Last Friday, D and I went to our first co-ed baby shower, and I brought along this cake for the parents-to-be (congrats C&J!). I was really quite excited to make this cake and test drive my in-development decorating skills. Actually, it's the first all-buttercream cake that I've done since I started interning, and I was hoping that I absorbed some of the techniques I watched my pastry chef use every day.
Let me tell you about the cake first - it's a lemon layer cake, with lemon curd and coconut cream filling. MMmmm. I used the vanilla cake recipe from Confetti cakes (replaced 1/4 cup of milk with lemon juice, and reduced sugar by 1/2 cup), and the coconut filling was made from swiss meringue buttercream whipped with shredded coconut and extract.
I'm sure there are many tricks to get buttercream really smooth, but the trick I learned was using a credit card instead of a spatula. It's nice and small, fitting easily into your hand, and your arm doesn't get really tired holding the spatula at a weird angle. Now, it's another thing to know how to actually use the credit card! You have to have your cake centred on the wheel, and you need to be careful about not scraping too much icing off as it turns. The goal is to smooth, not carve an edge on the cake. To make a clean edge around the top, drag the card toward the centre of the cake, which will take off the excess bits. If there is still some lumpiness and uneveness in your covering job, you can either spray the cake with water and run the card over the cake again, or, you can dip a spatula in hot hot water and slowly smooth around.