I Can't Get My Buttercream Smooth - Please Help!

Decorating By FairyPoppins Updated 21 Jan 2009 , 12:55am by JessDesserts

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FairyPoppins Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 4:19am
post #1 of 12

I usually decorate using fondant so I haven't practiced making my buttercream perfect. I shy away from buttercream cakes as I find it so difficult to get it smooth with crisp edges.

I have watched quite a few videos on You Tube and I'm planning on buying Sugarshack's DVD. I also invested in some extra smoothing tools/blades besides my offset spatulas..

I have the most trouble with square cakes and spent hours this evening trying to get it nice and smooth using the Viva towel method. I wasn't at all happy with the result.

I'm thinking of buying a square cake dummy and just practicing over and over with the same batch of buttercream. It's getting expensive making the practice cakes only to send them into work with my husband.

So, can anyone offer any advice? I know practice makes perfect but I need to get some tips and tricks from the talented CCers on this board!

Thanks in advance! icon_smile.gif

11 replies
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ginger6361 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 4:23am
post #2 of 12

I have gotten my buttercream to look like fondant just by using a smooting tool. It works wonders. Another way is with paper towl, but leaves a patteren. So easy to do. And corners and edges come out nice. Good luck...

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bakery_chick Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 4:32am
post #3 of 12

(This is for IMBC) I use a bench scraper, a small offset, and a large offset. The most important piece of my arsenal is hot, hot water. Once I get the cake to be covered fairly smooth with the lg offset and the bench scraper I chill it as much as possible. Then I get my tools hot and smooth the cake again using gentle pressure.

Be careful using the "same batch of buttercream" over and over again. Especially on a cake dummy. I have found that even the best quality cake dummy still can shed which makes you have little chunks in your bc. Also if my buttercream is not beaten frequently it gets "cranky".

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tc4cake Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 4:38am
post #4 of 12

I have found the VIVA Paper Towel trick to be the best. That towel doesn't leave a pattern. I use that, my hand and my fondant smoother. Let your bc crust over slightly and go to work. I've had really good luck with it as I hate working with fondant. icon_surprised.gif) One of my customers used a foam roller but I keep forgetting to buy one to use that trick myself.

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antonia74 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 4:48am
post #5 of 12

icon_smile.gif I just copied my reply from a thread last year:

Here's my 3 biggest tips that I use every time for getting buttercream really smooth. (I use Italian Meringue Buttercream, but the technique can be used on any type really):

1) use it when it's freshly made and room temp, that's when the consistency is perfect. After the last bit of butter & flavouring are added in the recipe, whisk it on top speed for 3 minutes then turn the mixer off and walk away for 30 minutes. Come back, switch the whisk for the paddle attachment and give it 2 more minutes on medium speed to get rid of the air bubbles and make it super smooth. It should be the consistency of soft whipped cream or soft-serve ice cream. If you have leftover cold buttercream that you want to re-use, let it come to room temperature naturally on your counter until it is soft...and whip it again to the same soft consistency. If you're using IMBC or SMBC and it's a bit cold when you start to mix it again, you'll notice that it seems to split and look curdled (like cottage cheese). DON'T PANIC and don't throw it out and don't add anything like icing sugar! The butter in the icing is just too cold and it needs a good mix to return to the right temperature. Just keep the mixer running and walk away for 5 minutes. When you return, it will be smooth and uniform once again, ready to use.

2) ice really cold firm cakes, semi-frozen if need be...but not 100% frozen solid. Torte, fill & thinly crumbcoat your cake and put it in the freezer for an hour. Take it out and immediately plaster it roughly with about twice as much buttercream as you'll really need. Huge tip here....SMOOTHING CAKES IS ALL ABOUT THE REMOVAL OF EXCESS ICING AND NOT AT ALL ABOUT BUILDING IT UP AND PATCHING!! I wish someone had explained this to me when I first started in the biz. It would have saved me years of frustration at trying to get my cakes perfectly smooth. Take your plastering knife (see point #3 for this & photo attached) and run it around the cake, digging in about 1/4 inch (5 millimeters) to get off the excess icing in one or two spins of the cake turntable. Now, take your offset palette knife and draw the icing in on top of the cake from the edges, about 4-5 times all the way around. The last step is to take your straight palette knife and draw it right across the top only once or twice to remove any lines. Done! Back in the fridge.

3) Toss those cheap white pastry scrapers, they truly aren't the best. Go to the hardware store and in the plastering section you'll see cheap, stiff plastic plastering tools with handles for a buck or two (see photo attached here.) Get a few widths, like 3", 6", etc. These are awesome!! They give you super sharp sides because they don't bend at all and they are the height of your cakes, so no lines appearing as you try to ice a 5" cake with a 3" smoother by going around twice on the top or bottom. These tools do it in one stroke! Fantastic.

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ceshell Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 7:01am
post #6 of 12

Heehee, I link people to that old IMBC thread with these instructions ALL of the time, you know this is my favorite smoothing method icon_smile.gif . Now I have a newer thread I can use to link people to, too. thumbs_up.gif

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Shelle_75 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 3:34pm
post #7 of 12

I use that magical Melvira Method!!! I have a baby to nurse, then I'll see if I can find the link to the instructions, unless someone else can do it faster.

All hail Melvira!!

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tiggy2 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 3:42pm
post #8 of 12
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FairyPoppins Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 12:14am
post #9 of 12

Wow, all these tips are so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to reply. I feel a bit more confident now and I'm going to buy a square cake dummy tomorrow. I just made 12 cups of buttercream so that should see me through a few more attempts!

You ladies rock thumbs_up.gif

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saramachen Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 12:34am
post #10 of 12

If you've ordered sugarshacks bc dvd... it will help A LOT. I am very very glad i bought it. She does a whole bit about square cakes too... so that will help there.

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Shelle_75 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 12:52am
post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by tiggy2

Here's the link to Melvira's method http://cakecentral.com/article83-Quick--Easy-Smooth-Icing-Using-a-Roller-Melvira-Method.html

Thank you Tiggy! With three kids, two dogs, and a husband, somehow I got sidetracked!!


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JessDesserts Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 12:55am
post #12 of 12

I too am practicing smooth BC ( not IMBC.....yet) and someone mentioned it could be my mixer. I have a kitchen aid, but honestly, its pushing 13-15 years. IMO, it works just fine but maybe i'm just used to it and have no realistic clue what a brand spanking new one might be like.

Any thoughts? ( all I need is one yes and im off to buy myself a pretty pink NEW KA) icon_razz.gif

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