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How To Buttercream A Tall Cake And Paint These Cute Decorations

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We created this trendy tall cake using a few of our favourite baking essentials – the cake leveller, the cake lifter, and the tall side scraper. We also took the opportunity to try out some of FMM’s adorable cutters to show you a simple technique of painting on icing. The style is in the form of a children’s book illustration, you really don’t have to be an amazing artist to achieve this!

Step 1.

For a delicious moist cake, use 1 kilo of Golden Delight Madeira cake mix, baked in two 7“ round cake tins. This is one of our biggest sellers, simply add water and bake! The next day, use a cake leveller to trim off the top of your cakes to ensure they are even. It’s a good idea to make a cut with a sharp knife first, then continue to cut with the cake leveller. We have cut each cake in half to create 4 layers.

Step 2.

For the buttercream, you can either use a tub of Renshaw vanilla frosting as we have, or make up your own. If you choose to make your own buttercream, simply cut 250g of softened butter into cubes (about 1″) and beat in an electric mixer until soft. Add 500g of icing sugar a couple of spoonfuls at a time and beat until pale and fluffy. Mix in ½ tsp of vanilla extract, check if the consistency of your buttercream is spreadable, and if it isn’t, add ½ tsp water and mix until fully combined. Check the consistency again and repeat until it is just spreadable. Now here’s our little secret – add 2-3 tbsp of Sattina ready made royal icing to your buttercream to give it a whiter appearance and a crisper finish for a professional look. To sandwich the 4 layers together, use a cake lifter to position each layer on top of one another, with buttercream in between. Then using a large cranked palette knife, smooth your buttercream around the sides of your cake to start off your ‘crumb coat’. A crumb coat is the first coating of buttercream.

Step 3.

Continue to smooth the buttercream around the sides and over the top until the cake is fully covered. At this stage, do not worry about the finish.

Step 4.

Take a tall side scraper and hold it against the side of your cake (it helps to have your cake on a turntable). Hold the side scraper still whilst turning the turntable to create a smooth finish on the buttercream. Put your cake in the fridge for 30 minutes, or the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the base coat to set.

Step 5.

Now, here is the trick to getting the buttercream really even! Take your cake out of the fridge or freezer and use a cake lifter to place it on a thin cake card the same size as the cake, so we are using a 7“ round. Place the cake (now on the 7“ card) back on the cake drum, attaching with some buttercream.  Place another 7“ cake card on top of your cake, and using your palette knife, add a generous coating of buttercream around the sides of your cake. The aim is to fill the gap between the two cake cards with a layer of buttercream.

Step 6.

Hold your tall side scraper against the side of the cake as before, and slowly turn your cake until a smooth layer is formed. If the cake is still showing through the buttercream, put your cake back in the fridge or freezer and repeat the process until the cake is no longer visible. Once you are satisfied with the appearance of your cake, put it back in the fridge or freezer for one last time. Once chilled, go over the top of your cake with a palette knife until smooth. Finally, take a sharp knife to crisp up the top edges of the cake.

Step 7.

To make these adorable little animal decorations, we used the giraffe and hippo cutters by FMM. Dust your work surface with a cornflour pouch, before rolling out some Sattina 3-in-1 modelling paste to 1-2mm thick. Make sure your sugarpaste moves around easily on your work surface, before taking a cutter and pressing it firmly down into your sugarpaste. Wiggle the cutter around a little, before removing the excess around the sides. Leave your animals to set firm overnight.

Step 8.

We used Rainbow Dust progels to paint our animals, but you can use any medium you like, whether they are dusts, gels or pastes. Just remember that if you’re using water-based colours, mix with water rather than rejuvenator spirit. To outline the animals, mix a tiny amount of water into the black food colouring to paint a delicate line using a No. 2 brush and leave to dry for around 15 minutes.

Step 9.

Once the outline is dry, paint the larger areas, adding a little more water to the colours to create a colour wash. Leave to dry before painting in all the features. We also used some white paint to highlight areas and add to some of our colours to make them more solid. If you do not feel confident painting the outline and features, use a black edible ink pen. We’ve gone for a children’s book illustrations style with ours, but you can simplify your designs, or play around with the colours to achieve your desired look.

Products used:

  • 1 kilo of Madiera cake mix
  • 2 x 7″ cake tin
  • 750g buttercream OR 1 tub of Renshaw vanilla frosting
  • Turntable
  • Cake leveller
  • Large cranked palette knife
  • Cake lifter
  • Tall side scraper
  • Sattina ready-made royal icing
  • Electric mixer
  • 2 x 7″ round cake cards
  • 9″ round cake drum
  • 9“ Non-stick rolling pin
  • Sattina 3-in-1 modelling paste
  • FMM Mummy & baby hippopotamus cutter set
  • FMM Mummy & baby giraffe cutter
  • FMM Child’s Play Tappit Cutter Set (balloons)
  • No. 2 brush
  • Rainbow Dust Progels – black, yellow, chestnut brown, pink, aqua, lime green, purple
  • Rainbow Dust white paint
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