The ultimate goal when putting buttercream on a cake is that you get a perfectly smooth finish. This is true whether you are leaving it as buttercream or covering it in fondant. A good base makes a good cake, so hopefully I can help a little!
Apologies in advance for the photos, we have a pretty dark house and the kitchen really isn’t great!
With your cake ready to ice, place on a turntable or other board which you can move around. Here is the fastest way to get buttercream on a cake! This technique uses a Wilton #789 Tip and a large bag – at least 14″, 18″ is perfect. Place your tip close to your cake with the bumpy side in.
Pipe ribbons of buttercream around your cake sides. You will probably need 2 ribbons for a standard sized cake, 3 if it’s a bit taller. Don’t worry if you have a few little gaps, you’ll deal with those later! This is where a turntable is great, spin and squeeze! Pipe a spiral ribbon on the top using the same technique. This should take you about 1 minute, you’ll wonder why you never had this tip before!
Using an angled spatula, smooth around the sides and top of the cake, pushing the icing to fill in any gaps. Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect, your goal is just to get a fairly even coverage with no open areas.
Using a scraper (this needs to have a square edge), start on the sides and smoth around. I like to hold the scraper flat against the turntable so I know it’s square and spin the turntable. A couple of spins and you have perfectly flat edges!
If you are leaving it as a buttercream cake, of course leaving it with any cake showing through isn’t great. This is where you leave the buttercream to set up for a while, then repeat the above steps to put another layer on it.
Using the 789 tip means there is no chance of cake crumbs in your icing, and it literally takes only a few minutes with the scraper to get a good finish on your cake. Much better than slaving over it, then doing a wee touch up with your spatula only to ruin the whole thing!
Of course, you can use the spatula and scraper method with ganache too, but you’ll need to put the ganache on the cake using your spatula.
This technique doesn’t use a cake board to guide the scraper, I find doing it twice gives you a good coverage, but if you’re in a hurry or particularly good, you could position your scraper out from your cake just slightly and get away with doing it once.
Tools I used: