Again, we are working with a basic 9x13 sheetcake, single layer. A cake like this will feed 20-24 nicely so it's good for small family gatherings.
The first step is to place your cake on a board. While you can buy a package of cake boards cheaply from any store that carries cake supplies, you can just as easily make your own from any clean piece of cardboard laying around. Cover in heavy duty aluminum foil. Voila!
Now place your cake on the board. I prefer upside down myself. I know other bakers that go right-side up. I just find that the smooth, even side of the bottoms is nicer to work with and easier to keep level.
If you are using a store bought buttercream, you'll need at least 5 tubs. I like to have 6-8 cups of buttercream prepared for a small sheetcake. There's no such thing as extra-you just freeze what is left.
And, no, I don't buy buttercream either. I like to use a blend of 66% butter to 33% shortening ratio so the buttercream is light in texture and not overly-rich.
With your offset spatula, toss about 2 heaping cups of buttercream on to the center of the cake. Now use the spatula to push the buttercream outward to the edges of the cake. You will find that if you angle your spatula about 45 degrees and always keep the icing in front of the blade, the icing will spread easily and you won't have as much trouble leveling out the frosting later. Push outward, allowing the icing to hang over the edge of the top. This will help when you begin to coat the sides. And don't worry if it's totally smooth yet. First we will coat, then we will level.
Now, making sure you have a good-sized glob on the end of the spatula, smear it down the side of the sheet. Go fast-don't hesitate here. Keep the spatula straight up and down for a straight side. The more you over-think the physics of the situation, the more likely you are to screw up. As you smear, you will pull the icing that was hanging over the edge from the top. Always make sure you have icing ahead of the spatula. Otherwise, you will get crumbs in your frosting.
The entire process takes practice; don't expect to do it perfectly the first time....but don't talk yourself out of learning how because you think it's too hard. Every professional started exactly where you are right now. Trust me.
As you cover the sides, you will build up a ridge on the top again....it's a bad cycle, I know. But this ridge will actually help you smooth out the top at the end.
Just as at the beginning you PUSHED the the frosting out to the corners, now you will do the exact opposite and PULL the frosting in, diagonally across the top to smooth it out. If you find that the frosting is getting grainy or seems to be kind of tearing up the surface instead, wet the spatula in cool water before each pull until it is smooth. (You can also achieve a smoother surface by using a spray bottle of water with a fine mist setting to spray on the surface).
|adding a textured border|
This cake was for Thing 2's baptism. No limbo for my babies. I'll show you the rest of the steps of finishing the cake because thanks to Aunt Katie (Thing 2's Godmother), I had someone to take pictures while I prattled on.
|Adding top border with|
|Adding bottom border|
|adding drop flowers with|
|using scissors to add rose|
|close up on flowers|
that anchor the corner