How to perfect the buttercream covered cake
Want a crisp smooth finished cake? Want to unleash your creative skills and create a textured cake? Or you may just need to cover your cake with buttercream before adding sugarpaste… whatever you’ve got in mind, if buttercream is involved, we got you covered!
Buttercream tips and tricks
So first of all, you need to make your buttercream! American buttercream is most commonly used in non-professional kitchens. American buttercream is typically made from a ratio of 2:1 icing sugar to room temperature butter by weight. You may want to add a splash of whole milk to loosen your buttercream and add a little flavouring!
- Always use real butter for your buttercream, if you use margarine or Stork your buttercream will be too soft and won’t harden over time. Just think, real butter is hard once it’s cooled in the fridge, margarine/Stork is soft and easy to spread always, and it will not get any harder than that.
- Sieve your icing sugar before mixing, some icing sugar may have a lot of big lumps resulting in an uneven, grainy buttercream.
- If you are wanting to add colour to your buttercream, we recommend using gel or paste colour, as this won’t affect the consistency of the buttercream like liquid would. Add colour using a cocktail stick until you reach your desired shade, you won’t need much at all!
- If you’re planning on adding flavour, you would typically need around 1 tbsp of flavouring if you’re coving a whole cake. As most flavours are in liquid form, this may affect the consistency of your buttercream. Add a little more icing sugar if it’s not as thick as you wish.
When you’re happy with your buttercream, you can start to fill your cake. Use a piping bag to add buttercream between layers and stack your cake. You need to make sure that your cake is level, and the sides are trimmed and level up together.
Applying a crumb coat to your cake
Once your cake is standing tall, you need to apply a crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer which quite literally does as it says, holds all the cake crumbs in. Apply a thin layer with a spatula, making sure you fill between the layers and there’s no air pockets. Ideally, you need to use a turntable, this will help massively when adding and smoothing out your buttercream. Leave the cake to chill in the fridge for around 15-20 minutes, it doesn’t have to be perfect as you’ll be adding another layer shortly.
As the rest of your buttercream has been sat in a bowl, you may want to mix it up with a spatula to make sure it’s not hard and still easy to use. Now, there are a few ways in which you can add your final layer of buttercream.
- You can apply it with a spatula. Adding some to the top of the cake and then working your way around the sides.
- You may find it easier and more even to use a large flat nozzle and pipe the buttercream around the cake and adding a layer to the top.
- If you’re not going for a smooth crisp finish, let your imagination run wild by piping a pattern or adding your buttercream freehand with a spatula to create a textured look.
Using a scraper
Once you have your layer of buttercream it’s time to smooth it out! You’ll need a metal or plastic scraper taller than your cake. Hold the scraper flat to the cake, the bottom of the scraper should be level with the turntable. You should then angle your scraper around 30 degrees out from your cake and start scraping the buttercream around the cake, turning the turntable as you go.
Your buttercream probably won’t be perfect the first time you scrape around; you may have air pockets and little holes. Add some buttercream where needed and keep smoothing around until you are happy with the sides.
How to get that perfect flat cake top
Now it’s time for the top! You will probably have excess buttercream on the edges of your cake. With an offset spatula gently swipe them in towards the center of the cake, swipe any excess back into the bowl. Add some buttercream, into holes or if there are any slopes or dents. Keep working your way around the cake until you have a sharp corner all the way round, ensuring that the top is level and neat.
Another way you can do this is by using a scraper attachment. This allows you to have a scraper on the side and one on the top, so you can level both sides out at the same time. Now your cake is buttercreamed to perfection, decorate to your hearts content!
A little tip to make it a piece of cake… Chill your cakes overnight so they are firm. They will be easier to cut, and easier to add buttercream to as they won’t be so squishy!
Dive into the world of buttercream in our Different types of Buttercream page!