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Techniques applying buttercream
Posted: 13 February 2009 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello- I have just found this group and I love Rose’s Cake Bible. On pg 358- middle of the page- she describes “a bakers trick to frost a cake smoothly and evenly. I’m not sure I understand. She uses a flan ring or loose bottom pan as a mold.  Has anyone done this?  Is the mold 1 larger than the cake?

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Posted: 13 February 2009 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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not to hijack your thread but I was also wondering the same thing. WIth mousseline especially. Since it ‘hardens’ up a little, can you use like wax or parchment paper with a fondant smoother to smooth out?? I can’t seem to get it smooth with a spatula..

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Posted: 13 February 2009 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Practice makes perfect.  Check out the blog (link found under Rose at the top left of this page).  I’ve been wanting to try the flan ring (or french ring) trick for a while, but I like my finished cakes to be 4” high and I have yet to find a ring that height.

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Posted: 13 February 2009 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve tried it several times, with rings the same size as the cake and slightly larger, and have had little success.  It never comes out perfectly for me, and since it’s a time consuming technique, in my opinion, it’s not worth it.  Thanks to the suggestions from other members of the site like Patrincia, I use a warmed bench scraper and a good turntable to get a nice smooth finish.  It did take a bit of practice, but it’s worth it.  Find someone who likes to eat cake and give them your “experiments”.  smile

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Posted: 13 February 2009 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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i barely understand how that technique works. 

since these types of butter creams don’t crust over you can’t really use a paper towel or waxed paper to smooth.  i would add to the advice: crumb coat and chill your cake. put on an extra thick coat of butter cream to finish and then begin to scrape and smooth. when i watch people who can make buttercream really smooth i notice that they really take their time. which i never do, but i’m trying to
force my self to slow down. as gia said, practice makes perfect.

jen

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Posted: 14 February 2009 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would say a turn table is a must.  A cake board 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider than the baked cake is also a good guide:  you frost flush to the edge board, using the board itself as a guide for your spatula.

applying thin coats and chilling in between makes perfection!

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Posted: 14 February 2009 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I do the same as Hector.  Using a good quality turntable really started making a big difference for me.  I had used an inexpensive plastic one for years, which certainly worked, but the higher quality turntable is so much better.  I have used a paper towel and fondant smoother to fix the sharp edges of a finished, cold, “non-crusting” buttercream that had been damaged, but the paper towel leaves a textured appearance on your buttercream (even the back of the paper towel will leave a slightly dippled effect).

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Posted: 14 February 2009 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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so glad of our turntables, and I am telling you to try training without a bench scraper but an angled icing spatula instead!  you will build steady pulse and good motion and frost perfect tall cakes like my 6 or 9 layer ones!  and when this happens you will want to always travel with your own turntable and spatula, as I do because small differences with equipment shape and construction matters at this level.

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Posted: 14 February 2009 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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This technique is the way my chef taught us in a long ago class and old school bakers used it with non-crusting buttercream frostings.  She said it was the way she learned to make cakes in Germany.

We used cake rings, that were 4 inches tall.  Our cakes were torted into thin layers and we used an Ateco #3 tip to fill.  The rings are just wider than the cake itself, because the cakes shrink a bit in baking.  You piped a thick ring (like you are piping a dam) at the outer edge right up against the ring, making sure to build it up.  Then you used the tip to make the buttercream filling layer, and then build up the edge again, and put in the next cake layer, continuing until you were at the top.  Then you covered the top with icing, and smoothed it over the top, using the ring as a guide.  It chilled overnight in the ring.  Then we used a torch to heat the outside of the ring, lifted it up (or down, depending on what kind of board we built the cake on) and got a perfectly smooth finish.  To me, it was a lot of hassle, and you’d have to have rings in every size and multiples of them if you were doing production work.

She also taught us to use the large icing tip, saying it would deposit a uniform thickness on the sides, and she’s right.  It works great, and is fast.  You aim for the top, spin the cake while you pipe out this big ribbon of icing, then use the spatula or bench scraper to take care of the excess. The problem for me is it takes up another icing bag and I have to stop and fill it frequently when I’m busy.  Plus the extra large bag is hard for me to handle.

The bench scraper method works because it is sturdy enough not to bend - many beginners have a tendancy to hold an offset spatula at an angle, and not straight.  A woman I know who worked for Mike McCarey (Mike’s Amazing Cakes) said they used the long (12”) paint maskers there instead of bench scrapers simply because they were longer and could work on their tall tiers. 

You want to store your tools carefully, because if you are not careful, your offset spats can become bent out of shape and then they are no help at all.

The key is to practice and know what works for the kind of icing you are using.  Some techniques work only with one type of icing (e.g., the paper towel on the crusting buttercream).  If you know a pastry chef or baker, you could ask if you can watch them for a day to pick up some pointers or see how they do their work.  Maybe there are YouTube videos on cake assembly that could help.

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Posted: 15 February 2009 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Jeanne- thanks for help-I’ll scratch the ring method!  That is a great idea to watch someone for a day and I know a lovely little bakery nearby and I am sure that they would not mind if I sit in the corner and watch.
margare

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Posted: 15 February 2009 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I tried frosting a cake with the icing tip and it turned out really bad. I couldnt get the icing to flow out night, and the tip is soo huge, it was like hard to hold. I gave up and used a spatula.

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Posted: 15 February 2009 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’m not a fan of the icing tip either… like Jeanne said, you have to refill your piping bag too often.  I find it’s faster to just apply the buttercream with an offset spatula or a bench scraper.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I wish I had read this post before yesterday. I made the Chocolate Butter Cake from TCB with the plain mousseline. bc The mousseline turned out great and came together pretty easily - which is surprising as I expected that I would fail smile. My challenge came when I was going to frost the cake with the bc. I’ve never done this before so I was so excited to try. I managed to get the top of the cake pretty smooth, but the sides was not so good. For one thing, I could not avoid getting the crumbs in the bc. I crumb coat it and chill it several times, but with each additional layer I still get crumbs on the bc. I did chill the rest of the bc in between when I chill the cake so it does not get too soft. The top of the cake I use a small offset spatula, I started with the same tool for the sides, halfway through I swtiched to the bigger offset spatula. I tried also running the spatula under hot water and then wiping it down. I still can’t get it to be smooth. I completely forgot about using bench scraper. I spent about an hour in this whole thing (the cake was 6 inches) and then I gave up for the night. Help! Can someone tell me what I’m doing wrong? 1). How can I prevent the crumbs to get mixed in the white mousseline 2).Is any of my technique wrong for making the bc smooth? - I do realize I need practice to make it smooth.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The bench scraper will help a lot.  Also, when you apply the butter cream, put it on in large globs—that will help you keep from picking up crumbs.  I never bother with a crumb coat, and that seems to work for me as far as avoiding crumbs.  Oh, one more thing, your cake board looks too big.  You can get the sides a lot smoother if you use a smaller board.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Jenn - 19 October 2009 03:37 PM

How can I prevent the crumbs to get mixed in the white mousseline.

Before you do the crumb coat, divide your buttercream. Place the amount you need for the crumb coat in a separate bowl. Once you’ve done the crumb coat, place the cake in the fridge till the buttercream has hardened. When you are doing the final coat do not use the buttercream that you used for the crumb coat b/c it will have crumbs in it which will get into the final coat. I hope I am making sense.

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Posted: 19 October 2009 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Matthew and Rozanne, thanks for the feedback and advice. I will get a smaller board (or cut the one I have) next time and use bench scraper. I realized I didn’t make enough mousseline as well - ran out of eggs so couldn’t really put big globs either. Rozanne, I was being careful with the bc, there was no crumbs in the bc mixture. Next time I will actually separate them though.

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