‘Top 10 Tips’ for Smooth Buttercream Cakes

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Do you struggle to get smooth buttercream on the side of your cakes? Fear not, here are my Top 10 Tips to help you get smooth buttercream cakes.

Recently over on Instagram, YouTube & Facebook I asked you what you wanted to see as a new video and so many people asked for how to get smooth buttercream cakes. Below I’ll be running through all my top tips which I really hope will help!

Top Tips for smooth buttercream cakes

Watch me go into more detail and talk about each step below:

1. Buttercream consistency

If I’m using buttercream on my cakes I always tend to use American buttercream as I prefer the taste. You can find my buttercream recipe here: American Buttercream Recipe. When I’m talking about buttercream I’m talking about the consistency.

The correct buttercream consistency

In the video above you’ll see that even though after 1 minute of mixing buttercream the ingredients are all combined, it isn’t very spreadable. The longer you leave the buttercream to mix the softer and creamier it will become and this will really help achieve smooth buttercream sides on your cakes.

2. Air bubbles in your buttercream

As you mix your buttercream air bubbles can form. They also form if you leave your buttercream out uncovered at room temperature. In order to burst these bubbles before applying the buttercream onto your cakes use your spatula to push the buttercream around the edge of your bowl.

Smoothing out air bubbles in buttercream

3. The correct tools for smoothing buttercream

Applying and smoothing buttercream doesn’t require many tools, but using the correct tools can make all the difference. For me I like to use a small offset spatula for applying my buttercream and a metal scraper for around the side. You can also use a plastic scraper too!

One thing I would always suggest is a smooth motion turn table. This can really make all the difference when smoothing your scraper around your cake. Here is a link to the one I use from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Q6LPYa

4. Cake temperature

When I’ve baked my cakes I always let them cool and wrap them in cling film before placing them in the fridge for a few hours. This allows them to be chilled which makes it so much easier to level and cut the cakes. As you’re doing this the cakes are starting to slightly come back to room temperature. This is when I add my buttercream. A chilled or room temperature cake is not going to effect the consistency of your buttercream.

I know that some people apply buttercream to frozen cakes, and one thing that can happen with this is the temperature of the frozen cake can cause the buttercream to start to harden. When butter gets cold it goes really hard and this is what can happen if you apply buttercream to a cake that is too cold. You may find the buttercream becomes impossible to smooth out and can even look a little flaky. This is just something to consider if you do freeze your cakes. Let the cakes thaw before you start to fill and cover them.

5. Level cakes

If you’re super lucky you get completely flat cakes when baking, but if when you bake your cakes you get a slight dome on the top this can make it harder to stack and cover your cakes. It can make it especially hard to get a flat top on your buttercream cakes.

Levelling a cake

By levelling off your cakes before you start to fill and stack them, you’re not trying to fill all the gaps with buttercream to make them level. It also means you can apply an even coating on the top of your cakes and smooth from the edge without having to build the outside of your cake up with more buttercream than the center.

If you’re covering your cakes in fondant after your buttercream if you have too much buttercream on the top edge it can cause you to loose that sharp edge once the buttercream softens. Watch the video above to see what I mean in more detail.

6. Adding a crumb coat

Firstly what is a crumb coat? A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of your cake once you have added your filling which locks in any loose crumbs on the side. These then don’t get into your final coating of buttercream. It’s also a great opportunity to get a good base for your final coating which is really going to help you get smooth sides and a smooth top on your cakes.

Use the crumb coat to fill in any gaps, and get the sides of your cake as straight as you can, before popping it into the fridge to let this first layer of buttercream harden slightly.

applying a crumb coat to your cakes

7. The angle of your smoothing tool

It may seem strange to talk about the angle you hold the smoothing tool but this is so important. The first thing to always try and do is keep the bottom of your scraper on the cake board at all times. This will help you get straight slides.

If you’ve ever seen a cake that is slightly tapered in at the top or bottom it’s due to the scraper being pushed in a little more and not held straight which is easily done. I always try to advise that you keep your scraper directly pushed up to your cake to give you a 90 degree angle on the side, but actually if you struggle with smoothing out your buttercream, if you angle your scrapper more towards your cake at a 45 degree angle you might find your buttercream smooths a lot easier. You just need to be aware to keep that scraper straight and don’t taper it in.

Angle of cake smoothing tool

8. Heat up your smoothing tool

If you just can’t get your buttercream smooth one tip is to heat up your smoothing tool. Now this only works on metal scrapers, but by either heating it with hot water or a kitchen blow torch as you run this around your cake it starts to melt the outer layer which can really help smooth out the buttercream.

Watch the video above to see in detail the 2 methods for heating your metal scraper.

heating up a smoothing tool
Heating up your smoothing tool with hot water
heating up a smoothing tool
Heating up your smoothing tool with a kitchen blow torch

9. It takes time

Smoothing buttercream around the side of your cake can take time. The first few times you run the scraper aroundthis is just to take off any excess buttercream and fill in any spaces which need extra buttercream. Once you have a good base you can start going in and smoothing down the sides. This can take running the smoother around the cake a few times, so don’t be afraid to take your time.

How to smooth your buttercream cakes

10. Acrylic ganache plates

Acrylic ganaching plates / acrylic discs can be a real game changer if you struggle to get smooth sides on your buttercream. You place a disc on the top and bottom of your cake, fill the space with buttercream and use these as a guide to pull the buttercream around, making sure your smoother is in contact with the edge of both plates. If you do struggle with smoothing your buttercream and haven’t tried these I would think about giving them a try. You can see a full step by step tutorial of how the plates work here: Acrylic Cake Plates

acrylic cake ganache plates 2

I really hope you enjoy the video and will find some of these tips useful if you struggle smoothing the sides of your buttercream cakes. These tips will also work for ganache too.

If you haven’t already you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for more Free cake decorating video tutorials.

Tools I used

I have put a list below showing all the tools that I used throughout this video or if you would like to see all my favourite cake decorating tools just click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/cakesbylynz

AEG Food Mixer (similar) : https://amzn.to/3Jvvtp8
Turn Table: https://amzn.to/3Q6LPYa
Metal Smoother Tool (small): http://amzn.to/2BNjf7v
Metal Smoother Tool (large): https://amzn.to/35pYiRm
Offset spatula (small): https://amzn.to/2yD7btn
Kitchen Blow Torch: https://amzn.to/3dnyWYr
Acrylic Plates: https://tidd.ly/3ysf5j7

~ Please note that the links above are affiliate links. If you click the link and purchase any item through that link, I will receive a small commission from the website but this does NOT add any additional costs to you. Thank you so much for supporting this blog x ~

Plus why not save this tutorial for later and pin it to Pinterest

Top Tips for Smooth Buttercream Cakes

Thank you for reading!

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Hi, I’m Lynsey and welcome to Cakes by Lynz. I LOVE everything cake! Here you will find all my latest cake decorating video tutorials from my YouTube channel, reviews and general cake ramblings!

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