At this point in my learning experience, I am working on refining my technique and extending my cake decorating repertoire to include more detail and variety. During my initial trial, I realized just how difficult it was to achieve perfection quickly. Therefore, my strategy for continuing to learn is to create specific questions and then engage in research to find answers.
In this case, my most pervasive challenge was with spreading buttercream easily and consistently. Luckily, I had purchased what turned out the be the two most important tools: a turntable and spreading spatula. Although it was challenging, I felt as though these tools made it possible.
After my trial, I embarked on further research–but this time, with very specific questions. Below are three questions and answers/suggestions that I found:
1. How do I avoid having my cake stick to the turntable while adding layers of buttercream?
Here’s what I found: The best way to avoid having the cake stick to the turntable is to place a large piece of parchment paper on the turntable itself. This parchment paper will prevent sticking. There is some caution against using wax paper. This site provides further information.
2. When layering buttercream, how much should I apply? Is there such a thing as too much buttercream?
Here’s what I found: For a 12 inch round pan that is 2 inches deep, I need to prepare approximately 6 cups of buttercream. During my trial, I only prepared 2 cups, which is why I had to spread the cream a little less generously that I would have liked to. A really comprehensive resource for amounts of batter, icing, bake time, etc. can be found in this Baking and Serving Guide.
3. Should I allow time in between the first layer of buttercream and subsequent layers?
Here’s what I found: After applying the initial layer of buttercream, I should allow the cake to cool in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. This will allow the icing to set and the cake will be ready for a second layer.
Aside: the most exciting bit of information that I learned while pursuing the answer to my question is a bit of terminology that I had not heard before and it is “crumb coat.” This is the first layer of frosting that is not necessarily smooth and perfect, but its function is to seal in all of the crumbs. Once all the crumbs are in place, the real decorating task begins. After reading about this crumb coat application, I realize that it is what I missed during my initial trial.
So, while I feel as though my first attempt was successful, I know that I have a long way to go before I can call myself an expert in cake decorating. As with any new learning, the more I articulate my questions and pursue answers, the deeper and more layered my understanding becomes.
What’s next? Preparing for my next baking and decorating experience.