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how to get an extra smooth finish on cake
Posted: 03 October 2008 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Tx - Love your lighthouse cake!  So glad you filled out your profile page too.

smile (hint-hint to everyone who hasn’t)

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Posted: 06 October 2008 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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For what it’s worth - I’m a professional baker so my experience may differ from the home bakers among us.

When I build a cake, I layer the cake and filling, and then wrap it for an overnight rest in the walk in.  The next day, I crumb coat and apply the final coat of icing.  This way, any settling happens overnight.  I use chilled cake layers to help with handling - room temp layers are much more fragile and prone to breaking.

I don’t use cream cheese icing for the outside coating because I find it too translucent, even when multiple coats are applied.  So I use a meringue buttercream as the outside coat of frosting.  As a filling, it’s wonderful, and I use a buttercream dam, especially taking care to build up the corners where sagging is more likely to happen.  If you build up the corners too much, though, the center sides look saggy so you need to be careful to make sure each layer is level before going on to apply the next layer of filling and cake.

When I stack tiers, I use the large plastic dowels or bubble tea straws (cheaper, and just as strong) and cardboard rounds.  But this weekend I have a three tier carrot cake which I know will be heavy so I’m using separator plates and “hidden pillars” instead of dowels.  This is insurance that the cake won’t sag; otherwise a cardboard round will begin to flex and not provide any support, which can be a recipe for disaster during transport and when the cake is sitting for a few hours on display.  I also don’t assemble the tiers too far in advance; the cardboards can absorb moisture and become weak.  If you use a separator plate, this is not an issue.  But for the volumes I’m doing, it’s more expensive than cardboard and there are only so many places I can absorb costs without passing them on to the client.  I bake on day 1, build the tiers on day 2, and do the crumb/final coats and final assembly on delivery day.  It makes for long weekend hours.

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Posted: 06 October 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Jeanne - 06 October 2008 11:39 AM

For what it’s worth - I’m a professional baker so my experience may differ from the home bakers among us.

When I build a cake, I layer the cake and filling, and then wrap it for an overnight rest in the walk in.  The next day, I crumb coat and apply the final coat of icing.  This way, any settling happens overnight.  I use chilled cake layers to help with handling - room temp layers are much more fragile and prone to breaking.

I don’t use cream cheese icing for the outside coating because I find it too translucent, even when multiple coats are applied.  So I use a meringue buttercream as the outside coat of frosting.  As a filling, it’s wonderful, and I use a buttercream dam, especially taking care to build up the corners where sagging is more likely to happen.  If you build up the corners too much, though, the center sides look saggy so you need to be careful to make sure each layer is level before going on to apply the next layer of filling and cake.

When I stack tiers, I use the large plastic dowels or bubble tea straws (cheaper, and just as strong) and cardboard rounds.  But this weekend I have a three tier carrot cake which I know will be heavy so I’m using separator plates and “hidden pillars” instead of dowels.  This is insurance that the cake won’t sag; otherwise a cardboard round will begin to flex and not provide any support, which can be a recipe for disaster during transport and when the cake is sitting for a few hours on display.  I also don’t assemble the tiers too far in advance; the cardboards can absorb moisture and become weak.  If you use a separator plate, this is not an issue.  But for the volumes I’m doing, it’s more expensive than cardboard and there are only so many places I can absorb costs without passing them on to the client.  I bake on day 1, build the tiers on day 2, and do the crumb/final coats and final assembly on delivery day.  It makes for long weekend hours.

Thank you so much for the great info. I have only used the cardboard cake boards and i have noticed these becoming flexible the longer the cake sets. I would love to use a meringue buutercream but for some reason everytime i try to make it it becomes runny after sitting at room temp and it makes me wonder just how this type of bc can actually stay on a cake. Even after i chill the buttercream it looks OK but as it sets it starts to get runny. I know i am doing something wrong but i just cant figure out what it is!!!

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Posted: 06 October 2008 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Hmmm…. sounds like maybe you aren’t letting your sugar syrup rise to the correct temp.  What meringue buttercream recipe are you making?

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Posted: 06 October 2008 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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As well as what temp the syrup is when you start to add it to the beaten whites (or yolks, depending on which recipe you’re making) and how; the book directions say to add the syrup in increments.  This isn’t entirely necessary - in school we learned to pour the syrup directly from the pan, no transferring it to a glass measure or pouring it in, then turning the mixer to high, stopping the mixer, pouring in more syrup, etc.  The final quantity of buttercream depends on how much syrup is left in the pan, how much gets into the whites, and what the butter temp is.

What I do is when the syrup hits 239, I take it off the heat, turn my Hobart to speed 3 (on a KA this would be speed 8), then pour the syrup in a steady stream being careful not to hit the beaters or the side of the bowl.  There’s a sweet spot (pardon the pun) you have to find so you can pour continuously.  I have found it is not necessary to get to 248 to have a firm buttercream, but your mileage may vary and if you are having structural problems with the buttercream, you might want to get to 245 before you pull it.  It should not take forever to add the syrup, but how long it takes is a factor of how much you’re making.  With the batch size I do, it takes me about 45 seconds to add the syrup - I’m using 6# of butter to 30 oz of whites and just short of 2# of sugar in the syrup. 

Practice with some cold water and the mixer on (nothing in the bowl) to get the feel of how to position yourself when pouring the hot syrup.

Keep trying, this stuff is worth it! smile

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Posted: 06 October 2008 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I agree with Jeanne, but indeed when leaving your syrup in the pan, temp continues to rise.  I use it a great shortcut and time and mess saving, heating till 239 then “take some time” in the pan and pour directly.

In theory, and indeed it is a true actual fact, for maximum italian meringue buttercream (Mousseline), is obtained from heating the sugar to 248-250.  But if you are working at a 70 degree kitchen, and you won’t need to display your well chilled cake for more than 2 hours or at a plus 80 room, then it isn’t necessary to reach the crucial 248-250.  At 70 (or 65), butter remains firm, so “you don’t need” to rely on the strenght of the Italian meringue 248-250

You really just need to practice.  It also depends on how fast your thermometer reads.  Also, don’t forget that sugar temperature is not gradual, but it jumps about 5 degrees at a time.  So, if you are reading 239, it could well be 245 or 250 shortly after.

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Posted: 06 October 2008 09:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I delete the step of pouring the syrup into a measuring cup first as well…. I go directly into the KA bowl, while it’s mixing, and being sure to avoid the bowl sides and beater.  I pour it in pretty quickly… it cools so fast if you pour it in too slowly.

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