Cake Decorating Blog

How to Make Buttercream Icing Smooth

Since the first time cake and buttercream were combined, getting a beautiful, smooth coat on a cake has frustrated, annoyed and down-right irritated countless cake decorators. But the good news is: it’s truly possible. Here is a great step-by-step tutorial on how to make buttercream icing smooth.

Smooth Buttercream Cake

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Here is what you will need:

Let’s talk about bench scrapers for a moment.

Bench scrapers can be found at craft stores, some grocery stores or anywhere kitchen supplies are sold. There are flimsy plastic ones and heavier metal ones, which both are useful for different purposes.

Generally, a metal bench scraper like this one that nice straight corners will help you get the straightest edges on your cake. However, some can be a bit flimsy and may bend a bit.

Another option I like to use is a triangular quilting ruler. This is a quilting tool that can be found at most craft and quilting stores. Choose one that’s made of sturdy plastic with a right angle, which works well for evening out your frosting and smoothing the top.

Directions

Once you have a well chilled, crumb coated cake, you’re ready to start!

It is always best to work with a chilled cake so you can work on a solid surface; it cuts down on a lot of headaches!

Note: You may want to put your cake on a cake board that’s a little larger than your cake. A larger board gives you a base to hold the scraper against to give me a nice smooth edge.

Step 1:

Smoothing the Top of the Cake

Using an offset spatula, add another layer of buttercream on top of your cake. Use your offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake, even slightly pushing the excess over the edges. To do this, hold your spatula steady and turn your turntable. This will give you a more even coat.

Step 2:

Frosting the Sides of the Cake

 

Add a second coat of buttercream around the sides of the cake as well. At this point, don’t worry too much about the icing being smooth — just make sure it is evenly applied all the way around the cake.

Step 3:

Smoothing the Sides with a Bench Scraper

Once you have a nice thick second coat of buttercream, hold a bench scraper up against the side of the cake. Lightly rest the edge on your turntable. Rotate your turntable while holding the bench scraper flat against the cake.

Frequently wipe off your bench scraper to remove excess buttercream.

Step 4:

Cleaning Up the Top Edge of a Frosted Cake

When your edges are mostly smooth, you’ll likely have a bit of excess buttercream rising above the top of the cake. Use the scraper or an offset spatula to draw the buttercream in toward the center of the cake.

Step 5:

You may need to smooth the cake a couple of times until you get the perfect finish. If you get buttercream building up on your scraper, just wipe it off to help get that nice smooth finish.

Once you have a smooth buttercream iced cake, place it back in the fridge to chill. That way if you bump into it, you won’t have to start all over again.

Step 6:

Once it is chilled, remove it from the cake board or turntable by running an offset spatula under the cake, then transfer it to its final placement.

Smooth Buttercream Cake

You now have a beautifully smooth buttercream iced cake. From here you can decorate it, or cover the cake in fondant to for a fabulous fondant finish.

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28 Comments

Wunmi Osode

Nice

Reply
Mary C in WA

You used Bonnie Hunter’s favorite ruler to smooth the cake frosting. LOL wonder if she knows?

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Sabrina

What is the function of spraying water?
can you explain a little?
is it warm /hot water to melt the butter?
or is it cold/room temp water?

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Wendy

It is room temperature. When you spray the cake, it softens the buttercream, so when you run your ruler over it, the buttercream fills in all the holes and makes a very smooth finish. Try it out! You will be amazed:)

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Farida

Very thankful for the tips . Will try it soon

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Shina

Thank you, I never thought to use a quilting triangle. Great idea.
Shina

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Christina Osborn

Great tip suggestions. Especially the mini spray bottle.

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Margaret Garner

Great tip on the triangle, never have seen spraying the icing with water. Is it hot? I usually dip my scraper and or spatular in a pot of hot water. Will try your way.

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Melanie

I do the spatula dipped in hot water method too. I wipe off all traces of water before I touch the spatula to the cake though.

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Charleen Pridemore

thank you for the info. I am just starting and I have a big one to do for next weekend.

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Paula

Will the use of water to smooth change the color of the white buttercream at all?

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Melanie

I am a cake decorator and I have learned that water on buttercream is a BIG no-no. Well for me at least. The water and sugar react and causes crystallization, making my buttercream grainy. So I will try the quilting triangle method with out the spritz of water.

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geraldine works

great iidea will try it out tk u

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Audree Lytle

Why do you use the metal scraper first then the plastic triangle? What is the difference?

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Meghan S.

Will the water spritz work with an Italian meringue buttercream? I don’t like the confectioner’s sugar buttercream recipe but I know it’s a little easier to work with than an Swiss or italian buttercreams.

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penelope Keeling

Sounds great will try it

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dianne

I am looking for a buttercream recipe that tastes like frosting and not a bucket of shortening,or feels like greasy shortening.My recipe calls for 1 cup. of shortening…Can I measure 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter? or mostly all butter then fill the 1 cup.measure with shortening?

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Kate

I have used a recipe using coconut oil. It’s delicious and healthier.

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maria

Do 1/2 c of shortening to 1lb of butter.

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Jerry

why do you spritz the buttercream with water? What does the water do for it?

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Mary Duckworth

Spritzing with water just makes a huge mess. I’ve used the hot water method for 37 years and works better than anything to smooth buttercream.

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aderonke

I will lovecto learn more.tanks

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Michael

Awesome advice, I’ve been using the hot water method for 10 years but i will definitely try the spray bottle technique, thanks

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Michael

Awesome advice, I’ve been using the hot water method for 10 years but i will definitely try the spray bottle technique, thanks for sharing

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trina

Does the water spritz work for Italian meringue B/C?

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Wendy

Trina,
I have not tried it with Italian BC, but it works with swiss meringue and American, so I would suggest spreading a thin layer on a cake board and try spritzing and smoothing it and see if it works before trying it on a cake. Good Luck!

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Amber

I find it difficult to smoothen my butter cream,the cake still shows after smoothening.

Reply

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