So here’s the question that I already asked a few of your in PMs. What are your strategies to get the frosting perfect?
My frosting got much better when I started using a turntable - all of a sudden it’s very easy to make cakes look even. However, my main challenge remains to get the edge to a perfect 90 degrees. I often end up pushing the frosting up when doing the sides, then back down when I try to even out the top, then back up when I try to fix the side….. I guess a strategic use of the fridge before the last fix would probably help, so that you can almost cut off the bump instead of pushing it back up?
Thanks for asking this question. My biggest problem is where the cake meets cake board….I just make a big mess. And if I have to put the cake layer on a rack to pour a glaze over it, I always damage the edges when trying to move the cake. I just don’t know how people can make such clean edges.
Please, please, please all you experts on the forum chime in with some tips for us learners/amateurs! I have a cake to make next month which I would really like to make look as good as possible so any help will be gratefully received!
A couple of things that I’ve learned recently from fellow bakers here is to use bench scraper for the sides. I try to put a lot of frosting on the bench scraper, hold it as vertical as possible with one hand while the other is turning the turntable. This is how I apply the frosting. I find it requires a firm but light hand - sometimes I get too excited and ended up taking too much off, making the round shape a bit off. But it’s easy to fix b/c I just apply more on. One thing I was told is that dumping a lot of frosting on the cake at once makes it easier to smooth it out, because you can just take the excess out.
Once I think that the cake has enough frosting on all sides and the top, to smooth it out, I boil a cup of water, place it in a mug, then dip my small offset spatula in it, wipe it with a cloth, and use it to smooth the cake. I keep repeating it until I’m satisfied with the appearance of the cake. I’m still a beginner, so it could take me up to 1 hour to do all this. I think when I use regular bc I have to refrigerate it halfway through because it ended up being too soft. But I haven’t had to stop to refrigerate when I use mousseline. Keep in mind my kitchen is about 68-70 degrees.
Charles - I also make quite a mess too at the bottom of the cake. I think using the bench scraper is worse for messiness. I know some recommends putting bits of parchment underneath the cake. This trick does not work for me, I somehow always end up pulling the parchment off. So what I do is to use a hot towel to wipe the excess away, being careful to try to get as close to the cake as possible. Then usually there’s a bit left between the cake and the turntable anyway, this is where I try to pipe shell border to hide my mess .
That’s all the tips I have. I hope it helps.
Regarding the bottom of the cake: I’ve had fairly good success with strips of parchment on the bottom, and very carefully removing them. I also found that using a cake round help - I usually fashion mine out of an old box and some aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It gives you a little bit of a standoff, and the cake is much easier to lift than if it’s just a cake, doing less damage around the edge.
However, it’s not perfect, I think that’s why many cakes have the piped border around the bottom, or a wide band… That being said, it worked perfectly with the glaze I put on the February bake-off cake. But the chocolate oblivion comes out of the pan perfectly, so it’s a bit of cheating…
Jenn - thanks! I assume your frosting is room temperature and easy to work on?
Silke, I usually make the frosting then use it right away. So yes it’s within the workable temperature and very soft without being too runny.
I have to admit that I do not like moving the cake after it’s being decorated. I am way too afraid of messing it up! So I usually put the cake on the cake container, then put the cake container on the turntable, and that’s how I decorate. Once I’m done, I put the lid of the cake container and store it that way .
I had the problem when I was doing the wedding cake - of course you’re extra nervous doing that…. But I had to keep some of the frosting in the fridge, and perhaps it was a bit hard which made the push up - push down problem worse. I’ve taken note of the bench scraper trick. That’ll definitely come out the next time!
Ok, before I start baking I’ll have to go and learn how to ski moguls now I hope that’ll burn some calories!
Here’s an old thread from last year about techniques for applying buttercream. As you’re reading through you see that some of what I mentioned before came from this exact thread. If you scroll all the way through almost to the bottom you will also see the very first cake I tried to frost, before I learn all the techniques. I was using a big offset spatula back them. Bench scraper makes it so much easier!
I am definitely NOT the queen of decorating with buttercream, but Patrincia (who I believe IS the queen of bc) uses a turntable and bench scraper. As for the imperfect edges, isn’t that what pastry bags are for? I never would have learned to pipe shells if my edges were better…
OK>>>here’s how I do it. first I crumb coat with a very thin layer of frosting, Then I apply the frosting with a #18 open star tube. I go up and down on the sides, and I cover the top with a spiral. Then I use a spatula to smooth everything out. I hold the spatula against the side and turn the turn table. Then I smooth the top, carefully. I clean up the edges by piping a small shell border where the top meets the sides and where the sides meet the bottom. Fast, simple, no mess. Applying with the pastry bag and tip gives you an even thickness of frosting all over. I get a pretty neat finish…and it doesn’t take that long. Sometimes I use a hot spatula as discussed above for an even smoother finish.