Some things are second nature to me. I do them so much that I just forget I used to have trouble with them. I just skip them as a step and casually say “Oh just go ahead and level/fill/crumb coat/frost your cake and we’ll go from there.”
Ok, so today is the most basic. How to do these simple starter bits. I know what frustrated me the most when I first started teaching myself, so I’ll try to cover these things.
Start by leveling your layers. I showed you how to do this here. Here’s a bit of a refresher though.
Remember, score only to the point you want to level, then carefully remove the top. Or whatever leveling technique you feel comfortable with. You MUST level it though. Don’t stack dome-topped cakes. lol Also, PLEASE, let your cakes cool before you do anything.
Next, place strips of wax paper on your cake board. You’ll put the cake over them, you just want to be able to pull them out from under the cake when you’re done. They’ll protect the board from rouge icing globs.
I suggest the Wilton buttercream recipe for your icing.
Now, we start the crumb coat. Whether you’re doing fondant or buttercream as your final product, you have to master the crumb coat. Remember when you were a kid and you’d get out that tub of frosting that was either too stiff because it’d be put in the fridge or too goopy because… well, because that’s just how it is, and you’d dip in your butter knife and try your very hardest to smooth that glop across your un-leveled cake, shredding the sides as you went. Maybe you didn’t even let the thing cool first. I mean… I have those memories lol. If only I’d known about the crumb coat!
First we’ll place our first layer and give it some filling. I don’t like a ton of frosting in the middle, personally. I just put enough to even out any imperfections and stick the two layers together. If you want to fill with fillings or a lot of icing, I’d scoop out a small amount of cake so that there’s an area for the filling to be in without squishing out the sides…
*IMPORTANT: Always keep a cup of hot water at hand. If you start having ANY issues with the icing sticking to your spatula, dip the spatula in the hot water and scrap off excess icing.*
Once it’s pretty smooth in there, go ahead and place your second layer on top.
Keep that hot water in mind, don’t forget it’s there. Use it often. You don’t want water dripping all over your cake so tap off excess water, but seriously, keeping your spatula hot will keep your frosting happy.
Glop some icing on top. Don’t be shy. If you don’t have enough on there, you’ll be frustrated. Start smoothing. Keep your spatula hot. This is a thin coating of frosting and you want it to gather the loose crumbs and hug that cake!
Cool. Now, toss it in the fridge just to set up a bit while you prep for round two. From here, this cake could be covered in fondant as shown here… or you can cover this cake with more buttercream.
I’ll be showing you that now.
I like to crumb coat in white, but you can now cover with whatever color or flavor you like. I’m using blue.
Again, a big glob on top. This is where you want to be very liberal. Really glob it on. The first time I iced a cake, I didn’t have enough frosting and I was so frustrated. And I can’t stress that hot glass of water enough. You might even want to refresh that glass, the temp has probably gone down some by now.
Start this the same as the crumb coat. Glob it on and smooth it out.
Little lips on the edges like this can be smoothed inward.
Not bad, not bad. I could make myself crazy trying to make buttercream look fondant smooth all day, but I am not that good with it, so I don’t bother. This is good enough for me. Icing is an art. And I’m just a tourist in the buttercream world. Fondant is my deal haha.
Now you can remove that wax paper. Viola! Your board is clean :)
Now, as for all those bottom parts and top parts that aren’t perfect, that’s what boarders are for silly!
My buttercream was a little thinner than I like to use it here. Possibly because I threw in some cream cheese. Ah well. Still not bad.
As always, happy caking! Happy frosting! And I hope I’ve answered some questions! Also, having one of these snazzy cake turntables helps SO MUCH. I think these basic ones are literally like $5 at the craft store. It’s nice to be able to turn the cake as you smooth the sides. I think I take it for granted sometimes. Also, sorry if some of the photos suck this week. (Don’t drink Four Loko at 3pm on a Monday and try to decorate cakes… it SOUNDS like a fun idea… but you’ll wake up at 7pm in a kayak in the middle of your living room with a chihuahua on your head. True story…)