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I stink at smoothing buttercream!!!!

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

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.



post #2 of 33

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.

post #3 of 33

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. 

post #4 of 33

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 :)

post #5 of 33 has a free video on Buttercream and how to get it smooth.

post #6 of 33

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.

post #7 of 33

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.

post #8 of 33
Yup 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
post #9 of 33

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.

post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 

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!!!

post #11 of 33

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.

post #12 of 33

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

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post #13 of 33

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.

post #14 of 33

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

post #15 of 33

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.

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