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      Tips and tricks!

      How to frost the outside of a cake with buttercream

      Follow the steps below to achieve a beautifully finished cake. For best results, use freshly whipped buttercream at room temperature and give yourself plenty of time to chill the cake after each stage. The right tools will also help you achieve superior results so make sure you check out the equipment list HERE


      • The first step is to apply a crumb coat. The crumb coat is a thin coating of buttercream that holds the sponges in place and catches any loose crumbs, ensuring your final coat is flawless. Start by applying a generous amount of buttercream to the top of the cake. With a palette knife, spread the buttercream from the centre of the cake towards the edges and down the sides. 
      •  Subtly rock the palette knife back and forth to disperse the buttercream and turn the turntable in the opposite direction to that which you are spreading. 
      • Ensure the cake is completely, but scantly, covered. You will be applying a thicker layer at the next stage. For now, place the side scraper with its straight edge against the cake. With your other hand turn the turntable until you’ve scraped the excess buttercream off. The buttercream may be just translucent in places, but remember, this is a preliminary coating that will be obscured during the next stage.
      •  Place your cake back on the turn table once you’re ready and repeat the previous steps with a generous amount of fresh, crumblless frosting. However, this time when you’re using the side scraper try and turn the turntable in as fluid a motion as possible while ensuring you keep the blade at a 45° with your other hand. If need be, lift the side scraper, remove any excess buttercream with the palette knife or on the side of your bowl and repeat till you have a nice slick finish. 
      • Some excess buttercream may have gathered around the top edge off the cake at this point. Using your palette knife, carefully brush this towards the centre of the top of the cake, aiming all the time for sharp edges, straight sides and a flat top. 
      • Once you’re happy with it, pop it back in the fridge to set. 


      How to torte a cake

       It’s best to work with chilled or indeed slightly frozen cake layers. So make sure you’ve baked them well in advance. All fillings should be freshly whipped and room temperature. 


      Turn table, Non slip mat. Cake board or drum the same size as the cake you plan to decorate, Palette knife, Side scraper 


      •  Using a cake leveller or bread knife, remove the dome from each sponge. Make sure they are all the same depth (around 1”). 

      •  Put the non stick mat on the turntable. Place a cake board or drum the same size as your cake on top. If the mat is sticking out from underneath then trim to a few millimetres within the board or drum, otherwise it will get in the way while you’re working. Put a dab of buttercream or ganache on the cake board/drum, place your first sponge, brown side down, on top and press down slightly to ensure it sticks in place. If required, brush a little sugar syrup on the surface and give it a few moments to soak in.
      •  If you’re adding a loose filling such as jam or caramel, load a piping bag with some of your buttercream or ganache and pipe a couple of rings, approximately 1cm thick, round the edge of the sponge and spoon the filling within. Ensure it doesn’t exceed the height of the piped rings. This acts as a sort of dam to hold the filling within. If you’re not adding a runny filling, evenly spread the buttercream or ganache over the entire sponge so it’s approximately 1cm thick. Go right up to the edge.
      •  Place the next sponge on top and repeat as necessary, however, do make sure the final sponge is the brown, not trimmed side up, so flip it if need be.
      •  Once all the sponges are assembled, gently press on top to ensure the cake is level and free of air bubbles. Brush a little sugar syrup on top if need be. Wrap the whole thing in clingfilm so it doesn’t dry out and chill until you’re ready for the next step. 









      Tuck-Box's Top 5 Tips For Baking perfect Cakes

      1.Use the right kind of tins:


      I use 3x Alan Silverwood sandwich pans per cake tier, they're shallow and you divide the batter between the three meaning the cakes bake for a much shorter time and are therefore much lighter in texture. Yes they're expensive, but I do think there comes a time when you must have a good set of cake tins. They'll last you a life time. Think of it as an investment piece like the coat you once bought!


      2. Use an electric beater: 

      Preferably a stand alone one like a Kenwood or kitchen aid- however an electric whisk will also do the trick if you don't bake that often. Do I have a preference for Kitchen Aid or Kenwood? I've had both in my life and I did find the Kenwood slightly better because it had a wider range of mixing speeds. Also it has a plastic bowl that can go straight in the microwave and is considerably cheaper then a kitchen Aid. So why do I have a Kitchen Aid now then? Simply because it comes in the most amazing colours and I wanted to the ice blue one since like- forever.

      3. Know your oven: 

      I've worked with a range of ovens, both commercial and domestic and they all had one thing in common: they're all different. Fan ovens have a reputation for being hotter but I don't know if thats true. Not in my case anyway. My best advice would be to locate it's 'hotspot' (where it tends to cook/burn quickest) - most likely at the back. Turn you cake round 2/3'rds into the suggested cooking time so it bakes and colours evenly. Oh and for gods sake do it quickly, it makes me anxious when the door is left open for too long.


      4. Use bake even strips: 

      These are made by Wilton and are designed to be soaked in water before putting them round your tins. Yes they can be a bit of a faff but this post is about how to make the 'perfect' cake after all. I pop them into a bowl of water before I start preparing the ingredients and then rest another heavy bowl on top so they remain submerged. When I'm at the stage of adding the eggs bit by bit, I take a break to apply them to the tins. I find they make a real difference to how the cake rises. Instead of doming they make the cake rise all at one level. This has a couple of advantages. Firstly you don't then need to trim the cakes before sandwiching together (and anything to decrease the amount of work will always be a bonus to me). But secondly you don't waste cake. I know for a lot of you the cake is never wasted because it'll go straight in your mouths but when you make several cakes a day it can add up and you begin to loose your appetite. Oh and another thing- you don't get a tough crust round the edges!

      5. Freeze your cake: 

      No matter if I'm making the cake a day or a week before, I always freeze it. Why? Because not only does it reduce the stress, baking it at a time suited to your schedule, but it also makes it considerably moister and in my opinion, improves the flavour. I find the vanilla extract really has a chance to permeate the sponge much better. My preferred method is to wrap the cake tightly in clingfilm before its completely cool as that remaining bit of steam will do it wonders. Bung it straight in the freezer and it can stay in there until you need it.