Smoothing Buttercream
Posted: 19 August 2008 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Although I’ve loved this site for months, this is my first post.  I’m a Cake Bible devotee, but simply a home cook, not a professional.  I am making a cake for a family party this weekend (I’m thinking Golden Luxury Butter cake with raspberry MBC filling, vanilla or white chocolate MBC frosting and fresh raspberries on top!).  I’m wondering if anyone has tips for the home cook for achieving that perfectly smooth buttercream finish on a cake.  I’ve never been able to do it.  Is it practice, or carefully guarded secrets???  Any advice would be appreciated!  Thanks in advance

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Posted: 19 August 2008 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’d say some type of turn table (even a cheap lazy Susan) and a bench scraper or large flat spatula are needed.  Hold the scraper against the side of the cake and turn until you have a smooth surface.  Warming the scraper slightly can also help—it also helps if the buttercream has been chilled for 15-30 minutes so it is a little stiffer.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome Gia - hope you’ll start posting on a regular basis.  I think one of the most helpful tools for smoothing buttercream is a smooth turning turntable, then either a large offset spatula, or a bench scraper.  I really like the bench scraper that I have because it has 90 degree corners which I find make applying the buttercream almost perfectly.  I first crumb coat and chill.  Then I put on a thicker layer of buttercream and use my bench scraper to remove the excess, being sure to keep one flat edge against the cake, and one flat edge against the turntable.  If you are comfortable using a piping bag, don’t worry too much about the top edges - you can cover right over it with a piped border.  Some of the easiest borders for beginners are the continuous swirl (like repeating a lower case cursive e over and over), or a simple zig-zag, or just simple dots or stars.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you both for the advice, I have a great turntable from my mother and I have always used an offset spatula, but I will try heating and a bench scraper.  I’m so excited that I wish I could make the cake tonight.  (This is probably the only place I could say that and not be looked at like I’m crazy).

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Posted: 19 August 2008 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Oops, I forgot to mention placing the cake on a cardboard round that matches the diameter of the cake - I let my bench scraper rest against the edge of the cardboard while smoothing the bc.  For ease in moving the cake once you have your bc smooth, use a large spatula to carefully lift the cake and place it on a larger cake board - being careful to not let the cake slip off (I sometimes place a non-slip pad between the two pieces of cardboard).  Let me know if you need photos.
smile

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Posted: 19 August 2008 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Gia - 19 August 2008 07:57 PM

Thank you both for the advice, I have a great turntable from my mother and I have always used an offset spatula, but I will try heating and a bench scraper.  I’m so excited that I wish I could make the cake tonight.  (This is probably the only place I could say that and not be looked at like I’m crazy).

You are among other crazy cake people here smile.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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lots and lots of buttercream! get it on the sides very very thickly so that you can dig in past all the imperfections. i know that most people line the spatula up the with edge of the cardboard round, but i always get a bumpy pattern when i do that, so I go right to the base of the cake. smooth and scrape, smooth and scrape. until you get into a rythm and then smooth the top by bringing your spatula from the outside towards the center, taking care to keep your spatula level so that you don’t knock down your edges below the center of the top of the cake.

good luck,
jen

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Posted: 19 August 2008 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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i don’t do cake decorating!  But i love reading the tips you give out, and imagine that one day I’ll get around to it! LOL When I see pictures of your creations I am really in awe of your artistry.

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Posted: 19 August 2008 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I am definitely not an expert, but here are a few tricks I have learned.
I use a large cake spatula to apply and smooth the sides (have never tried a bench scraper…that may work better) Make sure you use lots of buttercream. You can always scrape off any excess. A good turn table is a must. I keep a glass of very hot water next to where I am working, and dip my spatula into it occasionally, as I work. Make sure to wipe any excess water on a paper towel before smoothing the buttercream.
Good luck!

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Posted: 23 August 2008 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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This is a little weird, but for a smooth, flat top, you can drag a clean metal yardstick across piled up buttercream.

Cathy

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