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Perfectly Smooth Buttercream Icing – How Do We Do That?


Buttercream, the Queen of Icings

Have you ever wondered how professional cake decorators get their buttercream icing so smooth? Or perhaps you're wondering how you can get your buttercream icing perfectly smooth on your sister's wedding cake when the onlybuttercream frosting you've done looks like the pictures on the cans of frosting at the supermarket – only with lumps instead of swirly peaks

Techniques for creating super smooth buttercream

The technique I'm about to show you is so quick and easy to do, you won't believe it. This technique will make your buttercream icing so smooth that others will swear the cake is from the bakery!

This isn't the only way to get smooth buttercream, but it's my favorite method for achieving perfectly smooth buttercream. Another advantage to this method comes later when you write a message on your cake with piped icing. Mistakes made are much easier to remove from paper towel smoothed buttercream.

Now, promise not laugh when I tell you the name of this professional master level cake decorating technique? It's called...

“The Paper Towel Method!”

Hey, you promised no laughing. You've really got to try this! Ready? Good. First, using a spatula, smooth out as much of the buttercream as you can. Once you've done this, allow it to crust (this will take about 15 minutes) – yes, even though it has more wrinkles than you Aunt Ida. Also be sure that you are using a crusting buttercream, or the paper towel can't do its magic.

Once the buttercream icing has crusted, lightly place a plain, white, smooth paper towel (like Viva) on the area of the buttercream needing smoothing. Then gently rub the paper towel. The natural heat from your hand help's smooth the frosting under the towel. How cool is that?


Smooth Icing Video

Perfectly Smooth Icing” VIDEO. Click to see this technique in action!

(Depending on your computer system and connection speed, you may need to wait till the video is fully loaded before you can view it without stopping.

This may take a few minutes if you’re on dial-up.)


The tips and video are from "Cake Decorating Made Easy!" Here's what one

reader had to say about our Video Books:

"I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys baking,

decorating and the feeling of accomplishment when everyone

crowds around your cakes for a closer look."

J. Robitaille

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Here's another paper towel trick for your buttercream iced cake. After smoothing the buttercream with a spatula and allowing to crust, apply a textured paper towel (white) and place it on top of your cake. Then using the palms of your hands, gently press. You will find when you remove the paper towel that it has impressed a pattern on the buttercream. After some experimentation, you'll be able to create

a beautiful, lacy pattern on your buttercream icing covered cake!



Elizabeth on October 14, 2015:

I think anonymous is a little concerned some "housewives" are able to make a good cake for A LOT Less money and it is enjoyed by everyone. Oh Wait! Is that putting his/her business in jeopardy? A smile on someone's face that the cake is for is worth more than "thousands" of dollars Anonymous!

Leo on July 13, 2014:

I love this method! When I use this Cakes turn out amazing!! Never leaves "fuzz" and peels off wonderfully. I will always use this method. Viva papers towels are rather pricey where I live but I don't mind! Great job to who ever had this wonderful idea.

Suzis Cakery on July 09, 2014:

I'm glad you girls and guys like my VIVA paper towel method. I feel I can take credit for it being used in my area,once I mentioned to my boss that her fabric method left strings and fuzz. I tried VIVA at home and brought the idea to work the next day! We have been using it ever since 1999! No fuzz, just smooth cakes resembling the fondant look! Love it!

Michele on June 23, 2014:

Thank you, Thank you. Love the smoothed look and can't stand fondant.

Tina on January 26, 2013:

O'my I loved the info....cool method

MEME on August 23, 2012:

you said that i needed a buttercream that will crust, well how do I make a buttercream that crust???

Shanna on July 15, 2012:

A spray bottle of water, cake knife and plastic scraper get me perfectly smooth results every time.

Peonypooh on June 23, 2012:

I am a professional cake decorator. I also use the paper towel method to get buttercream to look fondant smooth. I was taught this method by a certified Wilton instructor. I have found my fondant smoothing tool works best with the paper towel, better than a spatula. Shemoe, a cake will often sweat after you bring it out of the refrigerator so if it is anything other than white on white I wouldn't recommend putting it in there!

shemoe on March 17, 2012:

Hi everyone hope somebody can answer me... after icing the cake should I have to put it on the refrigerator before smoothing it or just at the room temperature? And can a smoothed cake be in the refrigerators for one day?

Julia on March 11, 2012:

I use waxed paper, and just finished the most adorable turquoise blue and pink birthday cake for my BFFs surprise party tonight! I left the cake out for 15-20 minutes after I iced it (getting it as smooth as possible with the icing spatula), then I smoothed it. Perfection!

Emilie's Pastries on March 10, 2012:

"Cakesbyclare", I've used wax paper before and it works great. (= I use this method often at my shop and at home. Normally I would use fondant, but as "Mac" said in one of the previous comments, it seems to be unpopular lately. I always prefer to use Wilton's recipie for butter cream.

To "Jen K", I don't think it matters as long as it crusts, however, nomads tastes WAY better.

Check out my site! www.emiliespastries.weebly.com

cakesbyclare on March 08, 2012:

Hi i live in uk and am trying to get hold of viva kitchen towel can you tell me if anyone ships it to uk as it's not sold here and all our kitchen towels are quilted!! :(

angelika18 on March 05, 2012:

Hi I am planning on making a 2 story wedding style cake for my upcoming hockey tournament this weekend I was wondering what is a good homemade recipe for the butter cream frosting??

Mac on March 05, 2012:

This is the method taught by one of the largest cake decorating groups in the nation. Believe me, we wouldn't teach it if it left "fuzz" on cakes. It also helps to use a turntable when you smooth with a spatula. Also, fondant only tastes bad if you use bad fondant. Too many people have eaten bad fondant and given it a bad name. There is excellent fondant out there.

Jen K on February 24, 2012:

question--- does it matter if you use homemade buttercream frosting or the canned buttercream frosting to use this technique?

ginny on February 22, 2012:

You rock! Thanks for sharing!

terribrisson on November 26, 2011:

I just made my first buttercream cake and it came out quite smooth. It was tedious but I couldn't believe how smooth the cake looked. Each time I used my large blade spatula I cleaned it with hot water and dried it. The heat from the knife made the cake so smooth I couldn't believe it. Try it see what you think.

sylvia on October 14, 2011:

thanks so much for this great idea. i am making a wedding cake and am anxious to try it!

kathy on October 12, 2011:

That is really cool. I am making my own wedding cake and I am going to try this.

urscor82 on October 03, 2011:

Thanks for the tip! So helpful! As for "anonymous" comment, why do you have to be so rude? Sounds like you are possibly afraid that us "housewives" are in on your little secrets to perfect buttercream. Keep your nasty comments to yourself.

Milly on June 15, 2011:

I have tried my first ever Butter Icing cake today, used the paper towel method, thanks soooo much for sharing the method.

Ericka on January 18, 2011:

I think you're my new favorite person.

Liz on November 23, 2010:

I just tried this while making my brother's birthday cake. I wanted the smooth look but I didn't want to take the time to make the fondant. The paper towel trick worked wonders! I'm so excited for my brother to see his cake tomorrow! :D Oh, and I used brawny paper towels and did not get any "fuzz"

Michele on October 14, 2010:

Just another tip on the paper towel method....use "Viva" paper towels as they work the best.

adria on October 03, 2010:

I've never heard of this but if it works for you great. At the bakery I work at we just use a spatula and bucket of water to get smooth icing on cakes and it works very well on buttercream as well as cream cheese icing and chocolate icing.

Mary on August 25, 2010:

A friend of mine, a cake maker, recently tried this and told me about how awesome it worked.. And for the average stay at home mom who can's spend "thousands" of dollars, or would never dream of spending thousands of dollars on a cake, this is perfect... By the way use viva brand so it does not "fuzz"

Jessica on August 21, 2010:

WOW! I am making my daughters birthday cake, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's O'Toodles! After a lot of time working with the frosting and it looking very bad, I actually prefer fondant just because of the smooth finish, I found this site! I did not have any paper towels so I decided to try wax paper. IT WORKED!!!! My cake is looking great and it is just about ready for the details to be added! Thank you.

katie on April 23, 2010:

oh! and by the way @carmen...after you ice your cake with cream cheese frosting, you can stick it in the freezer for about 2 or 3 min. The paper towel trick works perfectly for me then! (as a matter of fact, i do this most of the time b/c i cant stand to wait 15 minutes! ha!)

John on April 07, 2010:

@Carmen - This method will not work on any icing that doesn't form a "crust." Typically, cream cheese icing does not crust, so it won't work.

Eva on March 18, 2010:

Thank you so much for this hint. I've always wondered about this. The rest of my decorating is always great and never could get this right. I will be baking tomorrow for sure : )

Cynthia Williams on March 12, 2010:

My biggest problem was getting the icing perfectly smooth on my cakes. The method described in the video worked perfectly and now I have the smoothest surface to decorate. Thanks for the video it was a godsend!!!

Kaylee on March 02, 2010:

I'm definatly going to have to try this method. Amber - I'm in the same boat as you. I hope to eventually open a bakery and I want to do cake decorating too. Curently I'm doing it from my home for friends and family.

Amber on February 08, 2010:

I am looking into getting into the cake decorating business. I am a stay at home mom and LOVE to bake and decorate cakes. I am currently taking cake decorating classes, while perfecting my baking skills to make cakes that taste wonderful as well. I am going to try the papertowl method. I will be making a cake for the start of the winter olympics this week and want to make a white buttercream frosting, but make it look as close to fondant as possible. If you dont mind me asking, but some of you that are in the biz, was it hard to get started. I plan to work out of my home until i can get my business up and running. Any words of wisdon or advise?

Carmen on January 12, 2010:

but does it work on cream cheese icing? FH and I hate buttercream.

Well...here's hoping...=0)

ps on October 08, 2009:

I run a bakery business and I live by the paper towel method! Never has left fuzz on my cakes. Hate to disappoint the other "professional" here! I also picked up that skill from another professional years ago when learning the trade. Not to mention, I started out a "housewife" before I became a baker and cake decorater! This "professional" really should have learned from his/her mommy and gone by the rule "If you don't have anything nice to say, Say nothing at all!" The nerve of some ppl!

msfarmer on September 27, 2009:

paper towels do not leave "fuzz" on the cake but they do make it nice and smooth i use this technique all the time. and don't need fondant to make my cakes look perfect like the so called "true professionals" fondant is a waste of $$ and when i have been to weddings where fondant is used on the cake, it is usually left on the plates and thrown away.

so if i can get that fondant-like look with buttercream i think that is perfection.

Tuesdee on August 17, 2009:

funny, it is some of us housewives who can create REAL memories and make delicious and amazing cakes not just one that looks good but takstes horrible. I think mr/mrs professional needs to learn some tact and manners.

Jenny on August 10, 2009:

TO anonymous....if you are so professional what are you doing loking for information on here?

Stephanie on August 09, 2009:

How about just using wax paper?

anonymous on July 27, 2009:

I have never, nor would I ever proffessionally do this!...Bakers know it takes practice, BUT we would never in a million years risk getting fuzz from paper towels on a cake that took 12 or more hours and is costing someone over a thousand dollars. FLAWLESS, that's what I aim for. Then again it's people that dish out housewives shortcuts as proffesional secrets that keep me in business.

attica on April 30, 2009:

Very interesting! I will have to try this! :D

yvonne on March 11, 2008:

You know I have always wondered how cakes come out so smooth. This was some really cool information. I'll be making my daughters minnie mouse cake soon and i know it will be a hit with this secret

yvonne on March 11, 2008:

You know I have always wondered how cakes come out so smooth. This was some really cool information. I'll be making my daughters minnie mouse cake soon and i know it will be a hit with this secret

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