time you smooth out your cakes!!! YEAH!!!! You did pretty good!!!
 

denetteb Posted 20 Apr 2013 , 12:48am

You might want to invest in the icer tip and a big bag.  That way you apply the icing in an even coat so when you go to remove it, it is easier for it to be even when you are done.

denetteb Posted 20 Apr 2013 , 12:56am

Glad you are making progress.

Baking Queen Posted 20 Apr 2013 , 1:53am

A

Original message sent by denetteb

Glad you are making progress.

the best tip I have found to smoothing cakes is to have a spray bottle handy!! Take an offset spatula (or better yet a bench scraper!!) and roughly apply the buttercream(don't need to worry about smoothing it out yet just apply it nicely) then LIGHTLY spray the icing with the water from the spray bottle and use the bench scraper to smooth out the icing and get the excess water off. Sometimes this may be tricky depending on your BC recipe so not to much water is more! Hope this helped!!

Cakem0m Posted 26 Apr 2013 , 3:12pm

I use a 12" scraper. Using a turn table, I start with the scraper in my right hand and I position it on the side of cake. Then I cross my other hand under and around to the opposite side of the cake. Using one sweeping motion, I turn the cake and keep light pressure on the scraper. I go around the cake in one swipe. It will smooth about 90% of the edge in one sweep, leaving only one smoother line.

tasterschoice1 Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 1:46am

Thank you:) I looking for a way to smooth my buttercream better:) I always apply frosting thinly at first:( I was trying to build on it and keep the frosting level. Constantly in an out of the fridge. I have tried the bench scraper, thicker frosting(still smoothable:) paper towels, and boiling water.. I got smoothness but not perfection. I want it to look like fondant.

Going forward I am going to apply my frosting thicker and try your method. Remove frosting don't add it:) Wish me luck!!!! Thanks for the tip:)

iseesmith Posted 4 Oct 2013 , 5:25am

I use a paint shield from the hardware store.  It is flexible metal and has a curve to it that collects the excess icing as you turn the cake.  You just have to be sure you get one that curves toward you when you hold the handle......they have them with the handles on opposite sides.....probably for rightys and leftys.  When you hold the handle to put the straight edge against the cake you want it to curve toward you.  They cost about $2 or less and I have used the same one for years but have spare ones in case it get's bent or otherwise damaged.  I used to use a bench scraper, but these paint shields are lighter and easier for me to control.

tasterschoice1 Posted 4 Oct 2013 , 12:13pm

Thank you I will visit the hardware store:)

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