Trimming Cake Edges And Upside Buttercream Technique

Decorating By NZcakegirl Updated 7 Nov 2015 , 9:34am by NZcakegirl

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NZcakegirl Posted 3 Nov 2015 , 9:18am
post #1 of 9

I am pondering a possible problem.  I use Jessica Harris's upside down technique for doing my buttercream (there are probably other names for it but I learnt it on her craftsy tutorial and LOVE it).  It works great for me, but the problem I have is that if I have a 8" cake on a 8" cake board the layer of butter cream is very thin and sometimes almost not there, but putting it on a 9" board the buttercream is too thick to put fondant over the top-although I have never actually tried it just seems excessive

she trims the sides of the cake to increase the thickness of the buttercream and to help get straighter edges, but I can not for the life of me trim a cake without looking like something out of a horror movie (I ended up re-baking the last one I did).

so can some please tell me or point me in the direction of a tutorial  on how to successful trim the edges of a round cake.

or is 1/2" of buttercream under fondant  considered acceptable and  doesn't cause the fondant issues.

I'm a self taught hobby baker and love learning  new and better ways to do things

8 replies
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kkmcmahan Posted 3 Nov 2015 , 10:48am
post #2 of 9

Joshua Russell has a free class on craftsy - Modern Buttercream - where he has a lesson on trimming cakes.  Check it out.

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julia1812 Posted 3 Nov 2015 , 6:29pm
post #3 of 9

Fist yof wrote:

"...the layer of butter cream is very thin and sometimes almost not there"

"...or is 1/2" of buttercream under fondant  considered acceptable and  doesn't cause the fondant issues."

I'm a bit confused and not sure if I understand what you mean. Do you mean 1/2" buttercream under fondant is almost nothing? I  find that perfect. But might be my personal preference. ..or I misunderstood you?

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Magda_MI Posted 4 Nov 2015 , 1:42am
post #4 of 9

You could always cut your 9" board down to 8.5 inches.  Just cut off 1/4 inch all the way around.

*Last edited by Magda_MI on 4 Nov 2015 , 1:43am
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Jeff_Arnett Posted 4 Nov 2015 , 1:48am
post #5 of 9

I originated the upside down method...several people have taken different routes to modify it.....

are you trying to use a top and bottom board?  Let me know what exactly you are doing and I'll try to help you.

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AmberNada Posted 4 Nov 2015 , 4:52am
post #6 of 9

Is your cake chilled when you trim it? It has to be really cold otherwise it just falls apart.   I use a bread knife and a turntable and trim from top to bottom, small sections all the way around. 

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NZcakegirl Posted 4 Nov 2015 , 6:17am
post #7 of 9

Jeff_Arnett-You originated it?  You are amazing!!  I only use 1 board on the base of the cake.  Basically, I attach cake to cake card, get a piece of parchment and put some buttercream on thick enough to be a good base on the top of the cake, level it and make it the rough size of the cake.  Turn chilled cake upside and put onto buttecream, level it with a spiritlevel by pushing on one side.  Then using an offset spatula pull any buttercream up that has oozed out.  Then i pile on the buttercream around the sides and roughly smooth.  Then use a long straight edge that is higher than the cake keeping it flat on the counter top/turntable and against the top cake board and smooth off.  Does that sound right??  It works well but just because the cake board is the same as the cake is more of a very thin crumb coat.

As for trimming i use trim down a chilled cake but it doesnt look good.

Cutting down a 9" board could possibly work

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Jeff_Arnett Posted 4 Nov 2015 , 12:59pm
post #8 of 9

First thing...ditch the parchment!  I used parchment years ago when I first came up with the idea, but lots of people were getting wrinkles when then peeled it off the top of the cake.  After trying a lot of different other options, I found that plastic coated freezer paper (butcher paper) [I use Reynold's brand] works peels away very cleanly and it will not wrinkle as the parchment did.

OK, some people use a top and bottom board (like the acrylic disc method) but to me it's a bit too fussy and they always seem to have issues trying to get the discs removed.

I use 1/2 thick SQUARE foamcore boards (you can cut your own, but it's better to invest in a set of premade ones...they're not expensive.  I buy mine at 

I usually use a board at least 2-3 inches larger than the cake, but will use the same board for several different size cakes, such as a 12" square for a 10, 9, or 8  inch cake.  I turn my pans upside down on the board...the pans usually have a rim a bit larger than the pan...and trace around with a black permanent marker.

I cover the board with sheet of freezer paper and wrap it under like wrapping a present and tape it with painter's masking tape...the tape will come off later without damaging the face surface of the board.  You can easily see the pan outlines through the paper.

Spread a thin smear coat of buttercream on the board...almost a bit past the outline, then chill about three minutes.  Come back with a thicker layer over the smear coat....this process will eliminate any air bubble holes in the top once the paper comes off.

Stack and fill your layers on top of the icing (I ice my layers frozen, but it's a matter of preference...I don't even use a crumb coat, just apply the final coat of icing). 

Once the side's icing layer is on, but before I start smoothing, I use a small bench scraper to remove the excess icing from the board that extends past the sides of the cake...don't cut too close, just remove the excess.  This helps reduce the mess on the board to give a cleaner pass when smoothing.

Make your first smoothing pass.  I dip my bench scraper in hot water, then dry quickly with a paper towel and, without stopping, make ONECOMPLETE TURN of the turntable...if you stop and start as you go around the sides you are going to have marks and the cake won't be perfect.  There's going to be a mark at the end of the pass regardless...I either make this the back of the cake, cover with decorations, or smooth it down with a hot spatula once the cake has chilled a while.

If there are any valleys in the side icing, fill them now a little higher than the rest of the is much easier to smooth a high spot down than to try to level up a valley!

Make another pass at smoothing, then use an small offset spatula to smooth the built up icing at the top (which will be the bottom when flipped) over onto the cake, then make your final smoothing pass(es).

Chill until the icing is well set.  As I said I ice from frozen then allow my iced cakes about 45 minutes in the cooler before removing the paper.

When you are ready to remove the paper, first cut it loose from the board...I just insert a very sharp knife into the paper on the edge and cut all the way around the board to loosen it.

Place your bottom board on, flip the cake, the peel off the should have a perfect cake.

If I am stacking my cake, I cut my own boards from foamcore, but cardboard or whatever material you like is fine.  While the cake chills, use a ruler to meaure across it's widest point, then trace a circle that size onto your board with a compass and cut out.  If you cut the board to the size of the cake rather than trying to make the cake the size of the board you'll get better results. 

If I am using a same-sized bottom board for tiering, once I place it on the cake, I add a small piece of non-slip mat then top with a larger board before flipping.  Makes it much easier to handle and work on.

Hope this helps some!

*Last edited by Jeff_Arnett on 4 Nov 2015 , 1:01pm
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NZcakegirl Posted 7 Nov 2015 , 9:34am
post #9 of 9

Jeff_Arnett-Thank you so so much for taking the time to post that for me and reply.  I certainly appreciate it.

What you have describe is basically what I do, but there are a few points of refinement that I can certainly try to see if I can get it all better.

I have a cake for a friend to do next week so will try out your tips and see how I go.

You are truly amazing.  Thank you

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